Should You Ever Ask About Pay During a Job Interview?

NO! YES! I DON’T KNOW! WHY ARE WE YELLING!?

This question gets asked so often by all levels of individuals who are going through a job search. Entry levels to seasoned professionals, no one really knows the correct answer, because, like most things in life, it depends on so many factors!

First off, you look like an idiot if you show up to an interview and in the first few minutes you drop the pay question!

“So, yeah, before we get too deep into this, how much does the job pay!?” 

Mistake #1! 

First, if you’re asking about what the job pays in a real face-to-face interview, or virtual interview, you’re doing it wrong! The time to ask about pay, is almost immediately, even when you’re desperate for the job. Usually, this happens during a screening call, email, text message from someone in recruiting or HR. Talent Acquisition and HR Pros expect this question, so it’s really not a big deal.

The problem we get into is this belief that somehow asking about pay and salary looks bad on us as a candidate. “Oh, all you care about is the pay and not our great company!?”

Mistake #2! 

Actually, TA and HR would prefer to get this big issue out of the way, right away, before they fall in love with you and find out they can’t afford you. Doesn’t matter if you make $15/hr or $100K per year, everyone involved needs to understand what it’s going to take to hire you. As a candidate, even when you desperately want the job, you still have power. You can still say, “No”.

The best thing you can do is get the pay question out of the way, up front, so both you and the company can determine if you will truly be the best hire. The worst thing that can happen during an interview, is you both fall in love with each other, then at the end find out it won’t work financially! That’s a killer!

Mistake #3! 

As a candidate, you get referred to a position and you have a pretty good idea of what the pay will be. Your friend works at the company, even in the same position, and makes $45K, so you’re not going to ask because you feel you already know.

The problem is, the company might not see your experience and education the same as your friends, or the market has shifted (like a Pandemic hit, and now the market pays less for your skills). For whatever reason, you are thinking one number and they are thinking another. This gets awkward when it all comes out at the end of the hiring process.

So, once again, be transparent. “Hey, my friend actually referred me and loves her job and the company. She also told me what she makes. I’m comfortable with that level, but I just want to make sure we are on the same page for a starting salary/wage before we keep going.” Simple. Straight-forward. Appreciated.

Yes, ask about Pay! 

Yes, ask about pay, but “no” don’t ask about pay as the last step of the interview process. Calm down, you’re not some wolf of Wall Street expert negotiator who’s going to wow them with your brilliance and get $100K more than others doing the same job. Most jobs have a set salary range that is pretty small, so you might get a little movement, but there is really no need to play hardball.

In fact, from a negotiation standpoint, getting your figure out early with a statement like, “I just want to make sure we are in the same park, I’m looking for $20-22/hr in my next job. Does this position pay that?” Gives you and the company some room to negotiate, but it’s a safe conversation since you both put some bumpers around where that conversation will go.

Also, if you decide you want more, it’s a great starting point. “Yes, I really like the job and the company and I’m interested in working for you. I know I said I was looking for $22/hr, but Mary told me I would also be doing “X” and honestly, I think that job pays a bit more than $22/hr. Can we discuss?”

Discussions of pay can be difficult because we often find talking about how much money we make taboo. I blame our parents! They never talked to us about it and if the subject was ever brought up, we got hushed immediately! Raise your hand if you knew what your Dad made when you were 12! Not many hands are up!

The reality is, it should be a very transparent, low-stress conversation. This is where I am. This is what I want from this job. Are we on the same page?

Do you know what you really want in your career?

About 15 years ago I came home one day and said to my wife, “I can’t do this anymore”. It doesn’t matter what I was doing, I just couldn’t do that anymore. I knew it. Something had to change.

Steve Jobs is famously quoted as saying, “people don’t know what they want until you show them”, I think Henry Ford said something similar about one hundred years before Jobs. Both were talking about consumers, but in reality, it fits people in almost every aspect of life.

I find it really rings true for people in their careers. We think we know what we want. “I want to be a vice president by the time I’m 35”, I told my wife when I was 25 years old. I thought I knew what I wanted in my career. In reality, I was just title chasing.

I became a vice president and I found out I felt no difference in my career, and I definitely didn’t feel satisfied. So, a title was not what I truly wanted. What I discovered was I wanted to be in control. Success or failure, I wanted that on my shoulders. It didn’t matter what I was actually doing in my career, I needed control.

How many of your employees truly know what they want in life? 

As a leader, I find probably only about ten percent of those who you support will truly have an idea about what they want out of a career. The other ninety percent, are just like me, they think they know, but they really don’t until they’ve reached whatever goal they’ve set for themselves, then they’ll find out if they actually had any clue, or they were just guessing.

If we start with most employees have no idea what they want in their career, or at best they have an idea, but it’ll be wrong, it’s now up to leaders to help shape this path. It might be the only real thing we can do for those we supervise as leaders are to help guide them on their career path.

Employees don’t know what they want in a career until you show them. 

If you believe this is your job as a leader to show those you work with what their career can be, this really helps to crystallize what you do each day.

What I know from my experience is the best people I ever worked for had a vision and path they wanted for their career. That path was usually developed and born from a mentor or boss that took the time to care about this person enough to show them what their career could be.

I can point to four different leaders and mentors in my life who helped shape my path, and by the way, all said I was an idiot for my obsession with a title. I was too young to listen, and thankfully they were too smart to give up on me.

It’s your job as a leader to show your people what they want. Don’t ever assume that your people already know what they want, most don’t. They won’t admit this because admitting it makes you sound like a moron, but it shouldn’t stop you as a leader from showing them the possibilities.

What I find is the more you show them the path, the more they’ll gravitate towards it and raise their performance to meet it.

Ultimately, I find people want two things: 

  1. They want to be and feel successful in what they are doing.
  2. They want to feel wanted.

You’re an Idiot if You Still Check References!

One thing really hasn’t changed in hiring in like fifty years. Before we hire someone, in certain higher-up levels within our organizations, we do this little dance. The dance is us asking you for “professional” references, that we must check before we can “officially” hire you, and you giving us such references, which are basically your friends.

Don’t think it’s a dance? Think it’s truly helpful in finding noticeably better talent? Answer me this one question:

How many candidates have you rescinded the offer to because they received a bad reference? 

Wait! WAIT! Let me first take a guess at your answer…Let me see thousands of candidates, hundreds of hires, divided by the square root of 73, and my answer is: ZERO!

I’ve asked this question to thousands of HR and TA pros, thousands of candidates and basically it’s like one out of a thousand, and even that “one” has a story! “Oh, sure, just last week Tim we rescinded an offer. So, we checked the references as usual, and everything came back that this candidate was Jesus-like, could walk on the water, all of that. But, our receptionist knew someone who went to school with this guy, who happens to know his girlfriend’s mother he broke up with two years ago and come to find out, he’s a loser!”

So, the references were fine, but…

Checking References in the traditional way that over 90% of organizations still use is a complete and colossal waste of time and resources! 

Look, I get it. It’s always been done this way, but the reality is this isn’t a quality of hire check, this is am I hiring someone who is stupid enough to not give me people who will at least say good things about me check. While you might still think that measure is valuable, it’s not. Traditional reference checking does not filter out enough candidates for it to be worth the amount of time and resources you put into it.

Now, I am a big fan of Reference Checking Technology, automated reference checking because this technology, on average, will eliminate around 10% of the candidates you want to hire, for very good reasons! Modern-day reference check technology is about helping you select candidates you see as technically a good fit, but you want to double-check the cultural fit.

Reference check technology also has a low resource impact. It’s automated so you aren’t having a real person track other people down to see how well you can all lie to each other. The questions that are asked, usually through email, are about a candidate’s preferences. I like to work in “X” way. The reference then is asked how they feel the candidate likes to work best on a spectrum of answers where both spectrums are positive. So, it’s hard for a reference to “game” the system.

Look, I hate calling you an idiot! 

I know you are checking references. Or at the very least, your executives think you’re checking references, because, let’s face it, they know nothing about hiring and science. They had their references checked back in the 1990’s, so they feel it’s something we must legally do or we’ll get fined or something. They have no idea!

Be better.

Stop checking references, manually. Start checking references using technology that will actually help you make a better hire. Also, don’t just take my word for it, or the word of one of the many reference check technology companies, prove it to yourself. Make some baseline measures you believe are important, test the technology on your next “X” number of hires, then check those measures again. Did you get better? Awesome. Did you stay the same or get worse? Hmmm, interesting, let’s dig into that! Continue to test and improve. Stop doing shit that makes you look like an idiot!

 

We bet on Laurie Ruettimann taking over #HRFamous! @lruettimann #BettingOnYouBook

In episode 45 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett and Jessica Lee are joined by special guest Laurie Ruettimann to discuss her new book (out 1/12/21, click to view) called Betting On You.

Listen below (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

2:00 – Tim opens up the episode with a discussion about pronouns prompted by this tweet. JLee mentions that they/them can feel like the only option for some people and so she understands why some people would want pronouns that are unique to someone.

5:30 – Tim welcomes on today’s guest, Laurie Ruettimann! She is a longtime friend of the pod and we are happy to have her on today’s episode!

7:45 – Laurie has a new book coming out soon called Betting On You. She says that she wrote the book because she felt stagnant in her HR roles and wanted to create the book that she would have wanted in this phase of her life.

9:30 – Laurie mentions the phenomenon that HR employees tend to forget their employees too and they need to trust themselves and the issues that they see.

11:00 – JLee asks Laurie what she thinks makes her book stand out from others. She says that she just wants to tell stories and her experience. She doesn’t claim to be an expert but she wants to relay messages she’s learned from her work experiences.

12:00 – The crew takes a quick sidebar to talk about their favorite Peloton instructors (Team Dennis or Team Cody?).

14:00 – Laurie mentions that many different movements of this past year have caused a lot of self-reflection about our lives and our morals and how this theme of her book follows along with this journey.

17:30 – Tim asks JLee if she thinks there will be a reckoning for more traditional white-collar environments post-pandemic. She thinks that the traditional way cannot keep going on in the way that it has for a long time.

22:00 – JLee thinks that people forget how many choices they have. Not only do they choose to work somewhere but they choose to go to work every day. Laurie thinks that embracing that perspective as an HR professional can change how systems work.

24:20 – Laurie brings up the fact that FBI agents are taught to detach themselves from their work and that they have an identity outside of their job.

26:50 – Tim asks Laurie about things they can do to combat burnout. She says one of her favorites is that your personal life should go on your professional calendar first. She thinks so many of us are victims of the Outlook calendar.

29:30 – Tim heard a story about how your life is juggling 5 balls. The ball for your job is rubber but the other 4 are glass. You can rebound from dropping the job ball but the glass balls will cause real damage.

32:00 – Laurie’s new book is available for pre-order at bettingonyoubook.com and available for purchase on January 12! Also check out her podcast, Punk Rock HR! Thank you to Laurie for joining us for this episode!

Order the book here!

What can your employees count on from you in 2021?

At the HR Technology Conference his fall, Marcus Buckingham gave a talk on some new research he did on resilience. It was definitely timely because of the year that is 2020. Also, when you talk to c-suite leaders all will say one of the most sought after attributes they want in their employees would be resilience.

From his research, Marcus found that employees determine how much they trust a leader and an organization comes down to just a few simple things, and one of those major things is not what you hope and dreams are for the organization, but what you can specifically tell employees that they can count on, 100% count on.

We see organizations come out all the time with examples of this:

  • Google said they will not have in-office work until September 2021, but the plan is to bring people back in-office at that point. Concrete date and plan, of course, it might get pushed out again, but at the very least you know you have remote work until September 2021.
  • I’ve seen CEOs come out in 2020 and tell their employees we will not lay one person off this year. For many employees in those companies, that was such a relief to hear.
  • It can be as simple as letting your employees know you will not be changing your benefit plan for the coming year or moving your home office after a merger or acquisition.

Of course, all leaders want to share their vision and dreams. We love aspirational leaders, even if we don’t completely trust them! What all employees want, based on the research, is a leader who will tell them what they can count on moving forward, even if it’s something small.

“I can you this much, for sure…” Then, from a trust standpoint, you move heaven and earth to make that happen! So, the old leadership axiom of under-promise, over-deliver fits really well into the trust dynamic.

Also, don’t make this lame! 

“You can count on me to always tell you the truth!” No, I can’t! That’s a lie right there! As soon as something happens, let’s say talks about acquiring a new company, or having your company acquired, you won’t be able to share anything about that.

“Hey, are we getting bought?” Well, I can’t yes or no to that question, and that’s the truth! No, you’re an idiot who is saying nothing, and now I don’t trust you.

What can your employees count on? 

Sometimes this is the most difficult question to answer because there is way more we can’t count on, then we can. But, if you can come up with those few concrete things, you can leverage that trust a long way.

2020 has shown our employees are not as fragile as we like to believe. For the most part, employees who truly understand the truth of their circumstances are much more resilient than we think. “Hey, 2021, is going to be extremely hard on the organization. We need sales, or we will be in trouble. Everything we will do needs to focus on how to help us sell more.”

Yes, some employees will run and find a new job. But, many more will fight and show their resilience and reward your honesty. At the end of the day, we just want to know we aren’t being lied to and after that, it’s pretty remarkable what we are willing to face and conquer.

3 out of 4 Employees Actually Want to Return to the Office!

I think most HR pros disagree with this number. I didn’t make it up like I do most of the time, but I was having this feeling that way to many HR leaders and pros were feeling that their entire office workforce just wanted to remain remote. The number is from this recent Human Experience study.

Basically, it’s saying 25% of workers want to return full-time to the office, 50% want some kind of hybrid model where they will return, but have additional flexibility to work remotely, and 25% want to stay remote on a permanent basis.

My guess is most HR leaders and pros if asked this question are under the belief that 50%+ of their office workers want to remain remote, full-time. At least, that’s what I hear when I ask that question to them. Much smaller sample, but it’s also what I hear and read.

What the article is really showing is that our workforce has had a taste of flexibility, and most really, really liked what it tasted like! I find that in very large cities, organizations and leaders are much more flexible. It’s just the nature of big city life. Trains don’t always run on time, commutes can be crazy, etc.

As you get out into smaller communities the expectations changed. You can always make it into work because you’re driving your own car. If you were 15 minutes late in Milwaukee, people will question you. If you’re 30 minutes late in New York, no one says a thing. So, having some flexibility to be treated like a real, functioning adult, for most people has been a breath of fresh air.

But, and it’s a big but – we can’t be naive as HR leaders believing everyone just wants remote. They don’t want remote, the vast majority, want flexibility. They want some understanding. I can be a high performer, and  I can meet my goals and exceed them, just treat me like an adult.

The pandemic might change many things about work and life moving forward, but it won’t change our desire as humans, most of us, to want to have live interactions, one-on-one, face-to-face, to congregate, to share ideas, and see your real-life body language, if at all possible.

Don’t be fooled by a loud minority voice saying a remote workplace is the best workplace. It’s “a” workplace, great for some, horrible for many. Just as in-office is great for some, and horrible for others. The best organizations will figure out the balance.

Why does HR hate minimum wage laws?

In episode 41 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn, and Jessica Lee discuss the impact of the new Florida minimum wage passed in the November election Cycle and the passing of Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh and his impact on the world of company culture and HR.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

2:45 – The HR Famous crew opens the pod by sharing their Black Friday deals. Tim is the main shopper of the group and he bought 4 pairs of shoes, 7 pairs of pants, lots of quarter zips, socks, and Christmas gifts for his family.

6:10 – First topic of the year: Florida passed an increase in the minimum wage to $15 (from $8.60) by the year 2026. About 60% of voters voted to pass the raising of Florida’s minimum wage.

8:40 – Tim thinks that they had an easy job to pass this proposal because the increase is several years away. He also notes studies that show minimum wage increases reduce suicide attempts.

10:00 – JLee thinks this opens up an interesting conversation since some people may have crossed the aisle and split their ballot to vote for the minimum wage raise.

11:30 – Tim notes that he saw this ticket-splitting in many different areas across the country between candidates and proposals or plans.

14:00 – Tim and JLee think that a raise in minimum wage will become a consumer tax instead of a job decrease.

14:40 – KD disagrees and thinks that this may actually hurt small businesses and benefit big corporations since they have more ability to handle that increase.

17:00 – KD also thinks that compression in wages may happen with a pay increase, and the impact of compression is something most don’t think about with minimum wage increases.

20:00 – Last topic of the day: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh passed away on November 27. He has been responsible for a lot of important HR principles that are used today.

21:30 – Tim says his biggest takeaway from Tony Hsieh is allowing HR to test just about anything. Tim wrote this post about Tony Hsieh in 2009 and he commented.

24:00 – JLee notes the importance of Tony Hsieh as a very visible Asian-American leader.

26:00 – KD, JLee, and Tim share their favorite contributions to the HR dialog that came from Zappos. Conversations include hiring people that don’t act like the norm at your company, Holacracy, and paying people to leave!

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

RESOURCES AND SHOW NOTES:

—————Jessica Lee, Kris Dunn, and Tim Sackett

Jessica Lee on LinkedIn

Tim Sackett on Linkedin

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

HRU Tech

The Tim Sackett Project

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Kinetix

Boss Leadership Training Series

Finding Qualified Diverse Talent is NOT Your Issue!

During 2020, I’ve spoken to a lot of leaders who are concerned with their diversity recruiting. Every single one of them will say something like, “Tim, we just can’t find the ‘qualified’ diverse talent we need!” Sound familiar? Feel familiar?

I’m not a diversity recruiting strategy expert. I leave that to my friend, Torin Ellis. I do think I’ve got a bit of knowledge when it comes to overall recruiting, though.

When I break down the response I get from most leaders, regarding diversity recruitment I usually have one cringe, and one response. “Qualified?” What do you mean by that? I hear it as, you can find plenty of diverse folks interested in coming to work for you, but none of them, or few of them, are actually qualified to work for you. Is that how you read/hear that?

It makes me cringe a bit because what you’re actually saying is we don’t have a supply problem, we have a training and development problem, but you don’t even realize that. You could have your perfect diverse mix of employees if you just invested a bit in training and developing these great hired into great employees. But, you don’t see the value in that, which makes me think you probably don’t see the value in a diverse workforce, to begin with.

What I actually say to them is this, “You don’t have a diversity recruiting problem. You have a diversity pay problem because finding diverse “qualified” talent is easy. Finding ones that will accept your job, culture, location, and/or average to low pay is really hard!” 

Finding talent has never been easier in the history of humanity. We have more technology and tools than ever before. Finding is easy. Recruiting is hard..

Successful recruiting takes some skill. A success recruiter will find the “qualified” diverse talent you are looking for and then they’ll do a few things:

  • They’ll get them interested first. They will make them feel desired and wanted by the organization. By the hiring manager. By the team. Being Desired is a powerful drug!
  • Next, they’ll discover what that talent actually desires in their career. Quickly, efficiently, like a sniper.
  • Then they’ll make a determination: 1. Are we going to meet those desires. or 2. We won’t meet those desires.
  • One, you obviously move on to screening, assessing, etc. Two, and you move on to giving something back to this person. “I can’t help you right now, but I’ve taken notes and if I have anything that ever comes close to meeting what you need, I’m going to contact you back.” 99% of recruiters will never say that to a potential candidate.

Honestly, about 25% of the time when you tell someone “I can’t help you, but…” they’ll actually state a desire to keep going. You taking the potential away will make some reveal they actually have an interest. Doesn’t mean you will still move forward, but it’s a nice outcome.

I can easily find you “qualified” diversity talent. Don’t think so, call me. I can find anyone. The problem we’ll run into is that some of that talent is rare and will cost a premium to get. It’s a simple economic proposition, you can buy talent or build talent. They each have their costs and benefits. I find most organizations claim they want to hire diverse talent, but aren’t doing what it will take to make it happen.

The Weekly Dose: The Meeting Owl @owllabs

Today on the Weekly Dose I take a look at a piece of tech hardware, not software that is gaining popularity with organizations who are doing more and more hybrid virtual meetings. Owl Labs developed a speaker/mic/camera combination, The Meeting Owl, that makes in-office and remote workers feel more like they are in the room.

One of the biggest pains for remote workers is when they are having meetings with co-workers that are in-office is many times you don’t get the full experience of what’s actually happening in the room. You either get one view of a large conference room, viewed through a small screen, and it’s hard to pick up who’s talking and actually get to see their expressions, etc.

The Meeting Owl is a smart speaker/mic/camera that gives you a complete 360-degree view and sound of the entire meeting room. It basically turns any room into a smart meeting room. One of the coolest things is that it works directly within whatever meeting platform you are using: Zoom, Teams, etc.

What I like about The Meeting Owl:

  • It makes all participants of the meeting, even those who are remote, feel like they are actually in the room with everyone.
  • If you are remote and viewing the meeting you can view both the presenter and those participating.
  • This simple device can turn any room or office into a smart meeting room almost instantly.
  • The price is fairly low, $999, for a telecom-type speaker device, but you get the added advantage of the 360-degree camera view.

We are all challenged with how we will not just make Remote work, work, but how we will make remote work thrive. The Meeting Owl is a great idea coming out of the tech community to make it easier for not only remote workers to feel better connected, but also clients and any other stakeholders who feel like the normal video calls feel less than ideal.

The Meeting Owl seems like a great alternative to super expensive conference room video/audio systems that are being sold on the market. With this speaker and a cheap smart TV you can turn any room into a fully functioning smart conference room for about $1500.

Owl Labs did not pay for this post, but, as always, if they want to send me a Meeting Owl I would happily accept it and play with it! 

4 Things You Can Do to Get Candidates to Open Your Emails!

I found some cool data that probably got overlooked a while back from CB Insights. Now, this data is from 2016, but it’s super relevant!

CB Insights did some testing with their own email newsletter that went out to 175K+. A very big sample and the reality is they have the exact same goal as we all do, Get Candidates to Open Our Email!

These 4 things work really well in getting people to open your email:

1. Brand Names. CB found that using a big brand name like Apple, Google, Nike, etc. in your subject line increases your odds greatly of getting someone to open your email. Now, you might be asking yourself, “Tim, how the heck am I going to use a brand name in my recruiting emails!?” How about something like, “3 Ways we are a better place to work than Apple!”

2. Short TitlesLess is more when it comes to attention-grabbing subject lines! I suggest under 5 words if possible. “Are we paying too much?” or “I’ve Got a Quick Question” or “Sackett” – Yep, in my own testing, the one email that gets open at a higher rate than any other is when I only put my last name in the subject line!

3. Negativity. This seems counter-intuitive. No way! People love positivity. You are right, but negativity draws them in! “How Candidates Fall on their Face!” will get opened way more than “How Candidates Succeed!” Again, in ten years of blogging and making headlines, this data also rings true. I get way more interaction on negative headlines than positive headlines.

4. Surprises. Different viewpoints that people don’t expect. “Punching Your Boss Can Get You a Raise!” or “Older Workers Have More Energy Than Millennials!” or “Hiring Dumb People!” Basically, people open these because they don’t agree with the headline. What the heck is Tim talking about today!?!

So, if all of these things work. What does CB Insights say doesn’t work, in fact, what should we stop doing with our subject lines? 

  • All of the opposites of above! Long headlines, positive headlines, boring, etc.
  • Question Headlines. “What 3 Things Are You Doing to Hurt Your Brand!” While Buzzfeed has made billions with these clickbait headlines, CB found readers are getting fatigued with these types of headlines. (I will tell you “The X Things to do…” headlines still work in my world. 5 Ways to Hire More People! Will always do well.
  • Broad topics do worse than Niche. A headline that says “5 Ways to Attract More Talent” will do worse than “5 Ways to Attract More Nurses Right Now!”

The key to great email subject lines is they get opened! If you send out a hundred emails to candidates and no one opens them, it doesn’t matter what the content is and how much time you spent making it perfect. Get Them To Open Your Emails! Is the single most important thing you should worry about first!

It’s very Recruiting 101, and it’s something almost every recruiting shop struggles with, but then we go and focus on the picture we’re using. Does it have a puppy and a kid in a wheelchair? No, stop the presses! Stop it. Fix the basics first, then worry about doing the higher level stuff.

What is your most responsive email subject line?