Negotiate this!

June 11th, 2007

filthy lucreI 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.

Entry Filed under: Anti 9-to-5 media blitz,Ask the Cubicle Expat,Money honey

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Felicia  |  June 11th, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Michelle,
    The feedback on the show has been amazing! THANK YOU for taking the time out to offer sage advice.
    Cheers, Felicia

  • 2. Michelle Goodman  |  June 11th, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Thanks for the opportunity, Felicia. I loved doing it. I love that your show has a chat room too. How cool.

  • 3. Emira  |  June 11th, 2007 at 11:25 am

    The podcast was fantastic! I so enjoyed it, you and Felicia did a great job of squeezing heaps of info into there.

  • 4. Michelle Goodman  |  June 11th, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Thanks, Emira! I felt like we could have talked for at least another hour about fleeing the cube. There’s so much to say… ! And thanks for adding the mentions to your blog. xo

  • 5. shelly  |  June 11th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    another piece of research you can do is get a grip on your situation from the SalaryBase project: http://www.salarybase.com. Don’t get it personal. that’s for sure

  • 6. Lorissa  |  June 13th, 2007 at 4:40 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed your chat, and thanks too for addressing my question about procrastination. I’ve already started to put some of your advice into practice! I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  • 7. Seattle BizJam » Bl&hellip  |  June 13th, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    [...] Negotiate this! Michelle Goodman, who called BizJam “a rocking indie business conference.” [...]

  • 8. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide &ra&hellip  |  July 23rd, 2007 at 10:54 am

    [...] Since every industry, solo job, and entrepreneur’s own career path and level of experience varies, it’s impossible for me to say (or even guarantee) that you’ll make X percent more than you did before — and at what point that will start to happen. It’s also up to the freelancer or business owner to negotiate prices and rates wisely (competitive yet commensurate with her experience) so that she doesn’t shortchange herself. And this negotiation should an ongoing process — otherwise, how else are you supposed to get a raise? [...]

  • 9. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide &ra&hellip  |  July 31st, 2007 at 5:08 am

    [...] I offered up some negotiation tips here. But today I wanted to direct your attention to this cool hourly freelance rate calculator. I especially like the “here’s your break-even rate” feature. I think this information can also help you strengthen your negotiation skills. If you know a client’s only willing to pay 2% above your break-even rate, it will be easier to stand your ground and walk away if necessary (that is, if you’re looking to do more than merely cover your business and living expenses and would like to make an actual business profit). My one gripe about this calculator is that it doesn’t have a field for utilities other than telecom, but you can add that in with the rent or “other expenses” fields. [...]

  • 10. Bootstrapper » The &hellip  |  October 18th, 2007 at 7:24 am

    [...] Negotiate This!: Follow these tips to become a smart negotiator. [...]

  • 11. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide &ra&hellip  |  October 22nd, 2007 at 1:02 am

    [...] Boostrapper’s done it again. This time they’ve listed The 100 Best Business Finance Posts of All Time, on everything from funding to spending to money management. Yeah, I’ve got a post on negotiating on the list, but I’d recommend it anyway. Some links I’m looking forward to reading: [...]

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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