The Template

Every week, I maintain THE TEMPLATE, an award-winningWinner of the 2015 Plank Center Award (public relations org.) for commitment to mentorship. blog that's been viewed more than 1.5 million times by people all over the world. In every column, I provide step-by-step instruction to help you become a stronger communicator. Like I always say, "Write well, open doors!"

Questions About Salary Negotiation, Rookie Jobs, Fundraising and More — Answered!

career questions

A few weeks back I asked if you had career questions, and several people responded with important queries about salary, job interviews, first jobs, fundraising and more.

In today’s blog post, I respond to a few of the questions. I also ask my network of career experts for their perspective too.

First up: salary and the job application process. 

For salary advice, I turned to Amanda Augustine, a career consultant and expert for TheLadders, a popular job search tool.

Question from John in Columbus, Ohio:

What do you enter into an online application form that requests a desired salary?

Amanda’s answer:

Type in “negotiable” or “open to negotiation.” If you must enter a numeric value for your salary requirements, do not put in “0.” Recruiters know that entering 0 is the same as dodging the question and you risk the chance of being weeded out of the application pile. Instead, identify the average compensation range for the role you’re interested in and choose a number towards the lower end of your range. Remember, this is just a starting point for negotiations.

Question from Meghan in Pennington, New Jersey:

Should you incorporate your salary requirements in a cover letter or other document when the job posting asks for it? If so, how do you do it?

Amanda’s answer:

If the job posting requests that you include your salary requirements, it’s in your best interest to include something in the cover letter. You don’t want the recruiter or hiring manager to think you can’t follow directions. However, you don’t necessarily need to provide an exact figure. You can say that you expect to be paid fairly based on the current market value for this role, and you’ll be happy to discuss an exact figure during the interview when you’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the role and its responsibilities.

Thanks for the great salary insights, Amanda!

Next topic: Job interviews.

Question from Davonte Bradley in Mechanicsville, VA:

Is there anything in particular I should be doing to “seal the deal” so to speak to get job offers? 

Here’s my answer. Three ideas come to mind:

1. Have three stories in mind that will help you demonstrate your ability, work ethic and skill set. Here’s more on the storytelling concept.

2. Prepare these four questions so you ‘wow’ the employer with your interest in the company and the employer’s own career.

3. Handwritten thank-you note within 24 hours of the interview with a specific reference to your conversation (ex: “I enjoyed learning more about the company’s future plans, especially the initiative to cut energy use 57% over the next four years.”) Show the boss you listened and internalized what he/she said.

Next topic: Make an impact as a rookieQuestion: Priyanka in New Delhi, India

I’ve landed a job at Google which I’m excited about! How can I maximize learning even in a big company where the work might not be as hands-on?

For insights, I turned to Heather Huhman at Come Recommended, an HR and career advice website.

Heather’s answer:

Big companies offer a well-established company culture and can often have more well-established practices for completing tasks. This level of guidance can be beneficial for building your own skill set.

In addition, big companies offer more opportunities to network with a variety of professionals (more employees to get coffee with!) and often offer more room for professional advancement or full-time employment (although small companies may offer you a more accessible arena in which to prove yourself to the boss).

(More advice from Heather)

Final topic: Fundraising

Question from Peter in Akron, Ohio:

How can I more effectively reach potential networks and donors for my organization?

My answer: 

The best way to grab the attention of potential donors is, again, through storytelling. So instead of straight up asking for money, tell the story of a person or people impacted by the funds.And when you describe the situation, be specific with the details. Explain the person’s age, location, issue/ailment, how much they struggled and how much your organization has helped.

Use this writing exercise from my blog to add “layers” to sentences. Extra layers make a deeper impact on the reader and will hopefully make them feel emotionally invested in the people you help. Emotional investment = dollars.

Thanks to everyone for the career questions. And thanks to Amanda and Heather for pitching in with advice.


Featured photo: Dennis Brekke (Flickr)


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