Every career stage requires some negotiation
Whether you are buying a house or starting a new job, negotiation skills are important to us all in every aspect of our lives. Each career stage will have different priorities, but it’s important to keep these skills live and active. From your entry-level offer until you start thinking about your retirement package, many of your choices will be governed by how you negotiate. Acquiring skills in this area is vital. Just because you are in a different career stage doesn’t mean to say you stop negotiating.
Here are just a few of the issues you can negotiate on at each career stage.
At entry level we are usually afraid of negotiation. Many entry level candidates are so glad to even have a job that they forget to negotiate. Women who are raised to be less assertive fall into their first gender career trap. The gender pay gap starts with your first job. But this is the career stage where it is important to practise to get into the negotiation habit! Whatever offer is on the table, always ask if there is flexibility for improvement right from the beginning. The worst thing that can happen is that the person will say no. This gives you the opportunity to push forward. Many negotiators say they reject 3 times before they finally concede. Rejection is part of life and gives you the opportunity to repeat your USP or your value adding mission statement.
Even if you can’t negotiate on money, try targeting responsibilities, training opportunities or a salary review in 6 months. Ask for a mentor. At this career stage it’s all about getting negotiation experience and developing new skills. If you improve your position too, well that is also a big plus.
Mid-career is a tricky time for women. Very often they feel they have to make compromises or settle around childcare or family responsibilities. Women accept lower level jobs, don’t put themselves forward for promotion and even ask for part-time work with pay cuts, rather than negotiate greater flexibility in their work arrangements. This is time to step up on negotiation. Very often the most challenging negotiation can be with your own partner. Men still take on a much lower level of childcare and domestic responsibilities. Now is the time to negotiate at home too, as well as with your boss. Do you need a sponsor to support you? Make sure you find one.
At a senior level your negotiations should target elements that will add to your increased visibility, authority and influence as well as longer term financial security. This is not just within your company, but also your sector. The higher your profile, the greater the opportunities. Now is the time to focus on job title, P & L responsibility and freedom to hire and fire and even access to certain clubs to committees. Maybe your bonus needs some adjustment or you would like stock options. If you are running the show you want to have full credit for it. Women very often end up second in command doing all the work and having none of the glory or money for it. Don’t let that happen to you. Even women at this level with all their business smarts frequently negotiate less hard than their male colleague.
Now you should be doing everything to protect your pensionable earnings within the terms of your company pension scheme if there is one. Depending on your goals post-retirement, ask for the chance to discuss consulting opportunities or even N.E.D. (Non Executive Director) roles if this is what you would like. Make sure you have access to a Career Transition Coach. Retirement is a major transition and a career stage for which many are unprepared. Don’t let that be you.
Honing your negotiation skills is not just a career and business skill but also a life skill. Make sure yours are first class regardless of your career phase.
Many people don’t start thinking about their careers until there is a problem. So take a few moments when you are relaxed, to understand what is important to you. Have our Career Reflections Worksheets delivered right into your in-box. Print them out in the old school way or keep them open on your phone. Use them as a guide to give your thoughts some structure.
Invest some time in yourself! Don’t wait until it’s too late!