Fear of Losing Job Offer When Negotiating Pay

Many people believe the act of starting a negotiation will result in losing the job offer.  Salary.com actually has some data of job offers rescinded because of salary negotiation.  The problem is the data is based on people trying to negotiate during the interviewing process.  If you have followed Equal Pay Negotiations you know that negotiating before you get the job is troublesome at best.  This Salary.com data backs that up.  In this video find out more about the data and how you can eliminate the concern

Writing Resumes that Command Higher Salaries

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Photo provided by iStockPhoto

Developing the business arguments for why you deserve the high-end of the salary range is probably the hardest part of salary negotiation.  Your business arguments should not be new information at the negotiation.  If it is important enough to get you higher pay than it is important enough to help you land the job.

Revisit your resume and ensuring that it supports higher salary offers.  Most people believe their resume does this.  Unfortunately, most people would be wrong.   The focus tends to be on the effort and not on the results.  Results are what employers want and what they will pay dividends to get.   Many people believe they are showcasing their results but the results are unspecified or are focused on tactics.

This is such an important aspect to salary negotiation that I thought I would revisit it and include some examples from actual resumes.

Resumes with Unspecified Results Examples

Actual Resume:  Increase sales through designing branding and loyalty strategy.

Higher Salary Support:  Increased sales by $1M through designing branding and loyalty strategy.

Actual Resume: Minimized cost of supply orders by monitoring spending and optimizing order volumes

Higher Salary Support: Decreased cost of supply orders by $100K by monitoring spending and optimizing order volumes.

Resumes Showcasing Tactics Instead of Results Examples

Actual Resume:  Increased efficiency in workflow process and shortened delivery times for clients by redesigning work teams

Higher Salary Support:  Decreased cost of project delivery by $1K per project by shortening delivery times through improved efficiency in workflow process.

Actual Resume:  Developed a multi-category brand licensing strategy

Higher Salary Support: Increased revenue by $1M through the development of a multi-category brand licensing strategy

Learn the Financial Impact of your Work

Are you unable to include the financial impact of your efforts because you do not know what it is?  You are not alone.  That is a very common challenge.  My advice is to not wait until the next time you are updating your resume but to start now and learn the financial impact of all your work.  It will make you a better-informed employee for your current boss and an amazing candidate for your future bosses.

© 2013 Katie Donovan

The Language of the Negotiation Game

Questions: Power Play or Information Seeking

Recently, I was part of a panel for this amazing organization called Glow Boston.  At one point, I responded to a question with the recommendation that a person ask for clarification from her boss. That recommendation caused a stir in the room.  There was a concern that asking the question would be viewed as challenging the power structure.  Yes, asking a good question is powerful because you gain knowledge but it does not equate to a power play.

Learning the Rules of a Game

Photo Credit: iStock

These comments reminded me of the card game bridge.  That’s probably because I am learning the game and am discovering the numerous aspects to the game.  The game has rules, players with different rolls, and a language all its own.  Just like bridge salaries, business, and negotiations have rules, players, and languages of their own.

My guess is this woman believed the language at home would translate to work and thus cause a power struggle.   When I heard the concern about power, I envisioned this women asking her husband – “are you wearing that out tonight?” and knowing that her husband would instantly turn around and change into what she would like him to wear.  In such an example a question is passive aggressive and a means to elevate power.

The Language of Salary Negotiation

In work, a question can and should be a means to gain knowledge; to ensure all employees understand their role in a project; or that a problem is fully understand to ensure that a solution actually addresses the problem.    Asking a question at work will not have your boss hear the unsaid follow up questions which your spouses, significant others, friends, and family can usually hear and react to without the tiresome need of actually saying them.

This is true in salary negotiation.  Asking questions about how a salary was determined is not the same as stating that you believe your salary for your job should be 20% higher and listing the data that brought you to this conclusion.  Nor is it the same as creating a hostile relationship with your soon to be manager.  The language of salary negotiations is one of explicitness.  Do not assume a thing.  Clarify that you understand what the company is offering correctly.  Clarify that the company understands your counter offer.  And most importantly, ensure both parties are absolutely sure what the agreed salary and package is by putting it in writing before accepting the job, the raise, or the promotion.

Why Do You Work

Thank You Mrs. Arsenault

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Arsenault, taught me a wonderfully important lesson all because she was at her wits end with the crowd of rambunctious 10 year-olds she was teaching.  Even as a ten year old you could tell Mrs. Arsenault did not want to teach us that day.  I think she wanted to knock some sense into us.  With a very exasperated voice she asked a simple question – “Why do you come to school?”  It seemed easy enough.  Kids raised there hands and had all kinds of great answers.

  • “For recess”
  • “To see my friends”
  • “To get away from my younger brother”
  • “To give my mother a break from me”

Focus on the Main Reason

Mrs. Arsenault was not pleased with any of the answers and all the answers seemed legitimate to the 10 year-old me.  Finally, she had to tell this class the reason we go to school.  “You come to school to LEARN.”  I guess that day we had not been acting like we wanted to learn anything.  Yet, that one sentence has stuck with me ever since.  I think of it whenever I feel like all the extras are overpowering the main objective in any activity or project I am doing.   I think of that one sentence often when I talk with women about their salaries.

The Main Reason to Work

Time and time again, the women I meet ask me about salary negotiation but then they talk about everything but salary. Even though they know they are underpaid, the flexibility of a job, the friendships developed, the kindness of the boss, and the purpose of the work often come up as to why THIS job is worth keeping even if they can’t negotiate a larger salary.   What would Mrs. Arsenault ask in this situation?  “Why do you work?”  Sense of purpose, mental engagement, physical engagement, developing friendships, and flexibility are all secondary reasons to the main one. Have you thought of it yet?   You work to earn MONEY.  Does that seem overly simple?  Am I stating the obvious?

I wish I were stating the obvious but the fact that we work for financial reasons gets lost very often for women.   I have no hard science to prove this but I do have the anecdotal evidence.  Seth Godin wrote a short post with the opposite position that we focus on the money too much.  I think that may truly be the difference between men and women.

We can achieve all the secondary goals for working in other arenas.  Volunteer for a sense of purpose; get a hobby for mental or physical exertion; nurture friendships from school and the neighborhood instead of augmenting them with work friends.   The one goal that is very hard to replace is earning money.  Sure you may win the lottery but you can get struck by lightening much easier.  You really can’t depend of the lottery.

Three Times to Focus on Money

Focusing on the money does not need to be a full-time endeavor.  It needs to be a primary focus when applying to jobs, when accepting jobs, and annually as you review the status of your current job.  All the other items still are in play but they need to be in the backseat during these three important moments.

Be mindful of the minimum you are willing to be paid when applying to jobs.  We all need to keep a roof over our heads and if you know a certain type of job, company, or industry is low paying it is doubtful that you will get the financial security needed.  When accepting a job make sure you know the going rate for the particular job and negotiate for the best pay possible.  You are NEVER IN AS POWERFUL A POSITION as when the company offers you a job and before you accept it.  Use these moments to your advantage.  Finally, once a year you should take an audit of how things are with your job.  Has the salary range for your job increased?  Has your industry become hot? Are you making what you could if you were to change companies? Still consider the soft aspects of the job such as sense of purpose, friendshps and lifestyle fit but don’t forget about the money.

Thanks Mrs. Arsenault for such a great life lesson.