Archive for August, 2011

Summarizing Job Application Guidelines

on August 4, 2011

The “Irrefutable Career Truths” series is being temporarily interrupted for several weeks to present summary guidelines to help job candidates: to prepare productive job applications; to conduct effective job interviews; and to negotiate job securing employment agreements.

Keys To The Job Application Process

1st Guideline: Understand that relative to a job application – preparation is everything; interviews and jobs eventually are earned by out-preparing the field of candidates – in all the several management and personal ways profiled throughout this blog series.

Prepare at a level necessary to “win” a job and not just to get interviewed as far too many applicants do and then, accordingly, only “semi-prepare” for the task at hand.

2nd Guideline: Prepare for your next job application now while you are still employed and certainly after you have lost a job. (See my September 9, 2010 blog entitled, “Procrastination Kills Careers.”)

3rd Guideline: Understand that as a general rule new jobs can/will offer better job security than present jobs. (See my May 13, 2010 blog entitled, “New Jobs Are More Secure.”)

4th Guideline:

Understand the ultimate value of your cover letter because it sets the necessary “professionally aggressive tone” needed for the application process to succeed.

(See my April 30, 2009 blog entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Cover Letter.”)

Follow this blog’s cover letter recommendations: (i) to request the documentation needed to interview effectively; and (ii) to request the opportunity for a pre-interview course evaluation tour with a member of the Search Committee. (See my March 20, 2009 blog entitled, “Stress Free Job Interviews.”)

IMPORTANT because this issue will constantly arise: Make the point in your cover letter that the concept of being “over-qualified” for the job is a non-issue because you are prepared for and welcome the ever-growing challenge of maintaining golf course quality within a tightening budget environment.

Also, make the point (only if you are willing, etc.) that you are prepared to tie your salary package to the annual budget revenue flow to support the concept of efficient spending.

The ultimate dichotomy a new job opportunity presents in today’s economy is the likelihood that you will be working at a more secure job but at a lower salary.

6th Guideline: Because of the economy, revise the structure of your personal web site to focus on the central theme of the cost-efficient manner (using visual graphics to make this point) that you have managed the maintenance program at your present/last job. This is the “wild card” that wins jobs these days. Play it forcefully.

7th Guideline: Look to put your name on the waiting list at a respected multi-course management company that operates where you are willing to work.

(See my June 24 2011 blog message on this subject.)

8th Guideline: Submit your job application electronically (concurrent with a hard copy sent via the U.S. Mail) to facilitate the immediate electronic circulation of your application and web site address throughout the Search Committee. Early first impressions are often everything at key times. (See my October 28, 2010 blog on this subject.)

Reminder: Never assume confidentiality when applying for a job. (See my May 24, 2010 blog on this subject.)

I get calls and e-mails every week from superintendents in and out of jobs telling me they “can’t get an interview,” etc. When I review their application process – it is obvious that they generally are not following many/most of the eight guidelines listed above.

Only those dedicated to the comprehensive pursuit of “full preparation” will earn a legitimate opportunity to interview and, hopefully, thereby obtain a new job in today’s economy.

Summarizing The Job Interview Process

on August 12, 2011

The “Irrefutable Career Truths” series has been temporarily interrupted for several weeks to present summary guidelines to help job candidates: to prepare productive job applications (last blog); to conduct effective job interviews (this blog); and to negotiate job securing employment agreements (next blog).

The most feared element of the job application process continues to be the interview before a Search Committee because virtually every candidate feels uncomfortable going into an interview and more doubtful coming out of an interview.

The Good News is that the concept of “interview anxiety/trauma” can be thoroughly diffused if candidates commit to the following regimen – which is profiled within my April 30, 2009 blog entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Cover Letter”.

Objective #1- To Maximize Rapport With The Search Committee Candidates should:

1. Get thoroughly acquainted with the nuances of the target golf course maintenance program via personal tours of the property – first alone and then with the outgoing superintendent, when possible. Then, with the knowledge gained here…

2. Follow the recommendation presented in my March 20, 2009 blog entitled, “Stress Free Job Interview” to request and schedule an informal pre-interview two-way educational tour of the golf course with one or several members of the Search Committee where the unprecedented opportunity will present itself for . . .

. . . the job applicant to assume the totally secure and unique role of an experienced “teacher” to Search Committee members.

What better circumstance can candidates find themselves in once they are reminded of the proven axiom that “students” (i.e., in this case Search Committee members) always respect a good teacher.

Objective #2- To Maximize Plans Of Action Candidates should:

1. Summarize the information/data accumulated through the several golf course tours profiled above and the program documentation requested via the cover letter to prepare a dynamic five-year Plan Of Action that would break “concept” and “budget” presentations into correlating but separate first year, three year and five year segments – using photographs and graphics sparingly, but effectively throughout the document.

2. Submit their completed Plans Of Action electronically through the club to the members of the Search Committee a minimum of 7 days before the scheduled interview.

Objective #3- To Maximize Interview Performance Candidates should:

Before directly answering Search Committee questions, the candidate should request the opportunity to:

1. First, remind Search Committee members that their previously (electronically) submitted personal web sites (revised as necessary to emphasize “cost-efficiency” etc.) present a thorough review of a candidate’s professional career to date; and then, invite questions relative to the web site presentation.

2. Next, briefly review their Plans Of Action (submitted prior to the interview) with the Search Committees and when finished – invite questions relative to this “pivotal” document.

3. Then, answer the remaining “anticipatable” questions of the Search Committee.

If job applicants effectively implement the recommendations profiled throughout this blog message, they will go into the interview feeling comfortable and certain about the task at hand because . . .

…they will realize that they know the target golf course maintenance program better than the Search Committee members themselves;

Accordingly, there is no question that could be asked that a candidate should not only be able to handle well but also use as another potential “teaching opportunity.”

Rarely in golf can such collective preparation (as described above) have the potential to produce so great a reward a job.

The Gospel: Addressing The Delicate Salary Issue

on August 25, 2011

This blog message presents the first of two key follow-up concepts to consider when initially “negotiating” or “re-negotiating” a contract.


Traditionally during job interviews, the vast majority of candidates are put on the defensive when the issue of compensation is put on the table.

The problem arises because candidates have little experience defining their professional self-worth and, accordingly, generally wait until the inevitable soul-searching question is asked, “What is your salary requirement?”

Consequently, many applicants invariably misfire (i.e., either overstate, or understate) when providing compensation information.

If job candidates “want” or “need” the job in this economy, the following  “Q & As” apply when interviewing. If not, candidates can constructively freelance throughout the interview process.

Who Should Raise The Salary Issue First?

Clearly, the candidate should because the party that raises this issue first has the “home court advantage” – i.e., defines the debate since whoever puts a reasonable salary number on the table first forces the opposing party to respond within a reasonable range of the initial offer.

When Is The BEST TIME To Raise The Salary Issue?

The suggested opportune time for candidates to raise the salary issue is during the later stages of the interview process…

…because candidates will want the benefit of demonstrating their negotiating mettle to apply while the interview is still in progress and not wait until after a job offer may, or may not, come their way.

What Is The LEAST Effective Way To Introduce A Salary Request?

Candidates should avoid simply presenting a salary requirement (when asked or volunteering the information) because this will likely precipitate a troublesome confrontation with the Search Committees. Furthermore,

…Search Committees lose confidence in candidates who voluntarily submit salary requests that are +/-10% below the employer’s target range.

What Is The MOST Effective Way To Introduce A Salary Request?

Because clearly there is a narrow window within which a candidate can submit a credible salary request, the following guidelines apply; i.e., candidates should:

a. Conduct the necessary due diligence to ascertain the outgoing superintendent’s salary and the current core salary range for the region.

b. Submit salary requests that are roughly at the 80th percentile of the region’s core salary range for similar courses.

c.  Whether submitting a salary requirement in writing or in person, use the following “non-confrontive” language, “I request that the club come as close to my $80,000 salary request as is practical in today’s economy.”

If the return salary offer is too low, candidates are now free to debate the issue because the employer’s side has brought on the confrontation.

d. When so inclined (and I encourage this), advise the Search Committees that they are willing to tie their salaries to the annual budget/revenue flow.

Experience clearly shows that candidates who adopt the above negotiating approach get offered, at least, 90% of their initial salary request – and at the same time – develop a lasting rapport with their employers by so doing.