Yes, I will Google-stalk you. Here's what you should do about it.

I was recently interviewing candidates for a position we had open. Once I reviewed someone's application, if they looked interesting to me, the very next thing I did was go to Google.

I'd type in their name. If that didn't immediately generate a response, I'd type in their name and city. I looked on LinkedIn, I looked on Facebook, I looked on Twitter. If I were more savvy I'd have checked out Instagram.

And yes, I made judgements about the person based on what they posted online. Pictures, status updates, comments. I can learn about you from what you post, and that becomes part of the data that I use to evaluate your application.

If I see a picture of you and your friends around a bonfire with red solo cups, no big deal. If I see countless pictures of you playing beer pong, falling down drunk, smoking a questionable substance, I pause. If I see a picture of you from a recent beach trip, no big deal. If I see selfie-after-selfie of your cleavage or bathroom mirror shots, I pause. If I see sweet pictures of your children, I smile. If I see weeks-worth of posts lamenting potty-training progress, I pause. If I see where you’ve posted articles about topics that are important to you, I take the opportunity to learn. If you post articles or status updates bashing people who disagree with you, I pause.

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Did you negotiate your salary?

“We’ve all heard it before: By not negotiating, women sacrifice thousands of dollars by the end of their professional lives. Recent research has revealed, however, that the number is closer to half a million.”[1] This quote comes from an article on the Glass Hammer which cites that 52% of male MBA graduates surveyed negotiate their salaries, compared with 12% of female MBA graduates. And when the researcher had people evaluate those negotiations (on video) the women were perceived as demanding, while the men were not.

Digital image
Digital image

Should you still negotiate your salary and risk being perceived as demanding? How? And what do you leave on the table if you don’t negotiate?

Should you negotiate? The article says “yes” and hits on many of the whys. I’d add a few tips:

  • Do your research. In addition to the resources cited in the article, visit Glass Door to see what salaries other people have reported at the same company. Talk to people at other organizations in the same field.
  • Conventional wisdom says, “the first person to speak loses.” Not necessarily: "In our studies, we found that the final outcome of a negotiation is affected by whether the buyer or the seller makes the first offer. Specifically, when a seller makes the first offer, the final settlement price tends to be higher than when the buyer makes the first offer.”[2] Speaking first allows you to set the floor, what is the minimum you are willing to accept?
  • Be comfortable with your “floor.” A few jobs ago I gave the hiring manager a salary range. I reached a bit for the ceiling figuring: “you don’t know if you don’t ask.” I was also a bit modest on the floor because I didn’t want to appear greedy. When the offer came back, it was my floor. I stuttered, but I couldn’t negotiate up from there, I’d already told them I’d accept that number.
  • Remember the intangibles. This article only addresses financial compensation. While I agree that it’s the primary form of compensation (and the wage gap between men and women is real) it’s not the only way you can be paid for doing your job. Same salary with more time off = higher hourly wage. Or would your employer allow you to work from home 2-days per week? So you can save on commuting time and dry cleaning costs. Are bonuses or commissions available?

What do lose if you don’t negotiate?

  • As this article points out, you leave money on the table.
  • Probably your last chance to influence your salary. Aside from a serious promotion and a major increase in responsibility, the best you can expect at most jobs is annual cost-of-living-adjustments. Your salary - for however long you work at a job - is based primarily on your negotiations when you first enter that job.
  • You leave respect on the table. Not many employers will say, “actually, we should be paying you more.” If you don’t know what you’re skills are worth financially, don’t expect them to tell you.

How do you avoid looking demanding? 

  • You aren't demanding anything, this is a conversation - built on trust and mutual respect (which you would have hopefully built through the interview process).
  • Plan your answers to salary questions. Just like you prepare answers to other interview questions, prepare for these. Knowing exactly what you will say will help you communicate with confidence.
  • Focus on the value of your work, and what you will bring to the position - can you cite sales goals reached at your last job? Or money you saved your previous employer? Even if you can't quantify the financial value of your work, by focusing on the
  • Treat it as a business transaction - the job isn't your identity and the salary isn't your identity.

[1]Negotiation November – Why Women Need to Start Negotiating Early on the Glass Hammer. A friend of mine from grad school was quoted in the article (Kate Farrar), which is how I found it.

[2] Adam D. Galinsky of Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and Roderick I. Swaab of INSEAD

How to Choose Childcare

So you’ve just gotten a positive pregnancy test and you're considering telling your parents and close friends. What else should you do?

Sign up for childcare, of course!

You're likely staring at the screen saying: "What? I just took a pregnancy test. I haven't even been to my doctor/midwife yet. You want me to think about childcare?"

In response, I offer this passage a woman posted on a listserve I subscribe to:

"So, after three years on the waitlist (literally since I was six weeks pregnant) for the daycare at my office, our two and a half year old finally got a spot! Woohoo!"

And that is far from the first time I've heard of that happening. Several years on a waitlist for childcare. I wish I were joking.

When I was pregnant with our first child, we started looking into daycares and found the same thing: years long waitlists.

It’s likely more common in more urban areas, but even if you don’t have years long waitlist, you still have to sort out the different options for childcare. Obviously this requires some planning.

Looking for childcare assumes you are returning to work. We'll talk about that in another blog. But - assuming you are returning to work, you'll need someone to look after your baby.

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