By Judy Carter

Landing your dream job can be stressful. Add a pandemic and it may seem impossible.  Keep a few tips in mind as you seek your next opportunity:

Don’t settle.  Be sure to do your homework.  Evaluate the job and its value in the marketplace.  Also, assess your skillset and how it aligns with the job.  Be realistic but aggressive.  If you accept a low offer it’s hard to catch up once you start.  Merit increases are not promised and may cause dissatisfaction with the job and company over time. 

Explore all compensation options.  Depending on your level in the organization you may have opportunities that you don’t want to leave on the table. Most companies will appreciate a savvy negotiator.  They see it as a skill you can use for the company.  Here are a few options to consider:

Extra Vacation/PTO.  Job seekers often negotiate additional weeks of vacation.  If you’re currently unemployed, don’t shy away from asking for additional time based on your years of experience.

Bonuses.  The higher in the organization you climb the more your compensation may be weighted in bonuses.  Evaluate the criteria assigned to achieve the bonus.  It should be a stretch but attainable.

Benefits Stipend.  Ask if the company will pay an additional amount towards your employee ancillary benefits.

Stock Options.  This can be a complex process but worth asking if your position qualifies to participate.

Continued Education and Professional Organization Fees.  While it’s important to the organization that you stay informed, make sure they are willing to pay for continued education and/or professional fees. 

Consider a career change.  If you are unable to land a promotion or get a job offer in your current field of expertise, consider a change.  You do not necessarily have to start over.  Many careers have what is called career lattice.  Unlike a career ladder, which is vertical and requires you to climb rung-by-rung, the lattice allows you to move diagonal, horizontal, vertical in other departments to accomplish further growth opportunities.

Be ready for the ‘Why?’ When I interview candidates I typically end my interview with these questions: “What about you do you want me to remember?” & “Why should I hire you?” Keep in mind the interviewer will be meeting several candidates.  What lasting impression do you want to make?  You are promoting your most valuable possession, yourself.  Emotional intelligence is key during the interview process allowing you to connect with the hiring manager and others in the organization.

Hiring Someone?

If you happen to be a hiring manager during this time, the way you hire has drastically changed as well.  Here are a few tips for you to consider:

Is a college degree really required?  In some roles, the answer will always be, yes, but don’t overlook great people qualified to do a job whose resume doesn’t reflect a four-plus year degree from an accredited school.  Look for ‘Grit’, not a degree. 

Look for opportunities to coach-up someone to the next level.  Don’t be so caught up in your own career that you miss the opportunity to train a key contributor.  If done well, you might even gain some new industry insights to further your skill set.   

There’s room for more than one woman at the top.  Don’t be overly critical of other women.  Joan C. Williams, the author of What Works for Women at Work, shares her take on biases of women in the workplace.  If you have the responsibilities of managing others – I highly recommend the read.

Be ready for the ‘Why? – Why should I work here?  If your candidates have prepared well for the interview they will ask a lot of good questions about the company and you.  Hearing your personal journey with the company may be a key factor in her decision to accept the offer.

Judy Carter is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years of progressive experience with success in implementing, managing, and administering HR, Payroll and Benefits systems/solutions. She is currently the HR leader for a major transportation contractor with employees in eight states. Judy resides in Olathe, Kansas with her husband Casey. Her passion is coaching mid-level contributors and managers to their next level of management. For comments or questions email [email protected].