Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Three Good Reasons Why You Should Not Exaggerate Your Salary When Job Hunting

I can’t believe that in all these years, I have not written about this before.

Many of you are aware that New York City recently passed a law making it illegal to discriminate based on salary.  In essence, this means that a company cannot ask about your salary history.  The attempt here is to insure that women are paid what men are paid.  The problem is that this question will be asked anyway, despite it being illegal (I am not a lawyer, but as I understand it, you cannot legally provide a salary history, even if voluntary.  You cannot waive the right and disclose your salary, except to a head hunter who will negotiate on your behalf, but that waiver must be obtained in writing).  My guess is that this law will end up being adjudicated in the courts.  But in the meanwhile, companies will continue to ask about salary and candidates will continue to voluntarily supply this information.  

At any given level or title there is a huge disparity of salaries.  I have interviewed $60k account directors and those with the same title making $180k.  So the question will always be asked. Here is a good example of why the information is needed.

I recently re-interviewed a candidate I met five years ago.  When we originally met, she told me she was making $200k with a $50k commission on new business that she brought in.  She is still at the same company, but when I asked her this time, she told me her base was $150k and her bonus was $25k.  Big difference!  And, the reason for this post.

You may actually preclude yourself from great jobs
During the five years that have passed since I met with the previously mentioned candidate, I have had at least six or eight jobs which would have been right for her, but I never called her because I thought she was making too much money for those openings.
Everyone thinks they are underpaid and worth more than they are making, but by exaggerating your salary with a company or a recruiter, you may preclude yourself from something you really want.  A few thousand dollars can make a big difference.

Remember, the higher your salary, the fewer the jobs.

You are lying and will be caught
Particularly at junior levels, people believe that to make more money that they have to lie in order to move and get more.  It just isn’t so. If someone is offered less than they think they are worth, they can and should turn the job down.  Tell the recruiter or the company what you are making and what your ideal salary would be (the NYC law, as I understand it, does allow a job applicant to say what their desired salary range is).  Then go from there.

One of the problems with lying about salary is that no one can remember who they told what.  If someone is making $50k and tells one company or recruiter that they are making $55, they are apt to tell the next person they are making $60k. Lying is easy.  Except, when one is asked a second time during an interview (which is a great way of double checking) the answer is apt to be different. 
I have even asked the same person about their salary twice in the same interview (“sorry, I neglected to write it down, what are you making again?”), I have received two different answers; I also know the lower amount is probably the truth.

Also, remember that most firms require you to fill out an application which calls for a salary history.  It is very easy to get confused and get caught. (Although I recommend to candidates that they not fill out this part of a job application – your salary history is nobody’s business.)

Many candidates exaggerate salaries by including perks - bonuses, car and other allowances, matching 401k.  Base salary is the only thing that counts since perks are discretionary and are not always paid or may not be consistent year to year.

You may get a job which is way over your head
Remember, the higher your salary the greater the expectations of your performance.
I remember a candidate who kept pushing herself by exaggerating her salary with each job move.  She finally got a job as an account director at $100k, but had only been really making $60k as a supervisor; I believe she told people she was making $85.  What happened to her is sad.  She could not perform at the level of expectations that her new salary required and, after six months and numerous evaluations, she was terminated.  Her references were terrible and she was out of work for a very long time (While most companies have rules which prevent or should prevent people from giving references, don’t kid yourself, people give them anyway.)

It is a common misconception that since everyone (not true) lies about their salary, it is harmless.  When someone lies to me, I make a notation in their file and have to decide if it effects how I deal with them.  Why get branded as a liar, even if you think lying about salary is harmless?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Disabled In The Advertising Business

Many of you know that I was struck by a taxi in 2015. I am recovering, albeit slowly.  I am lucky enough to be a recruiter so that I can continue to work.  But it has left me wondering where disabled people are in the advertising business.   

The ad business is struggling with diversity.  Some agencies have added executives whose entire job it is to find and hire people of ethnicity and color.  That is great, but there is another group of people who are simply not represented in advertising.  

The disabled. 

I have seen estimates that senior citizens, over 65, have a rate of impairment of about 30%; that includes people who must use walkers, wheelchairs or have other debilitating issues.  However, surely there is a high percentage of people of working age who are fully able to work but are confined to a wheelchair; I am sure many of these people have brilliant minds.  I am also sure that Stephen Hawking would not be hired by an advertising agency.
Being disabled does not mean unable to work.  It means, simply, that a person has some sort of impairment.  In many cases, it simply means being confined to a wheelchair, but that has nothing to do with willingness or ability to work in any situation. I realize, looking back, I have almost never seen anyone confined to a wheelchair who is actively working and employed in advertising. Certainly none are senior executives.

The late, great Harold Levine (Levine, Huntly, Schmidt and Beaver) spent ten years of his retirement and his own money going around the country trying to recruit people of color into the advertising business.  He concluded it was a fool’s errand because ad agencies simply didn’t pay enough to attract the best and the brightest grad students. (While ad agencies pay entry level MBA’s about $40m per year, companies are paying twice that and law firms are paying well into the $100’s for the best students.)

The disabled are not included.  But it is my observation is that there are thousands of talented but wheelchair bound people who would be delighted to work in advertising.  And they would be thankful for whatever they are paid.
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