What have you negotiated for, professionally?

May 6, 2008
915
4
I've had some big changes in the last year and a half: new country, new job, grad school starting up. But in this time, I finally learned to negotiate (a little) and to enjoy negotiating for what I want professionally. I wish I had learned to do this sooner!! I was afraid before of seeming "aggressive" or "greedy", but now I realize it's perfectly possible to ask nicely and as long as you have reasons for why.

Can we share some successes and failures in negotiating? I'll start with what I learned in the last 18 months.


  • A negotiation is never over, just because you get a NO, it might be a NOT NOW. At my newest job, I asked for a higher starting salary because I had more than the appropriate experience. But given my lack of fluency in the native language (project language is English, but I can only read and not speak the local language) the company would not give me the amount I asked for at the time. I accepted their offer even though I told them it was very low, but said I wanted to renegotiate in 3 months after they had time to see my performance. They agreed to this. I am so happy that I asked for a chance to restate my case and that we formally agreed on a time frame to do this.

  • Give your negotiating partner an easy way out, don't force them to make a decision RIGHT NOW. If you pressure people, they push back. Give them space, and they'll take the time to absorb your logical arguments. In my 3 month renegotiation, they began by offering a 15% increase (Already something I wouldn't have gotten if there was no renegotiating). I had done my research and knew that even a 25% increase would put me just below what someone doing what I do should be making. I was negotiating with a project manager who was perfectly capable of approving this by herself, but I told her "I understand if you need to discuss this with the VP. Now you know where I stand and what I'm asking is consistent with what other people my level would make. I can wait a few days while you try to convince the VP". Two days later, they give me the 25% I asked for. I have no idea if she even had to talk to the VP. She wasn't ready to give me 25% at the negotiating table, but somehow she came around to it without me even having to do anything more than sit quietly and do my work for two days.

  • Be prepared to justify what you're asking for. This seems like a no brainer, but if you're asking for a 25% raise, you better have some good reasons. Connected to the note above, I imagined that the PM really did have to convince the VP, so I was imagining myself tutoring her about all my skills and preparing her to negotiate on my behalf. It gets me out of this self-embarrassed headspace and I can be a little more objective about myself. (Hope that makes sense)

  • Sometimes you can make it retroactive! Without my asking, the 25% increase was applied retroactively so I effectively had the same higher rate even for the first 3 months. I didn't ask for this, my company was being decent and acknowledged I should have been paid more to begin with. But I'm definitely filing this one away for the future should I need it.

  • No ULTIMATUMS, unless you're actually prepared to act on them. I would personally never say "I can't accept anything less than X", it puts me in a corner where I look contradictory if I accept anyway and its insulting to the other party. I would prefer to say "I would love to work here/I'm learning so much here, this X% raise would make me feel like you recognize my good work and contributions". Wording is so important, sounding positive, or like you're part of the team that just wants to be recognized, is very powerful.

I noticed my negotiating skills really improved when I started negotiating with other women around my age or a bit older. Up until then, I was mostly in rooms full of much older men. I admit, I was intimidated and felt small. Luckily, I had the chance to dive into negotiating with more women. I find I am less intimidated and more aware of their body language, non-verbal signs. I don't know what this means, or how I can use it when negotiating with men...but it's certainly an improvement over my prior skills.

I felt like I'd been thrown in the deep end of the pool for the last 18 month, and I'm finally getting enough of a breather to reflect on what I learned. I can't wait to test these skills out in some other context. Please share your experiences, there's so much to learn still...
 
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tmc089

Member
Oct 6, 2007
3,366
0
Connecticut
Thanks so much for posting this!! I plan on asking for a raise in the next few months and I'm trying to soak in all the information I can for negotiating. Very helpful! :tup:
 
May 6, 2008
915
4
Thanks so much for posting this!! I plan on asking for a raise in the next few months and I'm trying to soak in all the information I can for negotiating. Very helpful! :tup:
Nice! I wish you luck! Giving yourself the month or even two to prepare is great. I kept notes on my phone every time I thought of something I'd done well at work. Then you can flip through quickly and pick out the strongest ones to boost your arguments.
 

tmc089

Member
Oct 6, 2007
3,366
0
Connecticut
That's exactly what I'm doing :biggrin: I have a list of things outside of my regular job scope that I've accomplished, special projects and such, as well as things I've taken initiative on. I have a few events coming up that I planned and *IF* they go well I think I'll be ready!
 
May 6, 2008
915
4
Any advice for how to present yourself during negotiation (or even just a more formal business meeting)?

I look young for my age, which has both helped an hindered in the past. I always wonder whether I appear authoritative. I know eventually, it should only matter what I'm saying, but part of me thinks how I look and my body language must be important. Thoughts?
 

ForeverInPink

…and Orange
Nov 26, 2013
1,449
497
Castle In the Sky
I've had some big changes in the last year and a half: new country, new job, grad school starting up. But in this time, I finally learned to negotiate (a little) and to enjoy negotiating for what I want professionally. I wish I had learned to do this sooner!! I was afraid before of seeming "aggressive" or "greedy", but now I realize it's perfectly possible to ask nicely and as long as you have reasons for why.

Can we share some successes and failures in negotiating? I'll start with what I learned in the last 18 months.


  • A negotiation is never over, just because you get a NO, it might be a NOT NOW. At my newest job, I asked for a higher starting salary because I had more than the appropriate experience. But given my lack of fluency in the native language (project language is English, but I can only read and not speak the local language) the company would not give me the amount I asked for at the time. I accepted their offer even though I told them it was very low, but said I wanted to renegotiate in 3 months after they had time to see my performance. They agreed to this. I am so happy that I asked for a chance to restate my case and that we formally agreed on a time frame to do this.

  • Give your negotiating partner an easy way out, don't force them to make a decision RIGHT NOW. If you pressure people, they push back. Give them space, and they'll take the time to absorb your logical arguments. In my 3 month renegotiation, they began by offering a 15% increase (Already something I wouldn't have gotten if there was no renegotiating). I had done my research and knew that even a 25% increase would put me just below what someone doing what I do should be making. I was negotiating with a project manager who was perfectly capable of approving this by herself, but I told her "I understand if you need to discuss this with the VP. Now you know where I stand and what I'm asking is consistent with what other people my level would make. I can wait a few days while you try to convince the VP". Two days later, they give me the 25% I asked for. I have no idea if she even had to talk to the VP. She wasn't ready to give me 25% at the negotiating table, but somehow she came around to it without me even having to do anything more than sit quietly and do my work for two days.

  • Be prepared to justify what you're asking for. This seems like a no brainer, but if you're asking for a 25% raise, you better have some good reasons. Connected to the note above, I imagined that the PM really did have to convince the VP, so I was imagining myself tutoring her about all my skills and preparing her to negotiate on my behalf. It gets me out of this self-embarrassed headspace and I can be a little more objective about myself. (Hope that makes sense)

  • Sometimes you can make it retroactive! Without my asking, the 25% increase was applied retroactively so I effectively had the same higher rate even for the first 3 months. I didn't ask for this, my company was being decent and acknowledged I should have been paid more to begin with. But I'm definitely filing this one away for the future should I need it.

  • No ULTIMATUMS, unless you're actually prepared to act on them. I would personally never say "I can't accept anything less than X", it puts me in a corner where I look contradictory if I accept anyway and its insulting to the other party. I would prefer to say "I would love to work here/I'm learning so much here, this X% raise would make me feel like you recognize my good work and contributions". Wording is so important, sounding positive, or like you're part of the team that just wants to be recognized, is very powerful.

I noticed my negotiating skills really improved when I started negotiating with other women around my age or a bit older. Up until then, I was mostly in rooms full of much older men. I admit, I was intimidated and felt small. Luckily, I had the chance to dive into negotiating with more women. I find I am less intimidated and more aware of their body language, non-verbal signs. I don't know what this means, or how I can use it when negotiating with men...but it's certainly an improvement over my prior skills.

I felt like I'd been thrown in the deep end of the pool for the last 18 month, and I'm finally getting enough of a breather to reflect on what I learned. I can't wait to test these skills out in some other context. Please share your experiences, there's so much to learn still...
Great advice and strong work!!! I actually copied and sent this to DH as he is negotiating for a raise and promotion this wk :smile:
 

ForeverInPink

…and Orange
Nov 26, 2013
1,449
497
Castle In the Sky
Any advice for how to present yourself during negotiation (or even just a more formal business meeting)?

I look young for my age, which has both helped an hindered in the past. I always wonder whether I appear authoritative. I know eventually, it should only matter what I'm saying, but part of me thinks how I look and my body language must be important. Thoughts?
Me too, on the whole though I have found that it tends to work more in one's favor than as a negative if you are an otherwise confident person, it's disarming!
 

*schmoo*

Member
Jul 27, 2008
2,659
8
A lot of people (esp women) in my profession do not negotiate their salaries, which ultimately hurts all of us. I only started negotiating in the latter half of my career, complacently accepting whatever was offered before. What prompted me was learning what others were making, which then lead me to do the research. With some experience under my belt, I felt I was in a better position to ask for a higher salary. I've been rejected because of it, and I've also gotten what I wanted. For less desirable jobs, I was totally prepared to accept rejection.
 
May 6, 2008
915
4
Me too, on the whole though I have found that it tends to work more in one's favor than as a negative if you are an otherwise confident person, it's disarming!
GL to your DH! That's exciting.

I think disarming is a good word for what I've experienced too! I just couldn't think of that word. Guess we have to work with what we have and not try to change it too much...

I was used to working with men, and so much of my perceptions on how meetings and negotiations are run are based on this skewed view. There was a lot of posturing, sports-talk interspersed with chats about hunting...I mean, serious macho-macho chest thumping! :lol: I come along, and the client wants to talk to me about his daughters wedding! I was a little put out at first because if felt condescending (like I wasn't serious enough to talk about "real" work). On the other hand, my male colleagues would tell me after meetings things like "I've been working with him for 2 years and he's never even told me he had kids!" or "he's usually such a serious, quiet guy, what did you talk about all through the site visit?". So, I know my appearance has made people be more open with me because I'm incredibly non-threatening (as my coworker puts it).
 
May 6, 2008
915
4
A lot of people (esp women) in my profession do not negotiate their salaries, which ultimately hurts all of us. I only started negotiating in the latter half of my career, complacently accepting whatever was offered before. What prompted me was learning what others were making, which then lead me to do the research. With some experience under my belt, I felt I was in a better position to ask for a higher salary. I've been rejected because of it, and I've also gotten what I wanted. For less desirable jobs, I was totally prepared to accept rejection.
Same. I mean I guess I'm not in the latter half of my career yet, still relatively beginning half. I did know a few guys who started around the same time I did who made more than me, and I always made up stupid excuses as to why that was (oh, he graduated from Columbia, or he has a double degree, or he knows this software...). I actually had more responsibility, and access to contracts so I knew exactly how much many of my peers made. Yet, in my first job, I never asked for more, even though I knew I was getting less. That's crazy! Now I do realize I was selling myself short. It does help tremendously though to have more experience, then it becomes easier to identify your strengths and why you're "special".

I think I got more aggressive about negotiating after helping a friend. She did exactly what I did, had exactly my qualifications, except for a smaller company and she unluckily was hired just after the market crash. She eventually told me what she made, and I was actually angry on her behalf because it was way too low. She eventually made the jump to a way better job and we strategized about how to get her the best compensation (we basically pooled all the knowledge we had about our field). It was probably the best I've ever felt about a friend getting a new job.
 
Oct 20, 2008
4,170
1,307
manhattan
Same. I mean I guess I'm not in the latter half of my career yet, still relatively beginning half. I did know a few guys who started around the same time I did who made more than me, and I always made up stupid excuses as to why that was (oh, he graduated from Columbia, or he has a double degree, or he knows this software...). I actually had more responsibility, and access to contracts so I knew exactly how much many of my peers made. Yet, in my first job, I never asked for more, even though I knew I was getting less. That's crazy! Now I do realize I was selling myself short. It does help tremendously though to have more experience, then it becomes easier to identify your strengths and why you're "special".

I think I got more aggressive about negotiating after helping a friend. She did exactly what I did, had exactly my qualifications, except for a smaller company and she unluckily was hired just after the market crash. She eventually told me what she made, and I was actually angry on her behalf because it was way too low. She eventually made the jump to a way better job and we strategized about how to get her the best compensation (we basically pooled all the knowledge we had about our field). It was probably the best I've ever felt about a friend getting a new job.

Knowing what others make is a huge advantage (and incentive) when it comes to negotiations (yours and Schmoo's) - it's basically knowing what's in another poker player's hand. Why do you think so many in management refuse to release salary info? I would not be willing to accept a salary when I know that Joe Schmoe with the same credentials, putting out the same quality work, and sitting 20ft away, is getting 30% more. the Lily Ledbetter case is a great example - had she not seen the salary info, she'd have never known she was systematically underpaid her entire working life.

I think this thread is very helpful and your tips are really great and definitely applicable. But this whole compensation negotiation issue peeves me because my raises should not be contingent on how hard I negotiate; it should be about the work I put out! don't get me wrong, I still negotiate, but it's annoying.
 
May 6, 2008
915
4
Knowing what others make is a huge advantage (and incentive) when it comes to negotiations (yours and Schmoo's) - it's basically knowing what's in another poker player's hand. Why do you think so many in management refuse to release salary info? I would not be willing to accept a salary when I know that Joe Schmoe with the same credentials, putting out the same quality work, and sitting 20ft away, is getting 30% more. the Lily Ledbetter case is a great example - had she not seen the salary info, she'd have never known she was systematically underpaid her entire working life.

I think this thread is very helpful and your tips are really great and definitely applicable. But this whole compensation negotiation issue peeves me because my raises should not be contingent on how hard I negotiate; it should be about the work I put out! don't get me wrong, I still negotiate, but it's annoying.
Good point. I had an advantage there. I've heard people use online sources to find salary info, I've not been successful with that...never sure if I can trust it.

Salary talk is still so taboo, and I am uncomfortable sharing info with coworkers or friends lest it seems like bragging. (I don't even make that much, I guess my original post may have been a slight brag on the process of negotiating, but hope no one takes it as a "look how much I make!":shame:smile:

With my close girlfriends, particularly those of us in the same field, we've become much more open about exchanging salary info (as a way to help and inform each other, not as in bragging or showing off). It's a fine line though. I'm sure I've offended some people before, but I think I've also drawn others to me who want to share and I'm just the one who opens the conversation.

I also agree that it's unfair your pay should be tied to your negotiating skills. It's not completely reflective of how good an employee you are. Although, I do think a person's negotiating skills are something worth paying for (even if your end job isn't negotiating). After all, if you're a successful negotiator, it probably means a few things, like: being a good communicator, identifying your's and other's wants/needs, being aware of your market and how you or your company fits in that market, being a convincing speaker, being adaptable and flexible....etc. But of course, just because you're not a negotiator, doesn't mean you DON'T have those skills.
 

ForeverInPink

…and Orange
Nov 26, 2013
1,449
497
Castle In the Sky
I own my own business and therefore set my own rates. Before starting out I canvassed everyone in my field who did the same and just flat out asked what they charged. This was my future at stake, no sense in letting decorum and propriety affect that even though it was embarrassing! DId it offend some people? Yes, but whatever, I got over it. Of course it didn't hurt to be "disarming" about it :smile:

Then I set my rates at the top end or slightly higher (I didn't want to be considered a "bargain," I'm worth much more than that!) It was still very scary to stick to my guns and not falter on those rates though, I remember being so anxious about it in the beginning and sternly lecturing myself to "fake it until you make it!" It worked, but was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. It's no easy feat to stand up for yourself professionally, especially as a woman and when it comes to money.
 
May 6, 2008
915
4
:woohoo: I love stories like this! Clearly it's not easy to set out on your own and ask for what you want, but if you want it and practice, it's possible!

My mother, after years in a consulting firm, got up her courage and walk away to start her own business (I've learned so much from her too). She went through the same thing you did. In the first year or so, she set her rates at average or below average. She's slowly worked her rates up to where now she thinks there's a good balance between the amount of work she can take in and the number of clients willing to pay for her work.

I also subscribe a bit to fake it til you make it. Not completely comfortable, but getting there.

Ok, enough procrastinating for me. I got a meeting in 30 minutes :doggie::sweatdrop:
 
Oct 20, 2008
4,170
1,307
manhattan
Good point. I had an advantage there. I've heard people use online sources to find salary info, I've not been successful with that...never sure if I can trust it.

Salary talk is still so taboo, and I am uncomfortable sharing info with coworkers or friends lest it seems like bragging. (I don't even make that much, I guess my original post may have been a slight brag on the process of negotiating, but hope no one takes it as a "look how much I make!":shame:smile:

With my close girlfriends, particularly those of us in the same field, we've become much more open about exchanging salary info (as a way to help and inform each other, not as in bragging or showing off). It's a fine line though. I'm sure I've offended some people before, but I think I've also drawn others to me who want to share and I'm just the one who opens the conversation.

I also agree that it's unfair your pay should be tied to your negotiating skills. It's not completely reflective of how good an employee you are. Although, I do think a person's negotiating skills are something worth paying for (even if your end job isn't negotiating). After all, if you're a successful negotiator, it probably means a few things, like: being a good communicator, identifying your's and other's wants/needs, being aware of your market and how you or your company fits in that market, being a convincing speaker, being adaptable and flexible....etc. But of course, just because you're not a negotiator, doesn't mean you DON'T have those skills.
I wasn't criticizing you or this thread at all; I'm sorry if I sounded like it in my previous post. In fact, I think this thread is very helpful.

What I am railing against is the distinctly arbitrary (and thus inherently unfair) way that compensation is tied to negotiations and not necessarily work product. This doesn't just apply to me but to most everyone (except US government employees whose salaries are tied to grade levels). What I am railing against is the information asymmetry during salary negotiations - the company knows your salary history, knows your current compensation, knows how much they pay their employees, likely has survey data on the current compensation in their industry, etc... The employee has not much except her current salary and what salary she wants. It's very hard to negotiate in that environment. In my utopia, people would be paid based on their skills/knowledge and how they apply those skills/knowledge.

Being able to negotiate a higher starting salary and/or better bonus doesn't necessarily mean one is a good business negotiator (it probably correlates to a high opinion of oneself). Nor does being a bad salary/bonus negotiator mean that one is a bad business negotiator. In fact, there is a study that says that even though women tend to not negotiate well on their behalf, they do on behalf of their friend (much like you did). Women negotiate as well as men do when it is for someone else.