Before we get started, I should note, this is not the norm, and the industry in which I work makes these significant increases feasible.
I’m sharing this story so that you’ll see it’s possible.
You might be thinking or assuming I was underpaid, and now I’m just receiving what I should have been getting all along.
No, this isn’t the case, either.
In fact, I was already being compensated on the high end of the market range when I was being asked to interview. The $58,000 increase came in addition to an already very comfortable salary.
A few other things to note.
This was a lateral transition, meaning, I wouldn’t be moving into a more senior position with increased responsibilities. I was doing the exact same thing I had been doing in my career. I also didn’t relocate or have any other significant variables that would contribute to this event.
It was just me moving from one employer to another—nothing more or less.
So how did I do it? Read on, my friend…
I had multiple irons in the fire. I (try) to never have just one job opportunity in motion. Naturally you can’t help when companies decide to engage with you (assuming they even will) regardless of when you apply, but you can increase your chances of gaining interest in roughly the same time frame simply by applying for multiple positions at the same time and managing your interview process on an aligned timeline. That way, as you’re moving through the interview process, you should hopefully end up at the offer stage with all of the positions around the same time. Again, there’s no guarantee here.
Why is this good? Not only will you have more options, but you’re able to not place too much emphasis on one job over the other. You will have your favorites, however, try to avoid dismissing other opportunities in favor of your preferred job. You can also compare and contrast for a better long term fit. Keep in mind, salary isn’t everything. You will have to work there 8+ hours a day. You want to be enjoy the people, environment, the company, perks, growth potential, etc. This goes back into your career strategy. (Do yourself a favor, sis, and read that blog post…you’re welcome.)
Also, it gives you leverage when you reach the offer stage.
PRO TIP: Don’t ever lie about having multiple offers with the intention of getting more money. Companies are now asking you for proof before presenting you with a counter offer. They will ask for an offer letter and if you’re interviewing in the same market, recruiters are familiar with the official look of other companies’ offer letters. Just don’t do it.
I buttoned up my interview style. I’ll be the first to admit I have an advantage when it comes to interviewing given the fact that I work in HR and I know what bad interviewing looks like, and I mean horrible interviewing. I also know what hiring manager and senior executives tend to look for. I challenge that notion a little bit only because it’s incredibly different being on the other side of the table. Sure, I may know the pitfalls, and the approach an employer may take, but every interviewer is different, and I can’t judge that until I’m in conversation.
When I say I buttoned up my interview style what I mean is I kept my responses very clean, tight, targeted, and tactful, yet conversational at the same time.
My format is as follows:
Interviewer will ask a question.
I respond:See Also
1. STATEMENT LINKED BACK TO THE QUESTION.
2. PROVIDE RECENT EXAMPLE.
3. SUMMARIZE MY FULL RESPONSE.
I will provide an actual example on a podcast episode to see how this plays out in practice, but you get the general idea. Try to think of objections or areas of potential confusion and solve for the interviewer. They probably know and understand the industry vernacular, they probably don’t know internal business language. Generalize your terminology and language, and don’t give away proprietary information. It’s really, really bad business etiquette and it will count against you, even if it will “help” the other company.
Not to mention, your judgement, integrity. and loyalty will be called into question.
I’ve seen it happen.
Never underestimate the power of being likeable, relatable, and down-to-earth. Now as a woman, a black woman, or woman of color, don’t take this as a negative, or feel like you have to fake the funk more than necessary. It’s quite the contrary, actually. It’s human nature to connect with people you like, look at your friendships. There may be a few unorthodox ways a friendship started, but at the end of it, you somehow connected, liked each other, and the rest is history. Interviewing requires the lite version of this process. You can connect by common interests, small pain points, funny happenings, etc. I like to keep it lighthearted and talk about the dread of Zoom-ing all day (nearly everyone can relate), the weather is always safe, even pets.
It takes one small element that can create a halo-like effect for your benefit (not the widely known Halo effect that speaks to one’s level of attractiveness).
I showed my value CONSISTENTLY. As you maneuver through interviews, you need to illustrate your worth every step of the way, in a multitude of ways. Having one story for your interviewer to discuss isn’t the worst thing in the world, you just run the risk of providing more information and helpful context for the interview panel to discuss in the feedback sessions. In my case, I was prepared to discuss what I can do, what I’ve done, and how I will make them better by hiring me every conversation. Here’s another tip. Don’t wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. Towards the beginning of the conversation, ask about their problems, challenges, areas of opportunity for improvement, and throughout the interview, thread your solutions to the problems they discussed in your responses.
Works like a charm!
I dig deeper than most candidates probably do. This ties into the last one. One other thing I did this time was challenge them by saying, “that’s a really hard position, what are you currently doing to solve for that?” After they respond, I follow up with something like, “oh okay, that’s a solid solution, I’ve solved similar problems like X,” then go to town in all your black girl glory with your solution for them. Not only are you being proactive, you’re showing your ability to solve the problem which is clutch since you’re literally being hired to solve a problem.
As you can imagine, it takes a bit of practice to do this effortlessly and in a fluid manner, especially if you’re just getting back into the feel of interviewing. I will say that it takes some level of assertion and self-assuredness to do this, but you can do it!
I didn’t get into the negotiation process since that’s always a meatier topic, so I’ll save that for part two as a fast follow up.
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Chief Everything Officer/Only Operating Officer at The Cultured Career and Workfluence; Tech HR Executive; Forbes HR Council Member, Human Resources and Personal Branding Expert, Diversity, Equity + Inclusion Enthusiast. Your personal hype woman—I unabashedly bully you into believing your dopeness, potential, and greatness. Somewhere comfortably located between glitter and gangsta where my black girl magic is shining.