Be Your Own Client

advocacyWomen are great advocates.  We can tell you everything amazing about our friends, our relatives, the neighborhoods, a movie, or cause.  This is not just an opinion.  There have been studies.  Research by Mary Wade shows that women asking for money on someone else’s behalf will request 9% more than men will request.  Yet, women ask for 8% less then men when they are requesting money for themselves. 1

So how do we keep this strength of advocacy when we negotiate for ourselves?  I recommend removing the personal aspect as best you can.  One way is to consider you, the employee, as a client of you, the negotiator.    I know it sounds silly but spend five minutes considering it with me with an exercise.

First thing as the negotiator is to put a proposal together for you, the client, to show what the negotiator intends to get the employee.   Stick with the data for you and your job but think of a daughter, niece, or dear friend as you create this proposal.  Put a picture of the person by you as you create the proposal. This is especially helpful if you are a visual thinker.   In the proposal include:

  • What salary would you target as the goal?
    • Bonus
    • Commission
  • What benefits would you want to improve?
    •  Vacation Time
    • Health Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Flexible Time/Work Schedule
    • Working Remotely
    • 401K contribution
    • Pension
    • Childcare/Eldercare
    • Termination package
    • Maternity leave
  • What are the lofty goals and what are the minimum goals for each item?

In the same proposal include the reasons why the company should agree to the terms?  This should include:

  • What is the typical compensation for the job in the region?
  • What information do you have on the company’s typical compensation for the job?
  • What are the accomplishments of the employee that you would highlight?
  • How do the accomplishments benefit the company?
    • Add to revenue
    • Remove costs
  • How has the economy as a whole and of the company in particular changed since the initial hire and/or raise?  This is important if you were hired during the recession and the company is now rebounding and paying a significant higher rate for new hires.

Finally include the reasons the company will not agree to the terms and your counter-arguments you have for each these reasons?

Now put the proposal away for a day.  Come back to it with your “Employee” hat on. Do you see goals that are impressive? Do you see minimums that are strong?  Are you swayed by the accomplishments? Do you feel the negotiator is ready to counter the company’s arguments? Would you pay this negotiator based on what you read?

Here’s an extra credit exercise:  Now have other people who have worked with you read the proposal.  Make sure it’s a mix of men and women.  Do both the men and women see the goals as lofty?  Are the bare minimum amounts obtainable but not giveaways?  Are there accomplishments that have been forgotten? Do the arguments ring true? Revise the proposal based on the feedback that you find useful and resubmit to your client.  Now as a client, would you pay this person to negotiate a better salary for you based on what you read?

Hopefully, this exercise helped you stretch beyond what you would normally consider as your salary goal and highlighted accomplishments that you have glossed over in the past.

1 Babcock, Linda and Sara Lasehever. Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003

© Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited