Q: My creative department is a major boys' club, and always has been. I'm a female junior creative. How do I balance sticking up for what I believe in by calling someone out on public behavior that offends me (and the other handful of women in the department), with the knowledge that doing so will get me labeled as a humorless bitch and may hurt my career? Thanks!
If you’re cringing at something someone says chances are the other guys in the department are too. I think you need to say something if it’s really bad. People will be relieved that you did. Usually it’s a one bad apple kind of thing. I’ve worked in departments where I was the only female and I always found common ground with my male colleagues. Things like passion for doing great work and the bitterness that comes from not being able to sell it can bond a group beyond gender, age or sexual bias. And besides most assholes are hacks so who cares what they say.
Linda Kaplan Thaler and her partner, Robin Koval, are my heroines of the week.
I caught an article by Thaler in this month's O Magazine (check it out, it's worth stashing in your sketchbook), and one in Newsweek. The premise? You can indeed create a successful ad agency and/or career by being a NICE person, as opposed to a total buzzkill (and we all know a few of those). As Kaplan Thaler puts it, "We want to dispel the myth that only those who eat their young get raises."
How wonderful is that? No one ever tells you you'll get far by being nice. Except maybe for Mom and the clergy.
The ladies are coming out soon with a book, "The Power of Nice," and are also working with a psychologist to develop a "Nice Q test" to measure social intelligence.
"It's really sad that being nice seems counterintuitive," says Kaplan
Thaler. "I think people are embarrassed to say they're nice."
Q: How do you broach the topic of finances with a potential employer when you feel you are worth more than their initial offer?
Speak to the person who offered you the job and explain (unemotionally) why you feel that the salary is not appropriate for the skills you bring to the job. If you have any facts gathered from friends or headhunters about salaries for similar positions, use them in the conversation. If your potential employer won't budge, you have two choices.
1. Decide that what you'll get out of this job is beyond money and take the job. But, keep interviewing. 2. Go see if you can get another offer. Then use that as leverage. For better or worse, in my years in the business I've never asked for a raise without having another job offer on the table. You'd be amazed at how your value goes up overnight. Even when you have a job, you should book several interviews a year. Isn't there a place you'd love to work? Call them and try to get someone there to look at your book. Call again in six months. Interviewing helps you stay on top of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your market value.
Managing your career money-wise is not easy. Never move for money alone. You have to love the work you're doing and the people you work with. On the other hand, this is your career. Eventually you'll need to be making enough money to live and save. So, don't be afraid to push. Companies pay as little as they can get away with. My second job was at a small boutique agency in the southwest. I loved the job and the people, but could barely get by on the salary. I found another job for more money and demanded that my current agency match it. My agency agreed to match it, but warned me that it would mean no one else in the company would get a raise that year. I took the raise at my current agency. But, the attempt at manipulating me left a bad taste in my mouth. I found a better job within six months. Don't let companies manipulate you. Manage your own career.