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?