Is It OK To Lie About Your Salary History: A Friday Chat

shosh job interview

Ester: Good afternoon, Nicole! Is it ever okay to lie about your salary history when applying for a job? Conversely, is it expected that you should or already do?

Nicole: Wow, that’s a big question for a Friday afternoon! I’m going to say no, no, and no. I don’t think it’s okay to lie, and I don’t think that it’s “expected” that people will lie. Do you?

Ester: I was rather surprised when a friend brought this question to me yesterday, because my default, if perhaps naive, assumption is that of course it’s not okay to lie and of course it’s not assumed I will lie if I am engaged in negotiations.

However, perhaps everyone else is lying and we are getting left out in the cold! FWIW, my friend, also a nice writer-type woman, had been told that “of course” she should lie in an upcoming salary negotiation, and she was surprised to receive this advice. Then again, she, my friend, is a bit on the honest/naive spectrum herself too. Perhaps we should ask someone more worldly-wise?

Nicole: We absolutely should. I do think, by the way, that there is room for—what’s the right word—a range of truth around your salary history, in that it is appropriate to give a previous salary range, a la “My previous salary was in the $70,000-80,000 range” even if you only made $72,000.

Ester: Definitely. There’s room in honesty for both tact and spin. READ MORE


The Pros and Cons Of Collective Living

DudesGroupLast year we spoke to a radical bride, Rebecca, who had bought a house with her groom and another couple, one member of which was pregnant. Twelve months later, Rebecca still shares the house with her husband Ari — who wrote about their unconventional arrangement for The Atlantic – as well as the other couple and their baby. All four adults work: one is a midwife, one is a labor lawyer, one is in progressive city politics, and one is at a Jewish social-and-racial justice nonprofit. The baby is a baby, but she does her part too I’m sure and smiles when people play the guitar.

I’ve visited the house and marveled at how normal as well as how functional it seems. And, with my own little family unit, I’ve discussed trying some version of this arrangement, because the plusses of it seem clear: company; cost-saving; built-in baby sitting and chore-sharing; less loneliness and isolation; a livelier and more vibrant day-to-day life. But it’s hard to get the pieces to fall into place. You have to find other people who you like and trust and who meet other key requirements, people who value some privacy yet also some communality, who have similar attitudes toward money and responsibility, who want to stick around for long enough that owning a house together is feasible.

You have to agree on a place to live, which is hard enough for two people: what large-ish town or small-ish city is a sufficiently welcoming and close to family, or far from it, as the case may be? Cleveland maybe, or Des Moines, parts of which are recovering from post-industrial slumps in intriguing and appealing ways? Hartford maybe, where you could find a cool, affordable nine-bedroom but then have to fight your neighbors to keep it?

Philly?  READ MORE


When Your Paycheck Is What Keeps You From Achieving Your Goals


I often post “must-read longreads” on my Twitter/Tumblr feeds, and today I’m sharing one with all of you: if you have time this afternoon, take 10 minutes to read Anne Hull’s For Hardee’s Workers, It’s Not a Parable, It’s a Job at the Washington Post.

This is an incredible piece. Not just because Hull illustrates how difficult it is for low-income fast food workers to follow well-meaning politicians’ advice to “just work and educate yourself into a better career!” but because of the detail she shares about each of the workers she profiles:

Saturday is Brandi’s day off. She was out running errands when she started worrying that the crew at work might be getting slammed. She had six kids in the car — her four and her husband Luke’s two — but decided to stop at Hardee’s anyway, saying she wouldn’t be long. A half-hour later, Luke and the kids are still waiting in the parking lot when Brandi dashes out to say that Mommy might be a while.

Mommy earns around $20,000 a year as a full-time shift leader at Hardee’s. She has a low tolerance for laziness and tardiness—and employees calling in with lame excuses. Menstrual cycles, a broken truck, general fatigue, a lack of transportation, Brandi can detect malingerers. Lately, the “I don’t have a ride to work” excuse has cut down since Brandi started responding with, “I’ll be there in five minutes.”

The people Hull profiles want to get better jobs, or better-paying jobs, but they also want to do their Hardee’s jobs well. They have plans and goals for their lives, like having a wedding by a lake or saving enough money to move to a city that might have more job opportunities. The thing that consistently gets in the way is Hardee’s low wages. That is the mitigating factor on their dreams.

It’s a great piece, and I hope you get a chance to read it.

Photo credit: Paul Sableman


Marriage, Money, and Compromise

I've decided that I'm not going to get married until I've decided that nothing else good can happen in my life

You’ve probably heard all of those terrifying warnings and statistics about how financial disagreements and differing outlooks regarding money are one of the most frequent causes of divorce. That’s a very romantic sentiment to share with a newly engaged couple, by the way. Seriously, why don’t they print that on engagement cards? “Congratulations on your engagement! Remember to discuss your debt and spending habits NOW or this just isn’t going to end well.”

My husband-to-be and I have been together for a little over five years, and we’ve been engaged for about nine months. Much to everybody’s chagrin, we still have no firm plans to get hitched. We’ll get there, I promise.

To pour salt in that wound, we’ve lived together for about a year and a half. We made the decision to live in sin before getting engaged for two reasons: one, we’re both paranoid and like to know what we’re signing up for. And, two, we were really excited about disappointing our conservative and religious grandparents.

When you move in with a significant other or get married, the party manners go away and your obnoxious and odd quirks come out of the woodwork. I realized that he had the tendency to leave his dirty socks on the kitchen counter, and he was treated to a daily concert when he discovered that I love to belt out Broadway tunes throughout my morning shower.

As if discovering one another’s weird habits wasn’t overwhelming enough, we also needed to talk about money. I’m a firm believer that discussing finances is never an easy conversation. But it’s particularly cumbersome when you and your S.O. have extremely different philosophies regarding money. READ MORE


Kraft and Heinz are Merging, Cutting Jobs, Making Food Cubes

verizon chipotle exxonBig news in “brightly colored viscous liquid foods:” Heinz is buying Kraft and, with their powers combined, are becoming Kraft Heinz.

First of all, I am extremely grateful that somebody decided to put a space between Kraft and Heinz, instead of going for the oh-so-trendy KraftHeinz. (In the future, when they make fun of the 2010s in movies, they’ll simply cut to a company with a CamelCase name.)

What do we know about this plate-cleaning merger? The Washington Post has the details:

The marriage of Heinz with Kraft, orchestrated by legendary investor Warren Buffett and a team of Brazilian buyout kings, would produce a household-name powerhouse that its new leaders said will slash jobs and an estimated $1.5 billion a year in costs.

Brazilian buyout kings! Warren Buffett! Slashing jobs! Oh, wait, that last one’s a bummer. Why do we need to slash jobs?

Kraft, which counts processed cheese as its biggest seller, saw profits plunge more than 60 percent last year, to $1 billion.

Got it. As the WaPo explains, people just aren’t as interested in eating processed cheese anymore, and prefer “simpler, more natural fare.” The merger will launch a new era in slimmed-down Kraft Heinz manufacturing:

With that leanness, the new company is expected to invest in sprucing up its healthful image. Kraft has already pushed to remove artificial coloring from some of its cheeses, and last year it unveiled an Oscar Meyer meat-and-cheese-cube combo called the P3 Portable Protein Pack.

Awww, I knew we’d get to a ridiculous name sooner or later. Please tell me the meat and cheese are pressed together into the same cube. Don’t make me eat my meat cubes and my cheese cubes separately, like an animal!



Hotel Preferences: For The President, ESPN & A Gym

When the President travels, finding a place to stay is an ordeal. Yahoo! presents an interesting behind-the-curtain look at what it takes to find a hotel for him and his security entourage. First off, like President Bush before him, Obama’s two criteria are a) ESPN in the room, and b) an onsite gym. Unlike Bush, though, Obama has some other things he looks for:

One big difference between Bush and Obama: The Democrat’s team tries to stay at hotels serviced by labor unions “whenever possible,” an aide said. “That’s definitely a priority.” And while a building’s environmental and energy standards aren’t generally at the top of the presidential list when it comes to hotels, sometimes a presidential stay can double as a green endorsement.

There are other considerations. Obama is unlikely to book himself into a property owned by GOP super-donor Sheldon Adelson. Mitt Romney stayed in Marriott hotels whenever possible during his presidential runs; he was on the chain’s board and is named after hotelier Willard Marriott, who was friends with his father, George Romney.

If I knew more about which hotels used unionized labor, and which were owned by Adelson, I too would take that into consideration! That’s a problem we can fix.  READ MORE


Ask the Grindstone: Job Reference Etiquette

Genevieve Clark

Hi! I have a question for your Grindstone series: The etiquette with references.

Do you use references from your current job? (No! Then they’d know I’m applying for other jobs and that could create resentment in the workplace that would linger after not getting the job I applied for). How old can references be before they’re not current? Can I use people I’ve never worked with as “character references,” or does everyone know that you’re just putting your best friend on there to say nice things? Every time I apply for a job do I have to warn all my references and re-ask them if they can be my reference?

This is like 60% of the reason I hate applying for new jobs.

Yeah, applying for new jobs can be difficult and demanding (but! You should almost always still do it!). But reference etiquette needn’t be the thing that stands in your way. READ MORE


Friday Estimate

portlandia-season3jpg-8db045a98a646a17Good morning! Time for our weekend estimates.

I am currently on a plane headed to Portland, Ore. for a conference this weekend, and since this is work-related travel, I will not be paying for anything! Regular readers may know that our dear friend Meaghan relocated to Portland a few months ago, so I will be seeing her as well. In any case, no estimate for me this weekend. But what about you? What are your estimates?


Return of the “Good Guy Discount”

Almost a year ago now, Mike referenced the “Good Guy discount,” a phrase taken from a This American Life episode. [One that was rebroadcast, in an updated version, this past Sunday --ed.] The premise is, basically, that you can always ask for a discount. If you say, “Hey, I’m a good guy, you’re a good guy … Can I get the good guy discount?” often enough, retailers will give one to you.

This idea has been kicking around in my head, since I, like many of you, was incredulous one would ask or receive such a thing.  But recently, I realized I have received similar discounts, though I didn’t directly get it by saying I was a “good guy.” For one thing, I am female, and I’ve never found a comparable word. For another, going in with that assumption seems so forward.

And yet, I am inclined to make small take with cashiers and sometimes they are inclined to chat with me. Sometimes, this results in a discount.

In reviewing the situations, I notice a pattern:

+ There was a time I took the bus to work and I had $1.75 on my card for a $2 ride. Realizing this, I scrounged through my Mary Poppins esq bag for a quarter, but the driver waived me to my seat. This scenario repeated itself, especially when it wasn’t during rush hour. Occasionally I was waived onto the bus without paying at all.

This seems to be at least part of the reason public transit systems are going broke.