Job Interviews: How to Position Yourself As the Best Value
Want to Get the Most Money? Focus on Value
By Jim Hopkinson, Salary.com contributing writer.
There are three reasons why your credit card bill is so high every month. The first are the splurges: the plane ticket and hotel costs for your vacation; the $130 shoes you had to have; or that new flat screen TV for football season. The second are the lifestyle expenses. A few $60 dinners each week or that round of happy hour drinks on your coworker’s last day are common.
The third expense is more insidious: low-cost, recurring monthly expenses that are a direct result of the digital age we live in. You probably pay $8.99 for Netflix, $9.99 for Dropbox, $4.99 for music streaming, $6.95 for website hosting, or whatever your weakness is. But these video games, shaving clubs, digital newspapers, and stock tips all add up.
No matter which services you use, there’s probably one thing they all have in common: a grid of tiered monthly plans at different price points based on a list of features. Companies use these grids to segment customers and steer them into the plan that best fits them. If you can identify with any of those costs above, they convinced you too.
The good news is, these grids are also a great way for you to think about positioning yourself for a new job or a raise.
There are three elements to consider:
- Required skills
- Bonus skills
The first thing a company is going to look for is the required skills for the job. When reviewing a job posting, note that it’s not necessary to be able to say that you’ve done every single requirement that the company has listed.
The fact that there are elements to a new job that you haven’t done is actually a good thing… you should always be looking to grow and take on new challenges as you advance throughout your career.
Still, the more checkmarks an employer can tick off on their list, the better. So in the example above, you can show that you meet all the basic criteria, with the exception of managing the budgets and profit and loss statement of a project. During your interview, you can address the topic and explain why. Perhaps your last company had a very hands-on accounting group that handled all money issues, or you can highlight your financial skills based on a previous job that you had.
In a competitive job market, it’s safe to assume that as you reach the final round of interviews, nearly all candidates will possess most of the required skills for the job. It’s at this point that you have to stand out from the pack. What are the bonus qualifications that make you a unique fit for the job?
If you’ve done your homework and listened for clues during the interview process, you can increase your chances by providing the bonus features they need:
- If you know that you’ll be managing jobs that are very design-centric, play up the fact that you have a design/coding background that others may not have.
- If you find out that other candidates are not from the area or might have less experience, play up the fact that you have very close industry connections that will be valuable for the project.
- If HR told you that they’re in a rush to fill the position and you’re able to start immediately, that could be an advantage vs. another candidate that has to give 2-3 weeks notice.
Once you’ve put forth your case that you are the best candidate for the job (or deserve that raise or promotion), you’ve got more leverage to negotiate your salary. Do your homework to know your worth, determine the proper range, and learn some salary negotiation skills.
Less experienced candidates might be willing to take the low end of the range. Another candidate might have more years of experience, but is lacking certain skills and shoots too high.
Making the decision
In short, if you can highlight the necessary skills required for the job (especially something like mobile that others may lack), address any shortcomings an interviewer may have (such as the budget management), and play up bonus skills that set you apart from the pack, when you shoot for the highest end of the salary range, it’s an easy decision for the hiring manager to see that you’re the best value.
Once you lock down the new job or get that raise, you’ll have some money left over for those vacations, dinners, and pesky monthly bills.