Part III: What I Learned From Applying for (and Turning Down) a Job Offer to be a Contract Resume Writer for a Large Job Search Website
Part III: Evaluating the Company and Job Offer
Recently I stumbled upon a job posting for a Contract Resume Writer position with a large online job search services website that shall remain nameless. Find out how I came to find this opportunity and why I went ahead and applied for it by requesting the cover letter (as a sample with strategy commentary just for you!) I sent in for this position.
This experience was really just a strong, first-hand rerun of things I already knew but just hadn’t had happen directly TO me in awhile. I’m so glad I did this because it turned out to be a great way to keep myself in my clients shoes, feeling what many of you may feel during the job search process.
I’m sharing all about my experience in a 4-part blog series: Part I – Applying, Part II – Interviewing (and Interview-ers), Part III -3 Steps to Evaluating a Job Offer and Part IV- Turning Down a Job When You Could Really Use One.
This Week: Evaluating the Company and the Job Offer
Here are the questions and observations I used to evaluate this job offer and the company that I recommend you consider in your search as well:
1. What have you learned about the company directly and INDIRECTLY during the interview?
Keep your eyes out for direct indication about the quality (or lack thereof) of staff they are seeking, and/or, the quality (or lack thereof) of their product or service.
EX: See above (they don’t ask you anything . . . ) to me, this is the sign of a bad interviewer or possibly even a company that doesn’t care all that much about the quality of their employees (and therefore the service they offer customers)
And so while I know I am a highly qualified candidate and can and did prove it, it made me wonder if they were always this non-stringent in all their hiring and quality control, or just with me & writers whose samples proved their skills were more than adequate. Of course I don’t know why they didn’t ask me anything, but I personally believe that always being thorough as a best practice of the best companies.
EX: This interviewer also said this to me in the first 5 minutes, and it was a HUGE red flag to me: “Our system is simple and makes it easy to write quickly. It’s basically “resumes by numbers”. Ummmm?? What? That is NOT the way I approach my clients at all. Each resume/person is unique, there is no formula that serves anyone the same, or best (and to be fair, the templates they used were varied, and we were allowed to tweak them if needed) – but just the cookie-cutter “by numbers” description turned me off. Efficiency is great but not at the expense of standing out to the reader. I never use templates, each of my formats are original to the client, and besides, employers can spot templates a mile away and they are a turn-off.
EX: This company stated in no uncertain terms (and a bit terse for my taste) that they don’t negotiate, and don’t offer pay increases, even after expert credentials are earned (which were also required at the contractors expense).
While sometimes an organization simply may not have the leeway to offer you more (in terms of pay or benefits, flexibility of schedule or any number of components in a job offer), the way they approach and talk about this and the facts as stated should be noted as an indicator of what to expect going forward as well.
As Oprah quotes Maya Angelou as saying, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Also see “resume by numbers” comments above, which I also took as a clear indicator of the quality of service they offered clients, that was not in keeping with my own.
On the other hand, an indication of a company striving for excellence in their staff, quality of product and service, a willingness to show you they value you however they are able to, and how they go about doing this, in my opinion, are big considerations in evaluating a company you might want to work with.
2. What does the interviewer say when asked, “What qualities does a strong candidate for this position bring to the company?” or “What are you looking for in an employee that will be successful in this position/at this company?”
A version of this question is one I really recommend you ask when given the opportunity. It will show what they expect, how they approach the boss/employee relation, corporate attitudes on these roles, what skills they really need and value, etc.
In this case, the answer was what I consider very ‘old school’ and a bit dictorial. Statements like “when I was an employee, I just did what I was told, no questions asked” made it clear to me that I would be expected to do the same with her and very much seen as a subordinate; we were not business colleagues working together. (Again, “believe them when they show you who they are.”)
So, I had to evaluate & decide if this was the type of working relationship I wanted or not.
Why I usually love this question is that you can also use their answer as a way to reiterate how your skills do, in fact, match exactly what they just stated they most value – gold!
3. Is the offer fair and on par with what is average, better, or worse in your industry and at that job level?
This company paid 50% or more LESS than what I know other resume companies pay contractors (I’ve worked for two, large and small in the past), so honestly, I found the pay rate both a little insulting and, a possible indicator of poorer quality for the client being the norm and accepted. For example, to be able to make their pay rate worth it, the amount of time spent on writing a resume would have to be a LOT less than, in my professional opinion, what is needed to serve the client properly. It also simply shows the valuation they place on their contractors.
So, I had to decide if I was willing to possibly do sub-standard (my own personal standards) work if that was what was required, and if I would value my own time that much less as well.
On the other hand, if there had been indicators of again, excellence in how they treat employees, it is also often an indicator of how they value their customers as well.
As you can tell from this commentary (as well as reading the blog posts title!), I turned down the offer, when a source of clients I didn’t have to find through my own marketing efforts would have been helpful to me. Here’s why I came to the decision to let that one go, even though it was quite difficult to do so:
Next Up: Why to Turn Down an Offer When You Could Really Use a Job