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 transparencyafter 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).
The city where you live can hugely impact your happiness. Some people say it doesn’t matter where you live, that you make your own happiness wherever you go. I beg to differ. The energy of a city is so important to your ability to thrive there. The weather is important too, more for some people than others. I really dislike being cold. I grew up in Chicago, went to college in New York and Michigan, and moved to the south primarily because I knew warmer weather would make me happier. It really did. So did other things about Atlanta.
Why I Moved from Atlanta to Austin
After eight years in ATL, I got the itch to try out another place. I wanted to get rid of my stuff and get rid of my 9-5 and make Beetle Moment Marketing my main job. I wanted to move somewhere with a greater focus on outdoor activities and a stronger sense of community, a place with less tension — without giving up my fantastic network and clients in Atlanta. So I’m splitting time between Austin and Atlanta. Semi-dual residency is my experiment for the next year or so. Airfare can be cheaper than bus fare if you know a few travel hacks.
Who’s Your City, though getting older and not the absolute answer to the question, is still a solid skim on the topic of choosing a place to live. Richard Florida has devoted his research to cities and what makes them and their residents prosper. Penelope Trunk did the same thing and after a year of thorough city happiness research moved from NYC to Madison, Wisconsin. I examined the attributes of several U.S. cities and picked the one with the most pros for me: Austin, Texas.
It’s easier to move when you don’t have a mortgage or a job that requires you to be in one place. But if these apply to you, it’s still possible to rearrange your life to make a change or even become nomadic. Sell it, rent it, request remote work, quit, freelance…
And remember: jobs come and go.
We place too much emphasis on work in this country. No one on their death bed wishes they’d worked more. That said, I like working — more accurately, I love working for myself.
What to do with all your stuff
Own a home? Rent it out. Have too much stuff? Sell it ALL. Inherit an old boat recently? Hire Captain Ron to help you sail it from the Caribbean to Miami, then decide to just keep sailing. The internet has made all of this easier than ever.
Downsize to joy items
Start to downsize early, then moving becomes much easier mentally. I sold or donated all my furniture and came to Austin with only boxes containing things like my InstantPot and Himalayan salt lamps and Casper pillow and rollerblades. Stuff that brings me joy: ditch the rest. Buy newer models of what you sold.
A chance to upgrade
When I move again I will pare it down even further. I’m excited to be lighter than ever. All those blazers and Brooks Brothers shirts and high heels from my corporate days are just taking up room in my closet. I’ve been thinking more about this since seeing the YouTube trend of young people living in their cars. Eileah Ohning from Columbus lived in her car for several months, motivated in part by wanting to save money to pay off student loans. That is a travesty, but student loan debt is a separate topic. The point is that it’s possible to be happy living really lean. Here are more moneysaving tips for your twenties.
I couldn’t downsize into a sedan like Eileah did (impressive) but I did embrace the discomfort of starting over from scratch. It’s a chance to upgrade things.
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 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 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.
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:
Thank you so much for the helpful call. I appreciate your time and insight. I look forward to talking again soon.
Great thank-you note:
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.
Standing beats sitting – this is known. But how can we stand better? I have been testing a standing desk accessory called the Level for three months. As a 3+ year standing desk advocate, this is the first time I’ve used a balance board. Until recently, I had relied on a thick floor mat and other products to help ease foot and leg strain.
The Level by Fluidstance, office-category winner of Inc.’s 2015 Best in Class Awards, has added health benefits to your standard shock-absorbing floor mat. While it’s simply a piece of wood framed by curved, die-cut aluminum, the product has fantastic design and an undeniable cool factor – it gets noticed. The science behind it centers on this:
The body is meant to move in three dimensions, and our FluidStance product enables that movement at a desk or workstation. Merely standing at a desk doesn’t allow for this movement, whereas using the Level does.
15% increased heart rate vs. sitting
Increased range of motion vs. static standing desk (23.98 degrees ROM)
I’d rather not strain my feet standing in heels or wedges, and I rarely wear flats. I stand barefoot most of the day in my office and slip on shoes for meetings. That said, my feet get sore if I stand still on the Level for more than about ten minutes. It is really made for you to continually rock and sway.
The Level is supposed to help reduce the need to shift your weight while standing, which can produce poor posture. Indeed, I have found this constant urge to be a negative symptom of my stand-up desk. With the Level, my feet still get tired and I end up standing on one foot with the other bent at the knee laying horizontally on my desk, which is not optimal.
Takeaway: I enjoy the added motion but I find myself switching to my floor mat for at least half the day. I think my feet would get less tired if I stood in tennis shoes; I’ve simply been too lazy to change shoes throughout the day. The Level is a neat piece of ergonomic furniture if you can afford it and wear comfortable shoes, but a quality floor mat at least 3/4 inch thick is a more affordable, still solid option that works better for women who wear heels.
Price: The American Made and Original models range from $289 to $489 as of this writing. The average American works forty hours a week from ages 20-65. This totals 90,000 hours, or 10.7 years at work (excluding two weeks of vacation per year). Your health, well-being, and productivity at work affect nearly every area of your life. Treat your body to the healthiest options possible. You could drop hundreds or thousands on an ergonomic chair or a standing desk setup. The latter will save you time and money in the long run, and you might even live longer.
Materials: The Level is made with eco-conscious materials, some models featuring renewable bamboo. The finish is GREENGUARD certified so it meets rigorous low emission standards. I’m happy to support a company that prides itself on being “responsible borrowers from mother earth.” Plus, 90% of initial products are produced in the U.S. The environmentally friendly packaging is a nice feature.
Disclosure: I was given a Level by Fluidstance and asked to write a review. I have not been compensated in any other way.
1) Desk: I have the adjustable height Dual Kangaroo from Ergo Desktop ($599) – made in USA. There are dozens of brands and types of desks out there. When narrowing down my choices in February 2013, I considered the Ergotron Workfit which is a mount, but in the end I chose the more portable Kangaroo, which sits on top of my regular desk. It required less hardware and work/drilling holes in the wall.
The Dual Kangaroo is great for a laptop and monitor setup or for two monitors. Be sure to use the included stability leg to reduce wobbling. (The attentive Ergo Desktop customer care team actually tweeted me this tip after noticing this picture I posted of the desk sans leg.) The obvious benefit of an adjustable height desk is that it allows for postural changes throughout the day. There are times you’ll want to sit – that’s okay. I rarely lower my desk but it’s nice to have the option.
Kangaroo and similar brands like VARIDESK, UpLift and Ergo Depot have models for different laptop/computer combinations. thehumansolution.com has a good selection of well-priced desks and free shipping over $85. (The Human Solution also accepts BitCoin because they are awesome.) A coworker recently ordered the Kangaroo Pro (mount style) for a single monitor (the Pro Junior is good for smaller monitors) – well done, RD! Some Kangaroo desks use VESA mounts for your monitor while others use shelves (what I have and prefer for its flexibility).
Tool to assist with measurements for your standing desk
Tammy Coron at creativebloq has more tips about measuring and posture
A few more standing desk recommendations if the Kangaroo line is not for you:
a. Electric adjustable desk: The UpLift 900 ($769) has received excellent reviews (LA Times). Lifehacker named it the #1 standing desk (check out Lifehacker’s February 2014 top five standing desks – if you order one off this list, you’ll be set). “If you want a standard size desk with brilliant height adjustability, the UpLift 900 is perfect for you.” The motor allows easy switching between sitting and standing. See video reviews of the UpLift 900.
b. Walking desk/treadmill desk: Check out the TrekDesk ($549 as of 10/26/16):
You can burn an extra 2.6-3.6 calories per minute depending on incline (156-216 extra per hour). I’ve read that your typed WPM decreases as walking speed increases, and Business Insider‘s Alyson Shontell reports that her treadmill desk experiment decreased productivity due to dividing attention across work and physical movement (but she ultimately had fairly positive takeaways). If you are a klutz and multitasker, walking while working could be problematic. I like the idea of it overall though. Read Danny Sullivan’s treadmill desk review. Sullivan uses the LifeSpan desk, specifically the TR1200-DT7.
c. Light duty electric desk: If you work from a laptop and only need the standing desk for a few hours a day: Ergo Depot AD17 Adjustable Height Desk (normally $749, on sale for $549 at time of this posting)
e. (Pretty) affordable height adjustable monitor stand and keyboard tray: VARIDESK Pro ($300)
Try it first! Note: Please experiment with a DIY standing desk for at least two months before purchasing furniture. Try using cardboard boxes and old yellow page phone books or paper reams to prop up your monitor, keyboard and mouse at proper ergonomic height on top of your existing desk. It will be ugly but it’s for testing. Make sure you can commit to this lifestyle.
2) Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat for standing desk: A good, thick, high-quality shock-absorbent floor mat is crucial. You spend most of your life at work (and soon, on your feet). Invest in your health and comfort. I have been quite pleased with the $75 Rhino Mat Pyra-Mat Anti Fatigue Mat (free shipping at Ergo Depot). Don’t skimp on the floor mat, and don’t venture into standing without one. Read the fine print: you should have a sponge thickness at least 3/4-7/8″ thick (1/2″ won’t cut it). The mat I have comes with optional custom logos. If you’re a manager and have employees who stand all day (e.g., at a service desk or counter) surprise them with these mats and you will be amazed at their gratitude and improved morale.