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"I know HOW to negotiate-- but I suck at it!"

Why Women Need Negotiating Skills in the Workplace

by Jen Creer  |  10020 views  |  7 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Amy and her partner don’t apologize for their fees, and they will explain to clients up front (ask me how I know) that they are happy to work with you on a Sunday, but you will pay more for this. Because if they have to choose between working and playing with their kids? They’ll play with the kids, thanks. And amazingly, (I say amazingly because I am a woman who undersells herself), clients respect this and hire them and love them for it. Amy added, “None of the above would work is we didn't believe it and live it; but knowing how to communicate it (and agreeing to the importance of such communication) has made a difference in the life of SilverBox.”

When I look back on the hourly rate I charged my clients when I first started consulting two years ago, I wince a little bit. It is a little embarrassing. I had based my fees on talking to people in my area about the industry, but what I learned (quickly, fortunately) was that those fees are based on clients who are located in rural Missouri, where I live. If you have clients on the coasts or clients in large metropolitan areas, you have to make adjustments. And perhaps the single-most important thing I have learned is not to base my fees on what I can live on, but to base them, instead, on what I am worth in this industry.

It behooves us as women to advocate for ourselves, not only because then we get fairer compensation—but because it also has a trickle-down effect on other professional women. If we raise the bar for what our salaries are, then when we check, we will have higher salaries to report. So, if you can’t negotiate for yourself, think back to that imaginary best friend, sister, mother, cousin, and negotiate for her. For us.

About the Author

Jen Creer is a medical editor who has successfully run her own company, Edit Rx, LLC, for more than two years.

Read more by Jen Creer

7 comments so far...

  • Hi all, whew, the business comes across as a bit more professional & on-top-of-things in the above article than perhaps it is. [Evidence: I've yet to shower and it's now 3PM & instead of breakfast and or lunch, brought the 2-liter of Diet Coke into the office while trying to catch up to the point where I'm only three solid days behind...]
    but, eh...
    am excited to learn from all of you; esp on the issue of Balance. If going to yoga for 1.5 hours means you'll have 1.5 hours less of potential productive work time, how do you make yourself grab your mat?
    Oh, clearly, I am off topic (promise to search archives soon) but wanted to say hello.
    What a neat community! Thanks for the heads up, Jen.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by a.enderle on 20th June 2007

  • It will be interesting to see how my daughter fares in 20 years with this issue. More women are making more than men these days (in different professions), enough so that more men stay home with children than 20 years ago. I hope in 20 years more women have a balanced pay for the same work.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 20th June 2007

  • Great article Jen - I'm waiting for the rest as I'm in the market for a better salary and some more freelance work if I can find it.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by CursingMama on 19th June 2007

  • Victoria-- that is a horrible story! I think we all have some of those in our back pockets though...

    Heather, I'm so glad you're here! Please check back often!


    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jen Creer on 19th June 2007

  • Great article and good advice. I think everybody experienced this before. Not just women but men as well. Men are just better at asking for more then us. I had a similar situation at my previous job. I brought in a friend (female) for an interview with my group. They hired her and I told her my comp. It took me 3 weeks to negotiate it with my boss. She was reporting to a different boss within our group. He made her an offer that was quite better then mine from the get go. I was stunned. By then I've learned that my boss was the cheapest guy on earth! I was pissed and went to him asking about comp discrepancy between my friend and me. He lied straight into my face and said that HR was blocking him from offering me more at the time. I was so appalled by his lying that I walked out. I had a good relationship with my friend's boss and he came up to me afterwards and said that the took care of my comp and he rolled his eyes about my boss. After that incident I lost all respect for my boss because he was simply dishonest.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Victoria on 19th June 2007

  • Jen, thanks for a great article and Heather, I agree with you - I think you can only negotiate well if you start from an emotional position of strength (i.e. I deserve what I am asking for). Two years ago I found out that someone at the firm where I worked, who was at the same level as me but had more experience, was given a higher salary. We had the same job, same responsibilities and I was at the firm longer. So I went and asked for my salary to match his. I believed I deserved this even though I could also play devil's advocate and argue that his experience was worth more money. I was nervous, but I think the fact that I felt that I deserved this helped me negotiate successfully.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 19th June 2007

  • Finding self-worth, as in independent, working woman, is something I struggle with. I am looking forward to the next two articles and any comments readers might have on this subject.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Heather C. on 19th June 2007