Corporate Angels

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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the October 9, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Don’t Leave $100K on the Table

Leave $5,000 on the table upon accepting a job, and

you lose a lot more than that. "Think about it," says Steve

Wolf. "If you stay with the company for 20 years, that’s


Take into account the fact that raises tend to be a percentage of

base salary, and even the $100,000 figure does not adequately


the loss.

Wolf, a Princeton resident and the human resources director of Empact

Solutions, speaks on "Negotiating the Employment Agreement"

on Tuesday, October 15, at 7:30 p.m. at a Jobseekers meeting at


Church in Princeton. No charge. Call 609-924-2277.

Wolf describes himself as a "trailing spouse." A graduate

of Michigan State, he holds master’s degrees in management and in

human resources development. After working in human resources at a

large midwestern manufacturing firm, he moved to Princeton with his

wife, Karen Wolf, when she was offered a job as president of Topdeq

U.S.A., an office furniture company with offices in Cranbury.

His wife’s job offer offered the couple an opportunity for an


a chance to be an hour away from New York City, and they embraced

it. Upon arriving in Princeton two years ago, Wolf did work for a

biotech company, a high tech company, and a career consulting firm

before landing the job with Empact in New York City. At only 20


Empact is small to have an HR director, but the company is "well

funded and growing," says Wolf. An Internet company, its product,

EyeQ, is an online subscription service that reports and analyzes

vendors’ compliance with service agreements.

After two decades in human resources, and a few recent job hunting

experiences, Wolf speaks about negotiating an employment agreement

from both sides of the desk:

Preparation is key. Interestingly, Wolf does not begin

talking about job negotiations at the point where an offer is made.

Or even at the point where a job seeker starts sending out resumes.

No, before a single application is filled out, says Wolf, the job

hunter has to be clear on what he needs, and on what he wants.


are your income needs?" he asks. "What are your income


The two are different, and each needs to be addressed.

Before the job search begins, sit down and look at your budget. If

your monthly outgo is $5,000, you need to look at jobs that will cover

it, or you need to reduce your expenses. Remember to factor in any

additional commutation, relocation, or cost of living expenses a


new job could bring.

As for goals, if you want to be making $400,000 a year by the time

you are 40, don’t bother looking in industries where top management

tops out way short of that figure.

Establish salary targets, says Wolf. Decide on the minimum you will

accept, your goal, and the highest salary that appears possible.

Establish value early. The salary, benefits, and perks

a potential employer is likely to extend depend upon the value he

thinks you will bring to the job. Start to establish your value from

the very first contact. Your resume, cover letter, and early phone

contacts all need to express — succinctly and clearly — the

attributes you would bring to the job.

Spend time on research. As you close in on an industry,

and then on a company and a specific position, learn all you can about

what the range of possibilities for compensation. Look at market


read advertisements for similar jobs, and check Internet job sites.

Ask as many people as you can for input on what your potential


is likely to pay — and what benefits he is likely to extend —

for the position for which you are interviewing.

Sit tight. "Delay the rewards conversation for as

long as possible," says Wolf. "You will be building your value

proposition, getting buy-in from the hiring manager. You want him

to think you are the best candidate." Better yet, he says,


want him to think you are the only candidate."

People who raise the salary issue early "give a reason to


themselves," Wolf says. "I have met people who have said `I

need XYZ,’ but they haven’t established that they are worth XYZ."

In an extreme example, he recently sat with a candidate who said


five minutes, "I’m glad to get to know you. While I have your

attention, I want to tell you want my needs are." Would this guy

have moved along toward consideration? "I don’t know," Wolf

says. His first five minutes as a serious candidate were also his


In this way, says Wolf, negotiating a salary is like dating. The


met on a first date could be exceptional in every way, but if he/she

says "what about marriage?" at the end of the evening, chances

are excellent that the relationship is going to end right there.

React to the job offer. After the second or third round

of interviews and the reference checks are over, there probably will

be a job offer. No matter what it is, Wolf emphasizes, "always

be polite and grateful." The person extending the offer may be

someone with whom you will be spending a lot of time over many years.

The relationship is important.

Keep emotion in check. Anyone who has been out of work

for any length of time might be strongly tempted to jump up and down

at a job offer, any job offer. Restrain yourself, is Wolf’s advice.

"Emotion can creep in," he acknowledges. Dampen it with the

thought that leaving just a few thousand dollars on the table could

subtract a six-figure amount from your lifetime earnings.

Raise the ante. After thanking the hiring manager for

the job offer, it is possible to ask for more money, or to ask for

any number of additional perks, ranging from a laptop computer to

more vacation to a telecommuting arrangement. While the possibilities

are endless, Wolf advises keeping the requests in the low single


"Three is a good number," he says. Four is okay, too. A


laundry list probably is way too long.

The knowledge gained from preparing for the moment an offer is made

can guide the requests. If your sources have told you that the amount

offered is at the high end of what the company generally pays for

the position, and if they also have told you that there is a good

supply of talent ready to fill the position at that salary, you might

not want to push for too much more money.

However, says Wolf, no matter what the economy, getting an additional

week of vacation generally is an easy sell.

Offer explanations. Tell the hiring manager why you want

to telecommute one day a week, need a laptop you can take home,


five weeks of vacation, and are worth an additional $10,000 a year.

Make the case simply, but persuasively.

Go home to think. No matter how good the offer, sleep

on it. Tell the hiring manager, Wolf advises, that you want to talk

it over with your family. "If nothing else," he says,


a day to enjoy it. Take your spouse out to dinner."

Get back by phone. Decision made, present it in person

if possible. This is often inconvenient, however, Wolf concedes,


that the telephone is the next best thing. If you are waiting for

a response to your counteroffer, be prepared to accept or reject it

based on the expectations you set up at the beginning of your search.

Leave the door open. If you do not get the salary, working

arrangements, or benefits that you hoped for, but still want to accept

the job, it is a good idea to use the negotiations to ask that the

issues be revisited at a specific time in the future, maybe six or

twelve months down the road.

Keep in mind, says Wolf, that the negotiations over your initial

salary and other terms of employment are absolutely the best chance

you are likely to have to set your own terms. "After you are


he says, "the window is pretty much closed."

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

Betty Brite Cleaners has launched its 13th annual Coats

for Kids campaign. The company collects coats at its dry cleaning

locations, picks them up from customers, and organizes collection

points in stores, professional offices, and schools. Gently used coats

are cleaned and distributed to those in need. Over the past 12 years,

the company has collected more than 12,000 coats.

Says Arthur Weiss of Betty Brite Cleaners in Windsor: "We are

helping to solve a problem where those less fortunate may otherwise

find themselves unprepared for the cold winter to come."

To sign up to collect coats or to volunteer to deliver them, call

Weiss at 609-426-4600.

The Trenton Thunder and First Union Bank have


2002 Educational Winner’s Circle grants. Stony Brook-Millstone


Association is the main recipient, and will receive $25,000 to expand

their Trenton Link Program. The other recipients are People and


y Cuentos and the Princeton-Blairstown Center High Quest Program.

The Thunder and First Union developed the Educational Winner’s Circle

in 1994 in an effort to support local non-profit organizations which

enhance educational opportunities for area children. Both the Thunder

and First Union donate five cents for every ticket sold during the

baseball season. Since the inception of the Educational Winner’s


more than $365,000 has been donated to groups in the area.

Mack-Cali Realty Corporation is donating $75,000 to


Sayen Gardens, a public park in Hamilton. Plans call for the


of an underground irrigation and sprinkler system.

Other upgrades to the park, which is located at Mercer Street and

Hughes Drive, include new benches, a pond, fountains, and landscaping.

Says Mitchell E. Hersh, CEO of the real estate trust: "We’re happy

to build on our alliance with the Hamilton Township community and

to enhance the quality of life for both its residents and its business


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