I am really happy and excited to to share today’s interview with you all. It is a little different than my other interviews in that it doesn’t focus on shopping, or fashion. Instead I wanted to take some time and focus on another topic that really interests me and that I feel passionate about – thoughts and advice for women on managing life/career/finances.
Tiffany is a woman whose opinion I have always respected tremendously, and who as you will discover below, is one of the best sources for advice on how to manage your career, and your finances. I’ve always wanted to be able to ask a HR professional a ton of questions, from how to negotiate salary to any lessons they have to share. I finally got the chance with Tiffany below – there’s a ton of content but I do hope you read it all – it is all super important. Enjoy meeting Tiffany!
For obvious reasons, Tiffany wanted to remain anonymous 🙂
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
I’m a Director of Human Resources for a tech company and I live in Chicago.
How did you come upon your job, and what are the best and worst things about it?
I actually got my job through a connection on LinkedIn. I wasn’t really looking at the time, and the opportunity presented itself to me. I’m so happy I took it! Best things are the flexibility I have in my role and the awesome people on my team. Worst thing is the inevitable managing of personalities and egos that comes with working in HR. But it keeps things interesting. I’ve been working in Human Resources in different capacities for just over 10 years and I really love my work.
In your career, I am sure you have seen many differences between how men and women approach their careers. I’d love to ask you some questions around the following –
How do they negotiate differently? What are mistakes that women make when negotiating their offer?
I’d have to say that the major difference is that women are afraid to negotiate at all. So often, they’re offered a job and they accept the offer without even asking if the terms are negotiable. In most cases, they are! It’s a shame because I’ve noticed this for women at all levels of their careers. Everyone from the new grad to the seasoned VP candidate don’t ask for more. In my experience, about 75% of women I’ve hired over the years have not negotiated their salary, benefits or perks. It’s such a shame because the first offer is often the lowest offer. It doesn’t hurt to ask. The worst they can say is no.
The best strategy is to first get a good indication of what your market value is for the position you’re be offered and the skill set you bring to the position. Then when offered the position, use that information to discuss increasing the compensation package. Come up with a fair range and negotiate from the top of the range down. Don’t be narrow minded and only focus on the salary. Ask about signing or other bonuses, stock options, or additional paid time off. Sometimes there’s more flexibility in those areas.
Be realistic, but understand that it’s not uncommon to go back and forth a few times before coming to an agreement. The key is to be firm but gracious during the whole process. Remember that they’re offering you the job because they want you. Make sure you’re getting what you’re due for the hard work you’ll undoubtedly be doing for the company. It’s easier to negotiate before starting the job than it is to ask for a raise once your in the thick of it already.
How about career progression? What do women do that they can improve when looking after their careers?
For anyone, having an actual written career development plan with a reasonable time line attached to it is key. It’s so easy to say you’d like to be a certain level, but become complacent in your current role and not being proactive in working towards the next step. Sometimes that means seeking opportunities that are outside of your company or industry or returning to school. Don’t be afraid to do that!
So often, women second guess themselves and their talents. They’re capable, but they’re not giving themselves enough credit. Learn to showcase your talents without being boastful. Network before you actually need a job. Have a clear idea of what you’d like your career path to be so you’re networking with the right people. Keep your resume current and work on your interviewing skills. Look for a career that you enjoy. It makes a huge difference in your level of success.
What are some other common mistakes you seen made on the HR side and how can we avoid them?
Well, there’s a lot of mistakes people make and some are more specific to industry and where an individual is in their career path. But in general, I’d have to say that women tend to be too trusting that everyone in their work life has their best interest at heart. Just because you eat lunch with someone everyday doesn’t mean they won’t throw you under the bus for their own benefit at any given chance. Don’t succumb to the drama of office politics. Take advantage of any new opportunities to expand your role or training. Even if you don’t need them now, they may come in handy in your next position. Work smarter, not harder.
I love your approach to finances and protecting yourself (as a female). What would be your advice to all women in regards to their finances – whether they work or don’t work? Do you think we should all have our “own accounts?”
I’m a huge advocate of having your own accounts. Particularly retirement and emergency savings accounts. Whether you’re working full time or a stay at home mom, it’s so important to have some financial means that are yours alone. I’m not advocating keeping secrets or hiding money from your partner, but simply not being completely dependent on anyone else for your financial security. I’ve encountered so many women that are digging themselves out of financial ruin because they didn’t want to be bothered with the money management and trusted that their partner was taking care of everything. Don’t do that to yourself! There are enough resources out there and it’s easy to learn the basics of personal finance to protect yourself from what I like to call “I thought we had money, but it was really his money and now it’s gone” scenario.
I’ve found the easiest way to save is the “pay yourself first” method of having money automatically deposited into savings and investment accounts. If it’s not on hand, you can’t spend it during a weak moment shopping. Set some goals, stash some cash, invest some cash, live below your means, save yourself from becoming the cute but broke chick.
And now onto some lighter questions…what are some of your hobbies and passions?
I’m a wanderlust, music loving, Chicago sports fanatic. I love helping people help themselves and volunteer with career development organizations that focus on that. I love good beer, good food and pinching my boyfriend’s cheeks. Those are the things that make me happy.
What do you collect? There has to be something!
Well, it’s not really a proud collection, but I collect shot glasses. Classy, right? I started buying them when I began traveling internationally and now people buy them for me on their travels as well. It’s getting so big that I’m going to run out of space for storage!
What’s one totally frivolous item that you want? What about a cherished possession?
I kind of want a motorcycle. They’re terribly dangerous and my practical side says it’s crazy to even entertain the idea. But maybe, someday. I don’t really have a cherished possession. I’m not really into “stuff”. I cherish people and memories the most. That being said, I’m probably a little too attached to my iPod.
Can you share any final advice about anything (life, romance, etc) that you’d like to pass onto readers?
Work hard, play hard, give more than you take and ultimately you’ll receive more than you ever imagined possible.
Finally, please share something surprising about yourself!
I play a mean air guitar? I don’t know, I tend to think I don’t surprise people much LOL!
I hope you all enjoyed meeting Tiffany! I want to give a special thanks for her to taking the time to do this interview – she is super busy and is such a fabulous and valuable resource. I know that for myself, reading through the answers again made me rethink some of own decisions. Thank you again, Tiffany!