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Welcome to JoyPowered Workspace Podcast, where we talk about putting the humanity back into HR. I am JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and author of “JoyPowered,” a workspace game changing new book. I’m here with Susan White, a national HR consultant and collaborator with Purple Ink. Today’s topic is starting a job search. Susan, I just read this morning actually that Gallup came out with new statistics to say that Americans optimism about the availability of good jobs in the US surged to its highest level since they’ve been tracking this statistic.
They say 54% of Americans say now is a good time to find a quality job. Any thoughts on that, Susan? Why do you think that might be?
Wow, I think that’s terrific. I love good news like that. And you know, who knows why? I think the economy’s been really strong for the last six or seven years. And, gosh, if you’re reading the paper today, it looks like it’s going to continue on this path.
Right, right. They also, they did say in the article, that it was in fact, the economy, but also that just as employees see their own individual companies hiring for whatever positions, that raises their own optimism that there are more positions and other companies as well.
So as an employer, you’re probably feeling pretty good because the candidates out there are more plentiful, but then again, maybe you should be out looking if your employees are starting to get that interest in looking for a job.
Right. So it’s a good time, I think as an employer to make sure you’re keeping the employees that you have happy, having some of those maybe stay interviews or thinking, making sure you have competitive salaries and benefits, that you’re just taking care and watching out for your own employees.
That’s so smart. You know, I love the concept of stay interviews. We use those a lot in the jobs that I’ve had before. JoDee, why don’t you talk to the audience a little bit about stay interviews and why companies do them and maybe how they structure them?
Yeah, so the concept of say, interviews, I think comes from thinking about when we’re interviewing new candidates for positions. There’s some excitement around bringing in the new person, right? And who are we going to get and what will they do and how will they add value to the company? But so many times we don’t think about doing that with the employees we currently have, and generating some excitement around them and interview them about what are they like best about what they do? What strengths are they able to use in their job? How might they use their strengths more often in their job? What types of things might they do differently? What sort of plans and goals do they have in their current roles?
What I love about stay interviews is that when you learn all that stuff from your current employees, it helps you tell the story to future employees about why it’s great to work here. And that can really help you as you brand your recruiting strategy.
Right. Right. So those those can be a very effective tool, just talking. It sort of always makes me think too, about when there’s excitement or buzz in the office when you get a new client, but yet doesn’t seem so exciting when you get more work from an existing client, right? So you need to focus on the client you already have and the employees you already have as well. Now, Susan, I hope you’re not looking for a new job, but how do you think it would affect you or those other people out there who are in the process of looking for a job?
Gosh, I think when we hear how robust the job market is right now, I think you have to also realize as a candidate that the competition is probably going to be greater.
Right. The competition is hearing these statistics too, right? So they might put them on awareness, that there are other opportunities out there. You know, I, for many, many years have told people that even that I worked with that I think it can be a good process to go through to look for a new job, even if you’re not, you know, maybe 100% ready to look, because I always tell people, I think two things can happen when you interview for a job either a, you do find something that’s better than where you are, or b, it makes you appreciate where you are. That old adage of the grass isn’t always greener, right?
I think that makes lots of sense. Plus, there’s such a feeling of power that if you are ready for a job search at any point in time, you don’t feel as vulnerable, that that could happen to you, you might lose your job, or, you know, you gives you more choices. So I’m a big fan of that, too. You should always be I think, job change ready, whether you chose to pull the trigger or not.
Right, right. And sometimes that can even be internal positions and your organization too, right? Not just externally but looking… what else there might there be an opportunity for you in with your current employer?
That’s smart. Yeah.
So Susan, what do you think of the steps to look for a job, what should people do first?
You know, I really look at it as a six step process to make sure that you are a job change ready. The first is resume, and we’ll talk about each one of these I think, you know, in a little depth, having a resume that is market ready, I think step one. The second is really having your elevator pitch ready to be able to tell your story. When an employer says, Oh JoDee, tell me about yourself, you want to be able to articulate very crisply and competently your story. The third step would be actually applying. And I’d love to get into maybe where do you go to apply? And simultaneous with that, networking. Who do you know, that can help you target you know, companies and target jobs. Step four, is really preparing for an interview. And really going through all of the heavy lifting, to make sure that your interviewing muscles are really strong and ready. Fifth step is what to do after you interview. You know, how do you actually close the deal? You’ve gone out there, you’ve shared your story. They’ve asked you all the questions they can ask, how do you make sure when they’re going through their decision making process that you’re the one they pick, and then final step number six is negotiating the offer, and really saying no and the right way to the companies you don’t want to join, or maybe the job offers within your company you don’t want to take.
Right. So step number one, we’ll go back to that one, was getting your resume ready. Now I keep reading that many people are saying that the resume will be going away soon and all we’ll have is a LinkedIn profile. Susan, I don’t know about you, but I think that could be true for some organizations… but from my experiences with a lot of clients, I think we’re a long ways away from that still.
You know, it’s funny, I think you can look at your LinkedIn profile as a resume, right? So it doesn’t matter to me, whether you call it your LinkedIn profile, your CV, your resume, your bio, you really do need to have some document, right? And even if you only see it online, it talks about what are your strengths, what are your abilities, what’s your education, what’s the work experience that you’ve had?
Right, and I always tell people I think a resume is your way to reach out, but your LinkedIn can be a recruiter’s way to find you. I also think too, and Susan’s right, they can double as the same, your resume and your LinkedIn. But I am an advocate of having a short, simple, easy to read resume. Whereas LinkedIn profiles, I think most employers or recruiters are scanning or finding based on key words. So I think those can be longer. I don’t think a LinkedIn profile has to fit on one page.
Oh, I agree with you. And we do know that many companies. In fact, a recent study I saw said over 80% of employers are actually spending money on LinkedIn to do data mining because they’re out there trying to find passive candidates or they’re out there trying to find you and me. And they’re going to first do a Boolean word search, based on the requirements they have in their job. They’re going to try to find people on LinkedIn, who have those skills and those abilities in their profile.
Right. Right. So beef up your LinkedIn profiles for sure. I get a lot of questions surrounding the recommendations and the endorsements on LinkedIn. I’m sure there are lots of different thoughts on that. But I know at Purple Ink, we are not looking at endorsements or recommendations. Recommendations can be nice sometimes, sort of a mini reference check, if you will, that that someone has added to your profile, but it’s easy to ask good friends to write a recommendation on there. So I’m not sure I would spend a lot of time focused on that. Step number two, ready for that one?
Sure. Yeah, this is where you really want to get your elevator pitch or your 30 second commercial written out and practiced in your own words and your own voice, so that when the interviewer says, “so tell me about yourself,” and believe me, I know some of you’re saying I’m sure an employer is going to say that they have your resume in front of you, are they really going to ask you that question? I guarantee that even with your resume or your LinkedIn bio sitting in front of them, they’re gonna say, Tell me your story. The reason they’re doing that is they look to see how well you speak. They look to see your enthusiasm, and they’re really would love to hear from your own voice, what it is that you’re proud of. So I say sit down and really think about it.
Yeah, I love that suggestion. You’d be surprised how many people are not able to succinctly articulate those thoughts. What is it that you want me to know about you in just a few sentences? I think it’s a great idea.
I truly have been in interviews where I’ve seen the candidate just crash and burn because they start in where they went to high school, then they got married, then they had three kids, they go on and on and the interviewer themselves have a hard time grabbing back the speaking mode. So I like to say put it into four paragraphs, your first paragraph would be, you know, here I am, I’m Susan White, I’ve been in HR for 25 years, I left you know, such and such and company, because of such and such. And then I go to my second paragraph, which is, here are the three things I am really good at. And you never give anybody more than three because most people can’t remember number four, number five, so you really need to stop at three. And then third paragraph would be any special credentials you have, maybe you’re certified in your particular field, maybe you’ve got a master’s in such and such. That’s your chance to give them any any special educational or professional designations. And then your fourth and final paragraph is where I would use that opportunity to transition what I have done to what it is I’m talking to the individual about. So if it’s that I want to stay in human resources, I’d say, I’d like to take all the experience I’ve learned in employee relations in the human resource field, and really apply it at a company that’s headquartered here in Chicago, or whatever, so that they see the linkage.
Both LinkedIn and CareerBuilder have done studies for many years, that say that recruiters or hiring managers spend 6 to 10 seconds on your resume. So don’t assume that they’re picking up on the resume what it is you’re wanting to get across to them. So having this elevator speech, about what you want to say and highlight that is really important.
I gotta tell you, isn’t it crushing to think that a recruiter spending 6 to 10 seconds looking at something that you probably spent 16 to who knows how many hours working on, but it is real, that is the truth.
And I’ve had a lot of people say when I’ve asked them how an interview went, they would come back and say well, I wanted to tell them this, or tell them that, tell them my story. And they never got the opportunity to fit it in. So if you get that chance right at the very beginning to jump in with your elevator speech, I think it’s very appropriate.
Oh, I agree. Very smart. Well, good. Step three is really applying to jobs and using your network. So why don’t we start with applying for jobs? You know, there’s so many different job boards out there so many different ways to apply for jobs. JoDee, do you have any advice on where would you go? Or where do you where do you suggest your clients go to apply for jobs?
Yes, so our top two that we always recommend to people are LinkedIn, or Indeed. There are lots of job boards out there that connect with each other, even our own applicant tracking system at Purple Ink automatically posts to 10 different sites all at the same time. And then those sites get picked up by other sites. So you don’t have to go to 50 sites to look for them, because some might be more specific in your industry that might be more appropriate. But generally, I think if you’re searching LinkedIn, and Indeed, you can stay pretty focused on those two.
I really think those are the two hottest right now. In some of the more specified or specific ones that might be if you’re in IT, you know, dice.com is really strong and has a really high success rate. And then, you know, TheLadders is one that executives will use. Usually those are for jobs focused only over $100,000. It’s called TheLadders.com.
We also like, if you’re in Central Indiana, there’s a relatively new app or site out there called WorkHere. And it focuses on jobs that mostly are under $40,000 and is based on location. So we highly recommend that one, as well.
What I find so interesting about work here is it enables you on a mobile app to see who is hiring from where you are at any given moment. Because so often when I talk to candidates, they want to work somewhere close to home. I mean, that’s really important to them that they don’t have a huge commute. And so what a wonderful new application so you can find out who is hiring in your hood, right?
One thing too I went to mention on this, I think it’s fantastic to use your resources and to use your network or people that you might know at an individual company to help you get in the door. But a rule of thumb I always, always encourage candidates to do is apply first online especially if they have an online applicant tracking system to get into the system, and then tell your friends or networks or neighbors or contacts about you. I know when I was an HR director, so many times I would get a phone call or an email saying, John Smith is a friend of mine, and he’s applying for your position. But if he wasn’t in my system right then where I could go there and pull him up and make a notation on it, it got lost for me. So I always tell people follow the rule, follow, whatever it tells you to do to apply. If you need to come in, which is pretty rare anymore… but typically, it’s going online and completing the application, then use your networking sources after that.
JoDee, I would say to you, if I’m the person someone wants to network with in a company, I love knowing what job they’ve applied for and the requisition number if they have it, right makes it so much easier, as you say, to get to the HR director or your HR contact to really follow that opening. If I just get a resume from someone and says, Hey, do you think there’s anything in your company, it’s much less likely that we’re going to find a match, you know, you as the applicant, you want to do that heavy lifting. Now let’s talk for a moment about using your network. Some of my clients feel very reluctant to… they say, Listen, I don’t feel comfortable asking somebody for a job. And I don’t want to, you know, go to my friends, I don’t want to go to my former colleagues that are working somewhere else. It just makes me uncomfortable. I do have some suggestions on how to approach it. One is when you reach out to somebody that you think could be helpful to you, perhaps they work at that company that you’re interested in working at. When you reach out to them, you don’t ask them for a job. What you do is you say listen, I’m in a job search. I would love to talk to you and get your advice about the companies I should target or some people you think I should talk to you. So you’re not asking them for a job. You’re asking them for advice, and most people are willing to give advice, it makes them a lot less stressed. JoDee, any other techniques you have in reaching out to network?
I just always recommended people to tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a new position because you never know who might know of something. You know, some people think accountants, for example, need to talk to other accountants. But it might be your neighbor’s spouse, who’s an accountant or your neighbors, grandma or your neighbors friend, or you just never know who you might be talking to, that might have a connection somewhere else. So I think it’s always appropriate to let people know that you’re looking. Now that, of course can be more complicated when you have a job. And you’re not wanting everyone to know or certainly at your current employer that you’re looking for, then I think you can still have some of these individual conversations with people to let them know that it would obviously need to be more specific about what you’re looking for and where.
I think that’s so smart. I always say it takes a village to find a job right. So let your village who cares about you know that you are on the hunt, to the extent that you can.
Right, right. Totally agree.
Well, good. Well, that’s applying for a job and that’s networking. But let’s let’s say that you actually get a job interview set up. Let’s talk about how do you prepare for an interview? What suggestions do you have, JoDee, and where would you start?
Well, I tell you, I just heard a new one this week that I’d never heard of before. And it actually came from my son, who is a sophomore in college interviewing for internship positions. And he said as he was preparing for his interviews, he played word games with his roommates. I don’t know where… if he heard it in class or at IU, that it helps you think on your feet. So he was playing some some specific games that everyone had to participate in to share their thoughts on just silly subjects. And we did it as a family last weekend, and I thought it was a great idea of just getting your mind around different topics,ic and how to respond. Now, having said that, I think sometimes we tend in interviews to speak too quickly. Right? And it’s okay to pause and think okay, how do I want to answer this question? What situations have I had? What do I want to share even to say to the interviewer? Let me think about that for a second. How do I want to answer this? So thinking on your feet is good, but maybe still pausing to make sure how you want to articulate your answer.
Oh, that’s great. We know that many, many employers are trained on behavioral based interviewing. Right, right. And so they are going to ask you questions about give me a specific example of a time when you and they’re going to pick something that’s needed in the job that they’re trying to hire you for. It might be give me a specific example of a time you had a difficult customer. What did you specifically do? What was the outcome? And so you want to think about as you prepare for interviews, what are some… look at the job description, looks like you’re gonna be dealing with customers, it looks like you might be working across the organization on projects, it looks like you might need to be able to use different types of technology, spend some real quality time thinking about in your past jobs, or even in your volunteer work. How have you used those skills, so that when they ask you for a specific example of a time you dealt with a difficult customer, or you were on a project team where somebody wasn’t pulling their weight, or sometime when there wasn’t the technology available that you needed. And they asked you, what did you specifically do and what what was the outcome? You’ve got some real authentic situations that you can share? So I’m always encouraging people to think through really specifics from their job. So even if that interview, they have to pause and think about a time it will have been fairly recent that they had thought about it, so it should pop up.
Right, I think generally too, even just thinking about three or four key moments in your career, and it might be key moments where things didn’t go so well, or where things did go really well. And a lot of times you can pull different versions of that story into a behavioral interview question. So thinking about what are those key moments? And how might that be an answer to several different kinds of behavioral questions.
I think that makes sense. The other thing when people are preparing, I like them to think about what do they think their greatest strengths are? And what do they think their greatest weaknesses are? That’s a question that’s been asked, oh, gosh, you know, for probably since the dawn of time, I think everyone’s fairly comfortable talking about their strengths. But when it comes to sharing a weakness, you know, the one that people say, Oh, I just care too much. I just work too hard. I probably wouldn’t recommend those. Instead, I would think about a true weakness, and be authentic, but the way I would approach it, and maybe it’s that you sometimes miss deadlines, maybe it’s that you are… you have a hard time standing up for yourself or whatever it is, I want you to be authentic. But I always coach an individual to really go in there and present it in something like this. “JoDee, you know, I learned early in my career that sometimes when I have a lot of things going on, that I want to give everything full attention that at early on, I miss deadlines. And so what I’ve learned to do is now what I do is I set up every Friday little alarms and alerts so that I don’t miss deadlines.” Whatever it is, you want to let them know what it truly is, but let them know how you’re conquering it. I will tell you that future employer would much rather have somebody who understands her weakness and they’re working around it. Than somebody who says “I just care too much, right. I work too hard, right?”
Well, Susan, you know, I’m a big fan of Strengths Finder, and it truly… our greatest weaknesses can in fact be our greatest strengths. Some of those standard answers you mentioned, I’ve heard many, many times too, but thinking… I just told you before we started that one of my top five signature Gallup Strengths is positivity, and that can lead me to be naive and being overly positive. So try and give a specific example maybe of how that has happened, like Susan said, and what you are doing to overcome it and not just sound a bit sappy about it.
Yeah, I think that’s really fair. That’s great. So you’ve had an interview and you think things went well, but you don’t know. They told you they get back to you with an answer. What are some of the things that you can do as a candidate to hopefully, make sure that they give you an offer? What are some follow up activities after the interview that you’d suggest JoDee?
So it used to be years ago, and early in my career when it was the thing to do to send a written thank you note, right? It’s extremely rare when I get a written thank you note anymore, and I don’t even expect people to do it. But I do expect a follow up email, at least certainly it doesn’t hurt to do a written thank you note as well, but I do expect a follow up that so many times I hear people say, “I haven’t heard anything from them, it’s been a week,” or “they told me they’d get back with me in a week, and I haven’t heard.” And I’ve said have you followed up with them? To say, hey, you know, not that you want to be aggressive with them, but I had a note on my calendar that I might hear back from you today and I was just checking in to see the status and I also do think Susan, though, it does take… if someone tells you they will get back with you in a week and they don’t it’s totally appropriate to follow up. But many times to I think it does take employers much longer than you think to make decisions, or to get approvals, or to have a meeting with other interviewers and follow up, so don’t, don’t lose hope if you don’t hear back right away.
And you may have been one of the very first candidates they saw, and you could be the bar or the standard they’re comparing everyone else to, but it takes them a while to get through it, I get it. So don’t panic when you haven’t heard. I have a rule of thumb that if someone says, you know, we’re going to be back to you in a few weeks, then you obviously, you do the thank you note, whatever medium you want to use. And then I say try to stay in touch every five business days, even if it means you just send an article about something you talked about in that interview. Or perhaps it’s sending a note saying, “Hey, I didn’t give you my references when I was there. I’d be happy to give those to you,” or if you want to say “I’m just touching base to let you know how interested I am in coming to work for you. If there’s any additional information you need, just let me know.” I will tell you that that follow up every five business days, unless they’ve told you it’s going to be two weeks, then don’t, you don’t need to bother them in between if you have a specific date they’re getting back to you. But that follow up can really set you apart from most other candidates.
Right. This, of course, would also be an appropriate time to use those other networking resources that you have that might have that connection to the interviewer to the owner to someone in a decision making role. Or even just to put in a good word for a candidate. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter what the person’s position is the organization. It’s always nice to make a connection via someone.
It is nice to know that person, you know, has a friend.
We want that kind of person in our workplace. That’s super. Well then the final step, step six is really either accepting or negotiating the offer or declining the offer. If you get turned down for a job. I can’t tell you how many times people have been turned down for jobs, you as the candidate do it so graciously, that the employer sometimes comes back when they have that opening occur again, or if they get to add to staff. You know, you’ve invested time with them, and they’ve invested time with you. Just because they’re turning you down for this specific job, the relationship may not be over. So I always say you want to end it on a classy note very positively. Let them know you’ve, appreciated it. And then don’t be surprised if some point down the in the future, you don’t have an opportunity to speak with that person again.
Right. A lot of times people think they didn’t get a job because they messed up, or they set the wrong answer, or they did something wrong in the interview process, and I know as an interviewer that 90% of the times it’s not the case, and that we’re actually struggling to make a decision between the top two or three candidates to decide which one and it might just be one thing on the resume that puts someone else above or a couple of more years experience in a particular function or field or a different kind of degree and so it’s very likely that an opportunity could arise that you might still be a fit for the company.
Makes sense. What do we know about salary negotiation?
Yeah, always a difficult topic, right, for both the individual and the HR person, the manager, anyone on the corporate side, sometimes to think about how to best negotiate salaries. But in the November 2016 issue of SHRM’s HR magazine a few statistics they included were that salaries in the US have actually decreased 3.1% on average since 2008. However, all is not equal. Employees and lower paying and entry level positions have experienced a 14% inflation adjusted drop in wages since the recession of 2008. Why do you think that is, Susan?
You know, I don’t know. It’s been a long recovery, hasn’t it? And when we look out there, some states have been really aggressive about raising minimum wage but others have just really beared down and really tried to keep wages low.
Right. Right. That’s my sense, too, is that since the recession is new people were hired in and actually lower paid than maybe where the norm was before that, that is really reset that number.
It must be the supply demand, the perception by employers and obviously the reality – they’re able to get people at lower wages for those entry level jobs.
Right. Right. Another statistic they included was that senior managers have seen a 3.5% real salary growth in the same period. So it’s not across the board, the higher earners are earning more, but the lower paying positions are earning less.
Doesn’t feel good, does it?
Yeah. So Susan, when do you think when is the right time as an employee to negotiate a salary? You know, I really believe it’s before you say yes to that employer, you most of your bargaining power exist before you agree to go join a firm. So as I talked to my clients, I talked about, you know, what you want to first of all, figure out what it is you want to do with your life and then you want to figure out where you want to do it. And then you really need to make sure before you sign on the dotted line that you are feeling comfortable and good about that salary. So that’s really the time I think, to do your negotiation, right. And have you find that information on what the salary for a position should be?
You know, having worked on the corporate side for a long time, I know we try to be very careful before we share how much you’re willing to pay for a job with a candidate. Because you know, we think about it, you’re trying to figure out how do I get the best value for the firm at the lowest price, right? And on the opposite side of the table, you have the job candidates trying to figure out how much can I get? So it’s not easy. You won’t find it often in a job description, you know, how much is the salary range, so you have to do some homework. So places that I recommend people go is go out to payscale.com or glassdoor.com, or even salary.com, you know, there’s three different ways of going out and taking a look on the internet. Recognizing that it’s self reported, usually information. JoDee, where do you usually send people?
To those exact same places. And I think sometimes, too, it’s asking questions, although that, you know, can be trickier, but asking people the who work for other companies what they believe or what they might be making, which of course, is an awkward question. And we have to be careful with that different companies have different philosophies on pay. Some companies pay less, but have better benefits. Some companies pay more, but have less benefits to offer. So it can be dependent on a company’s pay philosophy. Do they want to be a leader in pay? Do they want to be on the lower end? Do they do they need to pay more to get people to come to work in those positions? Or did they have a culture that people want to work in that they don’t have to pay as much?
I that’s a great point. And you also have to understand that some places when you go in, wherever you come in, maybe where you stay and they incent you by bonuses, and so on, so forth. Other places have very formal review processes and you might just get yourself onto a ladder. So where you start may not be nearly as important, you know as to what’s going to happen to you once you’re there. You know JoDee, there is another resource that I have found to be very valuable. It’s the Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network, Onet. And I think it’s called I think if you want to look at it online, you go to onetonline.org. And what’s nice about it is that it’s the Department of Labor, your tax dollars and mine at work, because the Department of Labor, one of their responsibilities is to keep the American public educated about professions in the US, and they will talk about all different types of careers, they will explain all the knowledge, skills, abilities, other attributes you need to have in order to be in that profession, as well as they will report whether it’s a growing profession or if it’s a contracting one, and average salary by net nationally and by state.
Right. Interesting. And that of course, is important to the process as well as understanding what types of roles you’re looking for. Is it an expanding position. Is it a position that companies have difficulty in hiring for or is it a position that they are going to get numerous qualified candidates to fill that role as well?
JoDee, the rule of thumb used to be before you would really consider moving to another company to a new job, the rule of thumb that I’d always heard was you should be looking for at least a 15% increase. Have you heard that or do you have any guidance on that?
I have not heard that 15% number or any number really, but I think we have to think about why are we changing jobs and what is it that is most important to us and that salary and increase in salary might be nice for a while but might not be really everything we’re looking for. Is it about the benefits? Is it about flexibility? Is it about having more paid time off? Is it about are you unhappy in the position you are? And you be more engaged or able to use your strengths more in a different role. So we have to think through all those options, I think, before making at a different job and expecting that 10% or 15%, or whatever that number might be, is, is really worth it.
I think that’s really fair. You know, you brought up a great point that what really makes you happy? I wonder, would you approach negotiating for things other than salary any differently? Let’s say you wanted to work from home more than what you currently are. And so maybe you need to go in and negotiate with your boss, or maybe you want more vacation. Maybe this is the year you want to go to Europe and it’s going to take, you know, good four weeks and the company only allows three weeks. Any other approach you might use that’s different than negotiating for salary when it’s something that’s non money related?
Yeah. I think both of those are good. And I think sometimes too, when companies have a fairly rigid or precise compensation structure, that they don’t have a lot of flexibility in compensation, but they might have a lot more flexibility in some of those other things. Even just working hours. I know, semi early in my career, I was the first person in an organization of 800 people to be full time yet to ask to only work four days a week. And it was it my kids were young, and it was a huge benefit for me to be able to do that. And I still believe to this day I worked harder and was more efficient and more productive during that time period because I was able to get that benefit and have an extra day off with my kids. So those types of things can be even more meaningful to people than both on the individual side and on the corporate side as well too, to be able to offer those types of things that don’t cost anyone any more money.
You know, I spent 10 years working four days a week for a large corporation. And it was funny, I would go in every Saturday or Sunday because I wanted to land on Monday and prove to everybody else that I didn’t miss a beat by not being there on Friday.
That’s exactly what I did till I was just crazy efficient. And that was back in the day where it was more difficult to work from home when I did right right. We I didn’t have email access from home or I didn’t have easy email access from home I could login but I couldn’t get it on my phone and I’m not even sure if I had a cell phone.
What was so great about that is I know I felt so loyal to that company that you could not have gotten me out of there for any amount of money, right? Because I had felt I had the flexibility on Fridays, to be a real mother or to be a Girl Scout leader, whatever it was, it was really important to me during those 10 years.
Right, right. That’s funny. We had that same experience. Only I was off on Mondays.
Oh, so at least we had our three day weekends.
Right. That’s right.
Which was invaluable, priceless, right?
So Susan, what are some tips on negotiating?
You know, JoDee, what I think I would do is I would start with really tracking my accomplishments. You know, that’s an important thing for any employee to really throughout the year, make note of when you really have a major contribution, perhaps what customers you’ve brought in, perhaps its new processes that you changed, or some innovation you’ve done so that you have a good record of it.
And really, that’s a great idea, regardless of whether or not you’re going into specifically negotiate, but just to remind yourself, and to remind your boss or manager what it is you’ve done this past year.
I agree. And then the second thing I think is think about, you know, what is the target salary that I believe that I should be at? I know we talked about going out to glassdoor.com, or salary.com, or payscale.com to find out what people think that people are reporting that they’re earning in particular jobs. So do something real self assessment. Where do I think I should be salary wise, it’s probably step two.
Right. Good idea.
And then step three, I think you ought to practice I’d sit down with someone and let them pretend to be the boss so that they can raise objections that you can actually have some practice responding to.
Right. Practicing anything we do… we think of practicing presentation sometimes, but so many conversations I think could go better if we practiced them ahead of time or even encouraging other people we work with or talk to to think about practicing a conversation of any kind can be so incredibly helpful.
Oh, I agree. It’s like exercising a muscle. Right? The more you do it, the stronger it gets. And I want people to give me objections that I, you know, practice responding to. And then I think the final step really, is to really figure out the right timing and prepare your boss. You let them know in advance that you want to come talk to them about your salary. Perhaps that’s a good approach. Or even think about are there better times to reach your boss than others where they’re more receptive to ideas and things? So if it’s like the beginning of the month, and you always have very busy, you know, beginnings a month, perhaps wait till the middle of the month to have that conversation.
Right. Right. Susan what do you think are the risks of negotiating salary maybe both for the employee and the company?
Yeah, you know, I think if you’re a brand new hire, and you’re not saying yes yet to that job offer, you want to be really thoughtful about how you negotiate, because you don’t want to start off with a new company with them having a bad taste in their mouth. You know, maybe they’ve offered you X dollars and you say, I really need XX dollars. You don’t want them to think, do I really want this person on my team? So I think you have to be really thoughtful about how you do it. And I actually like to script people on how they approach it. Then I think it’s different though, if you are an existing employee, and you feel like you need to negotiate because you’re not getting fairly compensated over time. I think that’s a different conversation.
Right. And both of those, again, go back to understanding the role and the market value or even especially at either point, I think you can ask the company, where did they get their information? How did they determine what they felt the position was worth, and what were those qualifications, and do you meet those or not? So if you’re not able to find a lot of information on your own, ask them, the larger the company, I think many of them have more structured pay scales and more data on how they have determined the pay. But for a lot of smaller companies, sometimes they haven’t maybe researched the role, or it was just what the person who was in the role before you made and, and the skill sets and experiences might be different, but I think it’s fine to ask that question about them in a non judgmental format.
Yeah, non threatening, right. It’s funny, I’ll have a lot of sales people say to me, I think they expect me negotiate. Susan, I’m very happy with this. But should I should I ask for more? And I do think that here’s how I would approach it. If I was working with the overhead an employer make an offer to me. I think what I would do is whatever offer they gave me, I would act delighted, I would be delighted in that “I’m so pleased, I really think I can contribute to your team, I would love to join XYZ company, everyone I’ve met there I feel like are people that I really would enjoy working with. But then I’d say there’s only one element of the offer that I’m struggling with a bit.” And then I get real quiet. So I go from this delight, at the beginning of the call to this very somber moment. And I’d say, “I will need a couple of days to kind of think this through, there’s only one element of the offer. I’m telling you nine times out of 10. They’ll say, what, what is it about that offer that you’re struggling with? And then you can say if it’s vacation, maybe if its benefit package starting, you know, 30 days from now, or if it’s salary, I’d say “salary wise, I really need to be $10,000 more than where I am here. But I know that you’ve gone through a lot of work in research to come up with this offer, it’s something that I just need to work through.” I’m telling you, sometimes the person who made that offer will say, “Listen, let me go back and talk to the hiring manager or let me go back and put some numbers together, and let me get back to you.” That’s perfect. Or sometimes they’ll say to you, “well, I’m sorry, we did a lot of analysis, internal equity here, we’ve benchmarked it across the nation, we really believe this is a fair offer.” Say “Oh, I’m sure that it is. And understand I am so excited to get the offer. This is the element I need to spend some time on.” Sometimes they’ll call you in that 48 hours you’ve asked for. And they’ll say, “Listen, we are not going to lose you over $10,000. Or we can’t give you 10, we can give you 5,” and that’s what you win. Now, there’s going to be a percentage of times when they go the whole 48 hours and you call them back and you want that job, you’re able to say listen, as you know how delighted I am with the offer that you made me. I did spend a couple of days I looked at the number from every different direction, I can make it work. I’m telling you, if you go use that approach, that employer is not going to have a bad taste in their mouth. Instead, you very well may have walked away with something more than you could have had.
Right. Well said. I think to from the corporate side. I have certainly in roles as an HR director of or even in consulting with our clients about salary negotiations, I’ve had many people come back to me from very inexperienced people to very experienced people who asked those same questions. And sometimes I was able to negotiate and sometimes I wasn’t. And sometimes I felt that we had done our homework and knew the true value or understood our position. And I was able to explain that and it worked well, in all situations, sometimes where I wasn’t able to negotiate but still was able to hire the candidate and sometimes we did negotiate and it made sense for us to do so. So it doesn’t hurt if you have your homework and if you know what you’re asking for.
I agree, and you use the right tone, right? It could wear it could wear it, if somebody comes in and they say, especially if you had that conversation about salary early in the interviewing process and everything was copacetic. And then at the end, the person surprises you and say, Well, I really can’t work for X dollars. I do need $10,000 more. That’s I think when it gets into the dicey, right?
Right, right. I do we recommend to our clients many times too to have that pay philosophy or have that understanding of where they are in the marketplace, in terms of both compensation and benefits so that if they come back to the candidate or to a current employee and say, Don’t forget, this is what our benefit package represents. This is our paid time off policy, which many times is much more difficult to compare to other companies and you can be firmer in the offer that was made.
I think that’s really fair. So JoDee, I continue to read a lot about the gender gap that women can earn I think on the average about 80% of men across the country, why do you think that is? And any suggestions that you might have either for women listening or even some of our employers that are trying hard to, you know, dispel that trend?
Yeah. So I always feel as I’m a little bit naive on that topic, I’m, I’m certain there are companies out there who may just not pay as much. But I’ve also seen many companies too where the women have, have taken time off, who have less experience in roles where they’re trying to make that comparison between a man and a woman where all factors are not the same. I’m certainly not justifying, or expecting that women should make less. But I think it again, it goes back to what we said earlier, understanding the differences. Sometimes we have to ask the questions about what the factors are in terms of the qualifications and the experience. Having said that, it is also very well known and documented in many books that women are not as good at negotiating salaries from the beginning. And just as you mentioned earlier, that can be the key time to ask for that negotiation. And women seem to not have that confidence to ask as many questions as men do.
You know what, I think you’re right. And thank goodness for the Equal Pay Act. I think that you know, especially in jobs that are very uniform or consistent, it’s very easy to make sure that women and men are paid on balance where it gets more difficult, I believe, as they continue to rise up in the ranks and more professional level… I read a study recently about they talked about that the more income that a woman makes, the more choices she has, and so the options tend to expand. So we see it I guess for even from our own personal experiences, we see professional women, you know, want to when they start having children to opt into part time careers or take more flexible options and employ those, which tend not to pay as much as somebody who is, you know, rising through the ranks as many men, often do to the executive level. Certainly when you look at CEOs across the country, the women still are in the minority. Right. But I do also think it has to do with negotiation, that the confidence level that you sometimes need to have to look your boss in the eye and say, “I think that I’m worth more. ”
So what you know, Jody, I am interested. So what do you do or what do you think about when an employee comes to you and you find out that they have been talking to other employees about salary? I mean, what do you what do you suggest to your clients that they do? I know that sometimes they get kind of heated and worried that why are their employees talking about salaries, right?
Well, I’ve actually seen it in employee manuals, where companies say that employees are not allowed to talk about salaries with each other. But that is not… there is no rule or law out there that says employees can’t talk about it. So you can’t actually do anything about it that is legal or fair.
In fact that the National Labor Relations Board has come out very strongly that it is a Protected Concerted Activity, that employees, whether it’s unionized or not, in an environment has the absolute right to talk about working conditions, including their pay.
Right, so it will happen, it will happen and employers I think, again, that’s one more reason to have your ducks in a row about your philosophies and pay structures and pay scales and making sure especially where gender gap is an issue that making sure you’re paying people fairly and appropriately for the same positions.
And I think you’re so right. I think that transparency that if an employee comes forward and says to you, listen, I’m not making what my co workers are making and I, I feel like I’m being mistreated, that you have done that homework and you really do have a pay philosophy and ask that individual now why do you feel that you that you should be earning with so and so’s earning? You know, where do you feel that you’re being undervalued? And then listen, right?
Right. Let them make their case and see what makes sense. We did get some mail this week, Susan.
Oh really? Hey, great! Who from?
We had an email from Frank in Greenwood, Indiana, who said every time I hear from a recruiter about a role I’ve applied for, the immediately want to know what my salary expectations are. I am afraid if I say too high they will eliminate me. And if I say too low, that is what they will offer me. How should I answer that question?
Frank, I think that is a really legitimate concern. I know from the years that I’ve worked on the recruiting side of it, we would get usually so many applicants for jobs. And we would pick up the phone and call people to screen them, just, you know, see, do we have the right fit here is somebody that we want to invite in to actually meet with the hiring manager. And the fact is, if someone’s used to earning $100,000, and the job we have to offer is $35,000. We think that’s a good time to clear the air before everybody gets dressed up and comes in. However, when I’m on the other side of it, and I’m coaching clients who are trying to find a job, I always say you want to get in front of the hiring manager. You want them to fall in love with you before you start talking salary. Because usually the HR screener or someone who’s screening, they usually don’t have a lot of latitude or decision making responsibility or abilities really to up a job or to increase the wage, you need the hiring manager to get engaged. So you’ve got to get past round one. And that round one is that phone screen. So I always say, the important thing to answer is something along the lines is, “I really want to come work for XYZ company, I really think I can make a difference. I’m not so worried about salary, it’s more about this opportunity.” But in that same breath, say, “but may ask, what is the hiring range?” Now, at that point, the screener has asked you the salary question. So it’s not like you’re asking it out of the blue, you know, the dark. Usually they will come back and say, Well, our hiring ranges, you know, $35 to $50,000, whatever. And then you yourself can say, you know, I don’t think we have a match, or you could say, you know, fine, I, let’s talk more about the opportunity. I would really love to get in front of some of your hiring managers.
Yeah, great advice. I know at Purple Ink, we highly recommend, which is not typical. I don’t think and you mentioned earlier that most employers do not include the salary range in the initial posting. And we actually recommend that to all of our clients because we feel like so much time can be wasted. If you have a $50,000 position and $100,000 candidates apply. If you have in, you’ve done your homework and you know what their ranges that you’re going to pay to include that from the very beginning. I do appreciate that can be good advice, though for the for the candidate to maybe get their foot in the door too. But I think from a time perspective, the hiring can be such a long and expensive process that by including that in the beginning, people can make that decision as to whether it makes sense for them up to apply or not.
I do like that idea. Yeah, I think it’s pretty rare. But I think that’s I think that’s a very smart advice you give. The other thing I hear from clients is that when they fill out a job application so often they have to put some type of a salary in there like what was your most recent salary? The good news is there is some legislation in a few states that is borrowing that, because they have found it to be discriminatory to individuals. And so who knows, maybe over time, that’ll be a question of the past, you know, what was your most recent salary. But what I always say to people is put in zero. If it will take the number zero, put it in, because they don’t usually allow you to skip it. And that way, you can have that conversation when they call you at least. Anything you can do to help yourself not get screened out before you’re ready is a positive, right.
Don’t we have another email, Susan? We did. Hey, this one is from Laura in Westfield. And what she said is, I’m getting ready to negotiate for a raise. Should I send an email to my boss with all the reasons why? Should I call him? Or do you think I should meet with him in person? What do you think JoDee?
Well, I think having face to face conversations is always the best answer. That doesn’t always work either, if you’re not in the same location or you work remotely, but anytime you can have a face to face conversation around that is most helpful for both parties, I think. And you mentioned about being prepared and thinking of your accomplishments. If you can give your boss a heads up as to what some of those are, or maybe what the topic is, he could also be prepared coming into the meeting as well. So it wouldn’t hurt to give them a heads up. What do you think?
Yeah, I agree. And the fact is, if you’re really keeping track throughout the year of your accomplishments and the real value that you brought, I would definitely if not send it in advance if he or she knows we’re going to be talking about salary, at least bring it with you, because I really do want to have some facts there as to what I’ve done over the past year or at least over the past, you know, period of time, so that they’re more inclined, I think to realize that from the pay perspective, maybe I’m worth more to the firm.
Right. I had a client tell me once, several years ago, he said, JoDee, how much do people want to make? And his answer was “more.” Because we all want to make more than what we make, right? Yeah, we have to have some… we have to be prepared for that. We have to have some thought we have to have done our homework. We have to track those accomplishments. We can’t just go in and tell our boss that we want to make more because we think we’re doing a good job, right? That’s not being an effective negotiator when we’re not prepared and haven’t done our homework to bring to them.
I totally agree.
We did get an email this week from Peg in Indianapolis. And she asked a great question that was relative to this topic. She says “I’m not happy in the job I am currently working but I am concerned about how it looks to other employers that I am hunting while still employed. Is this frowned upon, or what can I do to keep this from tarnishing my presence in the interview?”
I would say that it’s very common to look for a job while you have a job. And I would not let that worry you, Peg, what I would do, is I would be very careful to make sure that I did not use my work phone number or my work email address in the search. Because first of all, you would be using your company’s time to look for another job and that would be crossing the line. And that wouldn’t feel good, I don’t think to the prospective employer. But other than that, I think it’s very normal for someone to look for a job while you’re working. JoDee, what do you think?
I totally agree and I think when Susan mentioned earlier about practicing that elevator speech, it’s really important for you to be able to articulate why are you looking for a job – in a positive way, of course, not bashing your current company. Or your current boss, but understanding what might this role have that is different than what you have? How you might use your strengths better in this role or why are you out there interviewing?
That’s great. And remember not to bash the employer. Great point. People want to hire happy people. And if you are leaving, or you’re thinking of leaving the where you currently work because of something you don’t like. You’ve got to really think about how you frame that up in your elevator pitch because people don’t want to hire somebody who has got sour grapes.
Right. Right. And to our listeners, thank you for listening today. If you have questions or feedback for us, follow us on Twitter @joypowered.