Two Negotiation Strategies for Avoiding the Career Combover

Poor Donald Trump. He’s built his entire identity around a bad attitude and a combover. The way his presidential quest is going his only legacy that will stand the test of time will be his garish replica in the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Metaphorically speaking, women, you too are in danger of sporting a career combover. Think about it: the moment you get your diploma, put on your little Ann Taylor pencil skirt and heels and land your first job to your retirement party at age 92, you are negotiating your identity.

That means the salary you ask for in your first interview is inextricably tied to your tenth. So if you plan on stringing a strand of career pearls, you need to teach people who you are and how to treat you from the very beginning.

And it’s not just salaries and fees we’re talking about. It’s the kinds of projects you say yes to, what you speak about and speak up for, the organizations you volunteer for, whether you gossip at the water cooler or hold people to a higher ground–all these choices conspire to generate your identity.

Can you say that your salary or fee is a worthy reflection of your true, core identity and the business and/or market you serve? Or are you inadvertently creating your own obsolescence by failing to negotiate?

If that question takes you more than half a second to answer, you can keep the combover at bay by doing two things right now: Research and reflect.

Research shows that women chronically underestimate their value and chronically identify lesser incomes as fair. For this reason, it’s rational and imperative for us to do what all first-class negotiators do:

  1. Research the market.
  2. Price our goods, services, and salaries/benefits accordingly.
  3. Begin to recognize opportunities to negotiate value for time, service and product.
  4. Practice asking for what we want based on the value we bring to the table rather than what we need or think is fair.

Some of your resources here are:

Next, reflect. Take a look at your entire career and make a list of the benefits your clients, customers or employers have derived from your work. What results do you produce? What accomplishments big or small? That list will reveal not only the quantifiable measure of your value, but the qualitative value of doing business with you. Your intrinsic values that Brand You.

Your list will also reveal the skills and capacities that are so embedded in your work DNA you may forget to see them as bargaining chips in selling Brand You in your next negotiation.