Podcast by InnovatorsBox®

Dear Workplace: Season 3

Ep 1: All About Jobs, Careers, and Compensation – 1: The Change

Dear Workplace – a Podcast by InnovatorsBox®. Hosted by Monica H. Kang.

Reimagine how you thrive at work through conversations that matter. Hosted by workplace creativity expert Monica H. Kang, we’ll study the latest trends, changes, and challenges to untangle workplace people problems. We’ll talk with executives, innovators, and experts and visit different industries around the world so that you get first dibs into the changing workforce. 

…and anywhere else you listen to Podcasts

Guest: Lola Han

CEO and Founder, Kamsa

Guest: Dr. April Willis

Owner, April Willis Consulting LLC, and & The National Nonprofit Collaborative

In this engaging episode of Dear Workplace by InnovatorsBox, host Monica H. Kang dives deep into the complexities of the current job market, exploring the paradox of a growing economy shadowed by layoffs and widespread burnout. With the expert insights of Dr. April Willis and Lola Han, this discussion navigates through the turbulent waters of career shifts, layoffs, and the evolving dynamics of workplace compensation. As we explore the reasons behind the job market’s unpredictability, our guests offer invaluable advice on not only surviving but thriving in this environment by leveraging strategic communication, negotiation skills, and a deeper understanding of compensation trends. Whether you’re contemplating a job switch, negotiating your next raise, or simply curious about the future of work, this episode is a treasure trove of wisdom for positioning yourself in the best possible light in a market that’s more fluid than ever.

Moreover, the conversation doesn’t stop at addressing the challenges; it also highlights opportunities emerging from the current job market dynamics. Dr. Willis discusses the importance of resilience and adaptability in the face of layoffs, emphasizing the silver lining of new opportunities that often follow such downturns. Meanwhile, Lola Han demystifies compensation, offering actionable strategies for job seekers to secure fair pay and for employers to attract top talent in a competitive landscape. Together, their expertise paints a comprehensive picture of how individuals can navigate career transitions with confidence and how companies can adapt to the changing demands of talent management.

Tune into this thought-provoking episode to gain a clearer understanding of today’s job market and arm yourself with the knowledge to build a fulfilling career amidst uncertainty. Dear Workplace by InnovatorsBox is your go-to podcast for insights into workplace trends, career development, and the future of employment. Subscribe now and join Monica H. Kang as she explores these critical topics with guests who are at the forefront of shaping the modern workplace. Visit dearworkplace.com for more information and to become part of a community that’s redefining what it means to thrive at work.

All About Jobs, Careers, and Compensation - 1: The Change

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Episode Shownotes

Dear Workplace S3 E1 Show Notes: All About Jobs, Careers, and Compensation – 1: The Change

Episode Title: All About Jobs, Careers, and Compensation – 1: The Change

Host: Monica H. Kang, Founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox

Episode Summary: In this insightful episode, Monica H. Kang delves into the intricacies of the current job market, addressing the prevalent challenges and opportunities it presents. Joined by experts Dr. April Willis and Lola Han, the discussion illuminates various aspects such as layoffs, the importance of negotiation in compensation, and the impact of AI on job applications. Whether you’re an employer, employee, or job seeker, this episode offers valuable perspectives on navigating the job market effectively.


  1. Dr. April Willis – A communications and resume writing expert from Texas, Dr. Willis shares her observations on the job market trends, including the rise in layoffs and the potential for new opportunities in smaller organizations and startups. She emphasizes the significance of mental health and the growing trend of taking breaks for personal well-being.

  2. Lola Han – CEO and Founder of Kamsa, Lola discusses the critical aspects of compensation and equity pay. She provides actionable advice for candidates to negotiate better and highlights the importance of using accurate market data for compensation decisions. Lola also explores the global trends affecting compensation and the mistakes companies make in managing pay.

Key Takeaways:

  • Navigating Layoffs and Opportunities: Despite the current layoffs, there’s optimism for new opportunities as the market stabilizes. Dr. Willis suggests patience and vigilance for emerging roles in the coming months.

  • Resume Writing Tips: Dr. Willis advises focusing on recent and relevant job experiences and highlights the importance of customizing resumes for each application to bypass AI filters in the application process.

  • Compensation Negotiation: Lola Han urges candidates to negotiate their salaries without hesitation and inquire about the market data sources used by employers to ensure fair compensation.

  • Global Compensation Trends: With companies hiring globally, Lola stresses the importance of understanding local market data and legal requirements to make informed compensation decisions.

Resources Mentioned:

How to Stay in Touch

Closing Thoughts
: The job market is continuously evolving, and understanding the current trends and challenges is crucial for both employers and job seekers. This episode sheds light on the importance of effective communication, negotiation, and the strategic use of data in navigating the job market successfully.

Next Episode Teaser: Stay tuned for the next episode, where we’ll explore strategies for those without traditional backgrounds or connections to excel in their career paths. 


  • Audio Engineering and Production: Sam Lehmart, and Ravi Lad
  • Website and Marketing Support: Kree Pandey
  • Graphics Support: Leah Orsini, Christine Eribal
  • Original Music: InnovatorsBox Studios
  • Executive Producer, Writer, and Host: Monica H. Kang
Episode Length and Release Date:
Episode Length: 49min
Release Date: February 7, 2024
Thank you for listening to Dear Workplace. Your feedback and support are invaluable to us. Share your thoughts on this episode and what you’d like to hear in future episodes. See you next week!

Dear Workplace S3 E1

[00:00:00] Monica H. Kang: Is it just me or does it feel like there’s something off with the job market lately? Yes, there are many new jobs and amazing companies hiring new talent all the time, but it’s also been a bit stressful. I feel like we’re still seeing a lot of layoffs from major companies and also more time needed to find the right jobs.

More people going through hundreds if not thousands of interviews even and taking many months feeling stuck in the route So what do we do for the next few weeks? I want to get a chance to ask leaders and experts how to make sense of what’s going on in the job market What are the new changes? Trends and transitions we need to look out for, whether as an employer or employee or those out there looking for a new job.

Is this the right time to apply for new jobs? Or is this time to [00:01:00] also brush up our resume? And if so, how? You’re listening to Dear Workplace by InnovatorsBox, and I’m your host, Monica Kang, founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox. To start our conversations, I want to invite two friends today, Lola and Dr. April.

They’re going to get a chance to share what’s going on in the job market and how to make sense of the compensation world and what to do. In other words, how to position yourself better. Our first guest is Dr. April Willis from Texas. Dr. April is passionate about helping people communicate their best potential.

Whether it’s an individual needing a resume and cover letter makeup to startups, non profit, and small businesses who need help with strategic facilitation, board training, grant writing, or content creation, she and her team of seven help their many clients rethink [00:02:00] how you can better position your best potentials with writing and communication.

Given that she has been working with so many individuals and companies on how to communicate better and position themselves in this changing job market, she is definitely the right person to shed deeper light on how to make sense of the changing job market in 

the United States. So, let’s meet dr. April.

So, I am very excited to have Dr. April here. Welcome to the show. Very excited to have you here. First, let’s dive right in. We have so many things going on about the job market and so many career shifts. How are you feeling about the job market right now in the United States overall? 

[00:02:45] Dr. April Willis: Sure. And thanks for having me, Monica.

I am excited to talk to you a lot about what we’re experiencing in the workforce across the country right now. And so jumping right in the trends that we’re seeing is that right now, unfortunately, [00:03:00] 2024 is starting off a little shakier than we had hoped. It looks like that mass layoffs continue to hit the corporate world.

And unfortunately, we. A lot of people that you might know might be being experiencing some of the layoffs and what that means for them, the implications of those layoffs, but we also know that opportunity always comes after all of these layoffs and things start to shake out. There will be more opportunities.

There will be smaller. Nonprofit organizations, startup organizations and those small to medium businesses that will have their arms wide open for people who are ready to make the shift out of the corporate world. We also know that it doesn’t mean the corporate world is sinking. It just means those ebbs and flows occur pretty naturally over time.

Right now we are experiencing one of the low sides of things because of the layoffs, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way for the long term. I’d say give it another month or two and you’ll probably start to see more of those corporate positions start to open back up again. 

[00:03:53] Monica H. Kang: Thank you so much for sharing that.

And I appreciate both of your balance of like, hey, let’s let’s address what’s the [00:04:00] problem, but also like, be mindful of what’s coming ahead. And so help us see that picture with patience. I think you can share that because also, you’ve really been studying this job market trend over on the past many, many years, the low curve Why is this happening now?

Is this still because of the post pandemic impact that we’re experiencing? Is it because of like aftermath shock, the fear that we’re going through the inflation? Like, why is it happening now? And why still so long? 

[00:04:29] Dr. April Willis: Absolutely. So one, we should know that everything we’re experiencing right now Is not atypical or unusual With the history of time we see these ebbs and flows and yes, we can attribute some of it to still post pandemic We have a large part of the workforce now that has tasted the sweet fruit of work from home And they want to cling to that and so it is Causing employers to be mindful of what are the benefits that we are providing for our future employees?

How are we retaining the employees that we currently [00:05:00] have and what is our recruitment method for bringing new people on board? However, bringing new people on board and even retaining right now is absolutely a problem for our corporate world because of inflation Because we have such a shaky economy right now.

And then, of course, we also love to look at quarters. So when we talk about Q4, most people wrapped up a quarter at the end of December. Most companies are wrapping those quarters up. We see, especially on the resume writing side, at the end of a month, that is at the end of a quarter, the requests for resumes skyrocket.

And it is because a lot of people have news that either they’ve been laid off or they’re about to be laid off, or there are shakeups happening within their organization. And so that’s where we also experience the ebbs and flows based on those patterns and trends that are happening in the workforce overall.

But to answer your question, yes, there’s still some post COVID happening. There’s still some shaky economy happening. Mental health is absolutely worth [00:06:00] talking about right now. People are taking more time off now than they’ve ever taken before by their own accord. They’re not being laid off. They’re not being fired.

They’re saying, I need to take a gap year or I need to take some mental health time. I need a sabbatical from whatever it is that I’m doing. We’re seeing more of that now than I think historically I’ve ever seen before. So also worth mentioning at this time. 

[00:06:23] Monica H. Kang: I want to piggyback on that observation because it is indeed a question that I’ve noticed as well.

I think both from all different hierarchies from those who have few years of experience to decades and decades of experience saying that I’m burned out or I just need a break. Why are we seeing more of that now? Is it simply because of the burnout or is there other reasons why?

[00:06:43] Dr. April Willis: I think there are probably several factors that are contributing to this.

One, if we look at the generation, like the baby boomer generation and the generation before them, they historically would stay at the same company their entire career. It would not be unusual to [00:07:00] hear somebody spent 30 years working at the factory. However, our generation and forward, we do not. adopt that same lifestyle approach to work.

Instead, it is how quickly can we move up the ladder? How much impact am I having in my current role? And if it’s not enough, I’m leaving and finding it elsewhere. How does this fit into my lifestyle? How are you giving me benefits that are worth me sticking around? We have a lot more boxes to check than previous generations, but we also put more pressure on ourselves than I think previous generations did.

To have an impact, to feel valued, to know that what you’re doing matters. That’s highly important to our generation. And because of that, there’s a lot of churn. There’s a lot of job hopping, or I’m going to stay at each place for one to three years. I’m going to keep moving. A lot of people won’t consider two or three years job hopping.

But if you’re looking at the span of 12 to 15 years, you’ve been at a lot of places. Every time you start over that onboarding process, making new friends, feeling like you fit in, feeling like you’re not [00:08:00] at the bottom of the totem pole that is going to take a toll on you over time. And so I think that’s another reason why.

And then, of course, people are talking about it more now than ever. So it’s not to say Generations before us didn’t feel this way. It just was taboo for them to say it. We now have the authority to speak on our own mental health and take a stand for it and do what we need to do to get ourselves in a moment where we feel like we can be successful both at home and at work.

And so I think all of those reasons probably are contributing to why we’re seeing more of that now than ever before.

[00:08:34] Monica H. Kang: Wow, that’s so insightful. And I think piggybacks to, of course, relying on your expertise to learn more about resume tips. I know, of course, they should go for you for the service to make sure they get the nitty gritty, but would love if you don’t mind sharing some general wisdom for those out there who still, because of everything you shared, struggling and needing that extra help of like, geez, like, how do I Tell my story better like I have yes quote quote hopped around or worked in all these [00:09:00] different places But I had a reason April Monica I had a reason why I had to whether it was a bad job Bad fits bad boss or just like I had a better opportunity better pay how can I better tell the narrative because sometimes it could look down upon or like Confusing how to make sense of it.

Also trying to keep that in one page as you continue to build your stories 

[00:09:20] Dr. April Willis: Of course, of course, so we do support people with resume writing at a name your price approach It is my way to offer equitable services to everybody despite what their economic position is So don’t feel like there’s a price point standing between you and looking like a work of art on paper Some of the tips that I see people needing to hear repeatedly one your resume does not need to be Let me of every single job you’ve ever had in your life.

It should only be your highlights real, the most recent and the most relevant for your career trajectory. So if you were a server 15 years ago at a restaurant, but now you’re trying to be the director of communications. It’s not [00:10:00] relevant. Don’t put it on there. So don’t feel like there’s an obligation to do that.

I think sometimes people feel like they’re being dishonest if they leave things off and that’s not the case. Now, when you fill out a formal application that says list every job you’ve ever held in the past 15 years, then you have to put it on there because it is a legal document. Your resume. Is just your highlight reel.

So don’t lie on your resume. Don’t say you did things that you didn’t do But don’t feel like you need to go into the same level of detail Another thing that I would see on there people who do have those gaps Especially if it was to raise a family deal with illness tend to an aging parent Please don’t put any of those things on your resume.

Those can be Reasons why they won’t interview you because you look like an hr risk And so while you very well might be they don’t need to know that just yet You want your resume to be able to get your foot in the door and then you can have conversations And win them over with your personality and who you are and your character, [00:11:00] but on paper It’s going to be really hard to decide Distinguish who’s worth bringing in for an interview.

So don’t discount yourself right off the bat by telling them you have all of these things that might prohibit you from doing your work or things that might cause their insurance premiums to increase because of your medical history. So leave that off your resume. Do you keep it to one page? There are a couple of exceptions though.

If you are a C level executive in the corporate world and you have 25 years of experience, It’s okay to go beyond that 10 to 15 years. If you know that every person in that role has proven themselves to have 20 plus years. The other piece is if you are applying in academia or if you are applying in research, you can submit what’s called a CV and that is different than a resume.

Your curricula vitae typically is. Or pages or more, and it is because it’s highly focused on your academic work, almost more so than your professional work. They want to know about the classes you took, your independent studies, all of these things [00:12:00] that you’ve done that really would set you apart. And then finally, you can have more than a one page resume.

If you have such a robust professional. Experience to share with people like community involvement awards and achievements. You sit on several boards. You have extensive education, multiple certifications and licenses, public speaking publications. If you have all of those things that would also merit a two page resume.

But if it is strictly these are the places I’ve worked. Keep it to one page. 

[00:12:30] Monica H. Kang: Let’s connect that also to AI and machine learning because I think part of the fear that sometimes we feel is that on top of wanting to figure out how to tell that better story and thank you so much for all those tips, it’s so insightful and meaningful.

I think part of the fear is that, okay, well, what if I don’t make the first cut because now with more AI integration, it is kind of like trying to automate the system to catch those right keywords. So, the challenge of like, do I need to like learn and upscale myself in AI? And also how has AI changed?[00:13:00] 

That hiring process so much that now interview candidates have to be mindful and how they position themselves even more 

[00:13:07] Dr. April Willis: for sure. That is definitely a multi part question. So I’m going to break it apart by first saying there are two sections in a resume that should always be customized for each job you apply for at the very top.

I call it an executive profile and it is three simple bullets. Please don’t write half a page of your achievements. Instead, three bullets. And I like them to start with these sentence stems. Results oriented blank experienced in blank. That’s your first bullet. Your second bullet proven to blank and your third bullet dedicated to blank.

All of those blanks should be pulled directly from the job posting that you are applying for. You are looking for key words in those job postings and you’re dropping them into that executive profile. Every time you use those keywords, which you should know in your industry, when you’re looking at a job description, what keywords stand out to you, and there are things that are specific to [00:14:00] this job.

Put those key words in there. The second section on your resume is four competencies, it’s at the very bottom. So think of these as bookends. They start your resume and they end your resume. Your core competency should be six to nine terms. I put them in columns so that it Fills out that page at the bottom and it looks nice visually again, pull out six to nine terms from that job description specific to it that only makes sense for that job description and their A.

I. Is going to give you essentially points every time they find those words in there. Now, if you can organically incorporate some of those keywords into your previous positions, go for it. However, again, do not lie about your experience. I’m not advocating that whatsoever. But if you do have experience in that role and you see they’re using slightly different terms that you would have used, update those terms because that is how you’re going to get that match.

Now, as far as what AI looks like when you’re doing the job application process. First of all, we’ve been using ATS or applicant tracker [00:15:00] systems for over a decade. That is every time you log on and it asks you to upload a resume. Okay. Okay. That’s an applicant tracker system. Now there are so many out there and there is not one tip or trick that can solve for all of them, but a lot of the things I’m sharing with you now are things that are going to work for the majority of them.

Some of the ways we see AI helping, though, in the application process is you might now see how they automatically work. Will offer you a 5 to 10 minute interview, or they’re going to ask you for a recorded interview in which you upload a 5 to 10 minute introduction and it is scanning for keywords. They do, however, also filter you out without a human ever putting their eyes on you.

So I am on the recruiting side for all of my corporate clients as well. And my small business clients, I post jobs daily. I’m hiring dozens of people every month on behalf of my clients, and I can tell you. For example, uh, if you use LinkedIn, which is the number one, one I advocate for, I think that is the best [00:16:00] way to find a job is on LinkedIn.

But do know that as a job recruiter on LinkedIn, when I post a job, I have the opportunity to select up to 10 skills that I think a person in this job would need to be successful. And when you go through that quick application process on LinkedIn, it is gonna scan the skills on your resume against the skills I selected.

And if it sees you have 7 out of 10, it will send me a specific email saying, check out this person, they look like a great match. However, if you have 0 out of 10, they actually put you in a section called not a good fit. And I will only see it if I go to the drop down menu that says show me people who are not a good fit.

You will also be put there if you answer any of our questions. You know, when we have the option to ask. Just quick, easy questions like, do you have at least two years of experience in XYZ? If you say no, boom, you are automatically marked as not a good fit and I will not see you unless I specifically ask [00:17:00] to see people who aren’t a good fit.

And why would I do that when I’m getting hundreds of applicants and plenty of them are a good fit? So that is definitely an example of how AI is kind of shifting the landscape for job applicants. As far as should you learn AI or not? I’m always a proponent of learning as much as you can, as fast as you can.

And so I don’t know necessarily, you can get tips and tricks like this on how it’s helping you in the application process. But what I think might be more beneficial is how you can use it in the new job that you land. How is AI going to impact the work that you do? And how can you get in front of it so you’re not reacting to it, but you’re proactively implementing it?

[00:17:42] Monica H. Kang: I appreciate you address all my questions that I packaged in that one little clump and you’ve not missed any single beat. Thank you for that. One of the things I was also really excited to talk with you, of course, not only learning and your expertise, but, you know, as Could all be noticed in our conversation, the passion and de [00:18:00] and care you have in this whole process and how your heart is to helping other people as well.

I mean, I’m one of the people who received that help as well, and that’s actually how I meet April and was really grateful for her top thoughtful insights. And so, kind of dive a little bit there, like how did you first get passionate about this? Because I don’t think most people would say like, Hey, I wanna build a career in like helping people write resumes.

So tell me a little bit more. I know you do so much more, but this whole aspects of helping people. Big that career transition and help them navigate that. How do you first get into this? 

[00:18:32] Dr. April Willis: Of course. So I was working before I started my current position, my job, my company that I have now that I absolutely love, which I’ve owned this company now for a little over five years.

My last full time job before this company, I was director of business operations for a charter school district in Austin, and my role there was overseeing all of HR. So we are hiring a ton of teachers and back office [00:19:00] personnel and assistants. And even volunteers like we oversaw all HR all hiring and what I think I started to notice was how upset I would get for people who would submit things like they would call, they would come in, they would act all excited and they would submit their resume and I’m like, Oh, they have no idea the harm they’re doing to themselves.

Like the damage that is being done by the way people are portraying themselves on paper or I would have a position open. Almost all of the applications would come through with resumes that were just poorly written that I felt bad because I knew that I’m falling in the same category of other job recruiters who are not giving people a fair shot because they don’t know how to put themselves on paper correctly.

And so I was starting to have this internal conflict. These people are never going to get a shot at a job that they probably deserve. I don’t have time to filter through all of this. I need to desperately make a hire, [00:20:00] but there aren’t even enough quality documents coming in where I feel like I’ve got a good shot at making a decent hire.

So there’s just a lot going on, and I felt like, at that time, it would be a conflict of interest for me to reach out to any of these people and say, Hey, we’ve got to start over with your resume. You are not doing yourself any favors here. But at the same time, obviously, these people who are applying for these jobs, aren’t alone, because there are so many of them who are doing it incorrectly.

So I decided as a side hustle during that job in HR, I was like, I’m going to just start writing resumes on Thumbtack at a name your own price. And whoever reaches out reaches out and if they don’t believe me, or they don’t think what I’m saying is right, no harm, no foul. I’m not really losing any money.

And along the way, I’m able to help people. Well, that first year I probably wrote about 50 resumes for people. I was doing about one a week. It has completely snowballed. We do more than [00:21:00] one a day at this point in time and we spend no money on marketing whatsoever. It is all word of mouth referrals. So we help somebody.

They tell their friend, their siblings, their children, their parents, and they keep telling people and they keep telling people. So we have. grown as resume writers, and I don’t work in that job anymore, obviously, but that is just one component of what our company does. And it really started off just wanting to do good.

And that is also why we have never changed our model to even as busy as we are and as successful as we are at resume writing with all five star reviews on Google right now, we’ve got 130 something five star reviews, and it is. because we still have that firm belief that we should be helping people despite their economic position.

If you are qualified for a job, you should have the ability to apply for that job and be fairly considered. 

[00:21:54] Monica H. Kang: I so appreciate it. And thank you for continuing that mission and inspiring us all, not only with [00:22:00] practical tips, but also looking out for the passion that if there is a gap. Why don’t we problem solve and also help others along the way.

Two final questions before we wrap up and I’m so sad we’re already wrapping up because there’s so many good nuggets and and enjoying it. What should we look out for more in 2020 for you? Kind of hinted a little bit at the very beginning of our conversation, but as we continue to enter into end Q1, you know, beginning Q2 and all of that, anything that we should be on the lookout for any new surprises, any good surprises?

[00:22:29] Dr. April Willis: Oh, yeah, there’s all kinds. So first of all, I encourage you to read LinkedIn’s news. So when you log into your homepage on the right, there is a menu, it’s about in the news, you will find such good information there about the trajectory of the job market, what’s happening now, how this can impact you potentially.

But for 2024, what we’re seeing We are seeing mental health continue to take a priority and for both [00:23:00] employers and employees We are seeing more of the work from home. I know we’ve heard so much of the back and forth with the return to office versus the work from home and there are some people out there who are very firm.

And you know, when we think about major CEOs who are like, we will have people work in the office. We are now seeing a lot of them go back on that and say it’s impossible. I cannot get good people to work in the office as much as I want. So we’re going to continue to see those policies shift, likely in favor of work from home.

In the education sector, we are continuing to see a mass exodus of teachers. So it is unfortunate because that is our future that is suffering for the people who Are leaving today. Why they are leaving is not their fault. There is a lot to unpack there as well. But if you are interested in a job in education, the world is your oyster.

There are more than enough opportunities if you’re looking for a job in education. We’re also going to continue to see D. E. I. In [00:24:00] headlines and the reason why D. I. Is diversity, equity and inclusion. There was a major shift for it in which lots of corporations started to have a D. I. Focus. They were hiring people specifically for that.

Things were in motion. But since then lawsuits have come out saying that was just a lot of lip service. You guys checked off some compliance boxes There was no actual real return or shift in how you do work There was no impact and how this was supporting your people that you serve And so because of that, we’re now going to see you guys for not taking DEI seriously.

Well, then we’re also starting to see the courts retract on some of those DEI cases. They are starting to reverse some affirmative action cases. And then we’re also seeing just DEI in the news. I don’t want to go too far into that because we could talk forever on it. But keep an eye on that because it is impacting the workforce.

And then the final one that’s just kind of a fun one to note is I read this this morning. Teens are back to work. And so we had actually [00:25:00] noticed a severe decline in teenagers. in the workforce after COVID. So, really, during COVID and after COVID, teens never got jobs and they never sought them. And all of a sudden, now, we are starting to see that teens are starting to put themselves back out there.

And we do anticipate the rest of 2024 to see an increase in teenagers. Who are working again, which is great because it does support our economy and a lot of those businesses that are still recovering from COVID with reduced storefront hours or increased prices, all of those increased operational costs can sometimes.

help be mitigated when you have a workforce like teenagers who are willing to do a lot for little because it’s temporary and it’s a learning thing and this is them putting in their work, right? We’ve all been there and we all put in the work and so they do end up helping the economy and helping small businesses mostly.

So we’re excited for that trend as well. 

[00:25:56] Monica H. Kang: Thank you so much for sharing those nuggets of wisdom. I know [00:26:00] many are going to probably want to be listened to this to make sure they revisit many of your videos. Insightful points. Last question. What’s the best way people can stay in touch with you or follow up with you?

[00:26:10] Dr. April Willis: Oh, great. I would love for y’all to follow our social media. So we are on facebook instagram and linkedin primarily Dr. April willis is where you can find me or april willis consulting So all of those are available on our websites aprilwillisconsulting. com And that also has all of the icons to our social media right there.

[00:26:30] Monica H. Kang: Love it. Thank you so much. Dr. April willis We’re so so glad we had you on the show. Check out her resources and links. I will put it in the show notes, but excited to continue on our conversation and how we navigate the workplace. So, so thank you so much, April. We’ll see you soon. Bye. This is where my friend Lola Han, the compensation expert and CEO and founder of Kamsa comes in.

Lola is on a mission to make compensation payless for companies. [00:27:00] Why? She got into HR, in particular in compensation and HR benefits, to better understand how pay and benefits can motivate and empower people in the workforce. After building her career in compensation, and being the head of global total rewards at Zendesk in San Francisco, She realized how much leaders needed better compensation data and strategic support to decide how to support their best people.

So she decided to build her tech firm, Kamsa, meaning thank you in Korean. In seven years, Kamsa has helped hundreds of companies rethink data driven pay decisions for thousands of individuals. So I’m so glad we have Lola here to dive into compensation and equity pay. Let’s welcome Lola to the show.

So very excited to have my friend Lola here. Lola, welcome to the show. We have so much to talk about in [00:28:00] compensation. Uh, first I’m curious, what’s the one mistake everyone’s been making about compensation in general to dive right in? 

[00:28:08] Lola Han: Yeah, I would say, you know, from a candidate, or individual perspective, it’s always negotiate for more fine.

They might say no, but you can try. Right? So I saw recently someone give the advice of having the candidate asked the employer. Is there room for negotiation? And I would say, Don’t even ask that. Just go for it and ask for more, but have like a good rationale for it, right? Like what skill or value are you bringing to the company?

What experience? Like what is the reason why you’re asking for more? One more thing that I wanted to add for the candidate is ask the employer during the interview process, right? Ask them. What market data source do you use to make your offers, right? Because then you can gauge if they’re actually using good, [00:29:00] reliable market data or, you know, are they giving a fair offer?

So. I feel like no one really asked that, but that’s a good question to ask them for you. That is a good point. 

[00:29:10] Monica H. Kang: And speaking of, I know with your software, Kamsa, you have been providing one of those data to help many companies rethink about it. You know, to your point, why is that data pooling so important?

Because I feel like as a non compensation expert, it feels like, yeah, everyone should be pulling data from the right place. Like I assume it’s hard, but like, why is it hard if it’s hard? 

[00:29:34] Lola Han: Yeah, so yes, so com says market data comes from our customers employees data. So it’s made up of actual employee.

Compensation data that we as a third party aggregate, anonymize and then report back out for these companies to access right now. What a lot of companies do instead of using that reliable market data that comes from actual employee data is they’ll go on publicly sourced [00:30:00] data like I don’t know, like glass store dot com, right?

That data is actually not as accurate because it comes from the public where they’re like, I’m a senior software engineer and I make 200, 000, right? But it’s not validated. So, no, you don’t actually make 200, 000. You make 150, 000 in base, 10, 000 in bonus, and the rest is equity value, right? So, as you can see, if the public is reporting it, it’s just not as accurate versus when you get actual employee data.

[00:30:32] Monica H. Kang: That’s a really good reminder. And so looking into what even compensation means, could you share a little bit more how we think about compensation? What’s inaccurate versus accurate? Because as you’re pointing out, it’s so much more than just your salary. 

[00:30:46] Lola Han: Yeah, exactly. You know, obviously the base salary, but there’s other compensation.

You know, components or elements, right? So you’ve got potentially bonus opportunity. Some companies don’t offer bonus. There’s jobs also that [00:31:00] naturally offer that variable incentive pay opportunity, that upside, like sales jobs, of course, they have that commission opportunity. Then there’s stock options or equity.

So some companies offer equity where it might be stock options or RSUs. And really, you know, also Factoring in other, I call like employee value proposition or EVP. So things like, what is your work life balance going to be like? Are they providing good growth opportunities? Like, do they have career paths established?

Do they have good benefits, of course, like health care? Or are they giving you a work from home stipend? So all that you can blend in to give like that, you know, overview of what compensation or total rewards package you’re going to get. 

[00:31:46] Monica H. Kang: I feel like there’s like so many things to keep track of whether you are seeing this as an employee or potential candidate or an employer who’s trying to attract top talent.

What are the general, uh, composition trends that’s been [00:32:00] going on and things perhaps that’s been changing since the pandemic because of the pandemic? 

[00:32:06] Lola Han: There’s certain things because of the pandemic, but mainly, you know, the pay transparency laws, for example, obviously that’s not related to the pandemic, but because more and more U. S. states especially are rolling out these laws and regulations on, you need to post your salary ranges on your job, every job posting, right? So for example, Colorado was one of the first states to start that and now more and more states are requiring. That employers post the salary ranges within the job postings.

Now, some, honestly, companies, yes, they’re posting it, but then they put this like wide range and you’re like, okay, come on now, like you can make between 50k and 500, 000. And that’s the wrong way to approach it. They should be more realistic and narrow as companies are getting better and better at this [00:33:00] and more and more companies are posting it, then it of course provides valuable information for candidates.

To kind of make sure they’re being paid fairly against market compared to other similar jobs at other similar companies 

[00:33:14] Monica H. Kang: That’s so important. What about also global trends and things that we should be on the lookout for, especially this year and beyond? 

[00:33:21] Lola Han: Yeah, so one of the trends is, of course, because companies are hiring more remotely and not just like, for example, U. S. based companies hiring more across nationally the U. S., but also, for example, U. S. based companies hiring globally now. The trend is that companies need to be more aware of. the global aspects of pay. So what is the local market data for India? If you’re hiring there versus UK and what are, you know, there’s some complicated laws in France for, you know, employers.

So factoring that all in one of the actually kind of [00:34:00] mistakes I see companies doing is they’re used to, let’s say they’re a U S based company. And now they’re hiring outside the company, they’re potentially wasting a lot of money, honestly, on paying U. S. rates in other countries that have lower costs of labor and living.

Or the flip side, they’re not aware of what’s fair and competitive in Colombia, so they’re giving them low pay, not intentionally, just because they’re not aware of what the local market data is in Colombia, the country. 

[00:34:31] Monica H. Kang: Yeah, and I can imagine like how complicated it is. I mean, given just like a little bit of what I know with Korea and U.

S., like it’s just harder and impossible to fire people in Korea. And so it becomes a complication, whether it’s a company in Korea or global companies in Korea, even as big as Google and other firms. If they have a branch, they can’t do the type of layoffs that they have done in the States or other areas.

And so I assume that’s, that’s kind of like [00:35:00] complicated like so what would HR leaders have to do like to make those right decisions? 

[00:35:06] Lola Han: Yeah, I mean obviously they would need to get educated whether it’s you know, maybe they have already a relationship with a law firm and they can ask them about what are some required pay.

Components in India. For example, there’s, you know, required like pension there. Um, you know, and so every country has their own laws. It gets really complicated. I’m not going to lie. And, and so a lot of companies, they need to potentially be more intentional about where they go first. Like maybe they start with hiring across these certain countries in Europe first, right?

Sequencing. Yeah, exactly. I’m all about a phased approach. I think a lot of companies, they just go too fast without thoughtfully thinking through a lot of things, no matter what type of program it is. And definitely even compensation where they’re, I’ve, I’ve seen companies definitely make this mistake where, Oh yes, let’s be paid [00:36:00] transparent.

And then they go and post all the ranges. Um, for everyone to see in the company and that I don’t suggest actually, it’s like, well, first, did you job level across the org? Did you select a thoughtfully your philosophy so that if you get questions from the employees or leaders, are you prepared to answer those questions on how you establish the rangers where, what market data you use to establish it?

[00:36:24] Monica H. Kang: It’s tricky because I’m hearing that, you know, even with good intentions, such as like that transparency, you could have a backlash if you’re not thoughtfully preparing why you wanted to do it. And if you’re just being reactive, it’s not good. And speaking of which, I know this whole industry inside and the expertise you built was also because of your personal journey and where you saw the gap.

Could you share a little bit more why you wanted to become a compensation expert in the first place and what journey took you to be where you are? 

[00:36:52] Lola Han: Yeah, so I actually was a IO psychology major or industrial organizational psychology major. And the reason [00:37:00] I picked that major was actually I was in retail when I was in my teenage years and I noticed a lot of turnover.

I was like, I had these great colleagues I work with and they would just leave for another store or company. Right. And I was like, well, why is that? And I picked the trend of because they, most of the time they wanted higher pay. So that got me intrigued of like, how can we, you know, as a company or as a manager pay these people competitively up front so they don’t leave and then you don’t have the, the churn of like you need to cost the company money to like ramp a new employee up.

And know that sometimes you even end up paying more than the prior employee. So initially it started that way. And then I was in roles like head of compensation at companies like Zendesk, where I was managing thousands of employees compensation by myself. And it was so painful to do it. Believe it or not, like even large companies will do it all in spreadsheets.

So they’re like, put all this data and establish ranges and spreadsheets. It [00:38:00] gets so painful. I can’t believe it. Yeah. It’s crazy. And it’s not that companies don’t want to pay fairly. They just didn’t. And they don’t have a effective tool, right? So I looked into the market, no solution or software that really helped reduce that pain for companies.

And so I designed and developed Kamsa and launched that about seven years ago. And it just essentially went viral on itself with no marketing, with no sales. We. One at a time, we helped the company. They loved it so much. It resolves so much pain for them and they would refer us to others. And that’s how it just took off.

[00:38:35] Monica H. Kang: Well, it makes such a difference. I mean, I can understand both from an employer and employee. So many people are benefiting from this movement. It was really inspiring, of course. So get to humble brag. I’ve seen the journey from very early on. So really, really, um, excited. And I think the other thing that I really appreciate is like how you’ve been doing more of these community resource sharing.

Um, tell me a little bit more how you [00:39:00] get some of these ideas. For instance, like I love, for instance, the one that you created, like three year plan for pay transparency goals, which relates to what you just shared about how it’s so key to think about like. phases and not try to do it all or like the timeline of initiating compensation strategy tools like Those are also like such helpful like tools and tips and folks who’s listening We’ll make sure you see the show notes as always.

That’s where you can get all the Insights and of course you want to follow Kamsa for more trends But where do you first get these ideas and like how do you decide which tool to create to help the community? 

[00:39:32] Lola Han: Yeah, so i’m very much an empath And I have a lot of HR leaders in my community, you know, as friends, as customers, and I’m always listening to them.

Like, what is ruining your day? Or like, what’s keeping you up at night? What is causing you so much, like, anxiety or frustration? And I listen to it, and then I kind of gather it in my head, and then give advice that I feel. [00:40:00] feel, you know, resolves that or helps them out with those headaches, right? So in addition to that, I always believe in simple is best.

So it’s like, how can I help them in a way that’s not overwhelming to them where I can help even take it off their plate? So one example is, um, we had a client that came on board and was like, Oh my God, like employees in all hands meeting, keep asking about compensation and like leaders are giving me a hard time because they feel like the ranges aren’t competitive.

And can you help me? So once we came on board, literally within weeks. Because of all the help we did on, you know, job leveling across the board, career paths, establish your comp philosophy, build out ranges. She was like, Oh my God, you know that feeling you have when you feel ill and you think you’re going to die and then you go on Google and you like research all this stuff and you’re like, Oh my God, I have this disease.

She’s like, you know, I feel like I went to the doctor and it all went away and that’s how I feel. And I was like, that’s exactly what I [00:41:00] wish I had when I was in those roles as head of compensation. I’m like. Banging my head against the wall. I’m like, this is this can’t be this difficult, but it was, you know, so 

[00:41:11] Monica H. Kang: No, that’s so embellished and I appreciate that thoughtful question and yours like what’s what’s in listening listening to see what’s going on What’s really the pain point?

and I feel like not only your product but like your insight and expertise means so much because you’ve been On the other side, you know what it’s like to be managing these large amount of compensation roles and questions and managing those employers and employees and talent retention and all of that.

Taking a step back, I guess a few rapid fire questions. One, you’ve also lived in different cities. I know you love to travel as well. Like, are there new, like, city trends of like where more jobs are popping up or like what type of jobs are coming up that you think you’re excited about that you could share?

[00:41:54] Lola Han: Yeah, honestly, not in any specific location area. It’s not like people in [00:42:00] this area are hiring more etc. But what I do notice is the types of jobs that are more popular or trending. Is especially in the last, I would say, two years because companies are focusing more on revenue generation, profitability, productivity, efficiency.

Yeah, I see jobs like, of course, AI, obviously for making things more efficient, productive, but also like revenue generating focus jobs like SEO or growth marketing. Those are a lot more popular nowadays. 

[00:42:34] Monica H. Kang: That’s good to know. And I think, uh, we’d be remiss to address the increasing and continuing layoff trends that’s going on.

I think we’re seeing the different trends of the great resignation that we saw where people felt like they’ll leave jobs and start a new one. I think we’re being a little hopeful in 2024, but what are your kind of temperature check on that? Should we still be worried about more layoffs? If people wanted to change jobs, should they try to hold on to it a little bit more?

What’s kind of your thoughts [00:43:00] overall? 

[00:43:01] Lola Han: Yeah, I think mainly so probably last year, it was like all kinds of tech companies, whether your startup or more established, you know, larger tech companies. It was like a mixture of both, but honestly, probably more the tech startups. And now I feel like it’s more of the larger companies, right?

So the Googles, Amazons, et cetera, like Salesforce. So that trend that I’m seeing is interesting. A lot of them are, though, it’s Not only doing their first layoff, it’s like their second round or third round, right? So, I’m a very positive person. I think by the end of the year, it’ll like taper down, of course, but mainly, I think it’ll be the larger companies.

[00:43:41] Monica H. Kang: So, what’s the advice you would share with our innovators, whether they are looking for a career change or promotion, or just wanting to better understand about compensation? 

[00:43:51] Lola Han: Yeah, I mean, obviously, I don’t support someone being in a place where they’re, like, miserable. But I do see a lot of [00:44:00] people making the assumption that the grass is greener on the other side, and they go after that shiny new object or company because of whatever reason, right?

Yeah, it might be more pay, or it might be the name. But then they are miserable once they And make that transition and most of the time, let’s say it’s because of money. It’s like, well, okay. Yes Maybe you’re getting more pay, but now your work balance sucks. Like you’re working a lot more hours, right? Or maybe it’s not related to comm And I don’t know, let’s say it’s because it’s a well, better known brand or company in the market.

Then you realize, you know what, I really miss the team that I work with at the other company. Right. So the advice I would give is like, take a holistic look, not just about, it’s not just about compensation, but also like, do you enjoy your team members? Do you have a good boss? That’s very supportive. Look at it holistically and then make the decision [00:45:00] versus.

[00:45:03] Monica H. Kang: How do you also manage your time in the midst of all of this? 

[00:45:08] Lola Han: I’m still working on that. I would say I’m always working on a better work life balance if that is even a thing, but I would say the techniques that have come really in handy, and I know it sounds simple, but it’s really Thank you. blocking out time on your calendar so that you don’t get overwhelmed with meetings, for example, or really being intentional and planning out some, you know, self care, uh, activities.

So what I’ve been doing lately is, you know, I, I went to get a massage, right? Or I spent some time at a spa, right? And even if it’s honestly during the work week where, you know, it’s a quiet or no meeting time, block it out and go just be intentional and make the time for Self care, whatever that might be like, you know, obviously some people might not like the spa like 

[00:45:59] Monica H. Kang: [00:46:00] Take a walk.

Take a nap all the options get a snack Well, Lola, thank you. So so much really appreciate it I think we have been empowered inspired so much more now better educated about compensation folks Would definitely want to make sure we revisit some of these What’s the best way they can stay in touch and follow up with you if they have any other questions?

[00:46:21] Lola Han: Yeah, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn. I’m all about LinkedIn lately versus like X or formerly Twitter. So yeah, connect with me and view my posts, help support and like them. Perfect. 

[00:46:33] Monica H. Kang: Perfect. We’ll make sure if you can’t find out, we’ll put it in the show notes, but find Lola Han at ComSci and we will continue on our studies about how we can navigate the job and workplace.

So thank you so much Lola. I appreciate it. 

[00:46:47] Lola Han: Thank you, Monica. 

[00:46:50] Monica H. Kang: So as both Lola and Dr. April have pointed out, it’s not necessarily that clear cut in some of these questions. But by being more aware, and [00:47:00] thoughtful, and perhaps being proactive, you might be able to get some insight. As we continue the search of how to find a better job and better position ourselves, some of us might be wondering, well, I don’t come from traditional backgrounds or have the traditional connections.

What can I do? Lucky enough, our next guest Next are the very people who have some insights into this very question. So come back next week and you’ll get a chance to hear from our friends at One Salty. See you next week.

Hey, thanks so much for tuning in to another episode at Dear Workplace by Innovators Fox and your host, Monica King, me. I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation. Today’s episode is possible thanks to a wonderful team who has dedicated their time and making sure you hear the quality research that you heard today.

Want a shout out to audio engineering and production lead by Sam Wayburn, audio engineering assistant by [00:48:00] Ravi Ladd, website and marketing support by Kree Pandey, graphic support by Leah Orsini, Christine Eribal, original music by Innovators Box Studios, I’ll see An executive producing, directing, writing, researching, hosted by me, Monica King, founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox.

Thank you so much. Your love and support and sharing means the world to us. Please send us any questions and thoughts you have and what you want to learn more or next and we’ll dive right into it. Thank you and have a wonderful day. See you soon.

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