Negotiating a Salary is So Very Risky

A personal note from Kate:  Thank you dear readers for continuing to visit my blog over the past two months.  I’ve been silent during this period due to my mother’s recent passing.  Although things are still hectic, I have found my voice again and am back to writing.  You should see regular postings and a few surprises going forward.

Now to my newest blog post:

I often hear the sentiment that negotiating is risky.  What if the job offer is taken away?  What if they fire me?   Such concerns can paralyze people from starting a negotiation.  Are they realistic concerns?

The job offer will be taken away

Resumes have been reviewed.  Initial phone or Skype interviews have occurred.  In person interviews with multiple employees for the top handful of candidates have followed.  Ability, corporate cultural fit, and many other criteria have been considered. References have been checked.  And guess what?  You have been made it to the top of the list.  You get the job offer. The company has spent time, energy, and money to decide that you are whom they want.

Consider the following questions:

  • How likely will they want to spend more money to move down the list to the next candidate?
  • How likely will they want to reopen the search?
  • What’s to say the next candidate would not negotiate a higher salary?

Understanding the other options do not eliminate potentially paying a higher salary or spending more corporate money gives management a financial reason to close the deal with the first choice if at all possible.  Putting aside the financial consideration, think of the personal consideration.  Managers are people too.  Like most of us, once a decision is made, managers would like to carry out the decision.  Changing can become arduous because there was an emotional bond established with the decision and the candidate.

The job will be taken away

Will asking for more money result in a firing?  Most likely not.   The negotiation may not result in a raise but a firing is highly unlikely.  The cost of employee turnover ranges from 150% – 250% of a salary.  Giving a raise would be the more financially sound decision for a company compared to the cost of  letting a person go.

Take away the fear of negotiating as an all or nothing endeavor and the risk truly becomes minimal.  The worst that should happen is you have the same job with the same salary that you had before you negotiated.  That doesn’t sound too scary – does it?

Copyright @ 2012 by Katie Donovan

The Gender Pay Gap as Myth

Arguing the Statistics“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain

What if the gender pay gap is just statistics being manipulated?

Differing Views

Career Experts Marty Nemko believes the gender pay gap is a myth, as does Penelope Trunk.  Newt Gingrich believes men will earn less than women in 15 years.   Some of the reasons given for this belief include:

  • Men work more hours
  • Men work more dangerous jobs
  • Women choose to leave the workforce to care for children
  • The data based on a comparison of median incomes and not a true apples to apples comparison.

I could argue each point but I’m not sure that would accomplish much. People who believe there is no gender pay gap would continue to believe in their position just as people who believe there is a gender pay gap would continue to agree.  Rather, I would like to ponder why are individuals so vested to stop others from fixing something that may or may not need fixing?

Lively Comments

The blogosphere is filled with people in an uproar about the Gender Pay Gap as feminist propaganda.  Read the comments of news items and blog posts and you truly see the investment people have in the topic.

Feminists use statistics to spread lies about the wage gap, instead of researching why women earn less. If men outnumber women in ANY profession — especially white collar professions — feminists generally assume that the discrepancy is related to discrimination. If men were just as irrational, we would be protesting the fact that most teachers, day care employees and secretaries are female. Fortunately, most men understand why those are female dominated and why men generally stray from those professions.”

Women need to rely on the government to provide them a middle class lifestyle that they can’t provide for themselves. Their mickey mouse majors in college have no value to the outside world. Of course you don’t need a man, you have the government!”

“Please stop using weekly wages as a gauge, it is totally useless and for the umpteenth time with more women graduating from colleges than males this chart will be phased out of the BLS data files, much as the participation rate has now been merged into one chart.”

“”women are prospering in the new economy and partly because men have been hit hard by the recession.”-It might be time for males to form a National Organization for Men (NOM) to ensure that all the gains we have made over the years are not taken away. An organization to put men’s needs at the forefront, to encourage legislation that assist with our cause, to drive up salaries in industries which males typically gravitate to, and to influence business to cater to our whims. An organization similar to (NOW)-National Organization for Women.”

Success for One Should Not Mean Failure for Other

Whether caused by discrimination or not, I believe discrepancies in income when doing the same job with the same work experience, accomplishments, and education can be eliminated.  My focus is not on the thoughts behind such actions because I do not believe people actively think they are biased even when we act biased.  Why should people take exception to me or anyone else who may be spinning our wheels trying to eliminate the gender pay gap?  Are you concerned that we are wasting our precious time? Or are you concerned that we may succeed?

Please don’t worry about me or anyone else trying to correct a situation, which you think is just fine.  It will never affect you if we truly are wrong.  And it will never affect you if we are right.  Equal Pay does not mean bringing men down to the women’s submarket value level of pay.  Equal Pay means everyone makes the market value of the job.

I, for one, would not consider it a victory if Equal Pay meant women and men earned the same because men’s pay decreased.  That would be a failure for all – men, women, and the government who would lose taxes to keep the roads paved, the children educated, and pay down the national debt.

The “Pull My Finger” Divide

Pull My FingerThe Classic Prank

I think all American men pranked sisters, classmates, and friends with “pull my finger” when they were younger.    And when I say all men I mean it.  Bankers, mechanics, leaders in business, politicians, religious leaders, military, doctors, lawyers, educators, you name it…they were all pesky little boys who had the need to irritate some little girl.   As men they don’t even have to use their own finger.  They can use the smart phone app Pull My Finger, Pro Edition.  I assume there is an amateur edition since this is the pro edition.

The paradox of the prank is that everyone knows what’s going to happen.  The prankster boldly promises that “it’s not what you think” to the intended victim. The victim eventually gives in, pulls a finger, and laughs in hilarity, disgust, or good humor at the very expected results.  The prankster delights in not only his comic but also his own musical talents.  The prankster relishes in this feeling as though he is Justin Timberlake winning two Emmys in one night.

The Divide of Pride

The splendor of the joke is the man’s ability to keep at it until he gets the person to “pull his finger” and then to thoroughly enjoy the fruits of his own labor.  The pure unabashed pride is at once comical and envious.  Think of it.  When was the last time, ladies, that you took such unabashed pride in your own accomplishments?  I’m guessing it’s been awhile.

Just this past week I have heard two statements from two different women that illustrate how we can easily underestimate our own abilities and accomplishments.

“I raised $200,000 in my job but I am not a professional fundraiser.”

“I don’t have any accomplishments from my 15 year career to highlight in my resume.”

These women were unable to see their own achievements never mind enjoy them.  And these are just two recent examples.  I have many more just as you probably have many from your own life.

The Divide of Promotion

The boy pranksters, now men, continue to delight in their skills and unabashedly promote them to others.  The little girls, now women, have not internalized the ability to make the generic, the base, and the ubiquitous seem brilliant.  Unfortunately, women (for the most part) have not internalized the ability to promote the unique, the honorable, or the scarce as brilliant either.  Somewhere between men’s over promotion and women’s under promotion is the reality of both sexes abilities.

Think of it.  None of us – man or woman – is completely confident maybe delusional but not 100% confident.   None of us is 100% correct.  Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter recently stated on a Larry King Special Dinner with the Kings,  “I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of mistakes and – and learned from ’em, and that’s what makes a successful company, that’s what makes a successful creative endeavor, is learning from your mistakes.”   In the same television program late night host Conan O’Brien late and Seth McFarland creator of Family Guy shared that they felt like frauds trying to get better so they would not be found out.

We all have been wrong.  We all have felt like frauds. The key to success is not to let these very human elements undermine us as we manage our own careers.  The key is being able to promote your talents and keep moving forward even when someone says no.  Next time you hear NO think of the little boys who keep coming up with different ways to get little girls to “pull my finger.” Surely, you have as much ability and creativity as those little boys to prevail at your quest.

© Copyright 2011 by Katie Donovan

Options Create Power When Negotiating Salary

You know you deserve a raise.  You’ve done the research and you are ready to ask for a 30% increase in salary but will settle for a 20% increase. What if you cannot get the “walkaway “ minimum raise of 20%?  Do you know if you can get another job with relative ease?  Do you know whom you would reach out to first?  Do you know if you have kept your skillset up-to-date with the in-demand skills?

The Presence of Calm Power

The ability to answer yes to the above questions will give you added confidence as you negotiate your raise.  This added confidence translates into a calm power that will be as present like a third person in the room.  Oh, I know it may sound a little too touchy feely for some people.  Stay with me on this for just a moment and it will make sense. Think of the extra power you feel when you put on the go-to outfit for important meetings.  Or the authority you exude after you exercise.  Or the resilience and flexibility you gain from lunch with friends outside the office instead of alone at your desk. All these things are not directly related to your job but they all help you create a presence during your workday.  The same can be true about cultivating and knowing your career options.

Cultivating Career Options

Cultivating career options should be on every working person’s checklist.  This is a three-pronged to-do list that includes skillset, network, and periodic testing of the waters aka applying for jobs within and outside of your current employer.  Skillset and network are constant.  Applying for a job is a periodic activity.

Keep Your Skills Up-to-Date

Let’s start with skillset.  There are very few jobs and industries that are doing things the same way they did 10, 20, 30 years ago.  For some industries huge change can occur annually.  Are you aware of what the changes are?  Have you attended conferences, taken courses, read books and blogs, follow industry gurus through social media?  Have you read a job posting with your job title?  Hopefully you can handle the responsibilities and requirements and have the necessary experience to apply to it.  You may feel comfortable in your company but your company will eventually expect you to know the same things that your competitors require.  If you don’t know everything on the job description than you know what you need to learn.

In-Person and Online Networking

You’ve probably heard the expression “It’s not what you know but who you know that matters.”  Michael Brown, the former head of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during Hurricane Katrina, can attest to that.  Think of what you can accomplish in your career if you have the skills and know the right people!

Networking off-line is the ladies strength.  We like to see and talk with people and develop long-term relationships.  Remember to network with men and women in your industry.  Join and volunteer for the industry trade-association, local chamber of commerce, school alumni network, or any other affinity group.  Actively participating in one function or group within these organizations truly form stronger bonds than drinking together at a meet and greet.  Networking in person is very beneficial but don’t forget to take these contacts and add them to your online network.

LinkedIn is the online business-networking site.  The site ranks 13th of all web sites.  There are only 12 sites such as Facebook and Google that have more traffic.  If you don’t belong to LinkedIn that you really are not career networking online.  Unfortunately, a recent study shows that men are savvier LinkedIn networkers than women.   Just this week I had suggested to a women that she send a request to “Connect” via LinkedIn to each business contact she made for a particular project.  Her appalled response was “But, that’s my personal account!”   My response to her…”That’s the point!”

The first great use of LinkedIn is using it as an online Rolodex (remember those) of the people you encounter in business.  You will be amazed how most will happily answer YES to your request.  The first big plus is you will not longer need to update contact information. LinkedIn gives you the ability to search your contacts by industry, company, location, titles, etc.  So, the next time you know you met someone who works at X, you can easily figure out who it is.  That’s the low-hanging-fruit reason to use LinkedIn.  The more fun networking happens when you join groups within LinkedIn that deal with topics of interest for your career. See what others are talking about.  Ask questions to the groups and you will be astonished by the knowledge people will freely share. Another great networking reasons is that you can find out how you may be connected to a company through friends of friends.  Instant access to know who can introduce you to the hiring manager for a job you want.  How cool is that?!  The next reason can be good or bad depending on your perspective.  I think of it as only good.  Recruiters are searching on LinkedIn for new hires.  From time to time you may have a headhunter contact you about an opening that may interest you.  Now, I call that learning your options without any heavy lifting.

Apply for Jobs Periodically

Hopefully you go to the dentist, the doctor, the auto-mechanic, and the hairdresser on regular intervals to keep everything running smoothly and looking good.  Think of applying for a job periodically as keeping your career and salary running smoothly and looking good.  Periodically can mean annually or bi-annually.  Doing this when you are not itching for a change is the best time. You will have nothing to lose because you still enjoy your current job.  You will apply for jobs that are the dream jobs and perhaps a bit out of your reach.  Shock of shocks you will find that they are within your reach.   Your decisions about staying or changing jobs will be based on excitement and challenges instead of the fear-based job decisions because we need a new job.

You will realize that your options truly are limitless if you do these three things regularly.  Knowing this will empower you never to settle for less than you deserve.

@ Copyright 2011 by Katie Donovan