Tag Archives: negotiation

The Jobs. The Offers. The Decisions. The Lack There Of.

It used to be getting a job offer was a huge challenge. It’s not exactly easy today, but I find myself in a place where I have three serious offers (well two offers and one offer if I wanted it) and I’m trying to figure out what to do.

Both offers at this point are somewhat equal in terms of compensation. Base salary is identical in the initial offers for both. One has a bit more stock, the other, a bit more bonus / cash earning opportunity. I haven’t accepted any so theoretically there is room for negotiation. I hate negotiation. Last time I negotiated I got the salary I wanted but then I was reminded over and over again by my boss how overpaid I was (btw, I wasn’t, given the offers I’m getting now are even more than what I was paid there, so clearly market rate wise I was fairly comped in my last role.)

The reason I hate negotiation is that I have no one at my level in a comparable role to talk to about it. At this level of compensation and given my relatively frugal lifestyle, even for this area – on one hand, when numbers get this big, I feel just downright silly negotiating for more money. On the other hand, I think – if I were a dude or someone with confidence, I’d negotiate anyway. Ultimately, my role in either firm is one that indirectly generates revenue for the business – it’s pretty cut and dry if I have generated revenue or not (granted, I’m not closing business, but I’m still generating it) and thus I think a bonus compensation structure makes sense, and that structure should be more or less unlimited as a percentage of sales, or at least substantial in a tiered structure where maybe base stays about the same but total compensation is based on how well I do my job. If I do my job well – then I’m “cheap” – if i’m not, then I’m – “gone.” Low risk to the company either way, given they plan to hire me (or anyone else for this role.)

But I hate that awful taste of negotiating for more – and ultimately I want to pick the job where I can do THE BEST job. And I don’t know which that is right now. I’m not at the point in my career where I can get an offer at a company that has its shit together. That means either I get an offer at a new, young company where it’s still figuring things out, and where it needs someone who can deal with the ups and downs of startup life — OR I get an offer at a company where things are probably more systemically dysfunctional due to years of poor management decisions, but one that has managed to sell enough of its product/service to still be alive either private or public, it doesn’t matter as both come with their own challenges.

I seem to be a perfect fit for those environments, maybe thanks to a very turbulent childhood. But I also think a positive, healthy, rather successful work environment would be nice. My challenge is that I’m not so great at maintaining the status quo. I’m someone who comes in and creatively solves problems. I fix things or build things but I certainly don’t inherent the same old and run with it as such to collect a paycheck. I like moving fast and getting in and making a difference. But then, as history has proven, either I do that really well for short bursts or I can’t manage to figure out how to fix things fast enough and I’m out.

My last job was a trainwreck from the start. CEO who sexually harassed (in a joking way, but nonetheless, it was sexual harassment) most of the women in the company and heck, even some of the men if you were to ask a real HR department. I learned a lot in the role but there were just so many things wrong with the company that I felt lost at what to do. Too many things to fix. Too many holes to fill as water would start leaking out another opening I didn’t even see.

If I go to the smaller company, my main priority will be to hire a small handful of really great people really fast. Hiring is hard. People have to want to work with you and the rest of the team. You (me) have to be a leader. A true leader. In my mind I like to think I’m a leader but what I see in leaders I admire I don’t see in myself. They are very strong, determined, and once they pick a route they don’t chance course (and if they do it certainly doesn’t appear they did this because they realized they made a bad decision.) Leaders have a very clear vision and get everyone aligned to common goals. I have a hard time getting myself aligned to a common goal, let alone a team.

The larger company would immediately have me managing a decent-sized team. It’s a huge opportunity in that if I can successfully manage a team and help them become more productive, that’s a metric I can take to the bank for the rest of my life. I can also build a team at the smaller company and have a similar outcome, but at the second company I would’t have to hire immediately. I’d have something to work with. That can be good or bad, depending on the contributions of the team today and what I figure out needs to be done to hit goals. It likely involves being able to come in and, if anyone isn’t holding their weight, being that bad guy and letting people go early on and replacing them. You know – typical management stuff that I don’t like to do because I’m an INFP and I can’t handle hurting people’s feelings, only letting them down.

I still am most excited by the smaller company… if the larger one was a bit more stable, or selling a product that I could get extremely excited about, it would be a different story. But I have some good opportunities here and I just need to finalize what I’m going to do… it’s a good problem to have, for sure. I just am at that point where I really don’t want to make the wrong decision… and I’m not sure there’s a right one to make. Because – when it comes down to it, I’m in the wrong career overall – but it’s a hot market and people keep throwing money at me and it’s hard to say no. It’s easy to say – one more go, let’s see if I can make it happen… I’ll try my absolute best… and in the meantime, keep on putting away $5k a month to attempt to reach my goal of $500k in networth before I give birth to my first child. After that, I feel like I have a bit more flexibility/freedom to maybe switch jobs and earn less, or consult part-time at a higher hourly rate, or… anything other that continuing on this trajectory which can’t be forever.

 

Negotiation and the Patience I Do Not Have

I should be thrilled about the prospect here of multiple job offers and the luxury to negotiate a little bit, yet I’m not at all. I’ve been crawling out of my skin with anxiety for the past week especially and I can’t stand the whole playing it cool and waiting for a response. I know today a reference put in a good word for me for one of the potentials, and the other one is in full-on negotiation mode stuck in limbo. Part of me feels like I should just fold – after all who cares about money? Well, I do. But I care more about my sanity. And it’s quickly slipping away.

A lot of people have commented on my blog that I shouldn’t negotiate. I was surprised to see these comments. Granted, the comments are from people who actually have read my blog for a while and know that I’m a bit of a mental trainwreck (yeay bipolar II) so they think I’m better off just taking the job I’m offered without going back and asking for more. I’ve read so much about how women don’t negotiate that I’m now the type of person that I can’t NOT negotiate. I mean, I know what I’m worth if I deliver on my promises. If I deliver on my promises I better be paid what I’m worth. If I don’t the company will get rid of me anyway so they have a much smaller risk to take.

So many of the comments also noted that they’ve had experiences where the offers would be rescinded if they tried to negotiate. That’s crazy. I wouldn’t want to work for a company that pulls that anyway. I mean, in my job I’m going to have to negotiate to save the company money practically every single day so you bet your ass I want to show them that I’m good at negotiation and don’t just take the first offer. Maybe if I were in another field I’d be more likely to accept an offer without negotiating… and maybe I should anyway… but clearly there is some wiggle room or else they wouldn’t still be talking to me.

I know when I’m good I’m really good. I am going to immediately invest in a psychiatrist upon my health insurance kicking in and get whatever antidepressants/ anti-anxiety meds I need to stabilize myself and be functional at my very best. I’d rather be compensated for being my best than for being my worst. If I don’t add value get rid of me, that’s the way I look at it. Maybe that’s too aggressive. But I can’t just be a woman who gets walked over when it comes to salary. I mean, I already have been according to some people – even though compared to most of the world I make “a lot” I still am underpaid for my title and level. Granted, being unemployed means any job/salary is better than nothing, but I can’t let myself be as weak as I actually am.

Waiting on finalizing these offers is making me extremely sick, however. I can’t sleep, I have a cold and cough, I can barely eat anything. I just want to get the paperwork signed and move on, but I do have at least two really attractive offers to negotiate — I am just so scared of losing both of them by being too aggressive. Even today when I spoke with HR at the larger company I had to share my former compensation at the last three companies I worked at. I told the truth. I am worried that telling the truth would make me seem too expensive or too cheap or too whatever for the role. I considered lying – making myself cheaper – or more pricey – just so they would hear what they want and offer me the role at the salary they feel is fair for the position. Meanwhile in the other half of this job seeking town I’m swinging for the fences because the job itself requires a lot more responsibility. Either way, I really do just want a job, I’m no good at this not working thing.

The Game of Risk: Nature vs Nurture

Today I had a very interesting conversation with my father about negotiation. He noted to me that when he was 32 and I was born him and my mother had just purchased our house in the suburbs with a small down payment and he had little savings to speak of otherwise. He worked at the company that would employ him for his entire life. While he earned a good salary and obtained raises throughout his career, he never once asked for a promotion or a raise. He concluded his career earning over $200k in the 1990s, plus additional stock profits on the sale of his company, which was still a lot for our middle class neighborhood, and this enabled my mother to stay at home and raise me (and take us to the mall a lot) while still managing to have money left over to save for retirement.

When I talk to him about negotiation his general reaction is that I’m silly to attempt it. I find it quite alarming that my father – who I view as this tough guy – never once negotiated for a raise. Despite throwing a thousand temper tantrums a day he’s the most risk adverse person I know. In fact, one could say he’s rather paranoid of change. He likes things the way they are. My parents should have gotten divorced long ago but god forbid such change were to occur. When I told him I’m playing hard to get and trying to obtain a higher offer he basically suggested that I was being stupid as I didn’t have a job and I wouldn’t want to lose this opportunity (even though I told him I have two offers.) I wanted my big, tough father to encourage me in my negotiation, and perhaps even provide some supportive professional advice, but all I got was that I’m crazy for attempting to negotiate.

At the same time, both offers are real, and I’d like to decide which one I want without pay being part of that decision – but of course pay is part of the decision. Every other minute my mind swings one way and then the other. They are just such different opportunities. I’m madly excited about one that would require a crazy commute and would be much more unstable than the other. But then I think if I can succeed in the larger company it would provide a good base to go in different directions. Either way, I want to negotiate with both companies and see what I can get without losing the offers. I hate how the hiring managers always say “think about what you need to live on.” Well, I can live relatively cheap, but that’s bs. I want to save. I want to save a lot. I have a future family to support. I hate feeling like people who hire me see me as this woman (cheaper than men) who isn’t married and doesn’t have kids (cheaper than woman who is and who do.) Age discrimination isn’t even illegal if you’re under 40.

In any case I always feel like I’m being paid too much but I’ve come to realize that everyone is only paid what they can convince someone else they’re worth. I didn’t at all learn how to take risks from either of my parents so how can I do this well? I seem to stumble left and right on negotiations and it just seems clumsy and embarrassing. But no wonder I suck at negotiating, it certainly wasn’t a learned skill.

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. Continue reading

Negotiate

Breathe in. Breathe out.

This is an exercise in staying calm while all cards are on the table, lying face down. You study the deck, eyes squinted, imagining how if you can see clear through to the other side, this game would be so much easier. Instead, you breathe. You wait.
There are a few different jobs I’ve interviewed for over the past month. Some are better than others. A few pay pretty good salaries. There is one I really want. The job requires a ton of responsibility. Global travel. It’s a great opportunity for me from every angle, except that it doesn’t provide benefits or paid time off, etc. It’s hourly. But that shouldn’t matter if the hourly price is right.
And that is where the cards are lying right now. Except in this negotiation there is a mediator. Someone hired for the sole purpose of finding out what my cards are, bringing them to the company, and deciding if I’m worth what I’d like to make.
I did what I normally do and asked for a range they were looking at first. The range was somewhat low, although not necessarily lower than I expected. I inquired if it would destroy my chances of getting the position if I asked for more. Are there other candidates? The answer – yes, there are two other candidates who made it to the final round. But they like me the most. They seem to really want to hire me. That’s great. I think they’re right because I’d be really good for this job. Given my normal lack of confidence on these sorts of things that says a lot.
But what I don’t know is where those other two candidates stand. Am I really the top candidate? Are they willing to negotiate with me until we settle on a fair hourly rate? Or did I high ball too much? Too little? It’s hard to say. It’s hard to figure out what is comparable to an annual salary when you drop all benefits. Even my last job, which paid an average annual salary, ended up being worth more with a severance, stock options, conference fees, and a free computer. Those stock options, in theory, could one day be worth even more. In a contract position all you get is your hourly salary. So why not try to get a fairly high rate?
I’m just not sure what counts as high and what counts as “she’s crazy for asking for that much.” On one hand, there’s a part of me that feels like I did that right now, on the other hand this is a short-term project and if they don’t like me or think I’m worth my rate they can easily terminate me at any time, so it’s not like they have a lot to lose if I’m not all that and the bag of chips they think I am.
Right now I’m trying to figure out what the lowest I’ll go is. The range I was quoted seemed a bit vague. My title isn’t generic, so it’s hard to say what level it falls under. Even researching what other people are paid in this position elsewhere is tricky, there just aren’t many specialists in this type of role out there. At least not with enough experience to get this far in the hiring process.
I’d really love it if I got a call today that said “ok” to the dollar figure I quoted. I have a feeling they’re going to come back with something lower. How much lower… I don’t know. I really hope they wouldn’t say “you’re too expensive for us so we decided to pass.” That would be the worst thing to hear. Yes, there are other opportunities. Yes, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But I really want this job. It would be so good for me. And I think I can really make a difference in this organization. Show my stuff, so to speak. Move to the next level.
God, I hate waiting. I was told they will get back to me fairly quickly. Sounds like they want to hire someone yesterday. It would make my year if they just said yes, and gave me a start date. Fingers crossed for the best possible outcome when our hands are flipped face up.

170k Miles and 4 Years of Used Car Ownership

In 2006, I bought my first car. While my parents, at the time, had a new car-only buying policy, my financial situation led me straight to the used car salesman. The purchase would be the largest buy I had made in my life, and every second of the process I was nervous and unsure of myself. All I knew was that I wanted to buy a used car, that I wanted to buy a “good” used car, and that I didn’t want to spend more than… $8,000 on my car. Though less would be better.

I spent a lot of time at used car dealerships. I almost bought a lot of cars that I’m glad I didn’t end up with. Certified used vehicles are the biggest waste of my money in my (current) opinion, but maybe that opinion will change after I buy a dud one day. My trip to the Chevrolet store had me sitting in a certified car that I thought I wanted. It was way more than $8k, but it was only one year old… a rental that was ready to be sold. It was shiny and new-ish. It was a red Chevy Aveo. I didn’t really love driving it, but at 22 and getting ready to buy my first car, I figured I’d grow into it. I was literally sitting down at the bargaining table when I started to negotiate terms, and I realized this car was just going to cost me more than I was comfortable spending. I wanted to pay for my car outright, and that wouldn’t be possible with this car (unfortunately I can’t remember its price tag, but I think it was around $13k). I’m very glad I walked out of the dealership that day.

Later in my search, I drove a used Saab that I fell in love with, despite the whole hatchback style not being me at all. I really fell in love with the idea of owning a “luxury” car when the pricetag was comparable to the crappy Aveo I almost bought. In fact, I think the Saab I was looking at was around $9k. But then I read up on Saabs and discovered that despite their top-notch performance in crashes, the cost to repair the beast would be ridiculous. I moved on to the Toyota dealership, when I knew I was closer to what I’d ultimately buy.

At Toyota the certified cars were expensive. I test drove one that was sporty and too low to the ground. Apparently I need a car that’s slightly higher up to feel safe. I test drove a Camry and really liked it but due to the price tag it was a no go. I started to consider if I should buy a more expensive car and just pay per month like most people do. That’s when I turned to Craigslist.

More nervous then ever, I scoured the Craigslist postings for a Honda or Toyota in my price range. I’m not sure when I first saw the older Toyota Solara model, but I fell in love with its sleek design minus the huge pricetag. I never thought I’d buy a two-door car, but I realized that I didn’t know anyone in the area, and chances were I’d basically be schlepping myself around with maybe one other passenger. Four doors just weren’t necessary.

The Solara I found for sale was around $7k. It was a 1999, which seemed old but not necessarily too old… (it was 2005 at the time, so it was 6 years old). The almost dealbreaker was the mileage on the car… 130k miles. Now, maybe it was a mistake to buy the car with that many miles, but I haven’t had any issues yet. The most important thing to me was figuring out WHY the seller was trying to get rid of the car. He had a reasonable story — he had a baby, he loved the car (which was always owned by his family) but needed a four door and planned to buy the four door Camry version of the model.

He agreed to get the car inspected so I brought the car to a guy who was supposedly a Toyota specialist and paid $100 or something to get the car checked out. The guy ran through a few small problems with the car but told me it was in really good operating order for so many miles and the year it was sold. And I was sold. I needed a car and I was tired of looking. I paid $7,000 via check and watched the money wipe from my bank account. But it wasn’t that scary, I still had some savings left, and I really was excited to buy my first car.

Since then, my car has been running fine. Knock on wood. 2006 – 2010 makes my car at least a four year purchase, or about $2,000 per year plus gas and insurance. I’ve had to replace the breaks and tires, but otherwise it’s doing ok.

I’m glad I didn’t spend money on a new or newer car… being as this is my first car, I’ve dinged it up a bit, mostly driving into inanimate objects. I wish I hadn’t, but I’m a better driver now and know how to avoid most scratches (at least ones I cause) if I get a nicer car down the road. I love my car for its sunroof, it’s design, it’s cost (even though I could have gone cheaper.) I love my car for keeping me safe during one accident and somehow not even getting too much damage from it (I didn’t hit anything, I just had a really bad day and was exhausted and spun off the road into a ditch by accident.)

My car now has over 170k miles on it, so I’ve put on about 10k miles per year. I’m not sure if that’s considered a lot. I don’t drive much but I generally take one or two longer road trips per year (longer being like 5-6 hour drives) so that’s adding up and undoubtedly wearing on my car. Since my boyfriend drives a really old clunker which can’t accelerate well, we always take my car. I wish he had a better car so we could trade off car-driving duties, but at least when I use my car I can drive… I doubt he’d let me drive his car if he had one he liked!

Now I’m wondering how long my car will really last me. I’d like it to last to 200k miles, which would be 3 more years, I guess. I don’t know how I could sell the beast, it’s too dinged up to be worth much now, unfortunately. So I plan to run it into the ground, figuratively speaking. I’d love my next car to be a Prius but those things are damned expensive, even used. Heck, I may buy another Solara (though a newer model) because I’ve been happy with Toyota quality and my car. It’s not fancy, it’s not a show car, it’s just a car that’s a little nice to get me where I need to go.

How much did you spend on your current car? How long do you expect it to last you?

Time to Celebrate!

I don’t have much time to write, but I needed to update to say — I just got a major promotion and am extremely excited about what that means all around. For the first time in my life, I have a full time gig that I love, that pays well, with people who I respect and admire, in an office that’s cute, and easy to get to, where I have the opportunity to make a difference, and grow, at least on a professional skills level (there really isn’t much room for me to grow on a “level” basis in an 8-person company), and…

For the first time in my life my “got the job” excitement isn’t fear about failure. It’s excitement about success. I think I might have got it right this time.
Negotiation for more money was a little awkward (when isn’t it?) but I got an extra $2k out of the deal. Not shabby. I’m going to try to put a lot of money away for retirement this year. And to save for grad school. If I can make it at least 2 years at this company, I can save quite a bit of money. I paid off my small credit card debt the other day, with my next paycheck I will pay my boyfriend back the $180 I owe him, and then my debts will be gone. Just need to get through this month (I have $74 in my bank account right now, eeks!)

Career Advice: 10 Tips to Negotiate a Raise on Hire

A friend of mine recently asked me for advice regarding her promotion. After being stuck in dead-end retail jobs since graduating college two years ago, she finally landed a temp-to-hire customer service gig. On hire, her boss informed her that if she were to be hired full time she would get a raise.

Two weeks went by and they decided to offer her a full time position. The HR department gave her an offer letter, however, she was shocked to see that the rate quoted did not include a pay raise (though it did add in benefits, which is a raise.)
In such difficult economic times, every company is looking to cut costs. If you accept a salary offered to you, a company is not going to say “we were low balling you, you’re supposed to try to talk us up.” They’ll give you whatever you’ll take.
The best advice I’ve ever received is that no one is going to take your job offer away if you ask for more money. The worst that will happen is they’ll say no, and you will then have to decide if you want to take the job at the quoted rate or walk. Likely, you’ll gain the respect of your boss for having the guts to attempt such a negotiation. This proves that in the business world you will negotiate on behalf of the company. If you’re good at getting what you want, you will probably also be good at getting what the company wants.
My friend was extremely worried about messing up her chances at being hired full time, so she almost decided not to ask for more money. Her offer was $31k, even though her Salary.com research showed that someone at her level should make, on average, $38k. Starting out, you do have to be willing to accept lower than what you may think you’re worth to get in, but you don’t have to settle for a rate you’re uncomfortable with. Ask, and you – more likely than not – will receive.
These were my recommendations to my friend that ultimately resulted in her getting $4k more a year and a salary review scheduled in 3 months….
1. If your company has a separate HR department, talk to your boss first. Your boss should be able to speak to HR for you, and determine what your pay rate will be.
2. When talking to your boss, it is always wise to come prepared to discuss your contributions to the company or any previous work you’ve done that relates to what you will be doing for the company in the future.
3. It’s good to show “you understand” the financial situation of the company. One line I like to use these days is – “I understand the economy is tough right now, and it is such an honor to be working for this company. However, I do hope to be compensated fairly based on what I have and/or may contribute to this company…”
4. Don’t be afraid to high ball, within reason. I once was offered $40k for a job and asked for $50k, assuming I would maybe get a counteroffer of $45k. I was extremely shocked when my boss simply said “ok.” (I’ve also gotten a flat out “no” when trying to negotiate a $1200 a year raise at a different job.) Hiring is a complicated process but what’s most important to many bosses and hiring managers is to have the right people on their team. The difference of $5,000 a year may not mean a lot to a company, but it will mean a lot to you.
5. Be ready to walk, if you want to walk, or even if you don’t want to. Apply for other jobs if you have to. Make it seem like you can get something else, even if you can’t. You always want to seem like not only the best person for the job, but a person that the company is lucky to have. Of course, you need to follow up with proving this while working at the company once hired or promoted. Right now, you need them to know just how great you are, without sounding full of yourself. Just be confident – it goes a long way.
6. Think of your total compensation package and negotiate for better benefits (more time off, telecommuting days, etc) if the pay rate is set. You’ll be glad you asked for this later. Don’t let company’s fool you into thinking stock options are worth a lot more than they are. 401ks are only exciting if the company matches, and few companies do these days.
7. Ask for a 3 month review. This is especially important when you’re first hired and if you’re willing to accept slightly less than what you would like to be making. At a lot of companies you have to wait for a year before getting a review and the raise that goes with it. It’s fair for a company to want to test you out a bit before giving you a significant raise, but ask that your work be reviewed within a set amount of time (3 months) and make sure to document your work over that time period and meet with your boss in 3 months to get that raise you deserve.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve. I know, it’s scary to ask your boss for more money. As a shy girl (or guy), we’re likely worried about confrontation. We just want to be offered the things we deserve. Unfortunately, in the business world, that just doesn’t happen. Negotiation is expected, and you’ll feel so much better once you’ve done it.
9. Dress really nice (for your work environment) on the day you ask for a raise (and the days prior and after).
10. Be rational. You’re not going to get a pay bump from $30k to $100k in a year. Don’t ask for a raise every month. Use common sense and you may end up with some extra spending/saving money each year.
Do you have any other negotiation tips? Share them with your fellow readers of Her Every Cent Counts in a comment below.