Launching your career

The job fit challenge and salary expectations

The job fit challenge

Every company with a job opening wants to hire not just someone who could do the job, but someone who would be more: an asset to the company in many different areas, for example: help them make money or cut expenses. They also look for a “fit”. With a temporary or contract worker, they pick someone to fill a short-term, specific skill need, based mostly on a list of competences. However, for full-time employees, the standards are different and the process - more involved.

In addition to technical skills, a prospective employee must also be able to:

- Work as easily alone as in teams.

- Manage time and tasks for meeting deadlines.

- Demonstrate a good work ethic.

- Add to the synergy that occurs in groups that work well together.

The person in charge of hiring, however, must determine all of this from a resume, one or two interviews, and a few references.

A mistake in hiring cost a company a great deal. In a company that offers just a basic benefits package, an employee’s cost is considered to be one to two and a half times that employee’s salary per year. In addition, anyone new has to learn the processes, procedures and strategic priorities of the company as well as sources to secure information and services. This takes time, time that is not at maximum efficiency. If an employee fails within a year, that up-to-speed cost was wasted, and the company must bring in someone new, who will take several months to reach reasonable productivity.

In short, employers need you, perhaps even desperately, and truly want you to be just what they are looking for. Your job is to make that decision easier for them, to show them that you can do what they need and that they can trust you to act in the best interests of the company. That includes getting along with your coworkers and showing initiative as well as good judgement. A candidate who can demonstrate “savvy”, an understanding of the challenges and inner workings of a position, as well as the general demands of the workplace, is likely to receive an offer quickly.

When you finally do you find that perfect fit, the job and company that suits your professional style and values your expertise, the transition becomes one to:

- An opportunity to do something you enjoy in an environment that fosters that environment

- A place where you can be productive and make a visible contribution to something larger than yourself

- A source of stimulation and support in the form of colleagues and experts

- An environment in which to apply your creativity to complex problems and grow in your knowledge and experience

- A notable step towards achieving your ultimate professional and personal goals

Salary expectations

One common complaint from employers is that candidates have unrealistic expectations about salary: they either have no idea about the “going rate” for their own industry or they have an inflated view of their own worth. A candidate who has done little homework about the industry or about the type of position shows a distinct lack of initiative and seriousness about the process.

Data may be difficult to find for your particular field, but publication for industry or professional organizations will include some general figures. Salary offers vary by region, size of company, capital constraints, and policy, and any other factors. Exceptions are found on both the high and low end. You are worth what someone is willing to pay to bring you on - no more, no less.

An employer may make a “lowball” offer (an offer lower than you would expect to receive). This would be for any of several reasons:

- Strong feelings about probationary conservatism - to keep the risk low until you suitability is proven

- The company might want to see if you are willing to sacrifice and “invest” yourself in the company

- Maybe you do not have exactly the skills they want, but they would like to bring you on with hopes that you will increase your value on your own initiative

Whenever the reason is a budget crunch or simply seeing just how cheaply they can get their needs filled, you will have to make the decision whether the offer is good for you. Some considerations alongs this line include:

- Future potential - for example, growth in a large company or significant addition to resume

- Culture and conditions - the particular ambience of the workplace or geographic location

- Role in goal support - the degree to which the credentials gained from the duties or by association with a “name” company will contribute to your goal activity

- Benefits trade-off - educational reimbursement, health plan, flexible hours, professional freedom, bonus potential, or company stock

- Risk - the company is a startup in new technology that could flourish or flounder; company rumoured to be up for sale or going public, highly competitive and volatile market, history of high turnover rate, or potential for family disruption due to transfer

Many of the considerations you have about your career in general will enter into the decisions you make about the right match between you and a particular job. Money is just one consideration. You will likely work for a minimum of 40 years. This gives you plenty of time to explore several job options.

Adapted from

McKee, S.L. and Walters, B.L., 2002. Transition management: A practical approach to personal and professional development. Prentice Hall.

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