Many people think that salary is the only thing you need to negotiate in the midst of a job offer. But salary alone isn’t a guarantee of success in your career. If you’re a woman or a BIPOC, you need to understand the company’s promotion path, says Find Your Dream Job guest Elizabeth Robillard. Elizabeth suggests creating a list of your must-haves before going into negotiations so that your career scales at a pace that guarantees your future success. And remember, if they say no to one of your requests, that’s the beginning of negotiating, not the end.
About Our Guest:
Resources in This Episode:
- Are you unsure how to negotiate your best opportunity and benefits with a new employer? Let Elizabeth help you by visiting her website at negotiatingatwork.com.
- From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.
Find Your Dream Job, Episode 409:
Think About More than Money When Negotiating a Job Offer, with Elizabeth Robillard
Airdate: July 26, 2023
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.
Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.
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Go to macslist.org/topresume.
You get a job offer.
And if the employer agrees to the salary you want, you should say yes, right?
Think again, says today’s guest.
You also need to look at other factors like benefits, flexible schedules, and opportunities for growth.
Elizabeth Robillard is here to talk about why you need to think about more than money when negotiating a job offer.
She’s the founder of Negotiating at Work.
Her company offers coaching, consulting, and practical advice on how to manage your career and negotiate for yourself.
Elizabeth joins us from Portland, Oregon.
Well, let’s jump right into it, Elizabeth. Why is it important for job seekers to consider more than salary alone when negotiating a job offer?
Yeah, it’s really important to think about the whole package. What’s gonna make you happy at work? And though money is very important, it’s not the only thing that makes for a great job and makes you happy. Other things that make you happy are a flexible schedule. A schedule that allows you to take care of your family, work out, have self-care, other things that are important. What’s your boss like? What’s the work culture like? What are the benefits?
All of these things, the whole package, are what make you happy and successful and have a long, fulfilling career, and I think we get a little myopic about just that number and forget there’s so many other things than salary that make us happy.
In your experience, Elizabeth, you work with so many job seekers and candidates. Do most people think about more than salary when they get that job offer? Or are they focused on the number alone?
You know, I think it looms large. The number is very important, and it tends to be the thing we anchor on. It’s now in many states required to be listed – the job salary range.
So I think it looms pretty big. But I have found that people also think about title. What seniority level? How am I gonna be perceived? So those two tend to go hand in hand. I try and remind people. ask about their benefits. If you’re making more money, but your benefits come out of your paycheck or out of your pocket, it might not feel like more money.
So I do think it is a big part of people’s, sort of, psyche around new jobs. But, hopefully, over time and with this podcast, they can learn to think a little bit more expansively.
What do you think stops people from thinking about more than salary? I mean, I agree with your point about title. I do think that looms large, as well. But is it inexperienced negotiation? What do you think is a factor that leads to that myopia that you were talking about a moment ago?
This is pretty emotional. Thinking about negotiating, you’re probably pretty good at negotiating a car or a house. You’ve negotiated a lot of things. But when it’s about you and your career and your worth, money is really about your worth.
I think people get really afraid and emotional. Am I worth it? They negotiate themselves down. “I’m not gonna ask for that. I’d never get it.”
So I think it’s tied up in how we feel about ourselves. And so, really, I think people need to think less about what are they worth and what skills are they bringing. And what is this job worth, in general, and not about me?
But I do think it’s just really emotional. So a lot of the work I do with people is to help them practice asking for that big number, asking for other things, so that we have experience with that, and it’s not so scary.
Do employers expect candidates to bring up topics other than salary when a job offer’s on the table?
Good recruiters do. I mean, I have found that good recruiters want you to understand the whole package. Often the salary range is baked. So you’re not necessarily gonna get a lot more money. We have what we have, especially in this economic climate. There is a pot of money for salaries, and you may not get more.
So I think a good recruiter really wants you to understand the whole package. That’s all the benefits, the time off, the company culture, the team you’re joining. All of that comes together to make a great offer, and I think your recruiter – it’s in their best interest to help you understand that the salary is a piece of an entire package. That isn’t always how it goes. But that is for sure in the best interest of the company and in your best interest to really think holistically.
I’ve seen recently companies create entire benefit packages they’ll share ahead of time. Even videos about what it’s like to work at the company. That’s all to help you understand that the number is only a piece of the puzzle.
What happens, Elizabeth, if you’re a candidate and you only think about salary when negotiating a job offer?
I think you leave a lot on the table. Negotiations are actually about creating workable options. You need some things you care a lot about. They have things they care a lot about and things to trade. We don’t always get everything we want in a negotiation. You may not get that title or that salary, but you may be able to get something else.
And so if you are really, again, myopic about just that number, you forget that you can ask for support. A good example might be, in order for me to do this job, I’m gonna need an assistant, or I’m gonna need some training, or I have a kid who plays a sport, and I need to be able to get them to and from two afternoons a week. Those are all things that you need to ask for, and your moment to ask is when you’re negotiating and not later.
So really, the best advice I can give you is to think bigger. Think about other things that are important to your success and happiness at work, and have those listed so you can ask about them and negotiate with them when you’re negotiating that offer.
We’re talking about what to do when a job offer’s on the table for a particular position. But in your experience, Elizabeth, what happens to someone’s career if they focus only on salary when they do receive offers as they move from position to position throughout their career?
Thinking just about money, you need to land that first job, and so if you just think, I have to maximize this one moment of my career. I have to get this number. You maybe miss the chance to land in that job. Landing in that job opens the door for lots of other moments of your career. A promotion. An interesting project that gets you in front of another leader who can bring you into their organization.
So getting myopic, again, about money limits your opportunity to negotiate the whole package but may also not get you that foot in the door. Once you get in the door, the next thing you have to think about is your promotions.
And there’s a well-documented pay gap we just talked about. There’s an even better-documented promotion gap. So most women don’t make that first leap to manager at the same rate as men. Again, well-documented promotion gap.
So thinking less about I need to make this number, and instead, I need to make the next step in my career and the next step. That will actually maximize your money throughout your career, your income throughout your career. Not getting that first step to manager is probably more detrimental than not getting that pay number, that first job offer.
Okay, hold that thought, Elizabeth. I want to talk more about that promotion gap in the second segment. Stay with us. When we return, Elizabeth Robillard will continue to share her advice about why you need to think about more than money when negotiating a job offer. Stay with us.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Elizabeth Robillard.
She’s the founder of Negotiating at Work. Her company offers coaching, consulting, and practical advice on how to manage your career and negotiate for yourself.
Elizabeth joins us from Portland, Oregon.
Now, Elizabeth, before the break, we were talking about why you need to think about more than money when negotiating a job offer, and you brought up the point of the promotion gap. This is something you should consider when an offer is on the table.
Tell us more about that. You made the point that it can be an important issue for men and women, and people of color. What difference can not paying attention to the promotion gap make in affecting the creation of wealth throughout the course of your career?
It’s huge. If we just look at the number of CEOs who are women, I think on last check, it was three percent of CEOs are women. So if you enter that first job and you’re doing great, but you don’t keep pushing yourself and talking to your manager and thinking about how you’re positioned for that next step, you will fall behind. All of the statistics show that women and women of color fall behind at that first rung of the ladder to manager.
That stays with you throughout your career both economically, so from a pay perspective, and from a title perspective. So it’s really important not just to think about that first moment of getting the job and the negotiation there but to think about your whole career as an ongoing negotiation.
Are you working somewhere where you’re valued? Do they know your value? Do they know what your career aspirations are? And lean into that. Make sure it is well known, and your value is well documented so that you don’t get left behind on that first rung. It will have financial impact for your whole career. You will not make that C-suite if you haven’t thought about how you’re gonna climb the ladder effectively.
How do you do that when you’re talking to a recruiter or a hiring manager? The offer’s on the table. You want to pay attention to this. You want to make sure that you are on a path to get to the position that you want and create that wealth that you are hoping to produce during the course of your career. But in practical terms, Elizabeth, what do you do when you’re talking about that offer?
Yeah, information is power. So use their website to understand how many women are in leadership in that company, what the leadership team looks like.
Ask questions of your recruiter. What is the promotion path? How often are people promoted from this position to the next position? What does that look like? What are you gonna be measured on?
All of that helps you understand what this company culture is like and what you’re gonna have to do to rise within this company. So, again, that moment of you’ve got that job offer; it’s not a yes, no question. Let’s open it up and ask a bunch of questions of the recruiter about the place you are going to join and what success looks like. That helps you understand, is this a place I can grow?
The worst thing, probably, is to take a job where there is no growth opportunity, and you are stuck at the one rung in the ladder, that one job offer, and that one salary for too long. Think about that moment as a way to really probe the recruiter about the company’s culture.
In your experience, Elizabeth, how do recruiters or hiring managers react when they get questions like that about their promotion path?
I think we tend to think this is sort of adversarial, like it’s a win-lose negotiation, a zero-sum game. It’s not, and recruiters don’t think like that. They want to find great talent for this role. They want somebody who comes in, is fired up about this company and this job opportunity, and does great and succeeds. So don’t make it adversarial.
So your questions, “Thank you so much for the job offer. I’m really excited. Let me ask a few more questions. I’m trying to understand the big picture.” It’s very collaborative.
I think the best negotiations are when you invite the other person to sort of come on a journey with you. Let me help you understand what I’m looking for. What are you looking for? How do we find something that meets everybody’s needs?
So it doesn’t have to be an us versus them or adversarial. It really should be collaborative, and you should invite them to understand you as a candidate at that moment. So that they may understand what other things they can bring to the table that you haven’t thought of.
Hey, if you tell them, you’re really interested in the environment. They may tell you about the program they have, the ESG program, the sustainability team, and the initiative. You want to understand more, and that’s what they’re there to help you do. So invite them to understand you better so you can understand the company better.
One of your recommendations for looking at more than money when negotiating a job offer is to consider lots and lots of other options besides money. You mentioned a few in the first segment. We’ve talked about the promotion gap. What are examples of other options that you always recommend a candidate consider when approaching a job offer?
There’s so many, and it really starts with what you care about. So I’ll give you a few, but I think the homework for everybody listening is what’s important to me. You start from that.
But the things to think about are work location. There’s a lot of stories in the news right now about hybrid, in-office, remote. Where am I gonna be working? And how does that fit with my life?
What are the hours? Is there flexibility? Again, if you have other responsibilities you want to take care of in the day, what’s that gonna feel like?
Your start date is negotiable. Maybe you are burning out at your last job, and you want some time off in between. Negotiate when you start.
Obviously, we talked about title and salary. Those are negotiable.
What support staff do you have? What team is in place? What training and continuing education can you get? I like to remind people that there may not be more money for salary, but there may be money for your training and education.
So all of that and many, many more things are negotiable. And it really starts from what will make me the most happy and successful in this new job. And can I ask for it?
How do you coach your clients to do this? Do you suggest, for example, a shortlist? And once you’ve identified the options you want to talk to a recruiter about, and you touched on this a moment ago. But I’d like to hear more about it.
How do you raise these subjects? And what should you expect in terms of the lengths of these conversations? Is this gonna be a one-and-done call? Or something that might involve some back-and-forth over the course of several days?
Yeah, it’s a good question. So I think I’ll start with the first question. Which is, how do I coach people? You’ve got to make your list. What is important to you? And stack rank it. I love to force my clients to rank the more important to the less important. You are not gonna get everything you ask for.
And so, what are you willing to trade away? What is least important to you, and what is most important? And force yourself to rank those in order of importance to you. So we start there.
In terms of how to approach it? How long is it gonna take? I really like to get information first. So you get a job offer, and I always coach my clients to ask for every piece of information you can get.
Can you send me the benefits package? Can you send me the time off information? Can you send me…? Anything the recruiter can share in writing, let’s get it. Is there a stock option plan? What does the 401K look like? Let’s get it all in writing because now we have the full picture. Then you start your negotiation back.
So you ask for some time. You say I’d love to look at the offer. I’ll get back to you in a few days, and then you ask for a phone call. So, you don’t put it all in writing. You need to have this negotiation over a phone call, maybe a video call to humanize it, and to, again, invite them to collaborate.
Depending on how much you’re asking for, maybe what level of the organization, it might take longer. So if this is your first role or you are changing careers, and you have this opportunity to get this new job you maybe are less qualified for, don’t string this on too long. Don’t drag this out too long. Take that offer. Maybe ask for one or two things, but get started. Get on the job.
I think if you’re later in your career, and I coach a lot of mid-career people; let’s make it work. Take the time. There is no reason to rush this negotiation. It may take a week. It may take you asking for some things, them going back figuring out what they can do, you getting back on the phone, and a bit of back and forth. That’s okay. There is no reason to rush, especially if this is a very senior-level position. It can take a while to land on the right benefits package for everybody.
Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Elizabeth. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?
Yeah, so I run a coaching and speaking firm called, Negotiating At Work, as you said, and I love to speak at conferences, speak at companies, meet people who are in the midst, maybe, of a negotiation or a career change, and help them. One thing I always say is I love to hear your negotiation stories. So I’m willing to have virtual coffee with anyone, and the only thing I say is I might use your negotiation story in my teaching.
Well, terrific. I know listeners can learn more about you and your services and share their negotiation stories with you by visiting your website, www.negotiatingatwork.com, and we’ll be sure to include that in the show notes and the website article for your interview.
Now, Elizabeth, given all of the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about why you need to think about more than money when negotiating a job offer?
Yeah, I love for people to remember that careers are long. This one moment, this one negotiation, is just a series of negotiations. The minute you get on that job, you’re thinking about your longer-term prospects. So just remember, negotiations rarely go as planned, and no is just the beginning. Stick with it.
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