There’s a troubling phenomenon afoot in the job-hunting universe: friends are giving friends some really questionable advice. Trying to land a new job is hard enough, but it’s just plain rough if your friends are working against you!
Here’s a recent example of the shenanigans. A candidate I was working with refused to provide information that my client requested. The information was standard: five years of tax returns, her personal diary, the results of a Rorschach inkblot test, a urinalysis, and a bulleted list of the contents of her kitchen catch-all drawer. I’m kidding. All my client wanted was some basic information about salary.
(Now that I had you sweating about the urinalysis, you see how innocent the request for salary info is, right?)
I asked the candidate again for the information. She stonewalled.
I explained this was standard operating procedure for many of my clients. All I needed was an idea of current and desired salaries.
Finally, the candidate confessed, “Well, I’ve been advised by a friend not to discuss salary until after the first in-person interview.”
I wanted to cry. At this point I wasn’t even going to be able to score this gal a first interview, let alone a second! Perhaps the friend meant you shouldn’t bring up the topic of salary until later in the process – but that you should certainly provide it if asked? In any case, the person proffering the advice was putting her friend in danger of missing out on a good opportunity.
Here’s another one. A candidate recently asked for a 50% increase from her current salary. After I picked myself off the floor, I explained that the current market isn’t really providing such luxury. She persisted. I tried again, telling her my client might decide to look elsewhere if she insisted on such a steep increase in pay. I finally asked her where she came up with such a range. “My friend told me this was the increase I should expect if I change jobs.”
And here’s one more for the road. I recently had an applicant call me repeatedly to check in about an opening. We’re talking more calls than I got from my middle school boyfriend…despite the fact my client explicitly stated, “No phone calls.” I told the candidate I’d be in touch as soon as I had news. Almost like clockwork the candidate offered up this gem, “By the way, sorry about all the calls. A friend told me I should ignore the no phone calls request.”
Unless your friend is the head of HR for Google, take job-hunting advice with a grain of salt.