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The HR Den is platform offering career advice and guidance to women of color who are soon-to-be college graduates or college alumni who are LOST and are having a difficult time figuring out where to start in their careers with a social science or humanities degree. Figuring out what to do with your life is never easy and can cause major stress! Trust... we know the feeling. The HR Den is an open space for answers to questions and concerns you have, and serves as a space to connect with other women dealing with the same issues.

Money, Money, Money! 4 Things to Keep In Mind When Discussing Salary During An Interview

Tiffany Drysdale

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Asking questions is an important part of an interview as a candidate, however, when it’s come to money it can leave people decidedly dumbfounded. What is it about "salary" that makes candidates so uncomfortable? Listen, there’s nothing wrong with asking how much you will be compensated for the work you do. In fact, this is a question you should either be prepared to ask or answer.


The first, and perhaps most vital part of even mentioning a salary is timing. Timing is essential because you don’t want to ask too early in the interview about money. Yes, compensation is important, and fair compensation, even more so, but asking the hiring manager about salary prematurely, says that the only thing driving you toward the job is the money. That is the last thing you want an employer to think about you. Wait for the ‘questions’ portion of the interview. When the hiring manager turns questioning over to you, this is the perfect time to talk money. Don’t let this be your very first question, though. Self-awareness is what we’re aiming for, not desperation. Make sure you’re asking about the job and what it entails. Make inquiries about the work environment. Show your genuine interest in the job, before any talk of pay comes up.


You know the saying, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it?” Well when you’re talking money, this is helpful to keep in mind. This is where preparation and practice come in. Think about any questions regarding money you might have, and then practice asking them. Listen to yourself. Do you sound too eager? Too meek? Like a lot of things, strive for balance. You want to sound polite, but firm. How do you do this? Grab a friend, family member, colleague and have them listen to you. Having someone else listen is a good way to gauge where to edit yourself.

Do your research

Researching your position means being a little bit of an investigator. Not only should you think about researching the hiring manager, but you should also consider looking at other employees who have held a position you’re applying for or something similar, and what their compensation has been. When you’re coming into an entry-level position or just starting work in a given industry it can be easy to shortchange yourself. Odds are you already have an idea about what you will be getting paid because it might have already been on your application, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for clarity. (Source)


Going back to entry-level positions, when you start working it can be tricky to measure what is too little, but when you’ve started working more and gotten more experience, you’ll start to identify what number sounds right. Knowing your value isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It comes with a level of confidence in your work, work ethic, and a sense of self-assuredness that you are worth it. Again, this is something that comes with time but as women in the workplace exuding poise and no-nonsense is extremely important, especially when it comes to our pockets.


The Art of Code Switching

Tiffany Drysdale

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Codeswitching. The thing you’ve probably done your whole life without realizing it. It’s the voice you put on when you talk to your co-workers or a potential employer. The abrupt, but academic way in which you speak to a professor when you’re in class. You know, straight-laced, polite but friendly, completely competent. Now, it’s not the way you always speak. When you’re with your friends, you probably use an entirely different vernacular. Something with more ease and colloquial-ness. Instead of a ‘Hello, how are you?” you’d say “Hey, what’s good?” We all do this and in some situations, it’s necessary. The real question is, how does this work when you’re a post-grad, just starting to dip your toe in the job market pool? How do you reconcile authenticity and professionalism?

Of course, you’d never address a potential boss by asking them, “what’s good?” but there does seem to be a certain cover-up of personality that’s expected in the workplace, and even in the interviewing process. Maybe it’s hiding your accent, or speaking in a disarming way to make people in a room feel more comfortable.

For an African American woman, maybe you feel the need to speak in soft tones, so as not to be attributed with some stereotype. Perhaps as a Latina woman, you’d feel the need to not let an accent slip, because in the end, what do we all want? We want the job, so we want to show how we can already fit in. We want to show that assimilating into the culture of a given workplace is something we can do quite easily. But isn’t there something about this that seems…hollow? Are we losing something in the process?

Yes, everyone code-switches at one time or another, but there’s a certain loss of identity that comes with that when you’re a person of color. As a woman of color, especially one working in corporate America, you’ve probably already changed some things about your demeanor to fit in with the boys, and now there’s pressure to code-switch and duck the things about you that make you culturally diverse. As a black woman myself, switching out of a “professional” speech into slang in a work environment has consequences of epic proportions. You see, doing this doesn’t only paint me as unprofessional. It could potentially mark me as a stereotype, as something other, in a way that would probably never happen with a white candidate.

So as a recent graduate, how do you enter the job hunt without losing a piece of who you are?

Well first, do you know who you are? Your brand is how people, and more importantly employers see you. There are subtle details in your cover letter, your resume, your social media profiles that say things about you, that you probably haven’t realized. You want to present yourself in the most authentic way, and your background might be the core of that presentation. When you know your own code, and live your brand codeswitching doesn’t seem so much like selling out anymore. So, if you’re thinking I have no idea what my brand is or what it is I’m saying to employers, start there. People feel like working in a professional environment, means changing who you are, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Believe it or not, codeswitching can actually work to your advantage. Say you’re applying to a position at a company. Using certain industry vocabulary in your resume, or even in a potential interview, shows the employer how knowledgeable you are. It shows them that you pay attention to detail, and you know what you’re talking about. The key to switching is knowing when to use it. Remember that adapting should be about the job, and your skills, not the fundamentals of your character.


Here is an awesome Ted Talk that talks about the concept of codeswitching as it relates to people of color! 



5 Post-College Job Searching Tips That You Forgot About !

Tiffany Drysdale


College is where you go to learn about your future career. But once you graduate with your degree, it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll automatically find a job right after. Finding a job can be pretty difficult, especially for those who have super high expectations, or are just really picky. Sometimes we just need to be a bit flexible and start small. From there, you can strive for bigger and better opportunities. Graduating from college is just the beginning of entering the real world. So when looking for a job, there are many places to begin. Here are five places to start:

1. Network

Communicating with everyone that you know if the first step. The more people you know, the more you can know about the different events and opportunities happening in your area. Friends, professors, and even family can be the people who will assist you in finding the right path for you. They can give you many options and ideas by providing you with information on what company is hiring and what company they’re working for. In fact, they could even offer you to work with them! It’s all about talking to the right people.

2. College Career Center

Basically, every school has a college career center. This is the place to go if you want to know a little more about the jobs that are available around your campus area. Many jobs available at the career centers are companies that work hand in hand with your school.  So most likely if you find something that interests you, you could have a better chance of getting the position!

3. Social Media

Social media plays a huge part in job searches in the modern world. LinkedIn is the huge social media platform for users to connect with others professionally.  Companies can look at your profile and can contact you through messages for employment opportunities that might be available.  Even Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are great places to look for opportunities. Hashtagging is your best friend on social media platforms. 

4. Job Boards

Searching for jobs has become a lot easier with the internet and almost every company requires applicants to apply online. Websites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Glassdoor are one of the most popular websites to go to when searching for a job.  If you want to learn more about a company then  Glassdoor is the place to go to if you want more depth about the company and what current workers, or even what previous workers think about the company you’re looking at.

5. Traditional Media

Sometimes you have to go old school and look through newspapers, magazines, or even bulletin boards. Even though this method may take a lot longer than just going on the computer to search for it, there could be job opportunities listed on these sources of media that you’ve never seen before! Keep in mind different jobs are listed on different mediums, which means the kinds of role you find in a newspaper will vary from what you find online. 

A job isn’t going to be given to you automatically. It takes time and patience to look for the right career path that you believe you want to take. Sometimes it may take longer than expected, but it could be worth the wait.


A Look Inside Asian Families & Their Career Ideals For Their Children

Tiffany Drysdale


  By: Eileen Nguyen

            So, you just graduated from college and you're headed off to the real world. Maybe you won't start working just yet, or you're just taking some time off to take a breather. Regardless of what you decide, the choice is to do what you believe is best for you. For many Asian families, taking time off is not a choice. I come from a very strict Vietnamese family and ever since I was young, becoming successful meant everything to my parents. But what was considered successful? To my parents, being successful meant becoming either of the following professions: doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, and so on. 

            What these professions all have in common is that they are associated with making tons of money. As a child, I've always wanted to become a doctor (as many kids did when they were growing up). However, as time went on, I realized that becoming a doctor was a tedious process and just didn’t seem to pique my interest anymore. Although it was an interesting field, it was not a profession I really wanted to pursue. In fact, just thinking about it made me realize that going into the medical field was not my calling. 

            I didn’t know what career path I wanted to take, but I never told this to my parents because I knew they would scold me for not having a clear path for the future. So I kept insisting that going into the medical field was what I still wanted to do until I entered my junior year of high school. I realized that I really wanted to pursue journalism and video production. 
My love for writing and media made me aware of the many other different opportunities that the world had to offer. Because of my parents' strict policies of me becoming a doctor and all those other professions, I was blinded by the fact that I could make my own choice and follow a different path. A path that I really wanted to walk on. When I first approached my parents about my decision to work in media, they were not happy. The disappointment on their face was heartbreaking to witness. It was like I dishonored my family for choosing a path that made me happy. In the end, my parents have come to realize that being successful is what makes me happy and were accepting of my career choice.\

            Majority of Asian families instill certain ideals in their children; that they have to do certain activities to become successful and make lots of money in the future. The child basically does not have a choice, or say, in what they want to do with their life. I have seen it up close and personal where Asian parents force their child to take certain courses after school in order for them to be ahead of everyone else, even in college! Intelligence to them was the key to pursuing a successful career. No matter how much that child wanted to quit, their parents forced them to in order to uphold the "family's reputation." It is basically an honor that children from Asian families pursue certain curricular activities and interests. Once we break away from our parents' forced choices, we become dishonorable. 

            Needless to say, everyone has their own passions in life.  The standard way of preparing for the real world is to go to college, graduate, then work full-time at a great company who pays well, and gives you great benefits. However, the real world is more than just doing the standard nine to five shift to earn money and becoming wealthy. Honoring the family by doing every forced activity they say is not the way to live. There will be a time when you have to do what is best for you, not what is best for your family. If you want to pursue a different path than what your parents want you to do, then, by all means, go for it! Going to college is a time where you learn, not only about your major but about yourself. So once you get your diploma, you have the choice to decide what the next step is. 

            It may seem scary to go against your parents, but it will all be worth it once you are able to speak your mind and live the life you choose. Life is what you make of it, not what your parents make of it. 


3 Ways to Get Ahead, and Stay Ahead Post-College Graduation

Tiffany Drysdale

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Graduation is behind you, and now you're officially in the job market, congrats! You've applied to hundreds of postings, sent out your resume, updated your LinkedIn profile. . . and still, nothing. So, what do you do now? 

I like to think of the gap between post-graduation and getting hired, like an off-season in sports. When the regular season hasn't started yet, athletes still wake up every day, practice, train, and you should too. Time is a powerful thing, so instead of waiting idly by the phone to hear back from an employer, what can you be doing in the meantime to not only maximize your chances, but keep your skills sharp, and on point? Here are three ways to do just that, because remember, if you stay ready, you won't have to get ready.

1) If they want a self-starter, then be one!
A lot of times on job applications, ‘self-starter,' is one of the frequent phrases employers list as a requirement. They want that candidate who isn't afraid to step up and be proactive, so what better way to show how self-motivated you are by volunteering or freelancing your services in your "off-season," to prove that? In doing this, you're not only ‘walking the walk' of a self-starter, but you're applying all those skills you've learned from school, while not letting them stay inactive. And bonus! This could be another thing you can add to your resume. (Source)

2) Stay Connected
Connections are important. Keeping them is extremely important. Not having a job, can make you feel like you're missing out, out of the loop, not "in the know", etc. Combatting this is pretty simple. Network. Make LinkedIn your best friend. Find connections in your network, outside of your network, and talk to them! Let them know that you're looking for a position because the job that you want isn't always advertised. About 80% of jobs are filled without an employer advertising it. (Source) Get out there, and sell yourself. Let yourself be known, so your connections know exactly the kind of candidate you are, and what kind of job you want. Connecting is already something productive, but guess what else is? In all that time, you're speaking with people, and marketing yourself to them, you are actually practicing! You're practicing public speaking, you're practicing branding, and you're emitting that self-starter attitude. So by the time that job interview comes around, you can prove you have all these qualities because you've literally done all of them. 

3) Using your background in your personal brand
The period post-graduation can the perfect time to focus on your image. We're not only talking about your Facebook profile picture either. This is where you can get creative because your brand is the essence of you. It's how employers will look at you and say, "this is who she is, this is what she stands for." Including where you come from or your cultural background within that brand, could be an excellent way to stand out from the rest. As an African American woman, I'd like to think of my color as a selling point, not a hindrance. A big part of who I am is, my blackness, so why not use that to my advantage? Applying to a job isn't only checking off requirements on a list, it's about having a certain distinction; a way for recruiters to recognize you from the other hundreds of candidates in the field. With all that time on your hands, think about using where you come from to achieve this. (Source)