Anatomy of a Real Life Negotiation (part 2)

Business cartoon about salary negotiation between two enemies, a dog and a cat.Catching You Up

If you missed last week’s blog post then you did not get the chance to meet Allison Behringer, her podcast called The Intern, the pay raise negotiation she had with her boss, James, and my first four recommendations to get a more equitable raise.  This week I share my final four (could the NCAA come after me for using that term?) recommendations for Allison and you, the readers.

Living Wage, Living Large, and It’s All Relative

At one point in the negotiation, James states he remembers Allison said she was “living large” with her current pay. Gleaned from the podcast, Allison came from working at a non-profit for $14,000. She has more than tripled her income in this one move. I worked for $14,200 in my second year of full-time work in 1986. I can only imagine the relief of actually earning money that sounds like 21st century income instead of money Alex P. Keating would have made fun of.

Allison also seems to be responsible for her own financial security and no one else’s financial security. No spouse, ill parent, children, or other dependents. Had she three children, she probably would not have ever said “living large.” More importantly, should the pay for a job change based on the personal situation of the individual? Does this mean that all childless individuals should always earn less than parents? Should single people earn less than married people?  Such logic has nothing to do with the value of the job.

My Advice to Allison: Agree that you made that statement which she did. Then state, “that may be true compared to my work at a non-profit but that has absolutely nothing to do with the value of the job. I’m here looking for the appropriate title and pay for the job that I am doing, podcast producer and talent. An off the cuff comment does not negate that I am not earning the market value of the job.”

Friends and Human Resource Should Not be Go-To People

For the most part, Allison is talking with the wrong people. She chats with Maya, her go-to person at work. Maya is in Human Resources (HR) and Allison’s thinks, “so if anyone knows about negotiation and what’s a reasonable salary ask at this company, it’s her.” What Allison is forgetting is that Maya ‘s job is to help the company get the best talent for the least pay. It’s her fiduciary responsibility.   According to one survey 1 in 5 HR managers are even aware of a gender pay gap at their company.   Human Resources is the last place any of us should go to for help in our negotiation because they will be either directly involved in the negotiation or supporting the negotiation in the background. Allison just gave James all the information he needs on what she plans to do in her negotiation by talking with Maya. Maya also did not give any advice that I would call very helpful. Allison even states in the podcast some of the advice seems odd.

Allison also talks with her roommate, Avery. Avery urges Allison forward by stating, “I would be surprised if they don’t increase your salary.” That is great for a cheerleader, which is the role a roommate should play.

My Advice to Allison: More important than a cheerleader, Allison needs someone who is on her side only (not HR) and understands negotiating (not her roommate).

More useful than planning all the reasons of why Allison will get the raise is to list all the arguments James will give her as to why she will not get the raise and create a response to each.  Allison, I so wish you got one of my video courses or worked with me directly to prepare for the negotiation.

What’s Your Impact

Allison mentions the 70,000 downloads and sponsorship she has landed for the podcast. The thing that is skimmed over is the business the podcast has generated for the company. James agrees that the podcast is bringing in business. That is the number I really want to know about. That is the number that opens budgets and gets really good pay raises.

My Advice to Allison: Ask for a report from sales or marketing that shows the number of leads and the closed deals The Intern podcast has generated. In a perfect world the report will show you hard numbers such as 100 leads that generated 5 closed deals worth $100,000. Find out the close percentage and the average value of a deal from a sales representative if you cannot get all the data so you can estimate those numbers if you need.

What’s Your Worth

I saved the best for last. Know your worth and value are common comments when talking about women and pay negotiations. I find it a troublesome expression. If you have gotten this far through this blog post, you will notice the focus is on the value of the job, not the value of the individual. I think this is a critical switch in perspective. It takes the personal away from things. This is important for when an employer tries to make you believe you are less than capable and therefore not worthy of earning the average pay of a job. Focusing on the value of the job instead of yourself will embolden you to think, “Heck, if I really am not even average then I would be fired. I’m not fired so I should earn at least the average value of the job.”

My Advice to Allison: Think about job market not the Allison market. Just like a house, a job has an ever-changing market. Each year check out the going rate of the job you do and see if you are being paid appropriately. In the future use online sites like,, and instead of talking to a few people. That is not enough information to know what the market is. Other ways to research the market include headhunters and professional associations.

My Advice to Everyone: Listen to Allison’s amazing podcast. It gives you a chance to hear an actual pay raise negotiation. It’s not nearly as bad as everyone envisions. Allison got a raise just like 75% of people who negotiate for a pay raise. If Allison and you take some of the advice from this blog post, the raise will be more inline with the market value of the job.   Thanks Allison for this great opportunity to learn from your experience.