I’m often asked for advice by friends and peers on the art of negotiation. Over my many(ahem) years of hiring experience, I’ve become a skilled advocate for the businesses that I’m hiring for, and have been able to hire tonnes of legitimately awesome humans to help towards their mission.
There’s a real skill to successful negotiation from the business side of the fence; a flow you need to create throughout the recruitment process that means that by the time you are ready to offer someone a job, you know what their motivations are and what matters most to them, as well as what matters most to the business you are representing. From that place of understanding you can safely lead the process to a positive outcome for all, whether or not the person ultimately joins the business.
I’ve been great at helping from the other side also, supporting others in getting clear around what matters most to them; advising when to show their hand and when not to, and frankly having the bravery to say no when they need to say no and letting them know that there is almost always at least some wriggle room (but you didn’t hear that from me).
At the time I didn’t really clock how strange it was for a person who understands the detailed inner workings of the offer process, to be such a novice when it came to negotiating their own situation.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Now I can see very tangibly the reason behind the disconnect. Because, whilst I’m a seasoned recruiter, I’m also a seasoned female, with all of the wonderful self deprecating characteristics that are commonly found within that group.
You know, the sticky stuff a lot of us wade through; the imposter syndrome, the low self esteem, the desire to feel ridiculously qualified for the role you are applying for, the ‘work really hard and wait for people to notice how good you are’ school of thought.
We have had a lot to contend with as women in the working world over the years, and it’s a delight to see the number of positive initiatives out there to support our development and progression in modern times. We need that continued support and focus from business world at large, gender immaterial, to help reduce the gender pay gap and get us there.
Sadly I am afraid that stuff alone won’t suffice on this one. We, as women, are responsible for our life experiences and are fully capable of creating a better deal for ourselves in the here and now; in the way we coach ourselves (and one another) to break through and ask for what we are worth.
There is no quick fix here.
That’s right my friends, personal perception is everything. You won’t be able to effectively ask for more, until you truly believe you are worth it. We will never really progress past this point until we change the negative conversations that we are having with ourselves (on repeat).
The shift here can be a painful one as it comes from deep within, and a change of this magnitude takes time and a lot of investment. The lead time for my shift was over a number of years and, whilst that is something that I continue to work on today, I am happy to say I do so from a place of now feeling brave enough to ask for what I perceive to be my true value.
At a recent #YouEqualTech meetup in London, we were reminded by Susie Ashfield that being brave first is key and that the confidence will come later. We have to say yes to the things that scare us and be prepared to figure some stuff out along the way. I’ve managed to do that part, and I am pleased to say it works.
When it came to my ‘negotiation bootcamp’, some of the other things I have found most supportive have been:
Never underestimate the power of the people you surround yourself with. They can make you or break you. Have you ever experienced a time when you feel like a friend is actively trying to dissuade you from doing something like negotiating?
Sadly this is something that is extremely common – even I have been that person in the past. It’s simply down to the relationship that person is having with themselves, it isn’t about you. They can’t support you putting yourself out there, because they can’t fathom doing it for themselves. You don’t need to go as far as ‘breaking up’ with those people, but do clock those who champion and those who dampen in your friendship groups, and choose the right audience for the right conversation.
I’d love to hear more from those of you who are working on improving the conversation you have with yourselves. Let’s join forces and co-champion one another.
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