Your Worth Is Worth Negotiating

Get what you deserve.

Ashely Batz Photography

“Give me the confidence of a mediocre white man,” is the jaded inspirational quote we need for 2018. Consider this research finding: a man will apply for a job when he meets only 60 percent of the qualifications, while women only apply if they meet 100 percent of them. This reality helps motivate powerhouse attorney and published author, Bärí WilliamsBärí has decided to be more like men who aren’t afraid of reaching for more. And she wants you to do the same  

Give me the confidence of a mediocre white man.

Unfortunately, just reading the word “negotiating” can evoke fear in many of us. When was the last time you negotiated and advocated your worth? Was it with a client on your hourly rates? Was it for a raise at your current job or perhaps for a starting salary at a new one? Asking for more is intimidating and something women don’t do enough. The Assembly recently partnered with Six Degrees Society SF to share tools to get over these obstacles. The panel of inspiring women included Bärí, as well as Six Degrees Society founder, Emily Merrell, and The Assembly’s own co-founder and CEO, Molly Goodson.

You have power.

“You have power,” Molly assured the audience. To demonstrate that truth, she offered an anecdote from her days as an entertainment reporter interviewing celebrities on the red carpet. When she started, Molly was nervous and differential to the celebrities. Then one day a colleague pointed out: they’re just doing their job, too. These celebrities weren’t doing Molly a favor by talking to her. They had something to promote and needed access to her audience. Often in a job or salary negotiation, we can falsely think that the employer or client has all the power. But just like on the red carpet, both sides have something to gain and something to lose.

While recognizing your own power and worth is a great step, women also need practical tools for negotiating. The panel had our back, with these takeaways:

Tips for Negotiating for What You Deserve

  • Think hard about what you want. Is it a certain salary, stock option package, or flexibility? In addition to cash compensation, you can negotiate PTO or work from home days. Get creative.
  • Never take the first offer. Whether you’re a consultant or employee, companies always expect to negotiate. Don’t leave money on the table by accepting the first number. 
  • Over quote. When you’re the one offering a price, go higher than you want. Since people always expect to negotiate, you need room to come down.
  • Take time. If you’re presented a number that doesn’t work, say thank you for the offer, restate your interest in working together, remind them of what you can bring, and then say the compensation is not where you expected based on your research of the market. Next, explain you’ll need some time to think about it. It’s OK to take a couple days. And remember, if they’ve made an offer, they are invested in you joining.
  • Understand how the hiring process works: Many employers aren’t looking for the perfect qualifications or a prestigious degree or GPA. Instead they want to know why you’re a good fit. If you can explain that, they will see your worth and compensate you for it. One way to stand out: put more time into a personalized email or cover letter. Don’t worry about whether your resume has the perfect qualifications and go for it.
  • Don’t give your services for “free.” You can wave your quote if you want the exposure, for example, but always get something tangible back. That can be a social media promotion, assets to use on your site, or guaranteed introductions to other paying clients.

It’s uncomfortable to attach a dollar amount to our personhood. By asking for more, we put ourselves out there for rejection. But think about that mediocre man. If he can ask for more than he deserves, you can ask for what you’re worth.

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