Why I Have a Love-Hate Relationship with Negotiation

You’re sitting across the table from someone – likely a man if you work in tech – who holds the key to your standard of living for the next few years of your life. Whether you’re negotiating a raise at your current job or focused on securing a fair offer for a new one, this happens over and over again in one’s career. And I hate it. I really, truly hate it. And yet, if I end up feeling like I’ve won the negotiation, well, then I love it.

Of course, negotiation teachers would say that in a successful negotiation everyone wins. You get what you want. The other party gets what they want. And everyone is happy. That rarely happens. You have to know how to ask for a reasonable amount, but not too little. You don’t want to come across as crazy. You need wiggle room. You need room to move the price down and end up where you want to be. But you’d also be extremely happy should the starting price not budget. It probably will.

Negotiation for job offers is extremely stressful. Perhaps more stressful because I’m a woman. I’m constantly thinking “What would a Man Do in this Situation?” — I look up salary reports on Glassdoor and other sites, but it’s hard to find a realistic number for what would be fair. And fair rarely is the amount you get paid… fair is just how much someone is willing to pay for you.

Meanwhile, as you get further along in your career and begin to specialize in certain areas, your worth greatly varies firm to firm based on how valuable that skill set is perceived. But you can only guess at that. And as the numbers get bigger, the scarier it is to spurt them out and hold your ground. You have to know your worth. And believe it.

I wish I could hire an agent to go in and negotiate for me. That would make life easier and I can put all the energy I waste on stress into more productive activities. Funny how I am great at negotiating deals for my company or another person, but not for myself. But as the half of my pairing who will be the breadwinner of my family, I need to negotiate hard and well. I can’t just continue to work for millionaire executives and help make them richer while my networth increases are much more modest. That’s fine in my 20s but not now, not in my 30s, in the prime of my earning power, before I have kids, now, when I have all the opportunity to stay up late and move mountains.

I’m just terribly scared and stressed. The opportunities I’ve been hoping for are finally coming to fruition. Yet I can’t handle all of the options. I can’t handle changes. Life is moving too fast and I’m terrified.

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3 comments

  1. anon says:

    I recently had the good fortune of being offered a job that had come about because I was recruited by an external recruiter the company had hired. That was a eye-opening experience!

    The job offer, because of the recruiter, came in more than I had ever made in my life. Very happy!

    So, if I go for another job, I sure hope it is through a competent third-party recruiter. Too bad that only works on hiring, not on annual reviews.

  2. GPS says:

    That sounds great!
    It’s a good place to be!

    I found it easier to negotiate when I’ve applied for several jobs. If I get interviews I know I’m competent. I think how satisfied do I need to be to stay for 3-5 years and that’s the salary I ask for.

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