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