June 11th, 2007
I had a blast yesterday doing an interview on Felicia Sullivan‘s web radio show, Writers Revealed. (Podcast here.) I loved that I was on the “cubicle edition” of the show, right after novelist Joshua Ferris, whose book on office life — with a sticky-note-riddled cover! — is now at the top of my reading list.
Felicia asked me something no one’s asked me about the book so far, to list some of my top tips for negotiating a raise or rate. Studies show that women have a harder time than men asking for what we’re worth. We don’t want to brag, and we certainly don’t want to talk cash — we’re taught that both are pushy, crass. To that I say, get over it! Do you want to make friends with the hiring manager or do you want to make rent? Besides, career coaches and HR experts say that managers respect you more when you don’t undersell yourself.
Here are the negotiation suggestions I made on Writers Revealed (some live on the show, some on the show’s blog):
- Don’t beg, whine, or whimper. Just put on your poker face and cough up that dollar amount. Then, as painful as it might be, wait for the response. The idea is to sound confident, not desperate or unsure of yourself.
- Do the market research. And don’t just use sites like Salary and PayScale. Talk to people doing what you do or aspire to do, and check with industry associations, which often do salary surveys. Ask people on listservs to email you off list to talk cash. (Many lists have rules against talking turkey online because it could be construed as price fixing, which is illegal.)
- Don’t flat out ask someone’s salary. Most people find this rude. Instead, ask what salary range or fee they think someone with your level of experience in the field can command. Or ask what their company might pay someone with your background. Or call your competitors and pose as a potentially interested customer. Or check your competitors’ sites; some pros will post their rates online (though if you work as a service provider in something like writing, editing, or web design, I wouldn’t advise this — rates vary from project to project).
- Cozy up to your calculator. Before you negotiate, figure out what amount of dinero you need to be paid for the gig to be worth your while, of course factoring in what the going rate is for someone with your experience level in that industry and geographic region. If that amount is $50K a year (or $50/hr), tell the hiring manager you want 10% more. That way if they haggle with you, you’re not starting at your “no way i am doing it for less” bare bones amount.
- Remember, it’s not personal. This is a great tip I got from Michelann Valterra, one of the fab speakers at BizJam, a rocking indie business conference I spoke at this weekend. Your self-worth is not determined by your hourly rate, or whether you get the gig. Try to remember that. In other words, compartmentalize and grow a thicker skin.