“I Know What I’m Worth”



Normally I would use any example from the Netflix series House of Cards as a cautionary tale for real life. But then Episode 5 in Season 3 came along and for one tiny moment, Doug Stamper gave us  a lesson in salary negotiations.

Doug Stamper is the former chief of staff of ruthless Frank Underwood. Underwood has lost faith in Stamper, so off he goes to prove he still has an edge. Stamper presents himself to Underwood's rival Heather Dunbar as a potential chief of staff. When he names his number, Dunbar remarks, "I thought this wasn't about the money." Stamper replies, (and I am paraphrasing) "It's not. But I know what I'm worth."

Stamper is desperate for this opportunity, but that's not enough for him to cave during salary negotiations. He knows what he is worth. Do you?

While this post is directed at both genders, statistics show that men are four times more likely to negotiate salary, and when women do negotiate, they ask for 30% less than their male counterparts. This isn't about getting to more money, it's about getting to the right money.

Do you know what you're worth? Do your homework. Use salary websites, speak with a headhunter or a recruiter, ask around the industry. Your situation, like everyone else's, is unique, but you can get an idea of what to expect.

Do you know how to negotiate? Some live for the thrill of negotiations, others... not so much. And you know my favorite saying, "practice makes habit." Start small with low stakes: with friends when deciding where and when  to go for dinner; practice at the farmer's market, at a garage sale. Practice until the difficult becomes the routine.

Do you know how to be creative with numbers? Baseball super-agent Scott Boras made the baseball world's collective jaw drop with Max Scherzer's $210 million deal  with the Washington Nationals this past offseason. By understanding DC tax laws and negotiating an aggressive bonus structure, Scherzer was able to save 7 - 8 figures in tax dollars.

If you're not negotiating because of fear, keep this in mind: if the organization has gotten to the point of an offer, they like you, they really like you. It takes a great deal of time and money to find the right candidate. An organization worth joining will rarely let their investment slip away during the negotiation process. What's the worst that can happen?


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