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As a response to the global pandemic and its effect on the job market, Michael Helbling launched the JOIN Program in March. The program was designed as a way to unite analysts and data scientists and help secure jobs during the pandemic.

Helbling has served as a board member for the Digital Analytics Association since 2018 and is the owner of AJL Analytics and co-host of the Digital Analytics Power Hour podcast.

As part of the JOIN Program, Jen Yacenda has hosted weekly Q&A Zoom sessions focused on helping analysts polish their resumes, learn how to negotiate offers, and fine tune their LinkedIn profiles. This week, I had the privilege to attend one of these meetings. Here is what I learned from Michael Helbling:

Negotiating Offers

By the time a company extends you an offer, they are already excited about you. At this point, they believe in the value that you can add to the team.

Helbling told our group that it is okay to ask for more money. He advised us not to fall into the trap of “appearing like a team player” by not asking. However, when you ask for something, be sure you have a reason why. Think of these reasons ahead of time.

Some companies say their best offer upfront and don’t play around, so always be appreciative of what a company offers you. Companies should offer up a reason for offering a lower starting point. If they cannot increase your initial salary, think about alternatives that still have value to you, maybe ask for an extra week of PTO instead. Finally, as you negotiate, always maintain enthusiasm for the role and the company.

What surprised me most about Helbling’s approach was his insight into how companies view individuals who negotiate the first offer. If you ask for more money, and you do it well, he told us, the company will respect you for it. They might even trust you with more responsibility right out of the gate if you show that you are aware and unafraid. By demonstrating to the company that you know your value in the negotiation stage, you send the signal, “I’m a person you can trust.”

Asking for a Raise

Negotiation is a skill. Don’t get stuck on a specific outcome. Explain to your boss that you truly enjoy working for the company. Alleviate manager concerns by addressing it upfront. “Don’t be emotionally immature about your value.”

Make sure you’ve done some research before asking for something. It’s good to enter this conversation with a number in mind. A great way to approach this is by telling your manager that you’ve seen others in similar roles to you receive compensation at a certain level. Explain that you would like to be paid similarly, then explain your value and why you should be compensated accordingly. From a company perspective, getting someone to accept an offer is important, but retaining that employee is even harder.

Tips for Landing an Analytics Role:

Certifications

When considering which certification to get, Helbling suggests asking yourself, “What does it mean to the company that I have or don’t have a particular certification?” Michael Helbling has never been certified, so he’s living proof that being a successful analyst is possible without the certs and badges.

The more popular a certification, the less weight it might carry. A certification like the GAIQ is so common it might not be enough to land you your job on its own. Oftentimes, certifications do check boxes for recruiters, but they aren’t everything. In contrast, certifications such as Adobe Target and others that are not easy to obtain do mean something. Also, being a part of a developer community with limited numbers increases its value (ie: Google Developer Expert).

If your company offers to get you a certification for free, you should take it. Keep in mind that certifications can help you get into the interview room, but you have to be able to explain why you’re capable.

Mini-Courses and Online Learning

In Helbling’s opinion, mini-courses are displays of individual initiative. It is a great way to show that you have taken the time to improve your skills and better yourself. Essentially, it shows effort, which is a good sign. However, completing a mini-course is not necessarily a guarantee of knowledge.

Examples of these online offerings can include platforms such as Coursera or Code Camps.

Volunteering and Pro Bono Work

Volunteer work is great if used intentionally. People have different motivations for volunteering, some are intrinsic and some are extrinsically motivated. Helbling explained that he is an advocate for giving back, especially as you advance in your career.

Additionally, volunteering is a useful category to add to your resume. Show how your volunteer work produced a certain result and then explain how you can provide similar positive outcomes to the company you are interviewing with.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn and is also available on Medium.