Career Tips: Negotiation, Messaging and Interview Follow-Up (John Hadley Edition)

Photo of John Hadley
John Hadley teaches job seekers internationally strategies and skills that enable them to tap into the ‘hidden’ job market and find the best jobs now. He also works with professionals struggling to become and be seen as influential leaders.

John Hadley was a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in the financial services industry for 25 years. He began his career at Equitable Life, ultimately serving as Disability Income Product Manager. Commercial Life brought John in to build a new department, where he progressed to Chief Actuary. He then opened a successful consulting practice helping companies make their systems operate as advertised, which generated over $2.5 million in revenues.

John continues to be active in the community and the corporate sector. He has served on many community and industry initiatives, is a sought-after speaker on career and marketing issues, contributes regularly to a variety of publications as well as his own Career Tips newsletter, with over 9,500 subscribers. He conducts a wide variety of tele-classes, webcasts, and seminars. He has a BS in Mathematics from Stanford University, where he also satisfied the requirements for an Economics major.


Dear Career Tips: More Salary Negotiation
I’m in-between jobs. Recruiters are asking salary per hour. Some jobs are asking for salary range – this is OK. Some are contract. This means they pay per hour. How do you set a price per hour that would include benefits – medical, vacation, etc. – if these are not included?

Dear Negotiating:
There are so many aspects to negotiation, and they are so situation-specific, that it’s hard to give you a meaningful answer to such a general question. You might want to pick up “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss: it’s all about the psychology of negotiation, and filled with real-life examples of applying those techniques, including salary / job offer negotiations. And the techniques are pretty straightforward.

The general thought I was advised on and followed for determining the hourly rate I wanted was to take my desired annual salary (for a full-time job), add 25%-35% to cover benefits, and then divide by the expected days per year (times 40 hours) as if the contract was for a full year. I would subtract the vacation time I would plan on and holidays in the expected days, so as to cover that. In other words, if I expected to take 5 weeks off per year, I would consider the full year to be 47 weeks.

Then I would consider the length of the contract. If it’s a short, guaranteed contract (say, less than 6 months), then I’m going to add another 25% to account for the time I need to spend marketing to get my next assignment. If it’s longer, then I’m willing to compromise on that factor.
Dear Career Tips: Networking & Searching After a Break
I’m a Compliance professional with 5 years of experience in Banking and I quit my previous position several years ago. I moved to the US some time back and am in a job search. Here are my challenges: 
– I reach out to people on LinkedIn sending inmails or messages trying to network, but either get no response or just a standard response.
– How do I approach hiring managers about my career break, which I took for family medical reasons? 

Dear Compliant:
What message are you sending those people on LinkedIn?  

Are they ‘random’ people, or do you have some connection to them – some way in which you are ‘members of the same club’ that would warm up the request? I would look for any way you can warm it up – a connection, school, employer, job area or interest you might have in common. Make reference to that commonality in your message.  

Next think about whether your messages and profile are results-oriented. I hire because I need someone to produce certain results, NOT because they happen to have experience in an area. Having experience is a low bar, that just puts you in a very large pool of candidates who have experience.   

Right now, your resume basically speaks to experience and not results, so that makes me wonder about your communications in general. If the one you sent me is what you are sending others, it may also inadvertently suggest to them that your work on the job may be a bit sloppy: the font sizes and indentations are inconsistent among the bullets, and even the bullet symbols are not completely consistent.  

The career break may make a case for you to use a functional resume instead of a chronological format. Have you been doing anything in terms of part time work, volunteer initiatives or continuing education during that break? And you will need to be prepared to explain the prior gaps as well, since you were only at your most recent job for a relatively short time.  

Your biggest issue isn’t really with the hiring managers, as the break and prior gaps will make it very difficult for you to get through any screening process. Most will simply pass on to the next resume in the pile. That means you need to put almost all of your energy into building a powerful network that can speak on your behalf, and ultimately recommend you to a hiring manager directly.  

In networking, the break also isn’t a core issue. Yes, you need to have your HERO story that you are going to use in actual networking 1-on-1 meetings to engage people, but the break is a very small piece of that.  

You will need to be prepared to discuss the gap when you meet with a hiring manager, and the key there is to keep it simple, and then focus on the future. Here’s something I wrote about that in a prior issue of Career Tips:

Talking About Gaps 
I left a lucrative job in early 2016 mainly to pause and have more time with family. I am ready to return to the workforce and look forward to working full time again. How I can frame my response when asked to explain my work gap?

Dear Gapped:
First, read this article.

Basically, your story needs to be about the future, and what you can do for your prospective employer. Yes, you had a gap, and you had a good reason for it. End of story.

I had a good friend in a similar situation, though his pause was precipitated by a reorganization / layoff. He stayed home for the next several years to raise his 3 sons, something he had always wanted to do, letting his wife be the primary breadwinner. He did some odd jobs, such as window dresser, insurance salesman, and grocery store stock boy, that he could fit around his parental duties, but those duties were his primary concern.

When his kids were older, he called me, concerned no one would take him seriously for the manager level role he deserved.

We talked through what he had done, constructed a simple (true) story about taking advantage of this time to do something important to him and his family. We focused on how excited he was to now get back to work and what he could do for a prospective employer. Within a few months, he landed as the customer service manager for a bank.
Dear Career Tips: Interview Follow-up
I applied for a lower position than what I have had in the past. I am looking for work and level doesn’t matter to me; I’m older and really need a job. 

Towards the end of the interview I asked if there were any concerns he had about me. He replied that he knew I could do the job but was worried that I would be bored. I tried to quell his fears and stated that I enjoy this type of work and would want to do it.  I am not sure if he believed me. 

He stated that he thought he would make a decision within one month. On a side note, he did ask me if I would be also interested in a manager job. He is getting promoted to take over his boss’s position as he retires, and he has one employee also retiring.

Do you have any suggestions on what I should have said and if I should send him another email to discuss this?  I have already sent him a thank you email for the interview to let him know that I am very interested in this position.

Dear Interviewing:
It sounds like he was exploring you as a candidate for the manager job that would open up when he moves up. What did you say to that?

If it were me, I would have said something like:While I would be quite happy with the role we have been discussing, of course I would be interested in the manager role, were that to open up.”  

Now back to the issue of the ‘bored’ question. 

Telling him you enjoy this work deals with part of the issue, but there can be a lot going on in the hiring manager’s head around this, and your best bet is to try to explore that, rather than simply answer the question. 

For example, you could have said: “This is the type of work I really enjoy, and I wouldn’t see myself getting bored. Can I ask what you are worried might happen?” 
This would get the hiring manager to go deeper, perhaps revealing an underlying concern he isn’t verbalizing.

I’m not sure how trying to set up another meeting would be received at this point. And you would need to decide which role you really want, the non-manager or the manager.

If the latter, perhaps you could try something along the lines of:“I was caught off-guard at the end of the interview when you indicated there was a possibility of a manager role. If you have a few minutes, I’d love to discuss this with you further.”

If the former, then something along the lines of:“You seemed to have some concern about whether I might find the role boring. Let me assure you that this is the type of work I love to do, and would be prepared to dive into whole-heartedly. If you still have any concerns about this, I would be happy to have a further discussion with you.” 

You might also think about some past experience that shows how you dive deeply into technical work, and how you happily take on what others might consider ‘boring’ work. You could even add that example into the 2nd note above.

Q&A for John

John: “Help keep me supplied for future issues: Send me your questions about your career search, obstacles you are encountering at work, issues that get in the way of your networking efforts, etc. I’ll respond to you directly, and if there are insights of value to other readers, I’ll include them (edited to ensure your anonymity) in a Dear Career Tips column.”

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