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Don’t be the Low-Priced Job Candidate

2c56b84Near my home, two gas stations sit side by side. Always, one has higher prices than the other – as much as 30 or 40 cents per gallon.

So you’d think customers would be flocking to the low-priced option, wouldn’t you? After all, gas is a commodity and most of us grouse about how much it costs.

But, surprise! The high-priced gas station is always busy, while the low-priced station – literally 200 feet away – often appears dead.

What’s going on … and [more importantly] what the heck does this have to do with job search?

Price is certainly a factor when making any buying decision. But it is seldom if ever the ONLY factor. In the gas station instance, customers are choosing the higher-priced option because:

  • It’s cleaner and more modern – more attractive looking.
  • It has more amenities – a fully stocked mini-mart and Dunkin’ Donuts.
  • It is a familiar brand, while gas station #2 is a no-name brand.

Clearly, customers are willing to pay more for a more satisfying experience, even though the primary product (gas) is identical.

In the job market, when employers make “buying” (hiring) decisions, the cost-to-hire is of course a factor. How much compensation will they need to offer to secure their top candidate? So while companies never want to over-pay, if they can justify a higher price based on higher perceived value, it’s a no-brainer.

So if you’re in the job market, you should constantly try to communicate your value and differentiate yourself from every other job candidate. Employers WILL pay more, they will meet your requests and expectations, if they believe they will gain more from hiring you than the cost of that hire.

Rather than comparing yourself to others or trying to come in at the lowest salary, distance yourself from the pack. Be confident in what you have to offer and be ready with specifics about what you have done for others. Look for opportunities to show what you will do for this next employer. Ask for what you deserve based on return-on-investment, not simply prior salary or even “going rates.”

You might be surprised at the results! In my neighborhood, the low-priced gas station is being torn down. It just couldn’t make it, despite its obvious price advantage.

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