Vox Populi

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Daniel R. Cobb: My Advice to Women: Lie

The scourge of gender-based income inequality has been with us seemingly forever. Generally, the pay gap has narrowed over the decades; according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of  U.S. workers, in 2015, women earned 83% of what men earned. But for professionals in high tech, it seems the industry that prides itself in being avant-garde is taking maximum advantage of that gap. According to Comparably – the salary database company, the gap is largest for women early in their careers, with women under 25 earning on average, 29% less than men their age.  Glassdoor published a study in November that indicated that the average female programmer makes nearly 30% less than her male counterpart.  Contemptible, isn’t it?

An employer who asks your current salary is asking your permission to perpetuate your current abuse. Lovely, yes?  Don’t enable that abuse.  A move to a new employer is your chance to re-establish your value in the market. What are you worth? The statistics say, probably 30% more than you’re currently getting paid.

From my name, you know I’m male. I’ve worked in high tech for decades. And I can tell you that early in my career, when prospective new employers asked my current salary, I lied outright. I inflated my salary by 20%. On top of that, I told my interviewer that I needed a 15% raise to justify the move, so the move actually gave me a 35% raise. I did that three times in four years. And then I settled down a bit, moving only after at least five years.  Admittedly, growth in high tech was explosive at the time, but we have entered a new period of relatively robust growth in this industry and from what I can see in sites like Monster and Indeed, the time is ripe to flex your negotiating muscles and claim your worth.

My sister, bless her soul, can’t lie. I confess, I learned as a teenager to lie artfully, and it came in handy in later years. I’m not condoning fudging at every opportunity, only in salary negotiations. Your essential, honorable self will remain intact.  But when it comes time to negotiate your salary, don’t perpetuate the abuse from your current employer. Declare your worth. Lie. I don’t suggest that you fudge 30%, perhaps something closer to 15 or 20, but then explain that you need 15% to 20% to financially justify the move.  The company you’re interviewing is likely a for-profit entity, not a charity, and neither are you. Neither are you. Do it with confidence, like it’s a matter of fact: Lie. You’re worth it.


Copyright 2017 Daniel R. Cobb


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