Ask Southern: Job Hunting and Relocating Questions

Dear Southern,

I can feel it – I am spiraling into job seeker paranoia. My day job as an account director at a web design firm means I have to navigate sticky situations all the time, but when it comes to my personal job hunt – I freeze.

The good news is that the town I hope to relocate to seems ripe with opportunities – I have interviewed for three different jobs in three weeks. But now I have reached the ‘in person’ interview stage, which requires me to juggle a toddler, a newborn and driving across state lines to make an appearance before the hiring manager. 
I really REALLY want a job offer in that city, four hours from where we currently live, but am afraid to make it harder for them to interview me by requesting a different day/time because of commitments here at home. I dont want to send the signal I am not interested or not willing to go the extra mile. So my question is… is it ok to be a little less flexible and ask for an interview that is at a more convenient time for me?
Paranoid Job Seeker
Dear Paranoid,
I can relate.  Mr. Style and I were relocating when our oldest was almost one, and I had to travel to interview before we had moved.  First, my answer is yes – you just need to do it the right way.  I would say something like this … “I can make Xday work if I need to, but I am planning on being in the area next Yday through Zday (Using the days that would be more convenient for you) – could we make one of those days work?”  This shows your willingness to go out of your way to make it work, but always explains why a different day is preferable without having to mention kids, etc…  Most people will  accommodate, if their schedule allows and if they can’t they might suggestion a Skype type interview.
Best of luck,
Dear Southern —
I shouldn’t be surprised… your advice was great! I asked for a different time but expressed an understanding that group interviews are hard to schedule and that I would work to make it work if times were not negotiable.
A few hours later I got a really kind email from the person tasked with hiring that said “Hang in there, we are working on it for you!” I may be reading too much into this, but to me the response(s) told me a few things I didn’t know about the group I was interviewing with:
1) they did not seem burdened by what I thought was an assertive move 
2) they are not afraid to let me know what’s going on behind the scenes
3) they wanted to talk to me – so much so they not only tried to make my request happen, they did fit me in when I requested
So now I got a better interview time and a little insight to the kind of people I could potentially work with if I were to get the position — all communicating reasonable work practices and a kind demeanor. Now I am even more excited to talk to them in person!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my letter – it really made a difference!
Paranoid Job Seeker

Dear Southern,
Job hunting is so hard – what do you say when you want to make it to the “offer” stage but the phone screening HR manager is hung up on the salary question? Do I say salary is negotiable? Do I stick to a hard line number or ball park range? Does it matter if I am talking to a multi-national corporation or a non-profit that just received an 8 figure grant?
My type A personality is shining through, and I don’t know what to do – for now I have said salary may be negotiable, but I hate abandoning my straight shooter style just to make it to the final round of interviews. I read Lean In and I know what Sheryl Sandberg would say – but this is reality, not negotiating a CEO salary and benefits in silicon valley. 
How should one handle this kind of question so early in the job hunting process?
Honest Job Hunter
Dear Honest,
I think you should stick with your name and be honest, but still show flexibility.  I realize as Southern women, we are trained to downplay so many things and money is tough to talk about. I always have the following conversation, “My total package is currently X.  I am flexible in how I achieve this total package – if you are looking to offer a smaller base salary with achievable bonus metrics to ensure performance, I am amenable to that discussion.”  This allows the smaller company that may be taking a leap of faith on you to pay you for performance, but it has to be something your budget can handle, too.  I strongly believe that if you wait to have this discussion, and they can’t afford you – you have wasted your time.  However, if this is your dream job and salary really is negotiable – then I would tell them that.  Again, be Honest and Straightforward, but be straight with yourself first.
Best of luck,
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