Salary Negotiation; Conflict or Game

Women tend to remove themselves from conflict while men enjoy the competitive nature of it.  That could be one of the reasons men negotiate salaries more than women.

Yet, you may be surprised to find out that you do negotiate more often than you think. Have you ever changed a person’s mind about?

  1. What movie to see
  2. Where to go to dinner
  3. When a contractor will begin/end/show up again
  4. Giving a discount because a piece of clothing or furniture had a stain
  5. Where to go for vacation
  6. Your significant other’s mind about having children or having more children

If you have then you have successfully conducted negotiations.  You may think of it as bartering, bargaining, discussing, or arguing but in the end two or more people with varied desired have come to an agreed plan.

Almost the same can be said about negotiating salaries.  The difference with salary negotiation is that a hiring manager does not have a single desired salary than you. S/he has a desired salary range.   The top figure has been budgeted but it is rare that a hiring manager would offer a job with the highest possible salary.  Getting the best candidate for a salary anywhere under that number is considered a good outcome for the hiring manager and for the company.

At the moment you are offered a job you have the power to attempt to get as high a salary as possible.  This is your most powerful time – the second the job is offered to you until the instant you accept it.  Realizing that there is room for bargaining and that you do have power is crucial to a successful and enjoyable salary negotiation.


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

Case Study: A Friend Referred Me


It’s time to look for a new job.  Maybe it’s because you are bored, don’t like your boss, think the company is in peril, or any other reason.  The reason doesn’t matter so much.  What matters is you have started to get the word out to friends and relatives and friends of relatives.  As luck would have it,  a friend knows of a job at her company which would be perfect for you.

Excitedly you give your friend your resume.  Not only do you get the interview but you get the job offer! Starting salary is $50,000.  This is great, you get a job and  your friend will earn a referral bonus if you stick around for six months.

Taking the job as offered:

What do you do?  Most likely you will take the job at that salary. In this economy you are ecstatic to get the new job.  It’s at a company you love.  A friend recommended you so you have the beginnings of a social network.  You event have someone to go to lunch with on the first day!  Other things that you consider are:

  1. Your friend stood up for you.  You can’t let her look like she’s recommending people who are not team players.
  2. Your friend planning to use the bonus to rent a vacation cottage closer to the beach. You don’t want to be responsible for her to walk another ½ mile to the beach.
  3. You are making $48,000 at the current job so this is a 4% pay raise.
  4. It will be great to work with a friend.  It’s an instant “in” at the new company.

Other considerations:       

The above considerations probably look familiar but did you think about what the job is worth or what you are worth yet?  Most likely the answer is no.

What is the job worth?  Some research is needed to figure that out.  Some of the items you want to find are:

  • Does the job title at this company have a more common job title in the general business world?
  • What is the current salary range for that job title?
  • What benefits are typical for that job?
  • What are the bonuses typical for that job?
  • Are there any changes based on geography?
  • What is the typical employment package for that company?
  • What are the salary ranges for similar job postings at other companies?

What are you worth?

  • How closely do you match the requirements for the job posted?
  • Do your talents minimize training costs for the new employer?
  • What extra skills and experience will you bring to the job?
  • How will you be able to expand the company’s revenue or minimize the company’s expenses?
  • What intangibles are you bringing such as connections to venture capital, media, and potential partners?
  • What talent will follow you to this new employer?
  • What is the total worth of your current employment package?
    • Salary
    • Bonuses
    • Commissions or Spiffs
    • Vacation
    • Medical, vision, dental, life, disability
    • Education reimbursement
    • 401 contribution

Those are a lot of questions to investigate before making a decision.  In the next few blog posts I will go into detail on how to find the answers to these questions so you can make an informed decision on the complete employment package offered.


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

$30K and I’m All Fired Up

A few weeks ago, I met some female friends for dinner.  It was a last minute thing and was a miracle those five friends who hadn’t seen each other in over a year were able to pull it off.  Conversation included the usual, the non-stop snow Boston had been receiving; jobs; vacations; kids; husbands, and dating.

On the job front one friend got the courage to share salary information.   A true taboo.  She did not mention her actual salary but she shared the disturbing yet common lament that a male colleague who had fewer responsibilities was earning more than she.  $30K more than she!  We all shared her disgust and anger but none of us were able to come up with a solution.

This dinner got me thinking of a Bentley University dinner I attended a few years back.  I was sitting with a VP of Human Resources who also was an alumna of Bentley.  It’s unfortunate that I cannot recall her name but I will forever remember her.  The dinner was an opportunity for female alums to connect with current female students.  The goal was to help the next generation network and learn about careers.  Well, this VP of HR shared that men always negotiate salary while women rarely do.

Thinking of the $30K salary difference and this comment regarding salary negotiations got a little fire lit inside me.  So, I started researching.  It’s true men do negotiate salaries while women don’t.  It’s not an all the time thing.  It’s just for every 1 woman who does negotiate her salary, 8 men will negotiate theirs.  And the men will negotiate 30% more than the lonely woman.  Now, I’m really on fire.

It’s a bit like the old joke of the man praying to his god asking to win the lottery.  This man continues to go back to his place a worship praying for divine intervention for the money he needs for his long-suffering family.  Finally, his god says,  “I can only help you so much.  You need to buy a lottery ticket before I can let you win.”   Negotiation may just be the lottery ticket in close the final 20+% gap in women’s equal pay.

No matter what gains occur for women’s equal pay,  women will never earn the same as men if we do not engage in the game of salary negotiating.  Very few hiring managers offer the full salary available when they offer a job. They assume there will be some negotiating.  If we women don’t acknowledge this than we have minimized our worth before we even have our first day of work.

I know I can’t fix the world.  But I can help women get comfortable and informed about negotiating.  After 20+ years in sales and marketing, I have become very comfortable and competent in negotiating.  So, I begin this blog with the goal of helping women acknowledge they can negotiate their own salaries; learn how to negotiate; and become comfortable negotiating.


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