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What am I Worth?, Episode #1: Coming back from Unemployment

One of the more sensitive subjects we discuss with potential and existing candidates here at Sharp Decisions is their value with regard to salary and/or bonuses. These can be complex conversations – especially when a person is looking to re-enter the workforce.

Here is a typical type of exchange:
Recruiter: So, what are you looking for salary-wise?
Candidate: Well, I was making $50,000, but I’m looking for $80,000
Recruiter: I see on your resume that you’ve been out of work for the past 18 months?
Candidate: Yes
Recruiter: And you’re looking for a 60% jump in salary?
Candidate: Well, I wasn’t getting paid what I’m worth

In this candidate’s mind, he/she had been working below their perceived value, but there are a number of factors that can effect the real value of a candidate or employee:

1. The type of industry
2. The relative health of that industry
3. The candidate’s experience level
4. The candidate’s current employment status

This candidate should consider their value in the context of these larger considerations. If hiring is down in their field, and they’re looking to re-enter the job market after a long layoff, it’s safe to say that this does not constitute a seller’s market. Odds are, given the current economic climate that a company is not going to be in a position to (or interested in) make up what a candidate thinks is a shortfall in salary.

If you are looking to re-enter the workforce after a layoff, consider carefully your level of strength in salary negotiations. Don’t sell yourself short, but do look at the big picture so you don’t miss out on any great opportunities.