From Go-getter Precious Singo
Have you ever been minding your own business and, BAM!, out of nowhere, someone or some event reminds you of things about yourself that you had forgotten? The universe does what it does and puts the right people in your path until you are forced to see what it wants you to see?
Perhaps this calls to mind a sappy and sweet story for you. Well, this is not one of those stories. This is a story of a bully and a hero, nay, a shero.
The other day I received a voicemail from a recruiter that I had never worked with before. No big deal, it happens frequently since I am doing contract work and recruiters have that type of role to fill often. I recognized the recruiting company name as a local one and figured I would call the recruiter back to check it out. Couldn’t hurt, right? (famous last words).
To protect the anonymity of the innocent and not-so innocent, let’s call the recruiter Mark. I jumped on a call with Mark and it started to go the way that recruiter calls go sometimes. He asked a bunch of questions without offering much back in the way of concrete information. I figured, no biggie. Of all the things in my day that could annoy me, this is far down on the list of importance.
That is until we got to the salary questions. Now I know some folks hate–with a capital H hate–talking about money. But not me. On the contrary, I think that NOT talking about the green stuff only benefits those who have lots of it and not normal folks (which includes 99% of us, btw). So when Mark asked about my target salary, I told him what it was, with the disclaimer that it would ultimately depend on the role itself, the benefits package, and whether the role was permanent or contract. Super normal stuff. And then…
Mark: So what is your current salary?
Me: That is not relevant to our conversation.
Mark: Yes, it is.
Me: No, it is not.
Mark: Yes, it is.
Me: IT IS NOT RELEVANT.
Mark: Well, for me to help you, this is information I need to know.
Me: I can’t even begin to fathom why. You know my target salary and I have listed my skill set among other things. Giving you my current salary tells you one thing only, what my current salary is. Nothing else. To boot, sharing it does not benefit me in the slightest. It only benefits you and the hiring company.
Mark: Well, in our experience we have found that people who hide this info are often hiding something else as well.
Me: Sure, either we can move forward or not, but I will not be sharing my current salary. We can part ways now or continue discussing the opportunities. That is entirely up to you.
Alright, let’s stop here. Blowing past the not so subtle insult he lobbed my way (So I hide things now??), did you notice the shero moment?
I admit, it is a ‘blink and you missed it’ type of moment.
The moment is when I stood up to the–to be frank–bullying he was doing to get me to divulge personal information. But I refused and held my ground. I say this not to pat myself on the back but to call attention to this fact: Sometimes, the clear act of standing up for what you believe in, particularly in the face of what you may have been taught by society, is some superhero stuff. That is HUGE.
As women, we have been told a thousand different ways to lean in (code for “act like a man”), or to go with the flow, or that we will be left behind if we don’t take every opportunity that appears. We’re told to talk more, to talk less, to be assertive, but not that assertive, to stay late, to get in earlier, to be more…and more…and more. You get the picture.
Mark was trying his hardest to make me think that I needed him and that without him I wouldn’t get the jobs he had. He was reframing the story to suit his needs. He was making himself the hero. I say NO.
I didn’t need a hero. I already have a great job. That recruiter came to me. He needed me. I was the shero.
My lesson in this story is this. Let’s frame our stories in the correct light. They are ours anyway. We are all we have ever needed to be and more.
The next time someone tries to make you feel “less than” or wrong, or to question yourself, look at the story and who the hero really is. I bet dollars to doughnuts, it is you.
P.S. It is illegal in 18 states to ask someone what their past or current salaries are. You are not required to share this info with recruiters.