We live in a world where mentioning money can take you out the running for a job. Fact. It’s happened to me. Mention the word ‘salary’ in a job interview and wait for the hissed intake of breath, the knowing glance at a colleague, and the vague non-answer. You can almost see them mentally scratch you off the list.
See, we’re not supposed to work for money but for passion and experience. Which is fabulous in theory but please can someone direct me to a landlord who accepts experience cheques? “Sorry, I don’t have your money this month, but I have a job I’m super passionate about,” isn’t going to wash in the Real World.
I’m not trying to be petulant or greedy here (although let’s address why wanting a fair salary is considered greedy some time). I know I’m not going to land a £30k job where I sit writing stories in a bouncy castle full of puppies. Instead, I’m trying to shed light on the people who are struggling just to buy food and pay rent. Those who can’t afford to take a job if they don’t know how much they’ll be earning—regardless of how much they want to. The sorts of people who end up excluded from so many of the world’s opportunities because other, richer people refuse to talk money.
Having grown up amongst recession, and now staring another in the face, millennials are dealing with low incomes, impossible property prices, and far higher student debt than any generation previously. A huge percentage of millennials (myself included) are living with their parents well into their twenties and mental illness is, unsurprisingly, on the rise.
Is it any wonder finance is at the forefront of our minds?
Trust me, I’d really rather not ask about salary in an interview, but money is something I and many others have to think about constantly. It’s the knot in my chest, the panic coursing through my veins, the puzzle jamming up my brain and dragging away sleep.
Will this job allow me to pay rent on a house-share, the deposit, electricity, travel, food, water, tax…
I don’t ask about salary because I want to.
I ask because I have to.
For months I didn’t post this as mentioning the word ‘salary’ on my blog felt like shooting myself in the foot. However, I’m getting pretty angry I’m even being made to feel like that. Like I’m a naughty school girl for daring to think about money at a time where Britain is the most unstable it’s been in decades. Everyone needs money to survive. We do what we can to be fulfilled and we all take jobs earning less to do what we enjoy (heck, I’m a writer, for goodness sake!), but without a pay cheque we’d be homeless and starving.
I’m not far from it.
One final thing: There is no ‘industry standard’ if no-one will set one and the phrase ‘competitive salary’ can get in the bin. What’s that in pounds and pence, please? And no, that’s not negotiable.