As an executive search consultant in higher education, I am often asked for advice about every aspect of job searching. Amazingly, the advice that seems to resonate most with women is advice about negotiating. Random strangers have called to ask me to give the speech to them. Same humans will call me back after the “negotiation” to thank me. I have even received thanks from women who heard this advice from other women and wanted to let me know how much they appreciate it. What I find most amazing is that these tips work for all types of negotiating: buying a car; deciding who will chop all the wood; and determining who needs to have a pedicure.
- There is no negotiating before an “offer” is made. Job searching can be vexing to the soul. Similar to dating, we want to find a good match that will seemingly last. When you get an offer it seems logical that you would feel relief, yet I would argue that some of the most important work you will do is after the offer. Let me be clear…you do not negotiate before an offer is made. A job offer always includes an offer for salary. You must not start negotiating until you hear those magic words.
- Do your homework. Before you head to a campus interview, you must know the salary range for the position and comfortably believe the range is acceptable to you. If the hiring authority has not shared that with you, you must ask. No one wants to waste their time and campus interviews are time consuming. Once you learn the stated range, find out what the last person was making in that position. If it is a public institution, they are required to publish this information (now publish might still be in some huge book in the library but you legally must be able to gain access to this information). I have found that an unidentifiable call to the human resources office often leads to a salary range at both public and private institutions.
- Ask for 24 hours. After you have heard the entire offer, ask for one full day to contemplate the offer. During the one day, you must practice a short speech about your counter-offer. According to Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, 2.5 times more women than men said they feel “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating. Take this one day to get comfortable with your short speech.
- Speak your mind, even if your voice quivers. Practice your speech in the mirror. State why you are asking for more (more could be moving expenses, a higher salary, a parking spot, or any other negotiable item) in a succinct way and then ask for what you want and deserve. Then here comes the most important part…
- Shut up! You can not say the next word. I do not care if you have to count ceiling tiles, you must not say the next word. If this conversation is happening in person, do not lose eye contact with the other person. Stay focused on what the person says next as it is key to the negotiation. Women are more pessimistic about what is available to them so they often settle for approximately 30% less than their male equals. According to Babcock and Lashever, this type of bad negotiating might cost a woman more than $500,000 in her lifetime.
Negotiating is uncomfortable at best. In all likelihood, you are negotiating with the human who will supervise you which leads to even more discomfort and trepidation. Yet, this is one of the most important parts of our working careers. In another study examined by Babcock and Lashever estimate that if a woman consistently negotiated well she might earn $1 million more in her lifetime. I am not sure about you, but I am worth that.
Now, the best part about reading this blog is that I am willing to help you when your voice is quivering. Email me and I promise to give you the type of pep talk needed for your negotiation. I will even call you on the phone so you can hear it. I care about my female friends enough to offer this to anyone. This offer stands even if you are headed out to go buy a car. Sixty three percent of Saturn car buyers are women because as women we will do just about anything to not negotiate. As women, we need to stop suffering by not negotiating.
I say it is time to ask for what we are worth…do you?
Jennifer Hiatt earned her B.A. in English and her M.Ed. in Higher Education at Arizona State University. After a 15 year career in higher education at California State University, Chico, Arizona State University and New Mexico State University, Jennifer joined SJG in early 2008. Jennifer served as Secretary and then President of the Association of Inter-Mountain Housing Officers and was a faculty member of the National Housing Training Institute. Her current responsibilities include search management, client and candidate relations, and new business development. Jennifer lives in Colorado and is enjoying exploring the mountains with her three dogs, three horse, and one cool cat. She is looking for new volunteer opportunities with an animal rescue or shelter. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and, most recently, cutting wood for the winter. To understand more about higher education executive search visit our website at www.spelmanandjohnson.com