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Better Ways to Look for a Job and Ask for a Raise

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Stand out from the crowd

Quick decision: You’re on the way to the office in the morning, and you need a pick-me-up. Should you stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee or grab a smoothie at Jamba Juice?

According to the series of diet books Eat This, Not That, the decision could make a big impact on your waistline. If you go easy on the milk and sugar, that simple coffee will be less than 25 calories. But if you opt for the Jamba Juice “Power Peanut Butter Moo’d,” you’ll be consuming a whopping 1,170 calories.

Making important decisions based on the nitty gritty numbers can hold true for your job search as well. Let’s explore:

1. Looking for a job

Do this: Network

Not that: Search online job boards

The data: While the numbers vary from study to study, one report from ABC News found that up to 80 percent of jobs are found through networking.

Despite these overwhelming odds, you may still spend your time doing exactly the opposite during your job search. Are you scouring the job boards day after day, competing with hundreds of other candidates, sending out resumes shotgun style and hoping a random company with an opening finds your resume interesting?

Instead, you should conduct targeted searches of companies you’d like to work for. While online job boards are a good source of research to learn about companies that are hiring, the numbers say it’s more effective to double down on networking—take an old coworker to lunch, reach out to contacts in your social network, join a local Meetup group, attend events in your industry, etc.

2. Acing the interview

Do this: Cultivate your online presence

Not that: Leave the fate of your career up to Google

The data: Reports show that 75 percent of recruiters are required to do online research on candidates, and 70 percent report they’ve passed on candidates because of information they found. The New York Times claims that your social media history has become the new job hurdle, while Mashable reports as many as 90 percent of recruiters look at the social networks of candidates.

It might be as soon as when you submit your resume or as late as the offer stage, but one thing is near certain: you will be Googled. The question you need to ask is, “What comes up when someone searches my name?”

Common results include:

  • Facebook: If your privacy settings are open and HR sees photos of you acting unprofessionally, it could cost you the job.
  • LinkedIn: This isn’t a bad thing, as long as your profile tells a good story.
  • You have a common name, so it’s hard to filter through the results. Once again, while not a bad thing, it’s not a positive, either.
  • Something inappropriate comes up. This will not help your job search.

Know what a winning response would be? “Well, I know that just about every recruiter will Google me, so I built a quick personal website to highlight my skills and enforce my brand.”

It’s fast, easy and inexpensive to create your own Web presence and boost your rankings. Seriously, it takes about 15 minutes and costs a whopping $1 per month for a hosted site with your own URL. Or you can get up a free account for a simple one-page website on a site such as About.me.

The Guardian makes an argument for why everyone should register a domain name, so don’t wait another minute.

3. Negotiating your salary

Do this: Negotiate your salary

Not that: Leave thousands of dollars on the table

The data: In a salary negotiation study of MBAs at Carnegie Mellon quoted by Sheryl Sandberg in her TED talk, just seven percent of women negotiated their starting salary, while 57 percent of men negotiated theirs.

The fact is, far too many job seekers—both men and women—fail to negotiate their salaries when they receive a job offer. It’s not because they don’t want more money. They’re probably just nervous. LinkedIn reports that 39 percent of US job seekers are anxious when it comes to negotiation.

The good news is negotiation skills can be learned. The first thing you can do is adapt a salary negotiation mindset. Knowing your worth and making a counter-offer is not only accepted; it’s expected.

4. Asking for a raise

Do this: Show them what you’ve accomplished

Not that: Tell them what you’ve accomplished

The data: A picture is worth 1,000 words, and in October 2012, Apple announced it had sold 100 million iPads. How does this help you get a raise?

The average person does little preparation when deciding to ask for more money. They sit in their manager’s office and list off two or three things they’ve done in the past year. Often they frame their request in terms of their own needs, asking for a raise because their rent went up or they can’t pay their bills.

Don’t be average. Be a memorable rock star employee.

Pay attention to things like preparation, presentation and design. One tip is to create a digital portfolio of your work on the iPad or another tablet. Once the realm of only designers and photographers, now that most of our lives have gone digital (photos, videos, music, movies), why not stand out and create an engaging presentation that uses words, photos, videos, images, charts and statistics to illustrate why you deserve a raise and how you contribute to the bottom line?

Harvard education specialist Tony Wagner says you should start even younger, saying, “All students should have digital portfolios to show evidence of mastery of skills like critical thinking and communication.”

Securing the career you want at the pay you deserve is already a difficult task. By incorporating some data hacks into your job search, you can “tip the scales” in your favor.

Jim Hopkinson is the author of the book Salary Tutor and helps professionals negotiate their salary (his record is a $43,000 increase). His entertaining and informative online course, How to Negotiate a Raise or Promotion, teaches specific steps to get a raise, including templates for presenting salary research and creating a digital portfolio. (Use coupon code Brazen60 for 60 percent off.)

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.