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Career and Interview Tips

“What are Your Salary Expectations?” - The Best Answers

Level Up 90 Founder Anica John Shares Her Tips (And Scripts) For Getting It Right

When I'm interviewing for a job, there are very few questions that trip me up. Hit me with, "Tell me about a time that you failed at work," or, "If you were a fruit what fruit would you be," and I'm dynamite. (I'd be an avocado, in case you were wondering.)

But ask me, "What are your salary expectations?" and my head starts to spin, equal parts anxious and annoyed.

The anxiety:

  • "What if I ask for too little? Or too much? Or seem too 'difficult' if I refuse to answer? What if I say the wrong thing and they reject me before they've even gotten to know me as a candidate?"

The annoyance:

  • "Surely they know what fair compensation in this role would look like. What should my expectations have to do with it? Why can't they just pay me what I'm worth?!"

Unfortunately, companies don't want to pay you more than they have to (thanks, capitalism), so as annoying as it is, you need to be prepared to answer this question (and its sister, "how much were you making in your previous role?") in a way that keeps the company interested and sets you up to get the best offer possible.

To learn how to do this, we sat down with former lawyer, entrepreneur, and founder of Level Up 90 Anica John to talk all things negotiation. She's helped hundreds of women in tech successfully navigate the interviewing and hiring processes. Luckily for us, she's crafted perfect responses to these two very tricky questions so we don't have to.

Question 1: "What are your salary expectations?"

Why You Should Defer The Question

You might be relieved to know that you don't have to provide a numerical response to this question. Actually, Anica advises strongly against it. There are two main reasons to defer this question and wait for them to make you an offer, rather than provide a number:

  1. You don't want to go too low - "If you go first, and you go too low, then you've anchored the negotiation at that point." If you've given away your previous salary, what your expectations are for a new role, you've already tilted things so that they're taking that into account when they put forth their first offer, and you don't want to do that at all.
  2. You want to take a holistic view - "Compensation in startups occupies 3 different pools. Cash & signing bonus/performance bonus, equity, and benefits. As candidates, we tend to only focus on the cash. Ideally, you'd get the job offer in its entirety and a better sense of the total compensation package, then you can decide where you can ask for more and where you don't have wiggle room."

Remember, "You don't owe anybody this information upfront."

The Best Answers

If you're asked the question in real-time:

Thanks for asking. I know that's an important conversation. I have some flexibility in my expectations, depending on the company and the role. I'd love to learn a bit more about both during the interview process, and then we can chat about compensation.

If you're asked via email or questionnaire at the beginning of the interview process:

My compensation expectations are dependent on the details of the company, and the specific position. I look forward to learning more about both.

If they push back:

I'm sure that you have resource planned very meticulously for this role. Assuming you have a range, and are talking to me because I fit somewhere within that range, it would be great if you could tell me where you think I fit. Then I can give you feedback.
Remember, You're Not Doing Anything Wrong!

"Be comfortable knowing that you're not being withholding or sneaky, they have more information, so it's not fair for them to ask you! When you know that, you become more confident in your firmer stance."

Question 2: "What was your previous salary?"

Although this question is now illegal in many states (including New York and California), it's still extremely common. It's particularly problematic when your previous salary was lower than market value, and you're looking for more fair compensation.

Don't Let A Low Previous Salary Hold You Back

"Remember that if you have been underpaid, and you're looking to level up to market rate or above, there's so many different reasons that people take that lower pay. You might take lower pay for flexibility, or you might really enjoy working at a company and they're early stage so that's all they can afford… If your previous salary is lower and internally you don't feel confident about that, it's completely normal. And hopefully that will give you confidence to be able to level up in the next job."

The Best Answer
I don't disclose previous salary information, but I'm so excited to learn more about the company and the role, and talk about the value I can bring. When we're ready to discuss compensation, I can share a bit more about my salary expectations.
Don't Feel Bad!

"Especially for women, because there's such a gender disparity in pay as it is, what it does is it compounds that over the years for women. So in the states where it's still legal, they ask what your previously salary was, and they base your new salary on the previous salary, which was probably lower than a man's salary anyway, and then over the course of your career, there's this compound effect, and so you have a right to say, you know, I just don't disclose that."

The Takeaway: Defer & Be Confident

Deferring the salary expectations question doesn't mean you shouldn't know your worth in the market—you should still do your research and be prepared with a salary range and firm walkaway number. That said, negotiating is hard enough as it is. Don't make it harder for yourself before it's even begun by disclosing more information upfront than you have to—knowledge is power in a negotiation, and you don't want to be handing that leverage over to your employer. You don't owe them this information. By showing that you're confident, thoughtful, and prepared, you'll impress hiring managers with your ability to stand your ground.

If you're still not feeling sure about your negotiation skills, don't panic—you can check out Anica's library of negotiation resources for more tips and scripts on negotiation and leveling up your career in general. And if you're a VIP, you can watch the full video with Anica here!

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Deloitte

Deloitte + PowerToFly: An Exclusive Evening With Women Finance Leaders

Join Deloitte M&A and PowerToFly (a women-run organization that introduces select women to executives at major corporations) for an invite-only event on February 28th. The evening will kick off with a panel discussion featuring Deloitte's women financial leaders, and will conclude with an opportunity to network with your peers and the Deloitte team over food and drinks.

The event will be held on Thursday, February 28th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at 30 Rockefeller Center, 32nd Floor, New York, NY.

Agenda (Subject to Change):

  • 6:00pm - Check-In & Networking over cocktails and light food
  • 6:20pm - Kick-Off from PowerToFly
  • 6:25pm - Welcome & Introduction from Susan Dettmar, M&A Consultative Services Practice Leader at Deloitte
  • 6:35pm - A Behind the Scenes Look at Deloitte with Nadia Orawski, Principal, Deloitte Consulting
  • 6:45pm - Panel Discussion featuring Deloitte's Women Leaders in Finance
  • 7:00pm - Audience Q&A
  • 7:20pm - Networking continues over beverages and light food

Deloitte is hiring, however, you don't need to be looking for new opportunities to attend.

About our Events: All RSVP'd attendees are welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, or age. If you require accommodation to fully participate in this event, please email hi@powertofly.com, and we will contact you to discuss your specific needs.

Unfortunately, PowerToFly and Deloitte cannot admit outside recruiters to this particular event. Please email hi@powertofly.com if you have any questions about this policy.

About Deloitte: Deloitte is committed to recruiting, developing, and promoting a diverse workforce while providing unique opportunities across our businesses. Deloitte has been recognized by Working Mothers as one of the 100 best companies for multicultural women. Their benefits include up to 16 weeks of Paid Family Leave, pension plans, and gym & health subsidies.

Event Audience: This event is a great fit for a number of roles including Finance Managers, Integration and Execution Managers, and M&A Strategists.

Better Companies

Audible, Microsoft & HomeAway Leaders On Building Diverse Talent Pipelines

Presented by PowerToFly and Glassdoor

Register today to join this FREE webinar we are co-hosting with Glassdoor!

PowerToFly and Glassdoor have partnered to present a webinar on February 6th, where top talent leaders will share how they're building diverse talent pipelines.

Join leaders from Audible, HomeAway and Microsoft, who will discuss their current D&I strategies and share advice on how you can build your own diverse pipelines.

Moderated by Katharine Zaleski, PowerToFly's CoFounder & President, speakers will include:

  • Jamy Barton, Sr. Director, Tech Diversity at Audible
  • Lyndsi McNaughton, Sr. Global Sourcing Programs Lead - D&I at HomeAway
  • Luci Gomes, Global Director of Talent Acquisition Americas & Commercial, Marketing & Consumer Teams at Microsoft

The webinar will take place on Tuesday, February 6th from 1:00pm to 2:00pm EST.

The second half of this webinar will be dedicated to audience Q&A, and our panel is looking forward to taking your questions. If you have a particular question or topic you'd like us to explore, let us know on the registration form and we'll be taking questions in real time on the webinar too!

About our webinars: All RSVP'd attendees are welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, or age.

Should You Start Looking for a New Job?

Take this quiz from our career coach to find out!

I'm 26 and I'm already on my fourth job. My dad is 60... and he's on his second. Clearly, we both fit the Boomer and Millennial stereotypes rather well. Thankfully, though, he's never judged me for "job hopping."

Instead, we've discussed our experiences and realized that he's as scared to quit his job as I am to stay at mine. No matter how old you are, deciding whether you should stick things out or move on isn't easy.

So, to help you organize your thoughts, we put together a "Should I quit my job?" quiz with the help of our career coach, Heather Coll (a member of the much less controversial Gen X).

These questions will help you figure out if it's time to move on - from your current role, company, or both. Because no matter what point you're at in your career, or which generation you're from, you deserve to be happy at the place where you spend most of your waking hours!!!



How'd you do? If you're ready to start job hunting and need help putting your best foot forward, Heather can help you with everything from crafting the perfect cover letter to nailing your interview. Or, if you're still not sure about your next steps, she can help you figure out how much longer you should stay where you are, and how to start looking for the perfect job once you decide to leave. Just don't feel like you have to decide by yourself, and don't let anyone judge you for your decisions - whether they're a cranky Baby Boomer, an entitled millennial, or part of some generation no one's even heard of anyway. You do you!

Microsoft Corporation

Meet Microsoft’s Women Tech Leaders

If you are a Dallas based woman in tech and you'd like to attend our event, please contact us at hi@powertofly.com to be considered for an invite.

Microsoft has partnered with PowerToFly to present a one-night-only evening for women in tech. The night will include a discussion with several of Microsoft's leaders, many of whom are Modern Apps Consultants, Secure Infrastructure Consultants, and Premiere Field Engineers. There will also be plenty of time to network with Microsoft leaders and top women in your field.

The event will take place on Tuesday, February 5th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar Street, Dallas.

Agenda (Subject to Change)

  • 5:30pm - Check-In and Networking over Food & Drinks
  • 6:10pm - Introduction by PowerToFly
  • 6:15pm - Keynote Address
  • 6:25pm - Panel Discussion featuring from Microsoft's women leaders including Luci Gomes - Global Director of Talent Acquisition Americas, Services, Commercial, Marketing & Consumer Teams
  • 6:35pm - Audience Q&A
  • 6:45pm - Networking Continues

If you are interested and available, Microsoft will be asking some attendees to interview for open roles on Wednesday, February 6th, the day after the event. Follow up interviews will take between three to four hours of your time and will be comprised of two technical interviews and one hiring manager interview. Let us know when you register if you are available and if so, if you'd prefer the morning or the afternoon. If you are not available on 2/6, Microsoft and PowerToFly will work with you to find an alternate follow up date.

Microsoft is invested in women-focused organizations and providing support to women once they are employees at Microsoft. Their employee network Women@Microsoft reaches over twenty thousand people worldwide. Microsoft's ongoing diversity partnerships include the Anita Borg Institute, National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), and MentorNet.

Visit Microsoft's page on PowerToFly to learn more about their open roles, benefits and diversity initiatives.

About our Events: All RSVP'd attendees are welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, or age. If you require assistance to fully participate in this event, please email hi@powertofly.com, and we will contact you to discuss your specific needs.

Unfortunately, PowerToFly and Microsoft cannot admit outside recruiters to this particular event. Please email hi@powertofly.com if you have any questions about this policy.

Women & Diversity in Hollywood: A Look at 2018

In Spite of #MeToo, Women Directed Fewer Films in 2018 than in 2017

2018 was a banner year for women in politics, with more first-time congresswomen elected than ever before and the most women in Congress ever. Unfortunately, in spite of #MeToo and Time's Up, it wasn't a similarly good year for women in Hollywood. A study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative shows that women actually directed less films in 2018 than they did in 2017.

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