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.

When Good Luck is Bad for Your Career

EPSON scanner imageIn the first grade, I wore cat eyeglasses and an eye patch, had chipped buckteeth and a pixie haircut with cowlicks. And in the first grade, I wanted to model when I grew up. Buckteeth and an eye patch, and I was certain Vogue Covers were in my future! Sorry, I have no pictures of me with the eye patch; my mother would not allow it. Yet, had a Vogue Cover ever happen, I’m pretty sure luck would have been the reason, not my six-year-old self’s confidence. Or should I say delusions?

Women often attribute their success to luck and so do others. Sure luck plays into all of our lives. As Oprah says, “I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been ‘lucky.'” She’s not the first to have this opinion. The philosopher Seneca is attributed with originating it. Yet somehow, many women forget that preparation part of luck.

Perhaps one of the reasons some people credit luck instead of their ability and preparation is because they know about their missteps along the way. The stories are pretty common: the entrepreneur who opened three businesses before the fourth one succeeds; the start-up that triumphs with its third product, not it’s first; and Oscar winners who went to hundreds of auditions before getting the first small bit part. In a recent study on corporate innovation the “only thing that correlated definitively with consistently successful innovation was the amount of times a company tried.” That’s a nice way of saying the successful innovative companies fail multiple times for each achievement.

“Won’t employers expect the same if I put specific results on my resume? I don’t know if I will be that lucky again.” I paused for a moment the first time I heard a client say such a thing. By now, I’m used to it. I hear versions of this all the time.   The problem is that employers hire known entities. You can establish yourself as known by giving specific examples of results. Sure, future employers will expect you to accomplish similar results for them. They really don’t care if you luck into them; white knuckle your way to them; or calmly and steadily progress to them. Employers want results and candidates need to sell they can bring results. So if luck is keeping you from owning your achievements then luck is also keeping you from progressing in your career.   Try letting education, training, ability, experience, talent, and determination join luck as reasons you triumphed. That mindset will help you succeed even more.

Get Higher Pay by Focusing on the Meal not the Ingredients

f96db88c-35c4-4faf-8db9-09bd0f390154Showing financial impact is the best way to get a raise from your current employer and a high first offer and ultimately an even higher final offer from your next employer. If you are like many working women, you probably don’t think you have much financial impact making it hard to get higher pay.   My advice to you – Think Recommendations and Decisions, Not Reports.

I can’t remember the last client who did not have a least one line on her resume about the amazing reports she created. They were sexy. They had pivoting charts. They were 3-dimensional. People wept when they read them. Unless you are an administrative assistant, report specialist, or report designer the inclusion of them on the resume lessens the value of your work. Oh, I know, reports take time. It takes time to pull all the data together. It takes time to organize them in a meaningful manner. It takes time to design them so the important information stands out. What would a business meeting be with a report or PowerPoint presentation to mull over? How dare I say reports are not important!

The thing is that it is not the creation of the report that is meaningful. It is either the recommendation you make to the people who see the report or the decision you make based on the information in your report that is important. For example here’s a line from one client’s resume:

“Created tracking & reporting tools to measure progress, improve budget accuracy and aid forecasting.”

I asked her about the decisions based on these reports.   For one project this report saved 3 months work. Three months of payroll. Three additional months of being able to sell the finished product. Her ability to make decisions that save three months are what people want to hire. The ability to save $X and generate an added $Y is what employers pay good money for. The new bullet point on her resume now looks more like this:

“Created a net increase of $W by eliminating 3 months in project time by consistently reviewing progress, budget, and forecasting metrics in my own proprietary reporting tool.”

A similar example is:

“Conducted cost benefit analysis, modeled long-term costs, presented data for Executive review.”

When we were done discussing it became:

“Proposed $X in savings to the Executive team based on cost benefit analysis and modeled long-term costs.”

Good recommendations and decisions are made based on information. The collection of the information is not the end result. It would be like a great chef listing that she can shop for good ingredients. That she can tell when a tomato is ripe. A good chef boasts about her signature dishes, her Baked TroutZagat’s ratings, and her Michelin star ratings.   It’s not the collection of ingredients that is important. It is what she does with them – the finished dishes – that are important. In business the finished dishes are your decisions and your recommendations. So stop flaunting that you know how to grocery shop and start getting your future employers hungry to hire you for top dollar by telling what you make – amazingly good and profitable decisions.

Answering What You Want is Not So Simple

iStock_000006026345SmallI typically spend time role-playing with clients. I know, doesn’t it sound horrific? No one wants to be put on the spot. No one wants to show that she truly did not understand some part of the negotiation training. No one wants to show how nervous she is about negotiating her pay. These are exactly the reasons we role-play.

I find one stumbling point very interesting. I ask the question, “What do you want?” while playing the manager. The reply often is a laundry list of WHY the woman should get more pay, better perks, or that promotion with no reference to the WHAT she wants.   I then ask the question again. “Tell me what would make you happy?” Again no direct answer is given.   I come out of manager character and ask the client to listen and answer just the question being asked. Back into manager character I ask, “If I could give you everything you want, what would it be?” This is after determining goal pay, a counter-offer, and the benefits that matter to the clients. Still no direct answer.

My clients are not alone getting tongue-tied. Many of us struggle to be direct and speak our mind. To successfully negotiate anything you need to KNOW what you want before you can get it. Then you need to be able to STATE what you want. I think the issue lies more in the knowing than the ability to state it based on my non-scientific research of clients, students, and workshop attendees.   So much pressure is put on the answer that you may freeze.

What if you can’t achieve what you want? Then you try again.

What if no one will give you what you want? Then figure out a way to get it yourself.

What if you are not deserving of what you want? Of course you are deserving. You are YOU after all!

What if what you want is crazy? Great, because it’s the crazy stuff that is really worth going after.

What if what you want changes? Of course it will. I still don’t want to kiss Danny Bonaduce of Patridge Family fame.

Sure, in my personal life I want love and companionship and world peace yet what I really want is to eat chocolate every day and not gain a pound nor worry about my cholesterol. In the business world I want a job that I’m good at and enjoy while being paid appropriately. I want to be acknowledged for that work. I want to have a strong enough network that I know I can find a job should I suddenly be without a job. I want to understand the signs at work that I’m never “suddenly without a job.” I want my job to be an interesting part of me but not the definition of me.

Now tell me, what do you want?