Our efforts are crowned with success
GETTING STARTED ....................................................................................................................2
Time To Change Jobs?............................................................................................................2
What’s My Next Stop?............................................................................................................3
WORKING WITH A RECRUITER...............................................................................................4
Should You Work With A Recruiter?......................................................................................4
Selecting A Recruiter ..............................................................................................................5
How Many Recruiters Can You Juggle?..................................................................................6
What To Tell A Recruiter........................................................................................................7
How The Recruiting Process Works........................................................................................8
WRITING A RESUME ..................................................................................................................9
Tips On What To Include........................................................................................................9
Cover Letters ........................................................................................................................12
Purpose Of The Interview .....................................................................................................13
Types Of Interviews...............................................................................................................14
How To Prepare For The Interview .......................................................................................16
Phone Interview .....................................................................................................................17
In-House Interview ................................................................................................................18
Common Questions Interviewers Ask ...................................................................................19
Thank You Letters .................................................................................................................20
Know Your Market …............................................................................................................21
Who Should Negotiate? .........................................................................................................22
How To Negotiate..................................................................................................................23
Preparing For The Offer.........................................................................................................24
Evaluating The Offer .............................................................................................................25
Responding To The Offer.......................................................................................................26
Oral or Written? ....................................................................................................................27
HELPFUL HINTS Page 1 of 31
Time To Change Jobs?
To know when to move on and when to stay put is critical for maximizing one’s career. So how do
you discern when it’s the right time to change jobs?
For each person, different factors will carry varying weights of influence. Some of these factors may
• upward mobility
• learning potential
• fair treatment
• reward for tasks accomplished
• location / commute
• respect and recognition
• hours worked
It will be up to the individual to assess which of these elements carry the most importance. If an
employee feels that they are unsure of their standing or that they are not being treated fairly, that
person should address the issue with the appropriate authority.
Always attempt to rectify a situation with your current employer BEFORE beginning a job search.
The cardinal sin is to begin interviewing for a new job, get an offer, and bring that back to your
employer as leverage and threats towards your present plight. Not only have you shown your
existing employer your inability to deal with problems maturely, responsibly, and proactively, but
you now place the courting company in an uncertain and even a disadvantaged role – perhaps even
causing them (and the recruiter) to feel used.
Finally, step away from your emotions before making the decision to change jobs. Everyone has a
bad day. Everyone encounters personal problems that blur their vision and distort their decision-
making. Handle your situation rationally. Think about the job issues troubling you and figure out if
you could be better served in a new environment. If appropriate, try having a conversation with
your boss or a Human Resources representative to discuss your present and future with your
company. Now, having done your duty, you will feel free and even relieved – not guilty – to pursue
HELPFUL HINTS Page 2 of 2
What’s My Next Stop?
Now that you have decided it’s time to move on, where should you go? What’s the next position
that you should assume? What is the logical choice to prove career progression on your resume?
What will make you a more marketable and well-rounded candidate?
Since everyone is so different, there is no absolute correct response to these questions. A lot of it will
depend on you.
• What do you enjoy doing?
• What are your short-term goals?
• What are your long-term goals? Do you want to run the company?
• How important are the financial rewards in a job?
• How significant is convenience and location?
• Are you looking for a position of authority?
• How essential are the commitment and working hours required by a company?
• Are you looking to do something different?
• Are you most comfortable in a similar role to your present one?
It is a matter of soul searching. Each person needs to find time to simply think about their job, their
current skill set, and where they want to be. With that settled, the job search becomes a focused
quest rather than a simple crapshoot left to chance and the lucky timing of a headhunter phone call.
HELPFUL HINTS Page 3 of 3
WORKING WITH A RECRUITER
Should You Work With A Recruiter?
For most people, working with a recruiter is a thing that just happens. You’re sitting at your desk
working quietly and minding your own business when the phone rings. Thinking it’s probably a
return call from the manager in the next department with the information you’ve been waiting for,
you casually answer, “Actuarial Department. Chandler Adams.” What happens next is the
“Good morning, Chandler. My name is Rachelle Lee and I’m a recruiter specializing in your area.
Do you have a moment?”
What should you do? Do you panic? After all, if you speak to this person a co-worker may
overhear your conversation and mistakenly assume that you’re about to leave your job.
Furthermore, the recruiter may misinterpret your uneasiness or curtness as disinterest and not bother
to ever call again. If you’re prone to this type of paranoia, simply let the recruiter know that it’s bad
timing and set up another time very soon to talk either at work or at home.
Or do you abruptly hang up after emphatically informing the recruiter that you are not interested in
ever changing jobs? Never say never – life is long. Just because things are going great at the
moment, that is no guarantee for the future. Additionally, no recruiter (or human being for that
matter) enjoys verbal abuse, so don’t be rude and burn your bridges. Because when you are finally
ready to make a move, you may have eliminated the best headhunter in your industry.
Should you entertain the phone call? Why not? There could be several positive justifications:
• Your friend is looking around and you can find out some information for him.
• You are curious to hear about other opportunities out there in your industry.
• You’ve been wondering how your salary compares to the rest of the world.
• You might as well develop a relationship with a recruiter. You never know when you may need
• You are pretty happy where you are, but have given some thought to leaving and want to be
• You could be tempted for the right situation.
• You hate your job and this phone call couldn’t have come at a better time.
Whichever category you fall in, a phone call from a recruiter can be a very positive thing. For one, it
means you are no longer an unknown commodity working in a back room. Someone has finally
discovered who you are and is investing their time to get to know you. Take advantage of it.
There’s absolutely no harm in getting acquainted with someone who’s “in-the-know” when it comes
to your career and area of expertise.
HELPFUL HINTS Page 4 of 4
Selecting A Recruiter
While you may not feel like you need to find a new position immediately, take the time to speak
with a recruiter and hear them out. Listen to the type of opportunity they’re presenting. Is it
pertinent for your background? Is the consultant knowledgeable about your industry? Does he/she
conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner? Are you comfortable with their
approach? Is this someone you could potentially work closely with in evaluating future career
opportunities? If you feel positively about the aforementioned, pursue the relationship.
Do they listen to you when you are speaking? Do they respect your desires and goals? Or does the
recruiter try and assert their own opinions on you?
Like anyone entering a business association, feel free to ask the recruiter some questions:
• How long has your company been in business?
• How long have you been doing this?
• In what specific areas does your company recruit for?
• If we are working together, how frequently will I hear from you?
The responses to these questions may be irrelevant. In other words, a veteran recruiter may offer
valuable experience to a search assignment, but a rookie may be hungrier, trying to make a mark for
himself. The screening gives you a chance to interact with the recruiter and assess the chemistry of
HELPFUL HINTS Page 5 of 5
How Many Recruiters Can You Juggle?
This depends on you. If you are a purist, then you might feel disloyal working with more than one
recruiter. If you endorse free enterprise, then the more recruiters the merrier. From a headhunter’s
perspective, if you are my candidate, I hope you’re a purist. If you are working with other recruiters,
then as an advocate of free enterprise, please involve me also.
Seriously, I don’t believe candidates ever set out to work with multiple recruiters. It usually just
happens. The first recruiter calls and you start looking into that New York opportunity with him. A
couple of days later, another recruiter contacts you, informs you about an appealing job in New
Jersey, and you’re hooked. The following week a different recruiter calls. You feel like you already
have a couple of possibilities in the works, but the job they describe sounds like the one you’ve
always dreamed about, and Number Three Recruiter is now on board. Now you’re determined to
draw the line there, but the next recruiter tells you she has an exclusive. What other choice do you
have but to give her your resume if you want consideration? And the fifth recruiter tells you about
the only actuarial position in Hawaii. Are you going to pass that up? Not in a lifetime!
There is nothing inherently wrong or unprofessional about the previous scenario. However, it is an
honorable gesture to let each recruiter know of the others’ involvement. You may not have to reveal
specific names and exact job descriptions. Now it becomes your burden to manage your search
effort. The last thing you want is for those recruiters bumping into each other while presenting your
background to companies. Multiple representations to a single company do not speak well for the
If you are proactively initiating a job search – rather than reactively responding to recruiters’ calls –
then you may want to give serious thought to how many recruiters to involve. If a professional
recruiter believes that he or she is your sole agent to the marketplace, you will probably get a more
concerted effort from them. The number of recruiters you employ may also be contingent on the
scope of your search. If you want to land a job in St. Louis only, one focused recruiter should be
plenty for such an undertaking. On the other hand, if you desperately want out of your present job
and are willing to go most anywhere, you might be better suited to juggle 2-3 recruiters. If you have
a favorite headhunter, let them know that you’re giving them a 2-week head start before considering
the involvement of other search professionals. That motivation should jump-start their engine.
HELPFUL HINTS Page 6 of 6
What To Tell A Recruiter
A good recruiter should use the initial phone call to get to know you. That way future phone calls
are poignant and meaningful, not a waste of your time or an intrusion to your day. If you are
willing to give your professional trust to this individual, then there are several questions that you
should feel free to answer to maximize the recruiter’s effectiveness.
• What’s your home address? Home phone number?
• What are your geographical preferences or limitations in finding a new job?
• What is your motivation level for a job change at this time?
• Have you discussed a job change and possible relocation with your spouse or family members?
• Are you presently looking into other job possibilities? How far along are you in that process?
• What’s your present compensation (salary, bonuses)? What are you looking to earn?
• How many years of experience do you have? Doing what?
• What would be the ideal next position for your career?
• If we find that ideal position together, are you ready to accept it?
• How would you handle a potential counteroffer from your existing employer?
Often a recruiting specialist may ask you for your resume. By all means, if you are interested in the
opportunity at hand, send it. That is the way this business works. At the same time, get some
assurances. Establish an understanding with the recruiter as to your expectations regarding the
future referral of your resume. Most people want some advance notification and semblance of
control as to where their resume is going. That is a very reasonable expectation that most
professionals would respect. However, if you’re wide open and ready to go, then let that be known.
What if the immediate opportunity does not interest you? Should you still send your resume? Are
there any risks involved? Well, that depends. If you are working with a jerk, then there will always
be risks. Hopefully, that type of scenario will remain the exception rather than the rule. But if you
felt a respect and a trust for the consultant, then it may be worth e-mailing your resume and placing
it on file with their agency. For starters, it suggests that you are truly sincere in exploring any
opportunities that should arise matching your criteria.
Too often candidates are unwilling to place their resume on file. They might say, “Call me when
you find that job in this location.” Unfortunately for them, they are now at the mercy of the
recruiter’s memory. Also, there has been no commitment from the candidate as evidenced by a
resume, so the recruiter will first approach those persons with whom he/she has established more of
a relationship and trust. The candidates with resumes on file become the first ones contacted.
HELPFUL HINTS Page 7 of 7
How The Recruiting Process Works
When a search firm engages a new assignment, the first task is for the consultant to look through
existing files of in-house resumes to determine who is qualified and worth a phone call for this
particular job. Many recruiters use computerized databases that automatically link a person’s
qualifications with the job specifications. By having your resume on file, you allow yourself to
potentially be one of the first individuals contacted. Without that information on file, you are
dropped to the next contact tier.
After sorting through the resumes on file, the next level of contact is to candidates with whom the
recruiter has spoken before and has some information on, but no resume on file. This is the
recruiter’s chance to touch base with each of these individuals again to gain some updated
information on their background and gather some revised notes on their interests and motivation.
At the same time, the recruiter will be presenting the current Job Order to each of these persons
hoping to attract some positive attention – either directly or through referrals – and accumulate new
resumes in the process.
If the first two stages do not produce enough qualified, interested candidates to cover the search
assignment with the client company, then the final recruiting phase is “cold calling”. Recruiters
compile names of candidates through a variety of methods: referrals, company directories,
attendance rosters, industry lists, internal and external research, or plain luck. The first phone call to
a new candidate is always a little awkward since there is no previously established relationship to
launch from. It is from this initial contact that the future relationship with this candidate will be
After gathering resumes from interested candidates, the recruiter then forwards them on to the
appropriate contact person within the hiring company. This individual may be a Human Resources
representative, or it may be the hiring authority. The recruiter is now at the mercy of the company
for feedback on which of the candidates are selected to begin the interview process.
HELPFUL HINTS Page 8 of 8
WRITING A RESUME
Tips On What To Include
A resume paints a picture. It should convey a readable synopsis of an individual’s background. It
should flow easily with section breaks clearly delineated. Prospective employers have to sort
through many of these documents when going through the hiring process. What can you do to aid
your own cause?
Be sure not to veer to either extreme when putting together your resume. Some invest good money
to hire a professional resume writer. This usually produces a multi-page manuscript on expensive,
colored stock letterhead. Others hand write notes on a piece of loose-leaf torn from a binder. It
looks like it has been thrown together during breakfast with evidence of egg yolks in the margin area.
You should provide a neatly typed or word processed document.
When listing one’s work experience, the bullet point format is much easier to scan compared to the
paragraph form. Include companies you’ve worked for, last title held at each of those employers,
and dates of employment. Summarize your experience at each job into well constructed phrases or
sentences that capture the essence of that function of your responsibilities.
Other sections of your resume should include education, computer skills, certifications and
professional designations, articles and publications (if applicable) and an area of personal interests.
Some choose to start their resume with a section that summarizes their combined work history. And
others attempt to demonstrate their interests by listing an objective section. There is no right or
wrong recommendation here. Individuals have preferences. Be your own individual.
Use standard size letterhead, white or ivory. Adhere to regular margins. Make sure not to use
exotic or difficult to read fonts. Appearance is definitely very important and first impressions are
lasting one. Your resume should exhibit neatness, organization, and readability.
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When it comes to resumes, the most widely used and preferred style by employers is the
chronological format. The emphasis is placed on employment experience and listed in reverse
chronological order, with the most recent job at the top. This way potential employers can easily
read your most recent work experience and judge its relevancy for their opening.
An example follows:
123 Main Street
Anywhere, US 56789
Home: (888) 555-2468
Work: (888) 555-1357
EDUCATION BS Applied Mathematics, 1988: Washington College, Anywhere, US
PROFESSIONAL • Passed CAS exams 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
• Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), 1999
7/89 to LAST CASUALTY COMPANY, Anywhere, US
Present Senior Actuarial Analyst (Jun ’94 – Present)
• Review profitability of Commercial Automobile and Homeowners
• Analyze historical information and actuarial indications.
• Furnish pricing recommendations.
• Present analyses to other departments to reach rate change decisions.
Associate Underwriting Manager (Feb ‘91 – Jun ‘94)
• Managed work flow for a specific territory.
• Analyzed historical data to determine underwriting profitability.
• Responsible for the progressive development of a team of employees.
Commercial Market Underwriter (Jul ’89 – Feb ‘91)
• Responsible for underwriting multi-lines of insurance.
• Evaluated individual commercial risks.
• Provided loss control recommendations to insureds to prevent losses.
• Provided training to agents concerning commercial insurance.
• Trained fellow employees.
1/88 to FIRST INSURANCE GROUP, Anywhere, US
7/89 Actuarial Analyst
• Perform rate reviews pricing support for Personal Lines.
• Responded to questions and requests by state insurance departments.
COMPUTER Excel, Lotus, Word, Access, FreeLance, SAS, APL, Cobol
REFERENCES Available on request
HELPFUL HINTS Page 10 of 10
Certain items often included on or omitted from resumes are telltale clues of something needing
additional investigation. As the information superhighway has allowed more resumes to become
available over the internet and through e-mail, companies must resort to creative means to quickly
determine whether to include or exclude a candidate from further consideration. One of the most
effective ways to eliminate unwanted candidates is the detection of questionable items or “red flags”
on the applicant’s resume. Human Resources representatives and other hiring authorities are often
trained to look out for the following red flags:
♦ Misspelled words, punctuation mistakes, or grammatical errors
You would like to believe that a person putting their resume together for a prospective employer would
give meticulous attention to detail knowing that this all-important document is their sole representation for
employment consideration. If an individual is careless at such a critical initial stage, what does that say
for their overall work conscientiousness once employed?
♦ Random format or sloppy presentation
It is vital when writing business reports that the employee show good organization and writing ability.
The use of diction, sentences, and paragraphs all help the reader ingest the information better.
Additionally, it is important that ideas flow smoothly and be in a sensible timeline. The well thought out
use underlining, boldface, and italics often aid the presentation.
♦ Gaps in employment
One of the first areas an experienced resume reviewer will catch is a gap in employment. If you have
unemployed time between employers, it is imperative that it be addressed. You can do this on the resume,
through a cover letter, or by relaying the information through a trusted executive recruiter. Companies
simply need to validate these gaps for their own peace of mind.
♦ Short tenures
Too many job changes can hurt an individual’s career. At the surface, it shows discontentment and
disloyalty. However, many people have had very valid reasons for their trips down the employment fast
lane. Short tenures will most certainly be addressed if you make it to the interview. Be ready to give an
honest and justifiable account for your decisions.
♦ Too brief or too wordy
The world is made up of all kinds of people. Some carry on flowery conversations. Others mumble one-
word responses. The resume gives the employer a quick glance at the applicant’s communication style.
Keep things in summary form. The responsibilities listed under work history should give the reader brief
understanding, and at the same time, whet their appetite to find out more. Find balance. Don’t use 1-2
word phrases. Yet avoid wordy and superfluous means to describe things that could have been stated
♦ No college graduation date or degree
Unfortunately, because fabrication of resumes has become so rampant, companies scrutinize details a little
more closely. Your choice not to state your college graduation date or degree can easily be misinterpreted
as your never having attained said degree.
♦ Exaggerated information
Be prepared to have every item on your resume thoroughly investigated. For that reason, do not inflate
titles of responsibility, or mislead concerning educational degrees and certifications. There is no second
chance for an individual caught in a web of deceit. If you can’t be trusted at the front end of a
relationship, why do you think things could possibly progress further?
If you want your resume to pass the first cut in order to be awarded the interview, it is essential that
you help your own cause by avoiding the obvious pitfalls – red flags.
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Do employers and recruiters really read cover letters? Or do they cast them aside like yesterday’s
newspaper? It’s hard to say. But know this: better to have one than not.
Your cover letter is what distinguishes you to a company. It’s what separates you from the other
applicants. It gives the hiring authority a chance to gauge your communication skills and writing
ability. It reveals an aspect of your personality. And it offers you the chance to summarize your
background, giving a brief overview of your experience and qualifications.
Keep your cover letter brief and to the point. Don’t be too random with your thoughts or wordy in
your presentation. Hiring managers do not have the time to hear about your life’s story. Identify
what you’re trying to accomplish and do so concisely. Try to limit yourself to one page of an easily
Personalize your letter. If possible, address your letter to a known recipient. Of course, if you are
unable to uncover the name of the hiring manager, just use a generic salutation like, “Dear Sir” or
“Dear Madam, ” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
Avoid careless mistakes. Spell the company name correctly. Get the address right. Use proper
grammar and punctuation. Write out full sentences. Pay particular attention to spelling, using a
spell-check program if possible.
Finally, if you are privy to the specifications of the open position, highlight a couple of aspects of
your background that exactly match or would transition well for that opportunity. Balance modesty
and arrogance by simply being factual. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. How would you take to
an individual submitting a cover letter like yours? Ask a trusted and qualified friend to proofread
your draft and offer you constructive criticism.
Remember, if you are going to submit a cover letter – either to the company hiring authority or to an
executive recruiter – make sure you follow these simple guidelines. If you are careless with the cover
letter, the reader may never make it to reviewing your resume. Conversely, a strong cover letter
that’s well written will help you leap frog the competition and get interviews.
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Purpose Of The Interview
Ultimately, the reason to interview is to get a job offer. With an offer in hand, you are in the driver’s
seat. You are in control of your own destiny. Without an offer, you’re no better off than when you
began interviewing – still stuck in your present predicament. Furthermore, you may even be worse
off, having exposed yourself to a new company and, at the same time, risked being found out by
your current employer and labeled as an ungrateful, discontent employee.
The interview allows you to learn as much as you can about a potential job opportunity so that you
can make an informed decision for your career. It is not to find out what you are worth in the
marketplace. It is not to uncover what your competition is doing and how they are accomplishing
certain things. And it is not to gain leverage to use for bettering your condition with your current
You interview because you are intrigued enough about a situation that warrants further exploration.
You interview to find out if the grass is truly greener on the other side. You interview to discover if
your present position is the best one out there. The interview answers those questions. It addresses
the unknowns. It places you in a decision making posture with all the information in front of you.
You must enter the interview with the conviction of receiving a job offer. Better to get an offer and
decline, than not get one at all. This is your chance to advance, to move up the corporate ladder, to
forge ahead. So get ready to win an offer!
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Types Of Interviews
There are several different kinds of interviews you may encounter during your job search. And even
then, each company will have their own way of conducting that particular type of interview. Here
are the most probable:
• Phone Screen – HR
Many companies choose one of their own Human Resources Representatives to kick off the
interview process. Often, especially if the candidate is not local, the phone interview becomes the
screening method of choice.
During this type of phone interview, the HR representative’s responsibility is to give you an
overview of the company and the opportunity. Frequently, he or she may use a standard
questionnaire to launch their discussion from. Besides looking for intelligent and common sense
answers to the questions posed, the company is also hoping to find out about you:
- How well you communicate. Do you speak fluently? Are you able to convey a thought?
Can you answer simple questions concisely? Do you ask well thought out questions?
- A little about your personality. Are you easy to converse with? Do you exhibit good
phone etiquette? Do you know when to affirm, refute, interject, laugh, and exchange ideas?
Would you fit in well at the company?
- Your skill set. Do you possess the basic training to perform the necessary job
responsibilities? Are you a quick learner? Have you had to adapt to new situations before?
- Why you are looking. Are you still employed? Is your position in jeopardy? Are you
having trouble with your superiors? Your peers? Can you work through uncomfortable
situations or do you always bail ship? Do you have a predictable pattern of jumping
For the most part, you can expect the HR phone interview to last somewhere between 15 and 30
minutes. The HR representative’s objective is to weed out the unqualified, desperate, and
dysfunctional. They serve as the guardian to the gate. Treat this phone screen as an important
part of the overall process. If you don’t pass this test, then there is no moving forward.
• Phone Interview – Hiring Manager
A phone interview with the Hiring Manager is a chance to learn some specifics surrounding the
new job opportunity that you are pursuing. If a phone screening with a Human Resources
representative has already taken place, then by now information on you has been passed along to
the hiring manager. If this is the first phone interview with the company, then you can expect
some of the same questions and angles discussed above (see Phone Screen – HR).
In this interview, the manager will provide more details on the scope and duties of the position,
composition of the department, financial stability of the company, short and long-term objectives
of the individual filling the role. You should be prepared to ask very specific questions to that end.
The unequivocal goal of the phone interview is to get the invitation for an in-house interview. Do
what you must to show yourself interested, motivated, and qualified for this position. Be ready to
speak about your own accomplishments that are relevant to the opportunity.
The phone interview with the actual hiring manager usually lasts anywhere between 30 and 60
minutes. This gives both parties ample airtime to address issues and assess the situation.
• In-House Interview
The in-house interview can take on many different faces. In some cases it may be a one-on-one
meeting with the hiring manager only. Other companies call for group or panel discussions. The
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individual is set in a room with several company representatives and required to respond to all
their questions. More commonly is the serial type interview where the candidate visits with
several people throughout the day, meeting with each one at a time.
Regardless of the specific company interview format, the same objective is being targeted. The
company is attempting to size you up. They will be asking you questions about your background
and allowing you to inquire about the company, position, and other pertinent matters.
For the in-house interview, appearance and presentation become increasingly important. The
prospective employer must like your overall package to move towards an offer.
• Lunch Interview
Although the setting may be different, and even feel more relaxed, the in-house interview rules still
apply. You will most likely meet with 1-2 company representatives. This could be a screening
interview to qualify you for the next stage. Or it may involve the actual hiring manager. Treat this
interview delicately. Mind your table manners. Order a moderately priced menu item. And
involve yourself in the mealtime interaction. Chances are if your interviewers enjoy your
companionship, and your skill set resembles the job opening, things will be moving forward.
• Follow-Up Interview
A follow up interview is a great thing. It usually means that you made the short list of finalists or a
final decision is being made on you alone. At this stage, it is typical for a company to introduce
upper level management or executives into the process. Do not treat this as a “rubber stamp”
interview, meaning you are automatically about to get an offer. Sell yourself and show
motivation. Continue doing whatever you have been doing that has gotten you this far
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How To Prepare For The Interview
A prepared candidate is a motivated and interested candidate. There is nothing worse than a
candidate treating an interview with casual indifference. When a company designate has put their
workload on hold to interview you, you had better be ready to dance on center stage. Depending on
the type of interview, there are many things that go into preparing.
♦ Prepare some questions. What is important for you to know about the company? About the location?
About the position?
♦ Find out about your interviewer. Is this a Human Resources representative? Is it a peer? Is it your
prospective manager? What is their title? How long have they been with the company?
♦ Gather information on the company. Look them up in trade journals. Ask around about them. What is
their reputation in your industry? Have they done anything in the marketplace recently that was
noticeable? How’s their financial stability? Have they been growing? Any cutbacks? Who are its parent,
affiliates, and subsidiaries?
♦ Find out why the position is available. Did someone get promoted? Retire? Quit? Is it a newly created
♦ Get details on the specifications of the position. What qualifications is the company looking for in the
ideal candidate? What are the responsibilities of the job? Any supervisory duties?
♦ Find out the logical progression for the position. Is this position an end in itself? Does it naturally
progress towards the next rung in the hierarchal ladder? Where can you expect to see yourself in the next
3-5 years if you start in this role?
♦ Be ready to discuss your background eloquently. Look over your resume. Practice expounding on your
work background. You can be sure they will ask. Try relating what you’ve already done to the
responsibilities of the new position.
♦ Prepare for that notorious question, “Why are you looking to leave your company?” There are several
ways to respond, but you may simply want to assure your interviewer that you have been relatively
content in your present job. However, you are always open to situations that may take your career in a
positive direction. Never sling mud at your current employer.
If this is an on-site interview, further preparation will be required.
♦ Get an itinerary of the interview. Who will you be interviewing with? What positions do they hold
within the company or department?
♦ Know where the company is located. You do not want any travel surprises. If it is local, know the
traffic patterns. Set aside enough time to get there punctually.
♦ Look your best. Sounds elementary, but some people just don’t get it. Get a good night sleep. Shower.
Style your hair. Brush your teeth. Have your clothing already picked out and neatly pressed. You should
know the proper attire for your industry. First impressions are lasting ones. Oh, yeah, use a breath mint -
♦ Bring a notebook and pen, and several copies of your resume.
If you want to be taken seriously, then you need to treat the interview seriously. Anything you can
do in advance to maximize your familiarity with the company and open position will only help
optimize your performance in the interview.
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The phone interview has a two-fold purpose. First, it serves to gather as much information as
possible about the position and company at hand. This helps you determine if you are interested to
continue giving consideration to this opportunity. To do this, it is extremely important that you
have a positive dialogue with your interviewer. He/she will probably start off by telling you a little
bit about the company and the open position. Do your best to interact and ask some key questions.
Many of these questions will evolve naturally from the conversation. Other questions should be
prepared. What is important for you to know?
· What lines of business does the company specialize in?
· Where do they write the majority of their business?
· Who are its major competitors?
· What is the company or department’s growth plans over the next 3-5 years?
· What is the logical progression for a successful candidate in this position?
Obviously, this is not the time to inquire about the company’s dental benefits or 401(k) plan. Your
comments and questions should be targeted toward your interest in the opportunity.
Secondly, and certainly as important, is for you to sell yourself in the most positive light possible.
Don’t forget, you’ve agreed to look into this and the company is accommodating your curiosity. So
treat this phone call with its due importance. When the interviewer is inquiring about your
background, be confident, not arrogant. Try to talk eloquently and intelligently about the things
you’ve worked on and the accomplishments you’ve achieved. There is no reason to apologize for
things you have not yet done. The company has seen your resume and decided to phone interview
you for this job regardless. As much as possible, be excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity if
the situation warrants. Many a phone interview has died an early death because the interviewer
could not gauge the candidate’s interest level.
A successful phone interview is one where both the candidate and company have clearly determined
whether or not to move forward. Do your best to be in a decision making posture by the end of the
conversation. Wouldn’t you rather say, “No, thank you” to an invitation than not get one at all? If
you are clearly interested in moving forward, let the company know of your interest and ask them
where things go from here. Remember, you are usually one of several individuals vying for that in-
house interview invitation. Do what you must to convince them you are worth it!
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(If there was no phone interview prior to this, please also refer to the section on “Phone Interview.”)
Well, you’ve made it through the initial screening – the phone interview – and you’re on your way
to the on-site interview. When you get there, you will most likely have to fill out an application. On
the application are two questions that tend to trip people up. The first is, “What are you currently
earning?” Honesty is the best policy. If you get an additional bonus or are expecting an increase or
review in the next few weeks, it’s okay to write that out in the margin. The second question is,
“What are your salary requirements for this job?” People answer this differently. Some try to leave
it blank. Others target an exact number or a range. Still others choose to answer with a phrase like,
“Flexible” or “Negotiable” or “Open”. If you are truly open-minded, within reason, then you may
opt to respond with the latter, forcing the hiring company to make the first move.
Before going to the interview, do some preparation. Ask around about the company. Look them up
in trade journals or A.M. Best’s. Determine:
· Where they are licensed to write business?
· What has been their premium volume over the past few years?
· What is their combined ratio? Are they operating at an underwriting profit?
· What is their current and past financial ratings?
· How long they have been in business?
· Who are its subsidiaries and affiliates?
A prepared candidate is an interested and motivated candidate. Preparation will allow you to ask
some intelligent questions during your interview. Also, it impresses company personnel. Anything
you can do to distinguish yourself from your competition will have a positive impact.
You may meet with several interviewers during the course of the day. Treat each individual
interview as a stand-alone performance. Be at your best. The company has invested their time and
money to bring you in. Don’t disappoint them. Be friendly and approachable. Ask questions.
Speak confidently regarding your work experience to date. Show yourself as a likeable person and a
team player. If people you meet don’t perceive that they could work well with you, then you have
no chance getting hired. Find out as much as you can about the company and the opportunity to
make an informed decision.
Good luck! And get that offer!
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Common Questions Interviewers Ask
The interviewer’s primary goal is to find out if you are the best person for the job. To accomplish
this, it is imperative that they learn as much as possible about you in your few minutes together.
Their objective is to uncover what they can about your personality, chemistry, attitude, ambitions,
communication abilities, experience, work skills, and motivation. While it would be unfeasible to
try and list all the likely interview questions, there are several that seem to frequently come up.
⋅ Tell me about yourself.
⋅ Describe your present job responsibilities.
⋅ What do you enjoy most about your present job? What do you enjoy least?
⋅ What particular strengths do you bring to this position? Weaknesses?
⋅ How would you describe your personality? How would your co-workers describe you?
⋅ What do you feel is your greatest contribution or accomplishment in your present job?
⋅ What has been your biggest frustration in your career to date?
⋅ If you were president of your company, what changes would you have made to become more successful?
⋅ Why are you looking to change jobs?
⋅ What are some things that are important to you in a job? Why?
⋅ What do you know about our company? About our position?
⋅ What previous experience or qualifications do you have that relate to our position?
⋅ Describe the qualities of an ideal boss.
⋅ Why should we hire you?
⋅ What do you think it takes to be successful in this job?
⋅ Do you prefer to work independently or with others?
⋅ Give me an example in your present or previous job where you have shown initiative.
⋅ What are your salary expectations? Relocation needs?
⋅ Where do you see yourself in five years?
⋅ Are you willing to travel?
⋅ When could you start?
Our mission here is to familiarize you with the most common interview questions so that you can
prepare yourself. Remember, a prepared candidate is a motivated candidate. Practice your
responses. Role play. Look in the mirror and talk. Rehearse with a friend or spouse. Make your
dog sit there and listen. Run through these answers until they become very comfortable and natural
to you. It is not our intent to feed you the “right” response or make artificial suggestions that
convert you into one of our interview-ready robots. You are an individual. Your responses should
reflect that. And it is that individuality that will determine if you are the right candidate for the job.
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Thank You Letters
It is always a classy move to send a thank you note following your in-house interview. But what
should it say? Who should you send it to if you’ve met with several people? And should you use
snail mail or e-mail?
Treat a thank you letter as another opportunity to get your name in front of the hiring authority.
Assuming they have interviewed several applicants, you should take advantage of this acceptable
practice to distinguish yourself and remind them of your interest. You are looking to gain any edge
to win the offer.
A thank you letter should be very brief, maybe 3-5 sentences in length. These should cover the
actual expression of your appreciation, an acknowledgement of the opportunity and your desire to
take on the task. You may also include your interest for feedback. As an example:
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview for the open position of [Title]. I enjoyed my visit, learning
more about your organization and meeting with key individuals. Spending time at your company only served to
heighten my interest in working for [Company]. While I’m sure I will have much to learn if awarded this new role, I
believe my current skill set will serve me well in making this transition.
I look forward to hearing back from you.”
Before leaving the interview you should have organized the names of all the individuals involved in
that interview. This can be accomplished through an itinerary, collecting business cards from each
person, good note keeping, or calling the person who arranged your interview – a Human Resources
representative or an executive recruiter – in order to gather these names. At a minimum, your thank
you note should be sent to the hiring manager. You might also want to consider the Human
Resources representative seeing that they are the most probable source of your future personnel file.
If you are sending this note via e-mail, then you might as well copy it to the other interviewers. If
you are sending an actual letter through the mail, think carefully about your target audience. And
do not use your present employer’s letterhead for your letter. Some perceive that as an unethical use
of your company’s property. Whether you use e-mail or snail mail is a personal preference.
Taking the time to write a thank you letter is a mark of professionalism. It separates you from the
rest of the pack. It punctuates your interest in pursuing the opportunity. And it gives the company a
final chance to evaluate your communication skills and writing ability. Of course, proofread your
letter carefully to guarantee it exhibits your best work.
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Know Your Market
Each person believes they are worth a certain wage, a particular dollar amount. But where and how
they form this opinion is sometimes an impetus for difficult salary negotiations. It is customary for
someone – the recruiter, a Human Resources representative, or the hiring manager – to inquire what
compensation a candidate may be expecting in order to seriously consider the new position with the
It’s at this stage that many people just pull a number out of their magic hat. If you are going to state
a specific desired salary amount, it must be reasonable by market standards, and you must be able to
back up your request with supporting information and logic. Many job applicants say things like:
• “I’ll need a 25% increase over my current compensation. Anything less, I might as well stay where I am.”
• “I don’t want the company to know my current salary. I just want them to pay me what the position is worth.”
• “Since the cost of living in NY is 30% higher than where I live now, AND I’m up for a 10% raise at my
present company, AND I would need at least 20% to change jobs anyhow, THEN I expect the new company
to give me a 60% increase over my current compensation just to make me whole.”
• “I know someone that just got a 33% increase and a $20,000 sign-on bonus. I want the same thing.”
The real question is this: What are other individuals with comparable skills and years of experience
in the same geographic area earning in similar roles at like organizations? It’s a mouthful, but it’s
the only way to compare apples to apples. For you to truly get compensated appropriately, you will
need the answer to this mystery.
As a general rule, companies most frequently base their salary offer on the targeted candidate’s
existing compensation package plus an added amount to help lure them away from their current
employer. Some people want to suggest that this amount is 10%; others say 20%. But the fact of the
matter is, there is no set percentage. Employers are usually constrained by job grade parameters.
Company research and compensation studies reveal what the market rate is for a specific position.
Depending on how close your present salary is to that dollar amount may determine the percentage
increase the new employer can afford to extend you.
So rather than shoot for the stars, or ask for pie-in-the-sky, do your homework and know what the
position should be paying. What are others making in that role? At the same time, introspect on
your interest in the position and readiness to change jobs. A person’s motivation level can often be
correlated to their salary demands. If your only aim is money, maybe you should second-guess your
reasoning. But if this feels like the right move for your career, then go for it. If the company makes
you an offer and the money is right, your decision is easy. However, if the dollar amount is a little
less than you had hoped for, weigh your decision carefully. You may have to endure short-term
pain in the pocketbook in order to appreciate long-term gain in your career. Most of the time, after
you have proven yourself in the new role, things have a way of working themselves out, and your
salary level should catch up to your responsibilities.
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Who Should Negotiate?
Each candidate has a unique personality. Some are filled with leadership, control, confidence, and
initiative. Others are followers, passive, and compliant. This wide array of character traits – and all
those in between – is what makes the world such a special place. But it‘s in those differences that
individuals tend towards their comfort zone when it comes to the negotiating process.
Some candidates insist on speaking to the hiring company regarding their compensation needs,
while others prefer to bargain through a professional negotiator. What is the proper way to handle
this matter? Is it purely determined by the candidates’ tolerance for the task?
Obviously, when you have found a job opportunity on your own and submitted your resume
directly, then the negotiation burden falls squarely on the candidate’s shoulders. There is no
middleman involved. So there is no question of strategy.
Alternatively, just because a recruiter is involved does not mean that the negotiation process is
totally out of your control. The determination of who extends the job offer is usually a joint decision
between the hiring company and its recruiting representative. More often, the hiring company
dictates how it wants this part of the hiring process handled. In my experience, I have discovered a
simple “rule of thumb” for this.
Whenever the prospective employer chooses to extend the offer to the candidate directly, then the
expectation is for the candidate to respond directly. That’s not to say that the candidate can’t call
their recruiter and bounce the numbers off of him or her and get some needed feedback. As a matter
of fact, I wholeheartedly recommend that. But, in this case, the response back to the company
should most likely come from the candidate.
In the other instance, where a company extends their employment offer through the recruiter, the
candidate’s response or negotiations should typically be passed back through that recruiter. Of
course, there are always exceptions to any rule. A recruiter may believe special circumstances
necessitate that the candidate speak with the company to gain more credibility or negotiating
influence. Trust your recruiter. They have everything to lose if this is mishandled.
These are basic suggestions as to the customary and acceptable practice of negotiations – a lesson in
“offer etiquette” if you will. While it would behoove you to follow these guidelines, straying from
them may not necessarily harm your chances.
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How To Negotiate
After you have determined the market value range of your position, and after you know who will be
extending the offer – you are ready to negotiate. What does that mean?
Well, for starters, the hiring company has the right to know your present salary situation. If you are
working with a recruiter, that information needs to be disclosed to your recruiter. The recruiter will
know what to pass along and when to pass it along to the hiring company. Some companies want
this salary information up front. That way they don’t waste everyone’s time if your current
compensation is already too rich for their blood. Other companies don’t ask for this data until after
the interview and you’re under consideration for an offer. This can be real volatile when the
company disqualifies you because you’re earning too much and you want to know why that wasn’t
already worked through. Again, blame it on different company strategies and philosophies.
Some basic financial information that you must be prepared to discuss includes:
• What is your current salary?
• When are you up for your next review? Next promotion?
• What was the amount of your last salary review?
• Are you bonus eligible? What is the target bonus percentage? What is the range?
• What is the history on your bonus payout? When is it paid out? Any bonuses pending?
• What is your 401(k) match? How much will you have to forfeit, if any?
• Any other perks or benefits to discuss?
• What are your salary expectations for this new position?
• What are your relocation needs?
Candidates who are not willing to openly discuss their compensation history with their recruiter
usually fall into one of the following four categories:
1) Ignorant – simply don’t know how the game is played; maybe just new at the job search
2) Paranoid – might be ignorant, or maybe got burned by someone misusing their info in the past
3) Underpaid – afraid to reveal their salary; don’t want any questions asked; would prefer the
company to extend an offer and hope that this offer catches them up to market value
4) Overpaid – also afraid to reveal their salary; company might eliminate them before the interview
stage; wants a fair chance; candidate might even be willing to go lateral or take a pay cut
When a candidate is unwilling to share their salary information with the recruiter, we have a breach
in trust. It strains the relationship and does not reflect well on the candidate when the recruiter must
inform the hiring company that you wouldn’t reveal it. The salary offer is reduced to a lucky guess
rather than a well-crafted amount.
Please understand our role as middlemen at this stage of the game. We are expected to know if you
are interested in moving forward towards an offer or not. And if so, we are expected to know what
it would take to close the deal. That is why it is extremely important for you to have a very honest,
open discussion with your recruiter regarding your expectations.
Some companies make an independent assessment of what the candidate and position is worth.
Other companies inquire of the recruiter what the candidate is looking for. A good recruiter knows
the market value of similar positions, the company’s acceptable salary range, and, hopefully, your
bottom line. By balancing these items we should be able to reach the magical number IF the
candidate’s expectations and the company’s monetary allowance are a good fit.
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Preparing For The Offer
Once it is determined that the company is inclined to move forward with an offer, you must be
mentally committed, too. It is paramount that you already have dealt with the other intangible
issues that go into making a decision.
• Have you already assessed the possible potential at your current job?
• Is your spouse willing to relocate?
• Can your children endorse and even embrace this move (if relocating)?
• Are you prepared to trade in your benefits or rollover your profit sharing funds?
• Do you have the blessing of other key family members and relatives?
• Have you discussed this with close friends that you are certain to miss?
• Can you leave your church or surrender other community involvement?
The company is expecting for you to have already dealt with the many other issues regarding this job
change, and all that should be left to your decision is the salary amount and position. No one is
trying to be insensitive or uncompassionate. Everyone realizes this is a major decision and there will
be several factors to contend with. However, the company is not willing to put an offer on the table
only to hear at that time that your family doesn’t want to move. Deal with that now. If that’s the
case, then step up and withdraw before asking them to go through all the red tape of the offer
You should be ready to state with conviction, “I want this job and I’m ready to accept it if the offer
is at least $xx,xxx.” Or say, “I just can’t do it right now.” “The timing is not right.” “We hate the
location.” “I don’t want to leave my elderly parents.” You will be much more respected if you
proactively handle yourself this way rather than rejecting an offer that has taken much thought,
time, and effort for the company to put together. It may even prevent you from burning the
proverbial bridge so that you may be reconsidered in the future.
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Evaluating The Offer
It’s that time. The letter arrives. The phone rings. The overnight package comes. The e-mail alert
beeps on your computer, “You have mail.” However it happens, it’s time to evaluate the long
awaited offer. Did you get what you asked for? Was it more? Was it less? Regardless, was it fair?
And now that you’ve studied it, what should you do? After all you don’t want to appear desperate
or over-anxious by accepting the company’s first stab at an offer. Or do you? Isn’t this where you’re
supposed to begin the negotiating process? But if you ask for too much, will they think you’re
ungrateful? Will they consider you greedy and rescind what they have already offered? What if you
don’t “press the envelope” and the company had more room in their budget to enrich the offer? If
you don’t ask now, you may never get it!
So many questions. So much psychology. Too many possibilities!
It all comes down to one big consideration. Do you want the job?
• Are there advantages to this position over your current employment?
⋅ Smaller office can mean greater exposure and involvement: “big fish in a small pond”
⋅ Larger office can mean more learning possibilities: “more avenues to travel”
• What is the new company’s reputation in the marketplace?
• Is there more advancement potential?
• Will you learn some new skills or sharpen your existing ones?
• Does it line up better with your career goals?
• Does it offer you liberties in your personal life: more free time, less commuting, other perks, etc.?
• Is the rate of pay equivalent to the job responsibilities?
• Are you simply ready for a change of scenery?
While money is certainly an important issue to most people, it should not be the primary driving
force in making up your mind. Remember, to enjoy your work is a gift in life – a blessing that eludes
most people. What made you look into this opportunity in the first place? It’s time to rehearse why
you ventured off looking for a new job. Does this exceed or at least meet your desired objectives and
criteria for making a change? Only you know! So soul search; then be decisive.
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Responding To The Offer
For the most part, it is usually easier to stay where you are then to get up and go. Know that before
going into your job search. Almost everyone gets real emotional at the decision stage unless there
are mitigating circumstances (hate your old boss, company is going under, spouse’s company is
being relocated, etc.). Change is not an easy thing and is easily avoidable. But just because change
is difficult, that does not mean staying put is your best decision. Having acknowledged that, you
find yourself on this precipice called a job offer, not sure which side to take. As a matter of fact, you
can probably eloquently defend both positions. There are most likely pros and cons to whatever
decision you ultimately make.
If you find yourself uneasy about the new opportunity, and know that it is not just your “fear of the
unknown,” then it’s time to decline. Convince yourself why your former position is better than the
proposed one, and say so. Or determine that there is a better place for you to roost then the one
offered you at the moment. Turning down a job offer can be a difficult undertaking, unless the
company has insulted you with low-ball numbers and you’re looking for the chance to insult them
back. But if the new job is not what you want in your next career move, make that declaration with
no regrets. In your declination say something like:
“Thanks so much for the job offer. I really appreciate all the time and effort put
forth. This has not been an easy decision. But after much soul searching, I
have decided not to accept your offer. I hope you know my intentions have
been sincere. (Interviewing with your company has helped me appreciate what I
currently have.) or ( It’s not exactly what I want for my next career step).
Or if you want the job and the offer is satisfactory – what you expected, not more, not less – accept
it. Don’t play head games. Don’t convince yourself that you should play “hard to get.” Don’t get
greedy. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes for the moment. How refreshing it would be to
have a candidate call and say:
“Thanks for the job offer. I accept! And thanks for making the numbers work.
I can’t wait to start. See you in two weeks.”
Can you imagine the welcoming committee at your new place when you start? You have just given
them reason to celebrate. That positive energy will be waiting for you when you get there.
A very likely scenario is you probably want the job, but the salary amount is a little shy of your
expectations, putting you in a tough decision making mode. This is where the game gets tricky.
What do you say? Is there any room left for increasing the offer? How will you know if you don’t
ask? The best way to probably handle this is with gratitude, gentleness and implied decisiveness. In
other words, thank them for the offer, say you want it, and delicately let them know it was less than
you anticipated. But if they can increase it to your desired level…
“Thanks for the job offer. It’s great to know your company wants me. And
honestly, I want to work there, too. While I’m grateful for the offer, it’s a little
beneath what I was expecting and has put me in a difficult place. If there’s any
way you can increase it to $xx,xxx, then consider me on board. I will accept
right now. But if we leave it where it’s at, then I’m going to need some time to
think through this decision very carefully.”
Regardless of your final decision, handle yourself with polite professionalism. If you decline, do so
gracefully. If you accept, do it enthusiastically. And if you have to negotiate, let your reputation be
one of fairness and honesty. Be good to your word if you say you’re going to accept.
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Oral or Written?
What is the best way to resign? Should you boldly barge into your boss’ office and tell him/her of
your decision? Should you leave a carefully scripted voice mail so they have a chance to digest your
unexpected announcement? Should you casually walk up to your supervisor, hand them a letter,
and say, “Call me when you have a moment to discuss?” Or should you simply drop a note on their
desk explaining your intentions? Somewhere in the middle lies the answer. And sometimes your
resignation strategy depends solely on your supervisor’s availability.
Resigning is never an easy task. You can imagine that there are those rare instances when an
individual can’t wait to shove it in their employer’s face and shout, “Sayonara. I’m moving on.”
But for the most part, feelings of regret, betrayal, disloyalty, guilt, and abandonment flood the
individual as they plan their resignation. The person may even worry about losing friends, being
perceived as a traitor, or thought of as jumping ship during crucial times. But those emotions are
usually self-imposed and need to give place to more appropriate feelings.
A resignation should be treated as a positive thing: a promotion or advancement to attain your next
career goal. After all, you are moving up and on in this world. You are heralding your latest
conquest. So don’t let someone else rain on your parade. If you handle it with enthusiasm and
confidence, then I dare someone to try and alter your mindset. It’s when you cower and apologize
about your resignation that you become vulnerable to another’s guilt trip.
Tender your resignation professionally. The best resignation includes both a written letter (to be
kept in your employee file) and a verbal announcement to your boss. While an oral resignation can
put you in the awkward position of having to explain your decision, step up to the challenge
maturely. Choose your words in advance. Keep things amicable and to the point, simple and
concise. The more you say, the more questions you may have to answer. Don’t focus on the
negatives of your existing employer. Avoid lengthy discussion about your new opportunity with
your old employer. Don’t discuss salary. Don’t get dragged into a comparison game. Don’t be
suckered into discussions to help your employer improve for the next person in your role. It’s really
just an indirect ploy to uncover what you were unhappy with. Simply inform your authorities that
after careful evaluation and discussions with family that you are committed to try out this new
opportunity for the next phase of your career. You are ready for change, your heart is no longer
with your present situation, and this new job seems to be leading you in the right direction – both
personally and professionally. You might say something like this:
“Do you have a moment? There’s no easy way to say this but to be direct. I’ve accepted a position with another firm. Don’t take it
personally. My spouse and I have given this opportunity a lot of thought. As much as I’ve enjoyed working here we feel this new
opportunity is in our best interest.
Here’s my letter of resignation to make things official. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity that I’ve had with [Company]. Please
know that my decision is final. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I would not be interested in any counteroffers. I’d rather exit
politely and on the best of terms. Let me know how I can best help you transition over the next two weeks.”
Thanks again. And I apologize for any inconvenience this may place on you. But I’m asking that you be happy for me since I am
very excited about this exceptional opportunity.”
If probed for more information, you may want to claim that there is nothing else to say right now.
Simply communicate that you are leaving a good opportunity for an even better one that suits your
aspirations. It is natural that you will be missed. Typically, your resignation creates extra work for
others. Furthermore, your department now has to find, hire, and train someone to perform the tasks
that you’ve been doing for years. That is very inconvenient for them. At the risk of sounding
calloused, that is not your problem! Your boss will most likely be shocked by your resignation. You
may want to do this at the end of the workday, so you can walk away from any possible hostility.
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Don’t expect him or her to wrap you in a bear hug and pop a bottle of champagne. Give them a
chance to process your news. They are probably already thinking about what to say to their boss.
Additionally, your written resignation should be carefully scripted to succinctly state your decision.
It should include an acknowledgement of your current employer, a thank you, a conviction to move
on, and a final employment date. The resignation letter does not need to give reasons or
explanations supporting your decision.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work at [Company]. It's been a very positive experience and I’ve certainly learned a
This is to let you know that I have accepted an offer with another firm. Please recognize my resignation as of today.
To ease the transition, I am willing to remain employed with [Company] over the next two weeks, making my final
Again, thanks for everything. While my immediate decision is firm, I hope that my departure can go amicably and that
the doors might remain open for any future possibilities.”
Letters often get circulated among the upper echelon before getting filed in your Human Resources
file. Keep things general and friendly. The written word lasts forever.
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Many people ask how much notice they should give their current employer to help them plan for
their departure and arrange for the transition. As a general rule, two weeks is the acceptable time
offered the employer when tendering one’s resignation. Remember, this is not required. It is a
professional courtesy. In certain unique circumstances or in cases of an individual being a key
executive in a smaller firm, a 3-week notice may be a kinder gesture. But for the most part, it will do
everyone well, especially yourself, if you exit as swiftly as your situation allows. In rare cases, when
your new company may be in direct industry competition with your existing one, you may be asked
to leave the premises immediately upon notice of your resignation and cleaning out your desk.
Assuming you get to work out your two-week notice, make sure you leave your present employer on
the right note. Finish your projects, organize your files, document your assignments, remain
friendly and helpful, and hand off any incomplete tasks to your rightful successor.
It is very commendable to leave on a high note, even if your superiors are disgruntled regarding your
decision. After the initial news of your resignation has circulated and settled, you should take some
time to politely acknowledge the others with whom you’ve worked. Keep your comments about
your new employer positive and general. Speak kindly and appreciatively about your present
company. Let others know it’s simply time for you to move on, to try your hand at something
different, to enjoy a change of scenery. If at all possible, maintain positive relationships with the
people you’ve worked, recognizing that you never know what the future holds or where you may
bump into them again.
If you are fortunate enough to be the recipient of a going away party or luncheon, show great
appreciation. It takes some humbling for a company to spend extra money on an exiting employee.
This is also the time where you should your conversations general and focus on the rewarding
elements of the position and company you are leaving.
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Recruiters will always want to tell you that accepting a counteroffer from your present employer is
the wrong choice. It is career suicide. Lofty words, but is this really true? Or is this just a ploy to
influence you towards the new job opportunity they have presented you with? After all, the recruiter
has a vested interest in your final decision. A placement fee is at stake.
As an Executive Recruiter, I wish there was a way to give you neutral, unbiased information on this
matter. Even if that were my purest intention, your perception may be tainted considering the
source. Recruiters sometimes tend to preach or circulate reasons for not accepting a counteroffer.
These may include:
⋅ What type of company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they finally pay you what you are
⋅ Where is the money for the counteroffer coming from? Is it simply your next raise early?
⋅ If they raise your salary, your company will immediately start looking for a new person at a cheaper price.
⋅ You have now made your employer aware that you are unhappy. From this day on your loyalty will always be in
⋅ When promotion time comes around, your employer will remember who was loyal and who was not.
⋅ When times get tough, your employer will begin the cutback with you knowing you were willing to walk out on
⋅ The same circumstances that now cause you to consider a change will most probably repeat themselves in the
⋅ Statistics show that if you accept a counteroffer, the probability of leaving or being let go within 6-12 months is
⋅ Accepting a counteroffer is an insult to your intelligence and pride, knowing that you were bought.
⋅ Once the word gets out, the relationship that you now enjoy with your co-workers will never be the same. You
may lose the confidence of peer-group acceptance. They may even resent the preferential treatment given you by
Rather than accept this advice from a prejudiced platform, let’s defer to your ability to be rational
and logical about the subject. Think through it before you get emotionally involved. If you were the
boss, the president of your company, and one of your valued employees threatened to leave having
an actual employment offer in hand from a competitor, what would you think about that individual?
After you had personally invested time and effort in someone, could you easily excuse their running
around behind your back in search of something better? How would you feel knowing that person
had been interviewing and taking off work time to visit other employers? As you reflect on their
most recent absences during critical project deadlines, could you excuse their lack of support and
loyalty to the rest of the team? Would you still consider that employee a team player? Why didn’t
they just come and talk to you?
Or could you simply excuse it away? Treat it as if it were no big deal? Show empathy towards their
plight? Realize that they must have been very frustrated? Understand that you might have done the
same thing in their shoes? Overlook the fact that their heart has not been in their job for some time
now? Acknowledge that money is the simple answer to their unhappiness?
At the risk of skewing you in one direction, step back and look at the bigger picture. If your logic
carries you to a single verdict, then follow your conviction. If you are ambivalent in the matter, then
respond likewise. But this is a moral hurdle that you will probably encounter during your career, so
don’t ignore dealing with it or weighing the ramifications as it pertains to you. Decide in advance
what you will do, so you are prepared for that emotional ride.
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