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  1. Interview with FogCreek About Hiring for Technical Fit
  2. Differences Between Hiring a Contractor or Consultant
  3. Negotiating for an Increase in Starting Salary
  4. Job Search Trap: I Owe My Team
  5. Great Review of Manage Your Job Search
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search Johanna Rothman, Management Consultant » HTP
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

Interview with FogCreek About Hiring for Technical Fit

Several weeks ago, the nice folks at FogCreek interviewed me. It’s here: Technical Hiring and Cultural Fit – Interview with Johanna Rothman.

The interview ranged over many topics:

  • Cultural fit
  • Diversity
  • What to do when you look for a job
  • Much more

I hope you enjoy it.

HiringGeeksThatFit.150If you want to read more about how to hire, check out Hiring Geeks That Fit.

To read more about how to find a job, see Manage Your Job Search.


Differences Between Hiring a Contractor or Consultant

In my session at Agile 2015, (Agile Hiring: It’s a Team Sport) one participant asked me if I hire contractors the same way I hire employees. I do. I use the same approaches for reviewing resumes, phone screens, interviews and decisions. The one difference is the offer—instead of a yearly salary paid in some form of incremental approach, contractors get a dollar/hour over a timeboxed period.

One of the people in my session called contractors “consultants” and tweeted about it. She wanted to make sure the contractor had the same respect as a consultant.

That concern goes to why the hiring manager hires a contractor or a consultant.

If I need an extra pair of hands for a limited period of time, I hire a contractor. If I need guidance—which might include some hands-on work—I hire a consultant. You might like this perspective on how consultants work, from Choosing a Consulting Role: Principles and Dynamics of Matching Role to Situation, by Champion, Kiel and McLendon:


What’s important to me is who has the responsibility for client growth.

I expect a consultant to help me (or my team or organization) grow in some way.

I expect a contractor to provide extra pair-of-hands services. I do not expect them to help me grow. I might get that, but I definitely don’t expect it, especially when hiring a developer, tester, project manager, Scrum Master, or some other individual contributor position.

To me, that is a big difference between contractors and consultants. I don’t expect contractors to contribute to anyone’s growth. I do expect consultants to contribute to growth. That’s why I expect to pay more for consultants than contractors.

If you are worried about your sphere of influence in the organization, consider how you work. (You “agile coaches” especially, think about this.) Is your client hiring you because you are a hands-on expert and that’s all they want from you? Is your client open to other possibilities, where you could facilitate or coach or partner?

Consulting is different from contracting. You might call yourself a consultant and be a contractor. I rarely see consultants who call themselves contractors.

If you want to provide more value to your client, have the respect you deserve and be hired for different work, show the client how you will provide growth.

(To see specifics of how I hire contractors, see Hiring Geeks That Fit.)


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.


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