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Get Ready, Get Set, Negotiate! by Jennifer S. Faherty

As women, there are so many skills that we develop outside of traditional work environments that make us more valuable contributors and smarter professionals than when we left. Amen!

Yet the truth is, if you have been out of work for a while and are looking to jump back in, chances are you will be offered a salary that is below what you feel you are worth.

But that doesn’t mean the buck stops there! You just have to be prepared and thoughtful before you begin the process.

If you are thinking of returning to work after a hiatus, here are a few money tips to keep in mind:

1) Know Your Numbers:

So obvious, but so important it bears emphasizing. Make sure you do your due diligence on the current salary ranges for the position you are seeking. My advice is to go in with at least three numbers very clear in your mind: 1) Your I’m Celebrating! Salary, 2) Your I’m Content Salary and 3) Your “I’m Outta Here” Salary. Remember, these numbers are initially for you only—go in with the mindset that this is a negotiation game and a two-way—not one-way-- interaction. Like poker, only reveal your best hand when you’ve fully assessed to situation.

Always, always, always push your hardest toward your highest number (while still being your most charming and self-composed self, of course!). Again, it’s obvious but sometimes the message is lost on women who are not accustomed to hard negotiation. According to statistics is Women Don’t Ask by L. Babcock, women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs. Keep in mind that this initial salary becomes your launching pad for future year-end bonuses, promotions and salary negotiations down the road.

2) Staying in the same profession is different than a 180 career switch.

If you have been out of work but are returning to the exact same position/title, negotiate harder! True, you may not be as up to date on the technological developments and trends in your industry as someone who never left. But if your professional credentials have been current, you should expect a salary at least comparable to your last position, adjusted for inflation.

3) Potential Can Trump Pay:

Yes, sometimes a lower paying job with great potential for growth is the best route, especially if you are making a career switch. I accepted a pay-cut in an entry-level position because I recognized the long-term potential of the company and how I could grow within the organization. I also requested that my new employer put in writing my expected career trajectory if I performed as desired. The lower pay got my foot in the door and, within 20 months, I had been promoted twice and learned a ton along the way.

4) Don’t forget your plan!

Before booking that vacation to Tahiti on “anticipated-but-not-quite realized-income”, make sure you re-visit your financial plan at regular intervals: before you start the process, during the process and certainly after the process to see how your income will impact your short and long-term goals. A financial plan can help you get crystal clear on how much wiggle room you have when negotiating your salary. (Tweet that!)

Happy job-hunting and negotiating!

~ Jennifer S. Faherty, owner of Redbird Partners, is a career strategist, life and money coach, writer, speaker and teacher. She earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. from Columbia University and is a Certified MARTHA BECK LIFE COACH, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.


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