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? Understand your value. Read Four Tips for Defining Your Value. Now you are prepared to explain it. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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...

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...

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,...

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. On a non-agile project, I ask the project team when the think the project will be done, each week or two. 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. 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.) 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...

4 Tips for Preparing for a Project or Program Manager Interview

I have a post on this site, Interview Questions for Program Managers. There are a number of comments. Some ask how to answer the questions. Some want more information. Maybe you also read Six Tips for Answering Project and Program Manager Interview Questions or Interview Questions for Project Managers and want more detail. This is the detail. If you are a project or program manager and you want to know how to answer these questions, do this: Think about your most recent project or program. Ground yourself in recent reality. Define the value you provided to your organization. Use Four Tips to Defining Your Value. Now, practice the way you will explain your value in an interview. This is a story, one of many of your career. As part of this story, use data to explain your value. Did you save the company money? Did you solve a gnarly problem that kept managers awake at night? Did you do something to help the company retain or acquire customers? Did you help the project meet or beat the desired schedule date? Something else you can quantify? Make sure you tell the story in a way that can relate to your interviewer’s context. You can’t memorize your story. You can emphasize different pieces of it to make a specific point. If you are not sure what your interviewer wants to know, answer the questions in a way that explains your value. Here’s why there is no right or wrong way to answer questions. I did a PMWar with a colleague on projectmanagement.com. I only answered about 8 questions. I think I got 4 of them...

Three Ways to Answer “Tell Me Something No One Knows About You”

Hiring managers who haven’t read Hiring Geeks That Fit are now asking another irrelevant question: Tell me something no one else knows about you. Now, in case you aren’t sure, this is an irrelevant question. It doesn’t directly help an interviewer learn how the candidate can perform the work or fit with the team. It doesn’t help the candidate learn about the job. That means it’s irrelevant. However, if you are looking for a job, you can use this question. I would focus the question back at the work. Here are some ways to answer this question: Tell a personal story about how you exhibited problem-solving or fit with a team. Something that you know or suspect the interviewer is looking for. If this is a first question, ask the interviewer, “What does success look like for this job? I can tell you how I did something like that in the past.” If you do have that experience on your resume, point to it. Think back to the value you bring to an organization. Now, think of a personal story that shows one or more of those values. Answer this question with a story. Your interviewer is looking for something personal. If you’re not sure how to answer or define your value, look at Manage Your Job Search. I have a number of examples of how to answer irrelevant...