Miss Conduct’s all-in-one career fix-it guide
From negotiating your salary to delivering an unforgetable retirement speech, our advice columnist shows you the way.
This story is from BostonGlobe.com, the only place for complete digital access to the Globe.
HOW SHOULD I CONDUCT MYSELF AT THE JOB INTERVIEW?
Do your homework on the company and its position in the industry, then show your preparation through insightful questions, not a lot of statements about yourself and what you want out of the job. The most common mistake interviewees make is talking about themselves too much.
HOW ABOUT THANK YOU NOTES?
Send a handwritten one, on businesslike stationery or notecards, within 24 hours to each person with whom you interviewed. Keep it short and focused on intelligent appreciation of the individual’s time and the company’s various excellences, not on your own awesomeness. Follow up on any notable conversational leads from the interview (“Here is a copy of the Harvard Business Review article we talked about — I hope you find it interesting!”)
WHAT DO I WEAR?
Even if the business isn’t very formal, stick with “business formal” (suits, tailored dresses, ties, pantyhose — not all in the same outfit, mind you). The interviewers will still want to know that, if necessary, you could be cleaned up and taken out of the office.
GO AHEAD, MAKE A MESS
Years ago, social psychologist Elliot Aronson ran an experiment that screened video of people reputedly auditioning for a quiz show. Among the “contestants” were equally well-dressed, well-spoken men — one of whom spilled coffee on himself and one who didn’t. Guess who was rated the most attractive? The well-dressed, well-spoken coffee spiller. Moral of the story: Don’t try to be perfect; perfect is off-putting.
NETWORKING FEELS GROSS. DO I HAVE TO?
Get over it. Everyone networks. Your worry is like being embarrassed about being naked while you’re having sex. So keep these three things in mind:
Be honest If you are after something specific — a job, a reference — ask for it straightforwardly. If it’s a favor, let the person know that “no” is an acceptable answer, using a face-saving clause such as “If this isn’t a good time, I understand.”
Be generous Listen to other people before addressing your own agenda. Be open to talking about topics that initially may seem tangential. Bring your whole self to events and be willing to share.
Be surprising Censor your snarky inner voice and have the courage to ask seemingly obvious questions or draw offbeat analogies. Networking is about creating possibilities. Giving people a safe space to explore and connect ideas is a great way to persuade them you are a uniquely insightful genius.
DOES THAT MEAN I HAVE TO JOIN LINKEDIN, TOO?
Yes, that’s exactly what it means. “If you want anything to happen to you — like get hired, have people find your business, get recruited — you have to have a LinkedIn profile,” says Alisa Cohn, an executive coach based in New York with clients in Boston and around the world. Here’s Cohn’s step-by-step guide to getting started:
1) View profiles of people in similar positions to yours to get good ideas.
2) Brainstorm a list of keywords from those profiles that describe your professional skills and strengths.
3) Write a four-sentence draft of an opening description.
4) Fill in the resume section.
5) Send your profile to six trusted people for feedback.
6) Get a professional photo taken, or at least make sure to shoot one outside in good light.
7) Revise, refine, repeat! The only thing worse than no LinkedIn account is a little-used one.
I’VE BEEN OFFERED THE JOB. CAN I NEGOTIATE SALARY AND BENEFITS?
The job market is still tight, but that doesn’t mean you should accept the first offer. “Employers typically go into an offer anticipating the candidate will come back asking for more, so I would encourage people to negotiate if they have received an offer that is below their expectations,” says Tracy Burns, chief executive officer of the Concord-based Northeast Human Resources Association. “Realistically, everything is up for negotiation, but you can’t be obnoxious about it — ‘You just gave me a job, and now I’m asking for 10 other things.’ ” It’s important to know what you want upfront, Burns says, and be sure to research realistic salary ranges on websites such as PayScale.com. If the employer won’t budge on salary, ask for other benefits, such as a flexible schedule.
To set yourself up for success, ask for a list of goals your employer would like you to accomplish in, say, the next year. Accomplishing agreed-upon goals puts you in a good position to negotiate for things you want (a raise, a spot on a hot new project) later.
LAUGH ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK
A study from the University of Idaho suggests that making a joke about wanting a million-dollar salary at the outset of negotiations actually increases the employer’s early bid by 10 percent.Continued...