There are a lot of life skills that we were never taught in professional schools. Negotiating your pay, advocating for yourself in the workplace and networking with others, are just the tip of the iceberg. It takes the average professional, years to learn the above and make it a critical part of their toolbox.
Even if you have your own business, learning to negotiate with others can go a long way in getting the best prices, and building long-lasting relationships with your vendors and customers.
I learned these with a combination of trial and error, mentorship and coaching from seniors, and books. The Memo by Linda Hart is a no frills, tells-you-like-it-is, book on career advancement. I would recommend everyone to pick it up and give it a read.
Here are 3 things I wish I knew in my early 20s about negotiations of any kind, but particularly regarding pay.
Negotiation is over only when you decide it is
Maybe you asked your superior for a pay raise, and they said it wasn’t possible at this time. Negotiation is not only about getting a higher pay, it could also be about getting reimbursed for travel and gas costs, continuing education courses or receiving paid vacation – 2 weeks or more. Yes, most dentists who work in private offices do not receive any form of paid vacation. Lastly, it could also be about raising your 401 k matching.
Negotiation is not an open and shut opportunity, it is a door that should always be left ajar.
Perhaps you are asked to speak at a school or a local association meeting. They assume you would do it for free, but you politely remind them that there is an expected speaker’s fee. Most people who have not anticipated a cost associated with booking you, will try to find someone else to replace you, who would do it for free. This is the prevalent thinking in our society.
However, as explained by a good friend, people who would really benefit from your talk, will find a way to support your speaking fee. So, do not back out of advocating for yourself. Keep persevering.
If you do, on intuition, decide to speak for free, consider asking them to record the presentation as part of your speaking reel, promote your books/courses to their audience in advance or to create video testimonials that could later go on your website. There are several ways in which you could gain value from ‘free gigs’ as well.
It is never too late to ask for what you deserve
Did you know that a third of Americans are on the lookout for another job at all times? This is due to chronic dissatisfaction and gross under pay. If you are being paid less than industry average, you need to advocate for yourself and bring it up to your superiors the first chance you get. Sure, you could wait for the perfect timing, but in my opinion, the earlier you do it, the better.
Always know how to justify asking for a raise or bringing your pay to market-rate. You should know the additional value you bring to the office. I’ve found that most employers will do whatever it takes to retain their top talent. Are you among the top talent? Are you consistently adding value to your workplace? Are you bringing in patients, services that would not have been possible without you?
If you are only doing the bare minimum, it is possible that you are a dispensable part of the organization. Make yourself so crucial to your work that if you were to quit, people would miss you dearly.
For more ideas on workplace productivity, read Indra Nooyi’s new book!