How to Get a Counter Offer – Step by Step Instructions

OK. So you’ve decided you’re underpaid. A few of your team mates are making considerably more than you. You know you’re as good as (if not better) than them, so what gives?

You really do like your job. The company Christmas party is off the hook! The drive is less than 5 minutes and your best buddies work there too…….but you keep seeing jobs all over the internet paying more than what you’re making and it’s starting to weigh on your mind……

So what can you do about it? Call a recruiter? Well, maybe…..

But you know what happens next, right? If you’re so good- you’ll be going on an interview next week. Then another. Pretty soon you’ve got yourself an offer. More money!!! Woo hoo!!

But wait!  Now you’ve got to resign. And you don’t really want to do that, do you? You’ve got to go through with this, though…….right? The recruiter is calling you night and day making sure you’re “on the same page” and you’ve already reluctantly agreed that he can accept an offer on your behalf. Who knows – maybe he already did…?

This isn’t what you really wanted, is it? To leave all your friends? To bail out on the awesome project you’ve been working on the past 2 years? It’s just about ready to go into production. All your hard work – and you’ll never see how happy your customers are……bummer…

I’ve got a solution for you. All you really want is more money. Heck – we all want that. So let me help you do just that without dragging a few other companies and that nice recruiter through the mud.

Wear your best suit into work tomorrow. Look better than you have since you interviewed there to begin with. Let your boss know you need the afternoon off. She’ll ask you why. Just let her know “It’s personal” and try to seem a bit apprehensive about it.

Next week you’ll need to take a whole day off. Again – let your boss know it’s personal. You might jokingly say “I’m not going on any interviews or anything” and then throw in something about your grandma not doing so well and she lives quite a distance away. Again – keep it somewhat vague.

Hang in there. You’re almost done Just one more step. This is the important one. You now need to tell your boss you need a few minutes. She’s already thinking something is up and this will confirm it. Her suspicion will be that you’re leaving – and she can’t have that happen now. Not at this critical time!

When you’re in her office let her know you just want to get a better idea of where you’ll be in the next few years. Ask about your chance of promotion. Let her know you feel like you need some more responsibility – but NEVER let on that you’ve been “interviewing” – just make it appear as though you’re at a crossroads and “might” be looking elsewhere. She’ll suspect this. She’s been here before. Trust me.

She’ll be on the phone with HR in a matter of minutes. Within a day or two you’ll find yourself in a meeting again. This time she’ll be happy to let you know that she’s been thinking of your career plan there – and while that all shapes up – there is also a salary increase she’s requested for you. There you have it. You’re in!

Simple. No hassle. No bitter recruiter. No other company involved. Just you, your company and your new, phatter paycheck.

Good luck!


Grass Roots Movement

I’m starting a grass roots effort and could use your help friends. It’s called Occupy Cube Farms. Our first mission is located within a Big Insurance client located in the Midwest. (Michigan)

If you are a SQL DBA and want to be our observer – and even participate in the day to day goings on there – please call me privately to discuss this mission in detail. While you will have to accept a paycheck from them (so as to blend in with the other mindless drones contributing to their bottom line….) I will do my best to make sure it is not any more than enough to barely meet your basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

Let’s do this!


Time Kills All Deals? Nope…..

Time kills all deals, right? Or so we’ve been told. That seems to be a theme I see pop up from time to time. Almost as if we are “allowed” to blame “time” for our failures.

My concern with this excuse is quite simple. I do not believe it. Time is not the culprit in most situations – mismanagement is. Mismanagement of expectations, of process and steps along the way kills deals. Time is merely the scapegoat.

It seems over the years too many “enthused” recruiters have always appeared to be in a hurry to make things happen. So excited in fact they create a false sense of urgency for their candidates without having a thorough grasp on the time line in front of them. It’s almost as if by “telling” the client “we better move quick” they somehow change their corporate policies to accommodate your enthusiasm. It doesn’t work that way kids.

I tell each of my clients something that helps me get a handle on the process. I let them know in no uncertain terms I am in no rush. If they have a 4 week process – OK. Now I know. I’ll set the expectations with my candidates. I’m also fully prepared for a quick process. As a matter of fact – it doesn’t matter to me what kind of process (short of absurdity) is involved. I just need to know WHAT IT IS. As long as I know IN ADVANCE then I can do my job.

The key to success with any hiring process is to know WHAT it is: How many interviews, how many people, how long does it take to schedule an interview, when will I get feedback from each step, who has to agree, how that decision is made and what timeframes are involved.

It is only AFTER this discussion that I have a right, an obligation, to keep them on track. Only then can I say “Ms. Client, when we discussed this last week you told me you would be able to give me feedback within a day of the interview” or “My notes indicate there would only be 2 interviews……” whatever the case may be. Whenever things are not as previously discussed you then have the professional authority to say “Something has changed. Can you tell me what it is?”

If you don’t discuss it before it starts – how will you know when it’s not going the way it should?

Time kills all deals? Nope. Mismanagement does……..

The Littlest Placement

I have been given a gift. Well – not given, necessarily. It was earned. Those are the best anyway, aren’t they?

We’ve been recruiting for a junior level IT role with a client for the past 3 weeks or so. Not much in the way of qualifications – college degree, some sort of “paid” IT experience combined with a nice personality and enthusiastic attitude. Salaries at this level aren’t really that high as we all know but I’m not one that takes searches based only on what the fee might be in the end.

We had an interesting discussion going over on RecruitingBlogs just yesterday about fees in fact. I’m a stickler for having a minimum percentage. There is a line I have never and (hopefully) will never cross. But that’s a different discussion – feel free to jump in over there.

The client called earlier this week. “Is there a fee if we just want to hire Zach for a summer internship?” Hmmm…..I’ve never placed an intern. Should I not charge anything and hope my goodwill will be remembered down the road? What about putting it together as a temp assignment with a reasonable markup? I wasn’t quite sure which way to go.

Then it hit me. My fee is based on the annual income of the person I place. In the past this amount has always been a year-long salaried role – not a 12 week internship. Why should I come up with some other way to charge for my service?

My fee is $1152 and it might quite possibly be the most rewarding placement I’ve made in quite a while. It has reminded me to take every opportunity in this crazy world to appreciate the way I provide for my family. In fact I’ve earmarked this as my beer budget for the rest of 2010. Each time I crack open a coldie I will celebrate My Littlest Placement!

So this gift is more of a reminder of sorts. I’ve been reminded that ALL placements are to be loved. Each and every placement is as unique as a snowflake: Big ones, tough ones, easy ones, “surprise” placements, the placements that seemingly need to be “remade” several times along the way. Every. Single. One!

Enjoy your work friends. Be thankful for each opportunity no matter how big or small they may be!

It’s Time to Talk About Your Fee

Fee negotiations. Fun stuff, eh?

You finally connect with a manager that seems to need your help. You think you’ve done a good job “not” sounding like an idiot. Though the position was a little outside of your comfort zone you held on nicely. Your questions seemed to spark quite a dialogue: What projects will this person work on? How big is the team? Tell me about your company………why do you LOVE working there? What are the types of companies that seem to have the best candidates? You know – all the questions you think will help you establish your credibility BEFORE you let them know your fee is………..(drum roll please……..)

30%. Or maybe you start at 25%. Either way – you think you’ve executed your work flawlessly and hope they’ll say “OK”.

But that doesn’t usually happen, does it? Not from what I see and hear.

“We have a policy of 18%”. Or “All our vendors have agreed to a cap of 15%”

Damn! And you were so close!

So what do you do? How do you reply to this one? This is one of the 60 second periods of your day or week that GREATLY impact your income for the year.

Rather than suggest a canned reply (there are hundreds – and I’ve heard them – and tried them – all) let me ask you something: What makes you believe you should charge more than the others who have come before you? You might think “Well – must be the other agencies aren’t providing the right candidates. They NEED me!”

But guess what? No they don’t. The other agencies ARE getting it done. Turns out – you’re just asking if you can play too! So now what? You better change your thinking on this one. You aren’t the best. You don’t have the greatest candidates. You have no “secret stash” of top talent. The guy in your inbox is also on your competitors desk. Know it. Live it. Deal with it.

What service do you provide which you think commands a higher fee? Have you spent much time thinking about this? If so – have you DONE anything about it? If you haven’t – I’ve got news for you – you don’t deserve a higher fee……..

Since this is my blog I’m going to tell you what I do that is different. Very different. I know with certainty that NONE of my competitors provides the service I do. When I introduce someone to my client there is a play button on top of each resume. When they click it they get to LISTEN TO THE CANDIDATE describe their background and skills for the job. Their own words. Their own voice. Not the recruiter paraphrasing what the candidate said. No “sales pitch” added. Just the candidate. Right there on the play button. Nothing to download. No passwords. Nothing. Just the resume AND a play button. Here’s an example. This tool saves my clients time. It gives them a far greater idea of WHO the person is – far beyond buzzwords on a resume. I deserve a higher fee – because I provide a higher level of service.

Yes my service is different. Very different. If you would like to see how Verbal Summary works – I’d love to show you. It doesn’t cost much – and gives you an entirely new discussion to have the next time a client says NO to your higher fee……

“Passive” vs “Active” Candidate Labeling

Given the right opportunity – anyone would make a change. I firmly believe this. It’s been a core belief I’ve held since I picked up the telephone for the first time in 1987.

To me – it makes no difference if someone is called a “passive” candidate or “active” candidate. What does that really mean, anyway? How long would a “passive” person be considered as such if they decide they want to move forward? Is an “active” candidate supposed to be treated any differently during the process? Do we assume they’ll take ANY job just because they are “actively” seeking a change? No! It all gets down to the very same thing: Opportunity.

What is the DIFFERENCE any way???? Or more to the point – who cares? Why is there this sense that one needs to fall into one category or the other? Anyone who makes any assumptions about a candidate based on where or how their name was sourced (phone, internet, Linkedin, grocery store run-in, a business mixer or any other way) is starting off at a disadvantage. Any preconception is a disadvantage in my opinion.

My thinking is that to make ANY assumption as to where one is at any given moment is a mistake. Presuming to know a person’s current interest level is bound to change how you begin your relationship. So why do it?

Each candidate contact needs to be treated the same. Now – I’m not going to get into specific recruiting scripts, etc. A recruit call can go many different directions. The key is to BEGIN the call the same way – with NO assumptions.

There is absolutely NO REASON to label candidates as active or passive. Every person can go from one to the other in a moment’s notice. The goal is to identify WHAT that person would make a change for. Period.

It’s about the opportunity – not the label.

Good luck!

A Challenge to TweetMyJobs and JobShouts

I would like invite TweetMyJobs and JobShouts to a duel.

I am one of the many job tweeting skeptics. I’d rather not be. Believe me – if there is a way to utilize Twitter that provides results for my clients – I’m all for it.

I’ll admit – my tactics may not be the best. In fact – my approach to Twitter would not be considered any kind of particular strategy at all: Search for profiles with key words, follow them and hope they follow me back, tweet the occasional job description, ask other recruiters to help with splits, etc. So far the results have been non-existent. In fact the times I’ve asked ANYONE looking for a job in any field to send me a resume have resulted in just ONE reply.

That’s not only a poor result – it’s a clear indication to me that the way I’m going about this is all wrong. I want to change all that.

Here is my proposal. I have positions in HR, Engineering, IT, Manufacturing Management and Accounting. So to say “the people you want are not here” would really say that a high percentage of recruiting disciplines are not (can not) be served by efficiently by using Twitter – directly or indirectly.

I am inviting TweetMyJobs and JobShouts to allow me to use their services for the positions I am recruiting on. I will use their services as suggested and include the very same openings with each provider.

I will follow up the project with a complete and thorough evaluation of both tools. The results from both services will be posted on my blog as well as the well-known recruiting blogs.

Simple enough, right?


Note: This is open to any other job tweeting service as well. If you’re up for the challenge – just let me know! You can reach me at 260-349-2723 or 260-347-1715

Edited to now extend the invitation to Tweetajob as well. Please join in the fun! I promise to do my best to fully utilize the tools as prescribed by you. It may end up being a very big project. I’m also going to suggest to Animal that we then have a show to discuss the results – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Social Media, Marriage and @DanSchawbel

Twitter churns out prophets faster than a cash register. So everyday I see a parade of people who have “never done” offering advice to those who “should be doing”.

I don’t pay much attention to these guys and gals as their material rarely means anything to me but last night I saw a tweet from Danny Schawbel and I just had to get involved. Here is it:

@DanSchawbel: You have to be as committed to your social media profile as you are to your husband or wife.

For those of you who don’t don’t know Danny, he’s “the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y”.

That should tell you two things. He’s into advertising and he’s young.

Now branding is the art of authenticity, right? It’s all about presenting the most memorable, most hireable you. No fluff allowed. So anything Dan says is sincere.

But, face it, friends, he’s still a young guy. I asked him. “Dan, are you married?” and he said “Single”, of course. And how could it be otherwise? No sane man who was married more than a few days would say that personal branding required the same commitment as a marriage. In fact, no sane man would say that who has a regular girlfriend.

So I challenged him:

@Jerry_Albright: Sorry Dan – that is absurd. U must be running out of stuff 2 say. SM commitment requires the same as marriage?

He didn’t back off.

@DanSchawbel: the magic word is commitment 🙂

But he should have.

@Jerry_Albright: Social Media needs (and deserves) nowhere close to the commitment required for marriage Bro – #srsly

Friends, I’m sure Dan’s a great guy. I’m sure many should listen to a lot of what he says. But not everything. I follow the doers not the talkers. The people who walk the walk. Remember the old saying? The pundits preach but the caravan moves on. And so should you.

Are you in a race today?

“It’s kinda like a race – but without cars and stuff.”

This is how my soon-to-be 9 year old son summed up what my day looks like today. I was grabbing my first cup of coffee (trying the Hawaiian Kona from Sam’s Club – first bag – it’s kind of mild…..) and he asked me what was happening.

He’s seen me in action enough to understand what I do. (He’s either going to follow in my footsteps or be an astronaut.)

When he asked “Why are you in a hurry” it was a great chance for me to bring our real lives in as an example which I just love to do!

“Son – remember a while back when we went to put new tires on the truck?”

“Yep. That was cool.”

“It sure was. But remember how the guy had to check to make sure they had the tires I wanted ‘in stock’ before he could ring up the sale? And as soon as he typed into his computer – the computer let him know there were 4 available?

“I think so.”

“Well – guess what? That company called me yesterday. They use a particular software on their computers to keep track of all that stuff. It’s called JD Edwards.” I could see he was getting the picture. He knows what software is – and that the people I work with are experts at it. I went on to further explain “They have some stuff they need someone to come in and work on. It will help their computers work better – and it’s really important. They aren’t going to hire someone – they just want to ‘borrow’ somebody for a few months. If I can locate a contractor with that very specific background – then the very place we bought tires from will then be a customer of ours. Isn’t that cool?”

I could tell he was soaking it all in.

I wrapped up my short explanation of why I was in a hurry. “The thing is though – since this will be the first time I’ve worked with this tire company – there are a few other recruiters like me who are also hurrying this morning too. We’re all trying to be the first one to present a qualified candidate to them.”

“Oh. I get it. It’s kinda like a race – but without cars and stuff!”

Yep. It sure is.

How and when to cover salary with your candidate

When interviewing a candidate, whether this person is a great match for my current position or someone I want to keep in the pipeline, expected salary is one of the last subjects I cover. I have never and would never ask “What would it take” etc. That really puts them in a position of thinking the client wants to “buy” them – so “name your price”. That is a far cry from the real topic.

When I discuss salary (beyond my initial/pre-interview screening “what is your current salary”) it is only after I have walked through their entire career – learning about their salary history from one job to the next. I have already seen their track record of salary increases, etc. By that time I have seen them go from one job to the next and learned what their salary changes were each time. I then know what they have done in real life.

After I know them, their career, their goals – and had them describe the kind of opportunity that fits their career path – I then approach the specific salary discussion. “OK. Great. I’ve got a pretty good understanding of the type of role we’re looking for. If I can find an opportunity that provides what you are looking for – what would be your thoughts on a lateral salary move?” and then I just shut up……..don’t say a word……….

If they say “I need at least XX amount (far above their current) my reply is always: “So then, salary is the main reason for your interest in a change?” At this point the conversation is going to go one of two directions. If their answer is:

Yes – then I suggest the best way to achieve that goal is simply let it be known they’ve been hearing about jobs, or interviewing, etc. and hopefully they can get a counter offer. You see – if $$ is the main reason for a change – that person has a VERY HIGH probability of a counter offer acceptance.
I will also mention that if a company is expected to invest in your career development most likely they would not offer a giant $$ increase to join their team.

In my opinion – training is money. I let them know I find it interesting that people spend 50K + on their degree HOPING they will find a job in their field. When the prospect of a better position comes along with real hands-on/current technology to be gained – they expect a huge raise? I suggest it may be time to invest just a bit more for actual PROFESSIONAL AND CAREER GROWTH – by way of a lateral salary move – or even a slightly lower salary.

But more often their answer will be along these lines – “No. Salary is not my only reason for wanting to move. I just want the best offer I can get”. This is more realistic. I’ll let them know I have the very same goal. Once we’re back on the same page – I find often times they’re simply in need of some guidance. I let them know most cases involve a “reasonable” increase – say, 3-5% – but that our real goal should be to find the best career move. In most cases we then discuss a more realistic salary expectation and keep moving ahead.

This is how I work.