New Car Stickers

Have you ever seen a sticker on the window of a new car? It shows a complete list of features. Those listed establish value and give an exact account of what a buyer is getting for his money. They are tangible and factual. When combined, they make the case for the price of the vehicle, which is clearly displayed. The buyer may negotiate from that sticker, but the negotiation tends to revolve around a couple hundred dollars here and there. If the car has a feature the buyer doesn’t need, conventional wisdom dictates he attempt to get out of paying for that feature. Overall, the buyer has a reasonable idea of how much the car is worth by the features and performance data supplied and can better establish what a fair price would be to pay. It’s unlikely a buyer would suggest with any degree of seriousness paying $5,000 for a car the sticker supplies ample evidence is worth at least $10,000.

I think job seekers could learn a lot from car stickers. Too often their value positions are rooted heavily in intangibles and carry little weight in terms of dollars. To begin a case for value with comments about how great a listener or team player you are is about as effective as the car sticker noting the car is shiny and smells nice on the inside. They buyer probably likes that the car is shiny and smells good, but it’s kind of expected of the car and doesn’t add true dollar value. Don’t you think most employers expect you to be a good listener with decent team skills? How much dollar value do you think that adds?

“Well, we were going to offer you $35,000, but since you are a good listener, we’ll make it $45,000.”

Never mind many of the intangibles are things potential employers can pick up on by their own observations. It’s a waste of time to point out the car is shiny when I can judge that for myself. You need not tell me you are a good listener. I’ll form my own opinion by how well you listen to me.

Those who are really interested in establishing clear value to a prospective employer need to give careful consideration to the features they have to offer and how those features benefit companies and situations. Support those features with historical data. Keep in mind, the buyer is only going to feel compelled to pay for the features he truly needs. Selling your Russian abilities to a small company in Michigan with no dealings out of the US does nothing for value.

In terms of the sticker price, know your value and don’t be afraid to list it when an employer asks. I’m not a fan of leading with your price in a cover letter, but I also don’t think job seekers should run away from nailing down what they believe they are worth when called to do so. Take stock of what options you offer, figure out what they are worth in today’s economy, make it clear you have them to buyers who find them relevant and make the sale!

2 Comments

  • David says:

    Lisa,

    If an interviewer wants to know your asking price, do you ever give a price range? For example, at my last position I was making $50 I am now at $35k I would like to be at $42k and this is why. I struggle with question all the time although I know my value to a company; I don’t like putting all my cards on the table until I have an idea where they are at.

  • Lisa says:

    For me, it always comes back to this being a business deal between prospective employer and employee. The employer is the customer and the employee is the seller. Traditionally companies have been the ones leading the price discussion and job seekers have enjoyed them removing that burden from them. These are different times now, though. I think job seekers are finding themselves more often in the position of having to speak first in the salary discussion. It’s an adjustment, but it can work well for those who are truly aware of what their skills are worth and what the jobs they are interviewing for entail. When you think about it, it’s actually a bit odd to ask the buyer to name a price first. The example you gave isn’t relating salary to the value of the role. What if a seller in a store said I got $100 for the vacuum I sold and $20 for the lamp and I hope to get $50 for the chair. What does the price of the vacuum or lamp have to do with the price he is hoping to get for the chair? Nothing. You don’t want to put your cards on the table first because you don’t want to risk giving away more than you have to, yes? Employers are now catching on to that concept. Why should they give away more than they have to by speaking first? At the end of the day, the job seeker will benefit from gathering as much information as possible about what they have to offer, what a company needs and confidently stating what they think is a fair selling price for their goods. You don’t have to present the number as if it’s set in stone, but do so with relevant points on your worth.

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