You’ll recall a couple weeks ago I wrote about making sure you get the role you signed up for. One reader, Ali responded to the post, and shared their experience on a related theme
I wanted to start by thanking you and Pat for sharing the last post. As I was reading it I realized that your third point: negotiate for everything you want upfront is not something I am accustomed to doing.
I’m a designer, and every time I’ve interviewed for a new position, I’ve wanted the role so badly that when I’m asked to volunteer information about my salary preference I give a low-ball estimate to get the position.
Usually people are OK with it, and since I haven’t heard any contentions I think that I’ve priced myself right.
However, the last time I was interviewing the hiring manager had a pretty visceral reaction to my estimate.
They paused and then asked me, “How are we supposed to take you seriously as a designer?”
I was thoroughly confused, and followed up with, “Do you need to see more of my work?”
The hiring manager’s response was, “No. We know you are a talented designer, and it’s clear from your designs. However, your low-ball offer makes me think that you don’t value your work and you won’t stand up for it. It also makes me wonder, if we have you manage junior designers, will you be willing to go to bat for them?”
I realized what the hiring manager was getting at: I was underselling myself by giving them a low-ball estimate.
I asked the hiring manager for a few days to think about what I wanted.
I actually didn’t even know what I was worth. I talked to a few senior designers, looked up market rates, and came to the sad realization that in most cases I had undersold myself by $50K!
I knew what I had to do.
The next day I got on the phone with the hiring manager, thanked them for giving me time, and gave them the offer I was looking for.
This time I had apparently overshot, because the hiring manager said they’d need to see if it was doable. I was nervous and wanted to shave off $10K but I just kept my mouth shut.
The hiring manager called me back a couple hours later and agreed to the amount I had requested.
A few months later I was promoted to lead a design team, and I soon realized that I did have to go to bat for myself and my team. It was a hard transition, and I wasn’t used to doing it. But I realized I had to value myself and stick up for the work my team had done, no one else would.
I wanted to share my experience with you, and hopefully save some of your readers from making the same mistake.
Ali’s story is definitely one we can all learn from.
The first lesson is the importance of valuing yourself.
When we give or accept a low-ball offer, we are sending a clear message to people: we don’t value ourselves or our work.
Ali was fortunate that the hiring manager pointed it out, and was concerned about Ali’s leadership style.
However, other people may have taken advantage of Ali’s generosity, putting Ali in a tight spot later on by giving Ali more work or denying a promotion or raise.
While the hiring manager seems helpful, there is one thing that they did, which is definitely a no-no: asking for Ali’s salary.
The second lesson is your salary is your business and no one else’s.
I know this is a common practice, but how much you made previously is nobody’s business but yours. In case you ever face it, there is a great post I read about week ago on how to deal with the question. You can read the post here.
When you divulge your previous salary many people take advantage and peg you at that level, rather than evaluating what they should pay you for your new role and the value you will produce.
It’s also an apples to oranges comparison. You might have made more or less given the company location, size, and you might even have been underpaid!
Finally, I liked how Ali kept quiet after giving the hiring manager the offer, even though they said they need to see if it was doable.
The third lesson is always have people check.
If all it takes it waiting a couple hours to see if someone can meet your ASK, then what is the harm in it?
Some people may play games like, “Ooh that’s aggressive.” Or, “That’s not what we typically pay for this position.” Blah blah blah… Just tell them to ASK.
Even if they can’t meet it, chances are they will come pretty close.
Now I’d like to know, if you’ve ever been given or accepted a low-ball offer like Ali? What did you do? Let me know in the comments below.