Thursday, July 02, 2009


You can quote me on this: “The person who mentions salary first loses.”
I was working with an executive woman who was transitioning into a new career. Her list of computer skills read like the “Who’s Who’s” of the computer software world. The most amazing thing was that she was self-taught.

She called me excitedly to say that she has an interview. Her interview skills needed brushing up, so she hired me for an hour to help her out. We met at our local coffee shop and we role-played.

She learned to answer the question “What is your biggest weakness?” by avoiding giving a personality trait such as “I tend to be a bit too detailed oriented.” Instead, she mentioned a skill needed for the position that she was not proficient. Then she talked about what she was doing to obtain that skill.

When it came to salary, I said, “Do not mention a salary figure, the first person that mentions salary loses”. Then we proceeded to work on answers such as:

“What do you think would be an appropriate salary for a person with my skills?”

When asked what her old salary was, the reply might be: “We’re really comparing apples and oranges here, what were you intending to offer the person in this position?”

My last piece of advice, “Do not take the job on the spot if it is offered to you – Ask for 24 hours to think about it?”

I thought she had gotten it.

That afternoon an excited woman called me, “Kathy, I got the job.” I was surprised and said, “You have already accepted it?” She said, “Yes, I did—I know you told me not to but I was so excited I did on the spot”.

This woman began her job and found out that her salary was $20,000 below that of the men in her department doing the same job. In addition, she had forgotten to negotiate parking. She was stuck with a $75 a month parking bill in a nearby building.

RECOMMENDATION: (1) Do not mention a salary figure first. (2)Ask for 24 hours to consider the job so you can think through the benefits you might want to change or negotiate.


My father taught me always to be a few minutes early. It is a trait that serves me well. If heading to a meeting in an unfamiliar place, be sure you know which parking lot to use and which door you should use to enter the building.

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