Saturday, November 26, 2011

22 Secrets...Part IV

This week we’ll wrap up the last of “The 22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting A Job.”

HR Secret Number 17:

“If you’re a candidate and the hiring manager spends 45 minutes talking about himself, the company or his Harley, let him. He’s going to come out of the interview saying you’re a great candidate.”

Yes, let him talk; but be very wary about accepting the job. Is this the type of person you really want to work for?

HR Secret Number 18:

“There’s one website that drives all HR people crazy: It supposedly lists average salaries for different industries, but if you look up any job, the salary it gives you always seems to be $10,000 to $20,000 higher than it actually is. That just makes people mad.”

HR people and headhunters do get frustrated with the misinformation that is out there about compensation. I know this sounds like a self-serving comment, but headhunters who specialize in an industry probably have the most accurate information about compensation. Often times company HR people are more out of touch than candidates when it comes to compensation levels, especially if they are hiring for special skills or experience outside of their normal hires.

HR Secret Number 19:

“On salary, some companies try to lock you in early. At the first interview, they’ll tell me to say, ‘The budget for this position is 40K to 45K. Is that acceptable to you?’ If the candidate accepts, they’ll know they’ve got him or her stuck in that little area.”

This is probably accurate for positions in this compensation range. For positions with higher compensation, money usually doesn’t come up in the first interviews. It’s also different when a search firm is involved. We’ve already provided the company with the candidate’s compensation history and we know what the company’s pay range is for the position.

The real message here is be careful when discussing pay, especially early in the process. If the interviewer throws out a number, just respond with something to the effect that your decision will involve more factors than just pay and that you’re looking for an opportunity to contribute and grow with a successful organization, etc., etc.

HR Secret Number 20:

“You think you’re all wonderful and deserve a higher salary, but here in HR, we know the truth. And the truth is, a lot of you aren’t very good at your jobs, and you’re definitely not as good as you think you are.”

Whoa…this may apply to some small percentage of candidates, but the HR person who made this statement must be working in an industry other than transportation and logistics. Of course, we run across candidates now and then who have unrealistic compensation expectations. Usually they are younger, less experienced candidates. But most people who have 10+ years experience in an industry have a pretty good sense of their value.

HR Secret Number 21:

“Be careful if a headhunter is negotiating for you. You may want extra time off and be willing to sacrifice salary, but he is negotiating hardest for what hits his commission.”

Seriously? I guess some headhunters are so desperate for an extra buck that they work every angle. But I think this HR “Secret” reflects the HR person’s attitude about headhunters more than the reality of how headhunters actually operate. If you can’t trust your headhunter to do what is best for you as well as for the company, then you’re working with the wrong headhunter.

HR Secret Number 22:

“I once hired someone, and her mother didn’t think the salary we were offering was high enough, so she called me to negotiate. There are two problems with that: 1) I can’t negotiate with someone who’s not you. 2) It’s your mother. Seriously, I was like, ‘Did that woman’s mother just call me, or was that my imagination?’ I immediately withdrew the offer.”

We don’t run into this with the types of positions we fill, BUT sometimes we do get the spouse jumping into the negotiation at the last minute. My advice to any candidate is to make sure they’ve had in depth discussions with their family members BEFORE getting into the nitty-gritty of interviewing and negotiating. We’ve certainly seen offers fall apart when a spouse starts demanding too much, too late in the process.

So we’re done with the 22 Secrets. Interesting comments by some of our “friends” in the HR community and worth considering; especially if you, as a candidate, are faced with the daunting task of dealing with an HR person on your own.

With all due respect to HR people, I will leave you with this:

Question: How many HR managers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: None, but they all want to be involved.

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