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  1. Negotiating for an Increase in Starting Salary
  2. Job Search Trap: I Owe My Team
  3. Great Review of Manage Your Job Search
  4. When is an Interview Free Consulting?
  5. 4 More Tips to Answering Project Management Interview Questions About Metrics
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search Johanna Rothman, Management Consultant » HTP
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

Negotiating for an Increase in Starting Salary

You have an offer. It’s lower than what you expected. You know that the higher your starting salary in a job, the more money you make over your lifetime. If you get “behind” in your salary, it’s difficult to catch up. How do you know what to ask for and how can you do it?

  1. Understand your value. Read Four Tips for Defining Your Value. Now you are prepared to explain it.
  2. Select three or four recent scenarios at work (or at school if you are a new grad) to show your value to the hiring manager.
  3. Ask about the salary range for this position. Have they offered you something up to the midpoint for that range? Many organizations do not offer past the range midpoint.
  4. Make sure you talk to the hiring manager. HR is not your ally. Your hiring manager is your ally. Explain your value. Explain where you want to be in the range.
  5. Decide what you want for your entire package. I have taken book allowances, conference attendance, and not-quite-40-hours/week as part of my compensation. In one job, when I negotiated an increase in salary, I also took an extra week of paid vacation at the same salary. In effect, they paid me for one more week a year.
  6. What is your rock-bottom minimum? Decide what you will not take, what makes the job not worth it to you.

I recently coached someone to do this, and she successfully negotiated an extra few thousand to her yearly salary. Once you know your value, you can ask for what you are worth.


Job Search Trap: I Owe My Team

You’ve been at your company for a while. You’ve hired a number of the people you work with, or you work closely with them. They are your “work family.” Now, you’re thinking about looking for a job. You think you owe something to your team. Do you?

Consider your perspective. Who do you owe what? Who are you protecting? Who deserves your responsibility?

When you think about “owing” your team, you take responsibility for their careers. Is that your intent?

When you take responsibility for other people’s careers by assuming they can’t make decisions about their work or their careers, you take a parental view of your colleagues. When you think you can’t leave because you “owe” something to other people, you assume a parental role. Do you want to do that?

But, you say, I’m not like that. I don’t treat people as if I’m their parent. I just want to make sure I don’t leave them without a champion, or an architect, or a manager, or a tester, or a something.

If a new job is right for you, you are not leaving them “without.” You are asking them to make a decision you have not yet asked them to make—can they find a way to work without you? Are they ready for that decision?

Maybe the real problem is that you don’t want to leave, or you can’t imagine your team being able to work without you.

Just as in the myth of being too valuable to take a vacation, your team can survive your departure. Survive definitely. Thrive? That’s a different question. Is the ability of your team to thrive your responsibility?

Let me offer a different perspective on leaving your team. When you leave, they will have to decide how to do the work you do now. Maybe they will have an open req to hire someone. Maybe they will divide your responsibilities. Maybe they will promote someone into your position. How can you take that opportunity away from them?

When you leave your current job, you provide opportunities to the people still there.

When you leave your current job to pursue something that interests you more, you provide yourself opportunities. If that job comes with more money, you fulfill your responsibility to your family or yourself to be paid what you are worth. If you are lucky, you might be able to provide some of the people on your current team an opportunity at a new organization.

Remember, the company doesn’t love you. Your team might love you, and they don’t pay your bills or save for your retirement. They are not in charge of your happiness at work.

You have to love yourself. You have to value yourself. Maybe you should stay. Maybe you should leave. That part is up to you. But it’s not up to your team.

You don’t “owe” your team anything except your best wishes and your willingness to hand off your work if you decide to leave. You owe yourself plenty.

Lead yourself. Decide what is right for you, based on your value. Don’t catch yourself in the trap of staying at a job for other people.

MYJS_border.150If you have read Manage Your Job Search, I have a different story in the book about this particular job search trap. This is a common problem for people in their search, so I decided it was worth writing more about.


Great Review of Manage Your Job Search

I spoke about hiring for cultural fit at Communitech in Waterloo, CA earlier this year. While I was there, I met another author, Yvonne Chypchar. (She wrote a terrific book about knowing your value, Be the Smart Girl: Money and Your Value: Navigating the world of part-time and summer jobs for girls 12 to 17.)

Yvonne enjoyed my talk and we emailed each other about our books. She wrote a review of Manage Your Job Search at How to ease the pain of your job search and thrive. I love the way she adapted her kanban board to what she needed. You can, too.

Thanks, Yvonne.


When is an Interview Free Consulting?

I’m a big fan of auditions in an interview. (I have many posts about auditions in this blog.)

However, some hiring managers and teams push interviewing and auditions too far. When you’ve had three interviews, and your interviewer asks you to solve a problem for them—again—is it a hiring issue, or are they asking you to consult for free?

Here is a way that works for auditions and interviewing:

  • Create the dirtbag phone screen, if that matters to you.
  • Use a technical phone screen to make sure you want to bring the candidate in.
  • Interview in person with solo interviewers, for 45 minutes each. Use behavior-description questions and one 20-minute audition. Use the interview matrix so all the interviewers ask different questions.
  • At the end of that interview, if you have several great candidates, ask them to come in one more time, and meet with up to 4 people. Maybe use another 20-minute audition.

That’s it. You don’t need a third round of interviews. You don’t need that person to meet with more people. You should be able to decide based on your data to date, assuming you have organized your questions and auditions.

You don’t need the perfect candidate. That candidate doesn’t exist. You need someone who fits your culture and can learn fast enough for you.

If you have people do more than two 20-minute auditions, and/or meet with more than 8 people, you are dangerously close to asking for free consulting. Do you mean to do that? I find it demeaning to the candidate. It doesn’t show your company in the best light.

You might want to read this post: Three Tips to Streamline Your Interviews and Auditions, Part 4.

HiringGeeksThatFit.150 Remember, the best interviews are conversations. If you pay attention to your candidates as human beings, you will get farther faster, than if you decide they are “resources” that you can take advantage of. (People looking for work talk to each other.)


4 More Tips to Answering Project Management Interview Questions About Metrics

Some of you would like to know how to answer questions about the metrics you can gather and discuss when you look for a job as a project or program manager. Here are some tips:

Tip 1: Separate the quantitative questions from the qualitative questions.

I bet you have qualitative “measures” that you use either by design or by intuition. Here is one of mine.

  1. On a non-agile project, I ask the project team when the think the project will be done, each week or two.
  2. I ask them, “What did you see or hear to make you think the project will meet last week’s date/not meet last week’s date?”

This provides me data about how the team feels. I can probe further or look at risks differently.

Tip 2: Tell the interview what you normally measure and why.

  1. I always measure more than one dimension of the project. I look for trends over time. (See Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management to understand why.)
  2. Some of the trends I measure: changes in requirements over time; defect arrival, closed, and remaining open rates over time; features complete, remaining, and total features over time.

Tip 3. Ask what the interviewer needs as measures.

Ask the interviewer what they normally measure and explain how you get to the same data, especially if you get there in a different way.

Tip 4: Explain what you never measure and why

Everyone has their little bugaboos about project measurements.

  • I don’t like earned value in software, because as soon as you complete a feature you can change it. I don’t find earned value helpful as a way to measure progress. On the other hand, I do want to know about progress. I measure features complete, remaining, and total over time.
  • I cannot remember the last time I measured a burndown of time. Time goes on. (I always measure burnups.) I might measure when the people I need arrive on the project. That’s because late projects never make up time, they get later.
  • I don’t “measure” technical debt. I often measure fault feedback ratio, to make sure the developers are making progress.

I have other measures I can use for projects. I use different, more holistic measurements for programs.

Do you see how what you measure creates a conversation with the interviewer?

If you don’t manage projects the way I do, or you have non-software projects, you won’t answer these questions the same way. That is why it’s impossible for me to provide you the Right Answer to these questions.

See also Interview Questions for Project Managers, Interview Questions for Program Managers4 Tips for Preparing for a Project or Program Manager Interview and 6 Tips to Answering Project Manager and Program Manager Questions.

MYJS_border.150If you are looking for a job, see Manage Your Job Search.

If you are hiring, see Hiring Geeks That Fit.


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