CAREER FILES: When you should discuss your salary with colleagues

Sarah White is a Senior Marketing Recruitment Consultant who has spent the last three years placing women in their dream jobs, sifting through hundreds of CVs and has the inside scoop on exactly what it takes to carve a successful path.

Should you ever discuss your salary with colleagues or friends?
Never. Unless you’re wanting to gain insight from an industry insider to get an understanding of the market.

But I would say never with colleagues and never with friends. If you want to figure out if you're being fairly compensated, look online. On SEEK, for example, you can get an idea of the salary range of a role that’s a similar level to you. Michael Page, as well, has a salary guide that you can utilise. It has different industries and provides a bit of a benchmark around the minimum and the maximum people pay within that.  It’s also worth understanding industry differences, for example the professional services space typically pay well, as opposed to the not-for-profit sector.

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What will help you get recognized at work?
Building a network in the workplace. The more people you meet, the more people you learn from, the more you’ll stand out because you'll have internal advocates in the organization. It's about having a mentor, meeting with people in other teams and constantly wanting to learn. That way, people in other areas of the business know, ok she's ambitious or he really wants to learn and he's going above and beyond. I think that definitely helps with standing out because then you have other people in the business championing you. 

How do you dress for success at work?

Dress for your day – dress for the meetings that you have and the people you’ll meet.

Especially now that professionals have to navigate an increasingly casual workplace, always having a blazer or a jacket on hand. I keep a black blazer at work all the time, so if I do need to jump into a meeting and I’m dressed a bit more casual, I can quickly dress it up.

It’s always better to be over dressed. You're never going to be over dressed on the first day of work. You can get a sense of what other people are wearing at a similar level to you in the business. So not necessarily your manager, who might be quite casual but might not be client-facing. When you go for an interview before getting the job, you can also have a look at what everyone else is wearing so you’re prepared when you do have your first day.

An iron is everyone's best friend, even if you’re wearing a casual t-shirt. If you're going to the gym, you might bring a shirt and leave it in on a hanger. But If you do have to sit in the train for an hour, choose something that’s not going to be all wrinkled as soon as you get out. 

What are the most essential wardrobe pieces?

Definitely a black pencil skirt, that is probably my go-to and I would wear it multiple days a week. And a comfortable heeled shoe. It doesn't have to be very high – comfort is key. I see a lot of people wearing heels that are too high and they really struggle. You need shoes you’re able to walk in for a long period of time. You don’t want a situation where you’re going somewhere with your boss and unable to walk. Those are the biggest things and then just a blazer – a blazer is essential.

Your work attire is absolutely critical to your success. Purely because people place confidence in you based on how you present yourself. So if you present yourself with confidence people will put faith in you.

There are often times where I would be pulled into a meeting over one of my colleagues because I would always look put together and ready to see clients. If you’re very presentable, it means managers can rely on you in meetings.

Presentation is also a reflection of how you value yourself in the workplace. For example, someone who works around the corner from you at work, that doesn't know you but see you dressing professionally will get the sense that you value your work. That can contribute to your workplace reputation and overall success.

There will always be opportunities, even on casual Fridays. It’s still a business day. If you’re in something casual, you want to look professional enough that you can step into a meeting last minute. I always have some spare clothes on hand. For example, if I'm wearing denim jeans and a t-shirt or something like that, I would always have a blazer available that I can throw on at the last second, so I can walk into a meeting with confidence. Almost always, you’ll be chosen over someone who hasn’t put much effort into their outfit.

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