Thursday, October 3, 2013

Asking for What You Deserve: How to Negotiate for Yourself

“Women do not negotiate for themselves as often as men or as effectively as men.” says Sheryl Sandberg. Women experience a “taboo” about asking for a bigger salary, better bonus, special project, promotion, or flexible work schedule, whereas men don’t hesitate to ask for what they deserve. This panel features real-word advice from experienced women and men on how to ask for AND get what you deserve.

Moderator:  Angela Wong (
Panelists: Justin Rattner (Intel Labs), Jane Moran (Thomson-Reuters), Mercedes DeLuca (Sears Holdings Corporation), Stephany Kirkpatrick (LearnVest)

The session was fully packed in a huge Ballroom. I personally am at that point in my career where I could relate a lot to this session. Angela started the discussion with her questions-

1. Describe a time when you should have negotiated and you did not?
Jane: By the year 2000, I have been in this industry for a long time. I had a 6 month old son, and was pregnant again. I was working based out of Boston which happens to be the city my family settled. My work involved a lot of travel and at that point of time, I couldn’t travel anymore, and wanted a position in Boston. This desperation made me negotiate my salary $50,000 less than what I should have been making. Adding to this, I did not care to negotiate my title. So, I was hired as the Head of IT. I later realized that I should have negotiated. So, I went back to my manager and negotiated, and got the title as the CIO of the company. The main lesson I learnt here is not to let external factors such as pregnancy impact you when making career choices. Always consider misc. costs such as student loans, travel expenses like car mileage, gas etc. Understand your benefits package clearly and calculate the details of the entire package when you negotiate your salary.

Justin: I started working for HP right out of college. I later got an offer from Intel. Back then, HP had no concept of stocks while Intel, on the other hand, offered 1000 stocks. So, I called my dad (my chief financial officer!!) and asked him for advice. My dad advised me not to get stocks and to ask for an additional $1000 in salary either!!! Few years down the lane, I realized how much I lost because of that decision. 

2. Is there a right way or a wrong way to ask for more?
Mercedes: There isn't. You should be very clear upfront about what is that you want and by what time. Be very prepared before you have that conversation with your manager or HR. Make yourself invaluable for the employer. Decide on what is your [x] factor and what is it that you care the most about. Is it the title? Or the pay? Or the location? Or the domain? If you hear No for something that you asked for, you still know that you've asked enough. Follow-up after a few months to check the pulse of the team.

Jane: You need to ask! It is well known that men usually come and ask for a raise, while women ask their managers to offer help instead. We need to realize that work is more objective than school. If you feel you cannot negotiate yourself, get an outside council for understanding how to negotiate yourself.

Stephany: Well! I can definitely tell you what not to do- "The company needs to do right by me" - Do Not show a sense of entitlement when you speak to your team, especially your manager. It's not ok to say "I deserve it". Be humble because bad behavior will never get rewarded in this corporate world.

Mercedes: I would like to add another thing to this discussion. Do not go in with your personal problems. Have that professional etiquette when having these negotiation discussions. Don’t get emotionally tied to an outcome. If you don’t get what you deserve (say a title)- don’t get attached to the outcome. Practice to speak the right words before an interview/ review discussion. Use the resources availabe on,, to do the research and math. Talk to other people in the industry above you and around you, and ask them how they got there.

3. What are some effective strategies that you used or people in your org have used to negotiate?
Jane: My advice on this front would be- take your 10% and focus on you and your career, and think about self-promotion. Let people know what you're doing and the success of that project. As women, we tend to say "we" a lot. Start saying "I". Start making/having advocates who can negotiate for you in your organization.

Stephany: Gain visibility. Do something every day early on in your career that goes beyond your comfort zone. For example, sitting down with people who you do not know. Volunteer for something even if it is outside your territory. Be thoughtful and have clear and clean data that backs up your claim.

4. What are some ways through which we can start to cultivate some culture at work where women are encouraged to ask more?
Stephany: Culturally, sometimes you might feel that the company is too fast to slow down. Be the thought-leader and do some research on what other companies are doing. Discuss with your peers if you are unable to bring it up directly to your manager.

Justin: In technological companies, it is about the technology. Have an agenda as to why are you doing this job. Many people usually let their careers be managed by events. Most people who change/influence the world have an idea and follow that idea devotedly. Once you have an agenda and follow it, promotions and salary raises will follow when as long as you are on that path.

Stephany: Map out your careers including the money you want to make when you are say 40 years old. In the early stages of your career, tell your Director/CTO/Manager that you are young and hungry and would like to learn more. Ask them if you can shadow him/her. But make sure that your day job gets done. Start observing everything that he/she does. Take advantage of the 1:1 times you have with them like travel time, lunch time and get acquainted to them. You will notice that this will have immense benefits in the long run.

5. Can you share some tips on the words I should be using while negotiating?

All the panelists: Be confident. Relax and have your shoulders back. Keep a constant eye contact. Know in your heart what you are supposed to say. Have the explanation of why "me". Be energetic and enthusiastic. If you get a 'No' the first time at the gate, schedule another meeting and follow-up. Publicize the work you've done. Tell your manager, "I'm very much excited to join the team, but can I get a $1 more".

Hope this discussion helped you prepare yourself for your next big interview/ review meeting.

Happy Reading!

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