SPP: Jim before we get into your wonderful new book, which is “Salary Tutor” and it’s about salary and negotiation techniques, I wanted to talk to you for just a few minutes about your job at Wire.com which is part of Wired Magazine. Because Wired is such an awesome magazine one that both me and my co-hosts subscribe to. I can’t help but wonder how does one become the marketing director at a place like Wired and what is it that you do actually for them?
Jim Hopkinson: There’s a couple of things that kind of came together where I generally advice people that you go do what you love. It’s hard enough to go to work for 40 hours a week so you got to be doing something you love. So I’ve been able to in my career turn stuff that I’ve been passionate about into a job. So I have passion about sports and for eight years I’ve worked at ESPN.com and I was in their Fantasy Football Division. So I’m used to people saying like oh my God, you do fantasy football for a living. That’s amazing. That’s a dream job.
Jim Hopkinson: Then I went into the mobile division and then when they kind of folded that unit I kind of had the chance to sit back and say what other companies I want to work for. I went into mountain biking but they were kind of based in California and it was just sites and products that I’ve used. I looked down and there was Wired Magazine sitting on my coffee table. I was like well I love Wired, I’m a long time subscribe, let’s see what they’ve got. Even though the editorial was in San Francisco Condi Nash the parent company was in New York and they had job openings listed on their Web site.
So what happened was, and I talk about this I went and I wrote a good cover letter, and I sent it in and I applied to the job online. It would be a nice little story if they replied back and said “Oh you’ve got the job”, but I did more than that I used LinkedIn and started I want a personal connection. I started paging through hundreds of my friends, hundreds of their connections, and luckily found an old fraternity brother living up in Boston who worked with someone who worked with my coach, which was a parent of Wired who knew someone at Wired at New York, who actually connected me with someone at Wired that used to work at ESPN. So it’s kind of that networking that gave me that extra edge to get in the door.
SPP: Wow! I’m actually really glad you said that because LinkedIn is something that I haven’t jumped on yet, because I don’t know I have so many of your Twitter and your Facebook and use to have your MySpace. I was like I can’t take it on anymore, but you would highly advice something like that especially for jobs.
Jim Hopkinson: Something that you should kind of be building up. You’re not going to use it all the time but you kind of have to continually build up that network so when you do need it it’s there for you.
SPP: Okay. That’s cool. What kind of stuff do you do at Wired?
Jim Hopkinson: I’m a Marketing Director. I kind of have two roles, one is kind of working on Wired specifically so I help drive traffic to the site, I do their Facebook page, I help start their Twitter account, their newsletters, banner ads, and then I also do a lot of deep dive analytical studies and research and social media. Now I’m moving into a group called Digital Consumer Marketing which is more like subscriptions. So I’m beginning to do that across multiple sites, mostly on the social media side. So I’m helping Allure, get some buzz on your Facebook page about their new Web site launch or I’m helping Vanity Fair talk about certain programs that they can run and that might go viral, stuff like that.
SPP: I know you have an extensive background in marketing. I noticed on your bio which includes ESPN, GQ.com, Golf Digest, a bunch of big names. What do you think is the single kind of largest idea or mindset that you try to instill in a company with regards to how they market online or how they interact with their customers?
Jim Hopkinson: I would say it’s a little bit of everything. Like people say “Oh Twitter’s really big. Is Twitter the next new thing? Or is Jewel Location going to be the next new thing?” It’s all part of a larger marketing program. So to give you an example, when I came in I’ve been here four years so I started January 2007, and for the most part there was Wired Magazine and Wired.com and they were kind of marketing around that. But people forget how recent a lot of this technology is. So even just since 2007 there’s the iPhone, there’s the iPad, there’s a newsletter we started, there’s podcast that we started, there’s certain video channels that we started.
So all of these serve as a touch point and the advantage is that you can cross promote. So you might have one customer that reads the magazine and subscribes to it and listens to some podcast. You might have completely different person that goes to Wired.com everyday and gets the newsletter. So you kind of have to be in all of these places and kind of communicating with them to reach a wide variety of people.
SPP: Yeah that’s crazy how these days there’s no one or even two ways to go about it there’s 50, and if you don’t do it you probably won’t make it.
Jim Hopkinson: Right.
SPP: I know we were talking before actually before we got on air, about your podcast and kind of some different ideas you have for podcasting in general, which obviously it’s kind of self-serving. Since I have you on the show I was looking for any advice you have regarding marketing your own podcast or in the future perhaps, things like that.
Jim Hopkinson: I think it’s just doing the best possible job you could. The way the podcast evolved was I came in and we kind of had the scattering of podcasts, we had ones that were sponsored but not really being promoted, we have the other ones and all our icons were a little bit different. I looked at the New Yorker and they had a perfect artist page it’s called on iTunes and all the icons were the same, all the fonts were the same, it had a really clean look.
So I asked around I’m like how does Wired get one of those? And they’re like you need six podcasts in your company to get an artist page and you only had five. So I said “You know what I can do this.” I have a lot of energy and maybe I get excited and I’ll talk too fast on the interview. One of the people whenever you read my podcast called me Audible Caffeine. So I have a picture in a slide show that I give that has a giant speaker and a giant can of Red Bull, but that’s like being myself.
The first couple of episodes, first of all I went out Wired and I pitched it and I had a demo and I sent it to the multimedia person there and the salesperson and the PR. What’s funny is I interviewed one of my best friends and he wanted to be formal and the beginning of it was like “Hi my name is Robert and I own a family owned business and we make emergency call phones that go in the parking lots and help people that are getting attacked or on college campuses.” I looked around and they were like oh that’s okay, do you have anything else?
I had this immediate flashback because we kept the tape rolling we just talked about what we had done at brunch that day. It was this crazy story where we had these other glasses, we’re eating we had pancakes, and all of a sudden one of the pipes exploded stars of glass went everywhere and all these people came in and the weeks after sweeping stuff up. This place that we went is in the middle Union Square, which is the middle of the village the middle of the universe, and they were closed down because of rats, explosions and celebrities always go there so they reopened the place. I paused and I turned around and they were all looking at me. The Director of Multimedia paused and said “Now that’s how you do a podcast.”
Jim Hopkinson: I was like awesome. So she’s like yeah you need to work some more marketing in there. You got to have a little more structure. That’s the day I learned that emergency phones in a 100 year old businesses weren’t always interesting but having energy and talking about rats, and explosions and celebrities sometimes that’s the way to go.
SPP: That’s interesting because sometimes yeah I think we tend to get a little too technical.
Jim Hopkinson: Yeah and it depends on what you’re show’s about. I mean obviously if you’re doing a financial podcast and your listeners are looking for very logical and thought out research financial planning maybe you don’t want that super high energy crazy type of stories.
SPP: All right well now I would like to move into talking about your brand new book which comes out April 1st, so a few days from right now, and it’s called “Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary and Negotiation Techniques No One Ever Taught You”. I think from the title the topic of the book is self-explanatory, but first I wanted to just find out what prompted you to write a book on salary negotiation? It’s one of those things that everyone’s either has dealt with or will deal with, but nobody talks about it.
Jim Hopkinson: Exactly and that’s the exact reason. So again some of the things I’m passionate about is technology so that led me to Wired and I worked at a startup. I actually did Tech Support, I took over 10,000 text support calls with the headset and everything. Then I was passionate about sports and I landed a job at ESPN.
The other third thing was career development so helping people get resumes and helping them with interviews. I’ve several interns here at Wired. I have this hiring thing and when I was at the startup I was a third employee. Somehow I got to be the HR person and did a lot of interviewing and a lot of hiring. It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about and how can I turn this into something cool?
The original plan was to self-publish and it was just not hat’s the digital way now. You don’t need a radio tower to do an audio show you can do your own podcast. So I’ll just do a great book. So first I look at the overall topic of interviewing and networking and resumes. What I found was that, like you said, no one teaches you this stuff. I thought back and I was like I never learned it in college and my parents can I do it. It’s taboo among your friends to talk about salary. I’m like is it just me? So I went on Google and I typed in interview tips, then I typed in resume tips. There were 90 million results between those, but salary and negotiation tips it was only 500,000.
So then I went over to Amazon and I searched on the same thing interviewing and resumes, 45,000 books but only a 139 on salary negotiation. The more I talk to people every one just really responded to it. You can say “Oh should you have an objective or summary on your resume. Well dah, dah, dah.” If you ask someone about do you want to learn some FBI hostage negotiation techniques on how to get a higher salary suddenly people’s ears perk up.
SPP: Yeah no that’s a good point. Actually that was one of my questions for you but I guess we’ll jump right into it. Could you talk a little bit about how you do tie in FBI and negotiation techniques to use to your advantage and in an interview?
Jim Hopkinson: Sure. There’s certain things that I found this old document and then they found seven techniques that FBI agents use to negotiate and among some of them that it mirrored a lot of their research that I found about how to handle that crucial moment. So some of it is like mirroring so when kind of repeating back what the interviewer said, paraphrasing. So if they’re like well we’ve really got tight budgets this year it’s like empathy and being like wow, so what you’re saying is you really have a lot of budget constraints.
One of the key ones is silence and when you’re on an interview and you want to be bubbly and outgoing and have a lot of enthusiasm about the job but for that 30 seconds there’s a key point during the negotiation where they give that number, and if you use silence it makes someone want to fill that silence. A lot of times they’ll reveal things that they don’t plan to.
SPP: Yeah that’s a good point. I actually tried to, or have tried to incorporate that more into my daily life. Because I’ll jump in conversations and it’s crazy when you just test it out and you make sure you tell yourself the things that come out of people you’re like wow.
Jim Hopkinson: Yeah. You have to get psyched up for this because you’re at a disadvantage because an HR person might negotiate salary five times a week, where you might do it five times in your life. So a lot of people don’t realize that it’s that crucial 30 seconds. Or you could get your jobs four years and then you go through all this stuff, your interview, your networking, your resume, and you’re in a job. You might be at that job for another four years but in that small slice that’s your one opportunity to make the money you want. Then also that’s going to affect all your raises and your money down the road too.
SPP: Actually a question just popped into my mind. I hadn’t even thought of this one but every time I’ve interviewed for a job, and I’ve only been working in the working force for about six years now and there’s been quite a few interviews, and they ask “What is your ideal salary? What is your salary range? What are you looking for?” I never, ever know how to answer that question. Do you have advice for that?
Jim Hopkinson: I do. So two things you want to do is first defer the talk until you know they want you for the job. So if it’s on an application and it’s a desired salary just put negotiable or to be discussed during interview, or just kind of leave it blank and hopefully you can get past that first hurdle. Then if you get the HR person in the first 10 minutes and they’re like what are you looking to make it’s saying “Well I’d really like to learn more about the position before I get into that.” It’s easy for you to read a book and just kind of repeat the words. Oh they said this, Jim said to say this, but it’s also just believing it.
So the example I give is so let’s say they say “Well what are you looking to make” and you say “A low number.” Then you go on the interview and all of a sudden you find out that oh you’re managing four people not two. The budget has been cut in half and you have a lot of travel you have to do, you’re like geez to take this job I’d have to make $10,000 dollars more just to make it worth it. Or flip it around and say you go in and you say a really high number then you go on the rest of the interview and you find out oh my God I actually know the manager. This guy’s amazing, this guy’s going to be my mentor. This project that you have in the pipeline is something I’ve been dying to work on. I’d almost pay them but alas you kind of went too high. To really believing like no I really do need to know more about the job before I can give a number.
Then what happens is when you sit down and it is time to talk about it it’s getting them to say the number first. I talked to people and for now of course I ask everyone “How did your last negotiation go?”
Jim Hopkinson: Or if they ask you something what would you say and they’re like “My salary plus $10,000 dollars.” Yeah but what if they were going to give you your salary plus $20,000 dollars, less $10,000. Oh yeah you’re right.
SPP: Yeah because I’ve never known what to do with that. So I will keep that in my back pocket next time. Another thing is in your book you talk about discovering two simple but vital questions you need to answer for success. I’m sure everybody would like to know what those are. Could you let us know?
Jim Hopkinson: Sure and they’re the kind of the foundation for the book. The first one was I was prepared. So when you’re coming out of the negotiations, I was prepared and I did everything I could. So when you go into for your interview so many people are not even prepared, they’re not expecting the question, they get caught off guard. You’re interviewing like so how much money you’re looking to make. You’re like aw what do I say? You’re just not prepared.
To give an example, let me just say that kind of the structure of the book I’m not a person that’s been in HR for 20 years and just how to ABC. What I do is take people through my career and look at the mistakes that I made. I find that people really love case studies and here’s what I did in each one. When I looked back I averaged 12% raises versus the industry is like 3% raises. So I kind of delve into how do I that?
So the first thing is just being prepared. So doing your homework, researching for the job you’re going for based on your experience, based on what part of the country, and being prepared for that question. Then the second half is I did everything I could. So if they give you a number did you counteroffer. So 20% of people never counteroffer. And I’m like really, you think if they’re saying like, we’re going to offer you $50,000 dollars do you think that that’s the absolute maximum? No it’s like a yard sale, like how much do you want for your old Van Halen record, $20 bucks, how about $50, how about $10?
It’s like they’re not going to give you that top number first so doing everything you could and that means counter offering that means going to your research. Sometimes you’re not always going to get a bigger number. So let’s say they say $50,000 and you’re like well according to my research this is and this and this. They say “We’re really sorry our budgets are maxed out at $50,000 dollars, this is the highest that we can go”, then at least you did everything you could. The worse thing is they say “$50,000” you say “Okay”, and then the rest of your time there you’re like darn it I should have asked for more. How much would they have paid.
Jim Hopkinson: So the key is to avoid that lifetime nagging of I wish I had said this.
SPP: Now could you tell us a little bit about the Right Back at You method, which I think is an interesting concept?
Jim Hopkinson: Sure. So that is to try to get the person to give the number first. So there’s usually two ways they’re going to ask you. One is what were you making in your last job? So I’ll say this one so people have to read the book to get this one.
SPP: I’ve got that so many times. I’ve gotten that question every time.
Jim Hopkinson: Well the key is that it’s none of their business. You could have been a consultant making $200,000 an hour, you could have been laid off making nothing, or you could be changing careers. So say you’re an event planner and you went back to school and now you’re a software engineer. They’re like what are you making at your last job? Well I was an Assistant Event Planner, it has nothing to do with the job I’m going for.
The fact is company’s it’s up to them. If you want to yell at them you’re the person with the job. You have decided as a company that you need to hire someone and I’m sure you made that decision because you have more work that you can do and you feel that bringing someone in is going to bring in more revenue for you. So you need to decide that. What someone else made in their past job shouldn’t matter. If they ask you “What are you making in your current job”, I have a really simple way to get around that in the book.
Then they could also say is “What salary are you looking for?” So for that what you would do is try to through it back at them. So the way you would do that is to use one of those examples. You customize it to yourself. Use the changing job position and say “So what kind of salary are you looking for?” You say “Well I’ve really done my homework on this. It’s really tough because my last job was as an assistant event planner now this is more of a software engineer. So I was just wondering you’d probably be in a better position to answer that, what kind or range would you have in mind?”
It takes a lot of practice and I studied for that Wired interview for about a week so I was in between jobs so I had more time, but I still would have done this much research. What’s more important than this than this type of research? I literally spent eight hours practicing that 30 second conversation and it gives you a lot of confidence going into the interview.
SPP: No that’s true because I’ve always felt that if I go interview for a job that I really want I tend to be more concerned with upsetting them, doing something wrong, than kind of looking out for my best interest. Do you have any advice towards that.
Jim Hopkinson: Sure.
SPP: Not coming of as confrontational I guess.
Jim Hopkinson: Right. It’s a two-way street and I think it happens as you get older in your career. You have more confidence and you got more experience. This is a little tougher to pull off in your first job. As you get older you realize it’s a two-way street. So the company is saying “All right we’re looking to hire you. We’re looking for the best, you need to impress us because we’re a great company.” But it’s the flipside too you’re like, listen I’m going to come in there, I’m going to give you 40 or 50 hours a week every single week for the next couple of years, I’m valuable, I know what my skills are, you need to impress me too.
So that goes along with just asking good questions on interview. What are your management goals. what kind of budget concerns do you have, and just really throwing it back at them to make sure they’re qualified enough to hire you. Then the same thing with the salary, is just knowing what’s your worth, what the industry is paying, and just being ready for that.
SPP: Well Jim that’s all I’ve got for you. Do you have anything that you’d like to let us know? Is the best place to buy your book going to be Amazon.
Jim Hopkinson: Correct. So the timing on this is interesting it’s Grant Center Publishing in their Business Plus Division. This is the first book that they’re doing that they’re releasing an eBook paperback.
Jim Hopkinson: It’s kind of new ground for them and it’s exciting because I’ve got followers on my podcast and I’ve got network on LinkedIn and network on Facebook, I started a Facebook page for “Salary Tutor”. So they’re really excited to try this social media approach. So April 1st an eBook goes available on Amazon.com and for other readers if you have an iPad you can get it through the iBookstore. Then in August is when the paperback will be in bookstores.
SPP: Great. All right well it’s standard practice for us but we’ll provide a link on our site at www.smartpeoplepodcast.com where our listeners can just go click on it and purchase the book right from there. I highly recommend it. If it’s going to make you more money in the future what book is more worth it? Do you know what I mean?
Jim Hopkinson: Right it’s less than $10 bucks and so I don’t know if I should guarantee but you can make thousands back in a short amount of time. The fun part is I do this with everything now. Once you kind of get the confidence of negotiating I was like buying a new pair of sneakers. Oh we’re sorry sir those don’t go on sale. It’s our new spring line those won’t go on sale. You know what I think I’m going to wait then because according to my research I get these emails from you. Well all right I got this extra corporate discount I can give you but were don’t do this for everyone.
Jim Hopkinson: It almost becomes a game. So for less than $10 bucks you’ll learn these negotiation skills. Again just to emphasize it’s not a boring How to ABC. It’s kind of almost like a fun long blog post about my career path and case studies and how things went bad and how my car blew its transmission and I got this pictures of me from the 80s. It’s a really fun and entertaining book as well.
SPP: Well that’s awesome. All right well again thank you so much and look forward to reading your book. Best of luck with that.
Jim Hopkinson: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
SPP: Alrighty. Bye-bye.