Thursday, July 8, 2010

Show Me the Money!!

My resume has been floating around for a few weeks now without so much as a nibble. While a true job seeker probably wouldn’t be phased, especially not this early in the game, I am not a true job seeker. I actually have a job, I just happen to be disgruntled, disillusioned and dissatisfied. And since it doesn't seem that my dream employer has come across my resume yet, I should probably try to reassess my current situation and try to find a way to make it somewhat tolerable.

The fact of the matter is, this place is a veritable wonderland of opportunity. With people resigning left and right, gaping holes in staffing are just sitting out there waiting to be filed. New roles, new responsibilities and new occasions to retool my current position are cropping up all over the place. It’s a simple as . . . asking!

As the most senior member of the administrative staff, I’ve earned a Outlook folder of kudos and accolades a mile long. I know the inner workings of the company blindfolded and have been instrumental in many of the biggest deals that have come down over my six year tenure. So, it seems like no big task to saunter in the CEOs office and lay out a list of demands.

Not so. I’m mortified by the idea and apparently this is nothing new.

According to Joyce E.A. Russell in a Washington Post article , “many women just don't feel comfortable asking for what they want. Women don't negotiate as much as men do, and when they do, they don't ask for as much. Women are reluctant to bargain, ask for raises, promotions, better job opportunities, recognition for the good work we do -- even for more help at home.” That sounds about right to me because the very idea of asking for more makes me feel as though I’ll be seen as unappreciative and perhaps even a little egotistical, as if my hard won years of respect would instantly crumble and I’d be relegated to some dim corner reserved for “bad” employees and swift boated out. That puts me back at square one, still disgruntled and likely to make a fast getaway to the first company interested. Either way, I’m out!

Thankfully, Russell assures me that hope is not lost and that by applying some very practice negotiating tactics, I can gather enough nerve to make those crucial steps to the bargaining table and beyond.

I have a girlfriend who loves to say, “Chile, a closed mouth don’t get fed!” Never is this more true than in the workplace. Women still lag behind men in pay, top positions and promotions. Russell points out, “For women to get what they want, they need to ask and to be persistent. Don't immediately back down. As a woman, when you don't negotiate, you're already starting out behind your male peers and behind where you should have been. With every future raise and job offer, you'll already be behind, and you may never catch up. So how do you ask for what you want and get it?”

Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up for getting past the anxiety and successfully negotiating your way to career bliss:

· Do your homework: It may not be enough to point out how great your colleagues think you are. Extensive research will show your bosses that you really mean business. Determine your market value with help from the Web, professional associations, colleagues and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Get organized and determine your needs -- salary, benefits, vacation, travel, professional memberships, etc. Don’t hesitate to prepare handouts. Big, bold colorful but succinct tables, charts, graphs and bullet points will help you stay on track, give you a little extra confidence boost and solidify the official nature of the discussion. A pie chart can go along way with a busy executive!

· Put on your game face and a little lip gloss won’t hurt either: Russell points out that “what may work for men -- often being assertive and boasting when negotiating -- may not work for women. Arm yourself with information, ideas and resolve and bring along an arsenal of "friendly" non-threatening social mannerisms. While this sounds so unbelievably sexist, it’s the way of the world. May as well work it your advantage. Communicate a positive "let's-work-this-out-together" attitude. Humor helps, too.

· Put ‘em at ease: Be enthusiastic and show energy. Make it clear that you are excited and genuinely want to work there. Be able to show how you help improve an organization's bottom line (e.g., bringing new contacts, saving money, training employees). You need to make it easy for the other party to say "yes" in the negotiation.

· Have a Plan B: Before you head into a negotiation, make sure you have an alternate plan in place. Try to make that alternative as attractive as possible. This boosts your confidence and your leverage, but I say, don’t let the cat out of the bag until it’s obvious they’re not going for Plan A. You never want to show your hand prematurely or you can kiss what you really want goodbye.

What other tips and tricks can you suggest for getting your fair shake in negotiations at work?


Jill said...

Great post!
I don't enjoy my job, and I haven't gotten a raise since I've been here (2 years) even though I was promised one after 6 months. I asked for it after it hit the 8 month mark, and they just said that because of the economy, they couldn't. I was kind of counting on the raise because my college loans go up every 6 months :/. I'm not sure how to approach the situation again. I'm pretty sure that I won't ever be given a raise no matter what I do. Like you said, there are so many jobs out there with openings that would appreciate me more, it's just finding them and knowing someone.
Good luck in your job search! I'm looking too.

Kate said...

You can do it!! I am in kind of the same boat now (at least the being at a job I don't like part) but as far as negotiating goes, it's all in the confidence you walk in with.

Yeah if you're armed with charts and graphs you know you can prove your worth, but the key is in you BELIEVING you're worth it. You are worth the money, the vacation time, the whatever it is you want and you cannot doubt that for a minute when you're talking to the CEO.

Also, as a side note, I've found CEO's to be very friendly when you get them alone.

Also also, if you never ask, you'll never know what might have happened. And if it isn't the outcome you want, well at least your resume is ready to go!

Ginger said...

It's always a stressful conversation to have, but SO important to be your own advocate.
A few other suggestions:
1. Make sure you schedule a meeting, and let your boss/supervisor know what you're hoping to talk about. This is not a conversation to spring on someone.
2. Never, ever, ever make it about what anyone else is getting/doing/making, or about your "need" for more money. Employers don't have to care that your rent went up or you have bills to pay. They want to know why you are worth more than what you're currently getting.
3. If you can show that you're already going above and beyond your job description, so much the better. Use numbers or deliverables whenever possible.

Good luck!

LaNeshe said...

It took me a long time to get up the courage to get a well deserved promotion from hourly to salary. I finally did it, and became salary the beginning of this month. I think a key thing to know is understanding your job's financial standing. Our fiscal year started on July 1st, so I know they couldn't afford to make me salary until then. So I got to them while they were making this year's budget and made my ask.

tris1978ton said...

Thanks for this post! I have NEVER EVER mastered the art of negotiating my salary. I can find the cheapest deals in China Town with heavy bargaining, but when it comes to salary - forget it! This post really gave some encouragement!

dating diva said...

Great tips! Thanks for this post. I need to use some of these at my internship. I feel that I know more than the chick who gets paid to be the assistant. If I can't get cash for working this hard, I at least want my boss to notice it.


Kelsey said...

I'm kind of that way.. I want to work at the place I'm currently interning at but I can't bring myself to even ask if they're hiring!

Jessica (Bayjb) said...

I am itching to read that washington post article because I need it! I have a former friend who is VERY clear and comfortable in asking for more. I am not. I also fear looking bad and ungrateful but I feel now that i have a boss where I can be a little more open with my asks. And that means having a tough talk with here again this week.