Category Archives: Career

“Work Hard Play Hard” – Clue to a Bad Startup Job

When you see the phrase “Work hard play hard” in a job description, run the other way.

It’s common in startup recruiting and it’s usually bad news for candidates and employees in regards to company culture, work life balance, and compensation. Startups often want cheap labor and with phrases like this, they’ll promote their fast paced, fun work environment where employees are often overworked and underpaid.

Now, there are plenty of great startups out there (I loved working at one). This is not a sweeping indictment, it’s just one insight to help you read between the lines about unhealthy startup culture.

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Citations:
Kenrick et al. update to Maslow’s pyramid of needs (AKA hierarchy of needs). Learn more about the legacy and leisure drives related to the “work hard play hard” tendency:

1) The ‘Big Four’ Human Drives
2) Maslow’s Pyramid Gets a Makeover

Salary Negotiation Tips – Why Your Current Salary is Like Your Weight

“So, where are you now in terms of salary?”

Never answer this question in a job interview. Treat it like “How much do you weigh?” Because it’s equally personal and inappropriate. It just happens to be incredibly common – but that is already changing. Salary history questions are discriminatory and harmful to candidates, especially women. Here’s why:

Don’t let your past dictate your future.

Avoid answering this probing interview question, which has already been outlawed in several states and cities. This is the most important tip to earn a higher income when you change jobs. Everything else, all the other advice you’ll hear about negotiation, is tactical on top of the foundation you either build or destroy based on how you handle this query.

I know it’s hard to dodge a question or play hardball when you really want a job. Ladies, it’s especially hard for us because we’ve been trained to be “nice” and accommodating all our lives. Screw that. Don’t apologize. Now, you don’t want to appear uncooperative or difficult. Just be willing to deftly sidestep a question that no one should be asking you in the first place. Here’s how you can dodge the salary history question while maintaining a friendly, professional demeanor – and actually impressing the hiring manager with your savvy:

Women are still paid 77 cents to every man’s dollar. Carrying the burden of your last salary into your next role will keep you from achieving your potential.

Don’t let being underpaid at your last job stop you from earning the salary you deserve!

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Caveat: I do believe in salary transparency after you’re hired.

Namely amongst coworkers and peers, friends, and family. A rising tide lifts all boats. If we’d stop shrouding our salaries from our friends because we feel awkward about money and want to be “polite”, we’d all make more money. If you knew how much you parents made throughout your life, this would give you greater perspective on market rates for various roles, and what a given salary range could afford in terms of lifestyle. Do you have any idea what your parents made? It’s nebulous for most. Americans are so uncomfortable about money and sex but we bathe in violence.

Salary transparency post-hire and within companies is a good thing. And providing your desired salary can be okay – though I recommend forcing the employer to be first to talk numbers. More on this next week. Click here to get an email when I post a new blog (usually 1-2 times a month).

Two Simple Career Tips with Big Impact

Harry Joiner knows how to get a good job. Sandra Chesnutt knows how to keep a good job. Here’s a bit of what they taught me. If you understand and apply these tips, your career will benefit.

1. “The richest actors aren’t rich because they’re the best actors. They’re rich because they get the best parts.” -Harry Joiner

Harry Joiner headshotHarry Joiner is the real deal in recruiting, and that’s rare nowadays. He looks at a candidate from a holistic career perspective, not from a single job req, time to fill, recruiter comp point of view.

A) I took a lot of notes during helpful calls with Harry over the years, but this line always stuck with me. In order to be successful, you need a role in which you can succeed. There are many variables in whether or not you’re set up for success. When evaluating a job opportunity, ask yourself if it’s a good part. Look for a strong script, visionary but fair director, compelling story, solid supporting cast, and adequate budget – or whatever is important to you. What makes a good movie makes a good company. What makes a good part makes a good job. Consider how this role will help or hurt your next role.

B) The other piece here is obviously that a good agent helps actors get the best parts. A skilled recruiter is your career’s best friend. Try a few on for size. Ask for referrals from people in your field whom you respect or admire. Remember that most recruiters (especially on LinkedIn) are the equivalent of housewives calling themselves realtors. Everybody’s a recruiter just like everybody’s an entrepreneur.

If you’re in ecommerce, check out Harry’s job board: ecommerce jobs. Harry places serious talent, specializing in contingency based Manager, Director, VP, SVP, and CXO-level executive searches for transactional multichannel ecommerce.

2. “Write specific, personal compliments in thank-you notes.” -Sandra Chesnutt

Sandra Chesnutt headshot
Sandra is a friend and mentor, a savvy marketer and fantastic overall person who has been very helpful to me over the years.  Sandra understands organizations, technology, and marketing on a fundamental level. She also has keen insight on managing professional relationships.
This piece of advice is lovely, it’s old school, and it has a big payoff for a small investment. It will cost you ten minutes, some reflection, a nice card (I love this Crane’s stationery), and a stamp.
Read Sandra’s awesome post with lots more detail and examples:
While any thank-you note is better than none, use the note as an opportunity to touch the recipient on a more meaningful level. It only takes one or two thoughtful sentences to make it memorable. Go a little deeper. Point out something specifically great about the person. Everyone loves to be recognized. A compliment is the simplest magic. Example:

Okay thank-you note:

Dear Susan,

Thank you so much for the helpful call. I appreciate your time and insight. I look forward to talking again soon.

-Emily

Great thank-you note:

Dear Susan,

Thank you so much for the helpful call. I loved the mirroring/last 3 words concept and the What I want/why I want it/benefits to you approach.

I especially like how you always offer actionable tips from either your own life/experience or outside, quality resources. But the best part is that you summarize these tips so I get the CliffsNotes version quickly, you make it applicable to me, and you provide an example that illustrates how I can use the tip. Plus, you always remember the full name of the source so I can seek more information.

Thanks again for your help.

-Emily

People love handwritten cards.

Get a nice set like this from Crane’s or a little Etsy shop. These classic looking cards make a great impression – at about $1.90 per card, this small investment will pay dividends: