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Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Cha-Ching: How Money Influences The Job Search

See all of our recruiting blogs for the student jobseeker at Vault.com:


Cha-Ching Off-Campus / How Money Influences Your Search
Posted on MAR 30, 2009 12:00 A.M.

Posted By Caroline Ceniza-Levine


I recently coached a client who was trying to identify suitable target industries.  She also wanted to start at $50,000 (she is an undergraduate, class of 2009, in NYC).  When I pointed out that her target salary implied banking and consulting and not much else, she was taken aback and quickly lowered her target salary to $40,000.  I pointed out that even at $40,000 she ruled out media, advertising, PR, and many non-profits that start out in the $30’s, sometimes less.  She was again aghast. 


Frankly, I was aghast.  That she could lower her target by 20% so quickly suggested that she hadn’t really thought about her budget — a 20% swing is a big deal.  That she wasn’t aware of typical base salaries in different industries suggested that she hadn’t researched the money while researching industries for her search. 


Money influences your search.  You don’t want to target a job only to find out that it doesn’t pay what you expected.  Here are money issues you need to work out in order to have a productive job search:


What is your budget?  You may have student loan payments to make.  You may want to live on your own.  You may target an expensive city like New York.  All of these considerations need to be factored into your search.  If you want to live in NY and your parents can’t subsidize you and you have $500 loan payments kicking in, add up your expected budget and figure out how you’re going to meet that.  You may decide to still pursue an industry whose typical starting salary doesn’t cover this, but then you know you need to supplement with bartending, retail, or some other source of income


What are your dream jobs paying at the entry-level?  Salaries for some low-paying industries can rise dramatically over time when you consider executive or management positions.  There are six-figure jobs in PR, advertising and non-profit.  If you can take a long-term view, don’t let the entry-level salary dissuade you from a genuine interest you have.  However, you should still be aware of what entry-level salaries are so, coupled with the budget question, you ensure that you take care of yourself in the short term.


How important is money in general to you?  Will you take your second choice company if it offers more money?  Do you need to have a performance bonus incentive or the promise of rapid salary growth?  Is money a key sign of status, something you hadn’t thought of until reading this column, or something in-between?  Every job comes with a salary, benefits and other money-related implications so you need to know how you feel about money in order to have a job search that reflects your priorities and values.


Ask the above questions now while you are planning your search, not when you have the pressure and urgency of an offer to consider.



Cha-Ching On-Campus / How Money Influences Your Search


Posted By Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio


On Wall Street, some things have changed dramatically and other things haven’t changed much at all.


Dramatic change:  the number of entry level full-time and summer hires made by top firms from campus recruiting efforts; Little change:  the entry level salary once you are hired.  From Caroline’s email above there seems to be some uncertainty as far as salaries go.  So why don’t we clear this up– starting at the high end and moving downward: 


$60,000 – $65,000:  Investment Banking, Global Markets, Asset Management, Consulting:  For those select candidates that find themselves the recipient of a full-time offer in these disciplines, good for you!  Up until last year, they were the “sexy” businesses and still lucrative if you can grab a coveted spot.  Bonuses will be down, but the salary remains the same.  These disciplines will look for a GPA is at a 3.8 or above, or you may not make the resume screen.


$60,000:  Technology:  There is still a supply and demand issue here and you are a more attractive candidate if you pair it with a business minor.


$55,000:  Wealth Management and Accounting majors will garner this salary, and if it’s accounting, your goal will most likely be to work for one of the Big 4:  1) Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 2) Deloitte & Touche, 3) Ernst & Young, and 4) KPMG. Remember that they don’t pay bonuses to entry level hires – smaller bonuses are paid to more senior managers, but if you work in financial services, a bonus could be yours. 


$50,000 – $55,000:  Engineers rule!  Obama recently mentioned the importance they will play in our economy going forward.  Chemical Engineers are at the high point, followed by Electrical and later Mechanical and then Civil.  Whatever the focus, Engineering is a great discipline.  In fact, I’ve heard that there are fewer than 200 Ocean Engineers in the U.S. so supply and demand applies here.


$45,000 – $50,000:  Marketing, Operations, Compliance, Human Resources.  These areas offer solid entry level positions into a company and with them come exposure.  For example, you could be an HR analyst, and face off against investment banking one year, followed by markets the next, and wealth management the next.  Spring boarding into another discipline could be your goal once you do well here.


$35,000 – $40,000:  Media, Public Relations, Advertising.  A liberal arts degree can land you into one of these disciplines and that is a good thing because if you are smart & learn from the bottom up, a good career can be hard.


A global Universum study found that graduating seniors ranked work/life balance as the #1 concern.  From the US to Europe, to PacRim there was only one exception:  Indian engineers who ranked it #2.  But Caroline makes a great point in her blog above …six-figure salaries appear in every profession, you just need to build your career the right way to ensure you get there. 


Filed under: career coaching, resource recommendation, Salary tip, , , ,

SixFigureStart Free Ask-A-Recruiter Coaching Call

If you could ask a recruiter anything you wanted to know about how hiring really works, what would you ask?



SixFigureStart Free Ask-A-Recruiter Coaching Call

Friday, April 3 at 1p EST

SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com, Career Coaching By Former Fortune 500 Recruiters) hosts a free coaching call to answer your career questions.  Email your career questions to caroline@sixfigurestart.com.   To join the call:


Dial 712 775 7100

Use code 151675#


No need to preregister but if you want to hear a recording of the call, email caroline@sixfigurestart.com to get the playback instructions.


SixFigureStart is a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters and specializing in coaching Generation Y students and young professionals.  SixFigureStart co-founders Connie Thanasoulis and Caroline Ceniza-Levine have a combined 40 years of HR and business experience.  Connie led campus recruiting and new hire programming for Citigroup, Pfizer and Merrill Lynch.  Caroline led campus recruiting and new hire programming for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Booz Allen, Oliver Wyman, Disney ABC, TV Guide, and others.  Connie and Caroline are the online coaches for Vault.com and Wetfeet.com, career columnists for CNBC.com and Conde Nast’s Portfolio.com, and adjunct assistant professors of Professional Development at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. 

Filed under: career coaching, Company news, resource recommendation, , , ,

Book Review: Ken Robinson’s The Element

The subtitle of Ken Robinson’s new book is How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.  Robinson writes about In The Zone moments where time flies by and you are totally absorbed.  As identifying these moments is what I ask of my own coaching clients. I obviously buy into Robinson’s theory that you will most likely thrive in what you enjoy doing.  An added bonus are the numerous, inspirational examples of people in their “Element”.

The book has chapters for key questions such as:

Finding a community support system — Robinson refers to this as your “tribe”

Dealing with family and friends who might not be supportive

Finding mentors

Identifying your passion later in life

Handling money issues when your passion might not pay

While Robinson writes about life and vocation in general, all of these issues are critical for the job search as well.  You need a support system — a job search group, a coach.  You need to guard against people giving bad advice or discouraging you — I advise my clients to limit their media consumption and to not listen to family and friends who may have out of date advice.  You need outside help — that’s why networking is so important.  You need to recognize that it’s never too late — even if your job search has stalled or you procrastinated and didn’t start as early as you should, you can still start anew with a better, more productive search from this day on.  You need to consider and decide on the money issues — you have to support yourself and as Robinson notes, you don’t necessarily have to do that with your burning passion nor do you have to give up your passion to support yourself.

It’s always nice to hear how other people achieve success — in the case of Robinson’s book , the success of doing what they love.  It provides encouragement when the day-to-day job search may get you down.  Stop reading the unemployment statistics and the dismal stock market news, and surround yourself with positive words of encouragement, such as the wonderful stories and advice shared in “The Element”.

Filed under: book review, career coaching, life coaching, , , , , ,

Focus On The Upside

Two strikeout leaders in baseball are Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth.  Neither player is remembered as a strikeout leader.  Still, people hear stories of great success coming only after great struggle, and this is not enough to encourage them to go after their dreams.  The potential downside of failure often greatly outweighs the potential upside from success.  See my tips to focus on the upside in my latest column for The GlassHammer:


Filed under: career coaching, life coaching, resource recommendation, , ,

Saving and Personal Finance Tips

SixFigureStart makes a guest appearance on ChaChanna Simpson’s Generation Y blog.  See my tip on checking your credit for free, plus other expert tips at:


Filed under: life coaching, resource recommendation, , , , ,

Book Review: David Allen’s Ready For Anything

Full disclosure:  I am a David Allen fan.  I discovered him just recently, sometime in the last few years, when I had already painstakingly created my own elaborate organization structure  (why???).  Turns out, we had much in common, and his ideas leapfrogged my productivity to the next level.  While I think his classic book, “Getting Things Done”, is much more comprehensive, the follow up “Ready For Anything” is a breezier and more inspirational read.  The big messages lay a great foundation for a proactive job search plan:

“Clear your head for creativity.”  Allen recommends getting organized and creating a master to do list.  This is key for your search — you want to know what you need to do at every stage, so you don’t let something fall through the cracks.

“Focus productively.”  Allen recommends that you prioritize and decide what to do and what NOT to do.  This is also key to an efficient search.  Stop responding to every ad that pops up.  Step back and ask yourself if the new potential opportunity fits your criteria.  If not, stick to your search as defined and stop starting and stopping for every lead that comes your way.

“Create structures that work. ” Allen has a whole section on how to stay organized.  Likewise, the SixFigureStart job search has staying organized as a step unto its own.  It is that important to stay organized.  You need a structure to manage your networking contacts, a structure to track your search results and activities, and a structure to capture ideas and thoughts.  You need to have all of this data at the ready for a comprehensive search.

“Relax and get in motion.”  Allen uses the phrase “mind like water” often.  I love that image about finding the stillness and the flow.  In your job search you want to be “on” when you have those networking meetings and interviews.  You want to be focused and ready for opportunities that come up unexpectedly.  This is why the above three steps are so important:  by knowing where you stand, staying on target, and taking a systematic approach to your search you can relax and be Ready For Anything in your job search.

Filed under: book review, career coaching, , ,

Three Musts of Winning Resumes

As a recruiter I have seen thousands of resumes over my career.  For each career level, from student intern to rainmaking partner, there are specific nuances that make winning resumes stick out.  However, at all levels, winning resumes demonstrate three criteria:

See the three musts in my latest post for The GlassHammer:


Filed under: career coaching, resource recommendation, , ,

Research Tips For The Jobseeker

See all of our recruiting blogs for the student jobseeker on Vault.com:


Research Off-Campus / What You Need to Know
Posted on MAR 18, 2009 12:00 A.M.

–Posted by Caroline Ceniza-Levine

Recently, Connie and I were coaching at an undergraduate college to troubleshoot the job searches of seniors who hadn’t yet secured a full-time job. Nearly all of my coaching sessions came down to a question of research. The students that I saw had identified their dream industries. They had clean resumes. They even started to get interviews. But where most searches broke down was in a failure to research.

What companies are you targeting? One student had an interest in green – she used electric cars as an example. Who makes electric cars? Who markets these cars? Who lobbies for green? These are all potential job targets. Electric cars won’t hire you. The companies and organizations behind them will.

To whom are you sending your resume? Unless you are targeting a job in HR, recruiters don’t hire you – the department you want hires you. If you want to be a grant writer, then the development director is who you want to contact. If you want to be a PR assistant, then it’s the communications director. Find the decision-maker, and network into them specifically.

What keeps your prospective employer up at night? When you interview, you need to know yourself and your contributions – that’s a given. But you need to position yourself in the context of the company and what it cares about. How do they make money? What are the opportunities and challenges to their business? How can you contribute to their bottom line and their business model specifically?

You will not know how to position yourself appropriately, how to find the right contacts, and where to even start your search unless you research. The informed jobseeker has the upper hand in the search.


Research On-Campus / How You Find Out What You Need to Know

–Posted by Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio

It’s St. Patricks Day, and these days, it seems that only the Leprechauns are finding their pots of gold. But students can find their pot of gold, aka their dream job, if they use research tools provided to them by their career services office. Caroline and I recently coached students at an undergraduate college in NYC, and almost every student told me a search in the “x” or “y” industry is too hard to conduct. Searches get a lot easier when you use the research tools outlined below, and career services provides many of them free of charge.

1 – Vault Industry Guides: these guides give you an overview of industries like “Green Programs”, “Investment Management”, “Consulting Industry””, and more. Each guide gives an introduction to the industry in general, followed by “hiring basics”, “resumes and cover letters” specific to the industry, and of course “interview tips”. They will also include “a day in the life”, “career paths” and they end with top companies in that industry space. And here is the kicker … they give you the name, address and contact email of the recruiter for each group that hires. How could you go wrong using this?!?!
2 – The Vault Guide to Resumes, Cover Letters and Interviewing: this comprehensive guide will show you various examples of cover letters and resumes, in addition to a general overview of the interview process. It’s a must read for a basic and comprehensive introduction of these topics;
3 – The Vault Guide to Advanced Finance and Quantitative Interviews: this guide will help you prepare for the toughest technical finance interviews – including everything from “bond fundamentals” to “equity market derivatives”;
4 – Networking is the buzz word of the 21st Century, but I’ll argue that few know how to do it correctly and effectively. The Vault Guide to Schmoozing gives you a good foundation for networking. You’ll need to watch the masters do it correctly, and practice and follow up like never before, but it will pay off in the end.

If your career services office doesn’t offer these tools to you free of charge, some may be worth purchasing (they range from $20 – $30 a piece). If they are too expensive, perhaps you can get a group of students to chip in and order 4 or 5 and share. It would be foolish not to see how these resources can help you land your dream job!

Filed under: career coaching, resource recommendation, , ,

Book Review: John Kotter’s A Sense of Urgency

While targeted to organization leaders (and while I would have loved more specific examples), Kotter’s latest book has some excellent points for anyone looking to effect change, including jobseekers:

Bring the outside in.  Kotter talks about bringing awareness of outside market feedback to employees inside the company.  Jobseekers also need to be aware how they are doing on the market.  Don’t just go to interview after interview without getting some sense of how the market receives what you are offering.

Behave with urgency every day.  Kotter points out the danger of leaders who only react in crisis times and not day to day.  Likewise, jobseekers need to realize that what they do each day of their search determines their search overall.  You can’t cram networking.

Find opportunity in crisis.  Kotter encourages leaders to use a crisis as a rallying point.  Jobseekers, use that bad review or that pink slip to rally your energies to finally pursuing your dreams.  Maybe you are pushed into it by chance, but use that chance to the fullest.

Deal with NoNos.  Kotter recommends taking naysayers seriously and dealing with them proactively.  Jobseekers will also be surrounded by pessimists, especially in this tough market.  Focus on positive news.  Hang out with people who lift your spirits up.   Internalize good energy so that is what you reflect outward.

Aside from these four main points, Kotter’s conclusion recommended two key points:  focus on quick and easy; and start now.  For jobseekers in a rush, make one of your targets an industry or area you already know.  Get some quick meetings to get your confidence up.  You can also go for that dream career change but recognize that you can do multiple searches in tandem.  Also start now — enough said.

Filed under: book review, career coaching, , , ,

Five Tips For Maintaining Your Network

No one wants to be contacted only in times of need.

That’s what gives networking a bad rap.

The best way to build a solid network is to contact people when you don’t need anything. Even for jobseekers that find themselves networking to jumpstart their search, you do not want your first contact (or even your second) to be a request for help. Instead, maintain (or restart) your network by reaching out to people regularly and without asking for anything.

Read five creative ways to reach out in my latest post for CNBC.com:



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