From Application to Negotiation: Everything You Need to Know About the Job Hunt

We know for most people it’s a long and sometimes nerve-racking process from the moment you start your job hunt to taking that dream job. It can be an emotional roller coaster, of which many twists and turns are out of your control. However, when the moment comes, be it an abrupt question on your salary expectation, or being asked to sign an offer letter, you need to be prepared for that situation.

On August 20, Ralph Nader, Talent Acquisition Manager at Viacom, Jeremey Donovan, Chief Marketing Officer at American Management Association, LaDonna Lusher, Senior Associate at Virginia & Ambinder LLP, Jim Hopkinson, President of the Hopkinson Creative Media, and our own FindSpark Founder + CEO Emily Miethner joined us at the Wix Lounge for a Career & Job Search Boot Camp. They spoke about everything you need to know about your job search and career development.
FindSpark Opp Boot Camp

“For entry-level jobs, demonstrating your potential for that position is key.” – Ralph Nader

You can apply to 100 open positions a month when you need a job, but needless to say, each of your applications has to be tailored to the specifics of the position. Ralph, whose job at Viacom largely involves picking the most relevant candidates, shared with us the essential tips to become relevant to the job you are applying to.
“For entry-level jobs, we care more about your potential than your experience,” said Ralph. The expectations from hiring managers are focused on what you want to do and where to place you. Therefore, clearly communicating which areas and functions you want to serve is what your audience is looking for.
So what do you need to do to make yourself relevant? First, figure out what you want to do. Second, figure out where you want to be in 5 years, and how is this role you’d serve gonna get you there. “The way you picture yourself really sets you apart,” said Ralph.
A pro tip: tailor your resume and cover letter based on the job description and include as many keywords as possible. Many recruiters, including Ralph himself, search for keywords on resumes.

“Make the company excited about you; make your expertise exactly what they are looking for.” – Jeremey Donovan

Jeremey began his presentation with the best and worst emails he had ever received. Both emails were reaching him for the first time and asking for some internal referral help.
After comparing and contrasting, here’s what we took away:
1) The first impression starts at the subject line; respectful, short and sweet subject lines will get you a higher click rate than a generic “Hello.” Two-word subjects have the highest open rate!
2) Find the common ground and mention it at the beginning – did you go to the same school? Mutual connections? Same hometown? Establish a rapport quickly and give your audience a good reason to read on.
3) Don’t make it all about you. Wanting a job is not reason enough for someone to help you. Focus on what value you can add to the recipient’s work life; clearly and professionally communicate that in your email. The good email Jeremey received jumped out because the author 1) convinced Jeremey he’s a promising candidate for the position, 2) demonstrated his knowledge on how the system works, which is that Jeremey would get compensated if he later gets hired through Jeremey’s referral, and 3) provided all information needed for the internal referral, which required no effort from Jeremey to help him.
4) Be specific about how they can help you and make it easy for them to do so. The person you’re emailing should not have to put in any effort to help you; you should do the heavy lifting for them. When asking for an internal referral, provide the job title, job ID and a blurb to the person who’s making the hiring decisions.

“It’s all about who you know, so stop caring about what people think about you.” – Emily Miethner

Creating a compelling online presence is the first step towards being noticed and being hired. Maintaining it as your career evolves is no less significant. As many of our community members already know, Emily, the Founder + CEO of the FindSpark community, has an unorthodox career path. Embarking on her career in social media marketing for a publishing house, she later moved on to manage community for a tech startup, before turning her side hustle – NY Creative Interns – into today’s FindSpark.

Photo courtesy of Philip Robibero

Everyone uses social media, everyone talks about it. If you want to leverage social media for your career development, you should minimize your personal content and get used to talking professionally, humbly bragging and sharing your achievements. And by being active on your social media, you increase your visibility and make yourself stay on other people’s radar.
For more social media self-branding tips and tweaks Emily shared, check out this slideshow.

“Paid internships are more likely to lead to paid jobs.” – LaDonna Lusher

We all know that many unpaid internships are illegal, but do you know under what circumstances an unpaid internship is illegal? According to LaDonna, if any of the following describes your situation at work, your unpaid internship is most likely an illegal one:
1) Your employer is benefiting more than you do from this internship.
2) Your unpaid internship does not cover your travel and meal expenses.
3) Your internship doesn’t involve an educational experience, mentoring, or job shadowing.
For a formal employment, your offer letter should at least state your rate, benefits, and how your overtime is compensated. You’ll fill out a W-4 form at the beginning and be on the payroll. Always read your employee handbook: you may be prohibited to work for a competitor even after you leave the company, or you may be bound by social media rules. Also note, your employment is most likely at-will.
Chances are even if you know your employer is violating the law (like not paying your overtime), you don’t want to risk losing the job. An alternative, and this is a rarely-known fact, is that in New York State, you can sue your previous employer within the 6 year window after you leave. So the best strategy is to try to find a better job, and then seek the appropriate legal solution later.

“Dream jobs are out there. Work hard. Be persistent.” – Jim Hopkinson

Jim is the author of the book Salary Tutor: Learn The Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You, has taught more than 6,000 students online how to negotiate their salary, and hosts a popular blog and podcast called “The Hopkinson Report.”

He says that full-time employment in creative fields usually start at the 35k-40k range. Also be mindful there’s more than just money you can negotiate about. The whole picture includes salary, vacation days, benefits, job title, training opportunities, etc.
Salary usually is the first thing that comes up. If it’s your first job, you may not have much leverage. An increase of 2k-5k can be appropriate, but should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
You can start by asking “Just wondering if there’s any flexibility on the salary?” Most people’s worry is that they say “No”. Well, stay collected, handle it professionally, and ask about the vacation days, training opportunities, or tuition reimbursement the company offers for this position and see if these are negotiable.
What if they say “no,” “no,” and “no”? Always have a plan B in mind, and in this case, ask what are the necessary steps to gain the skill set to “get there.” Ask if they would be willing to work out a development plan with you to gain the necessary skills to increase your worth. This way shows you handle your frustration positively, and you are an active solution seeker.
What other questions do you have in the job search process? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Ariel is an Online Marketing Associate at USAWeb and a proud alumna of NYU. Follow her on twitter @arielmsun and visit her website at

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