Thursday, January 27, 2011

Willing to Work for Less

An email exchange with the question of how to say:  I don't have huge salary requirements!

Dear Job Doctor,
I’m looking for a job.  I have benefits from my late husband, which means I have to make less than $20,000 a year or lose them.  I want to work for a company that’s advertising for someone with two years of experience (I have 25+ years in the business).  I have no idea how many people have applied, but I really want the job.  How much do I reveal about my willingness to work for so little money?  I would hate for anyone to look at my experience and rule me out.

Dear Salary-Bargain,
There are a ton of professionals in your field who are in the job market right now, so the resume cubbie could be stuffed at the hiring company.

You’ve already held the top position in that organization.  What would have worked with you, relative to a would-be employee?  My best advice:  Do that. 

In a "normal" situation, salary is discussed at the end of the interview.  Your low salary requirement makes it a key selling point of you, an experienced professional.  In your field, you’re accustomed to bold asking.  You probably know the current head and because of your reputation and relationship can get a meeting.  Don't waste time with lesser lights.  You don't have much to lose by a direct approach to him/her.  If that fails, call for an appointment and in it assert:  I'm experienced; I'm current with the field and technology; I'm a proven entity; I know how to get IN; I know the players; I get the job done; AND I'm a bargain, at least for four years (in truth, most people will have changed jobs by then; but the head would tell you they'd revisit that THEN).  But there's no reason for you to remain patient resume fodder.  There's little risk to the organization by taking you on.

It may be possible you know people whose favor the company wants; have them put in a good word for you.  Others in the biz might recommend you; use their names.  You might even have testimonial letters.  Take 'em. 

The final point is one that wannabe employees just have to face, no matter where they want to work:  How will you add value to the organization?  Your profession is struggling, as you know.  The low salary is a strong argument, but how does your presence there potentially bring more revenue to the organization?  How can you help improve the bottom line?  More money in counts for more than less money out.

Unless the current topper is very young and wanting a young staff that's less scary to manage than an experienced pro (I know you've never heard of that happening!), you're likely to get a favorable hearing.  Go with the confidence that you have little to lose and much to gain.  If the strategy doesn't work, then you might take it to other similar organizations in the area, if that interests you.

One final note about employees being willing to work for less.  Employers never believe it.  They correctly assume that the second you can get something better, you'll take it; which makes you a high risk hire.  In your situation, however, you can't take the risk of a higher paying job for four years, which makes you an interesting applicant.

Good luck.  Let me know what happens.