Smith Women in Business: Always Negotiate

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By Jessica Gershuny

As the Director of Women’s Initiatives for the PTMBAA, I think a lot about the skills that women must use to succeed in the classroom and the boardroom. From a candid conversation had over champagne last spring to a toastmaster-style public speaking workshop, Smith Women in Business events have brought together part-time students to discuss gender-related challenges and to strengthen core business skills. Our most recent event, the Power of Negotiating with Kim Keating, took place at the DC campus on September 30th.

The ability and willingness to negotiate for salary or professional advancement is a critical, yet often underdeveloped, skill set. Studies have shown that fewer than 50% of job candidates negotiate for salary, and women are 30% less likely to negotiate than men. So how do MBA candidates empower each other to know their worth and not leave money on the table? Further, how do we leverage our B-School experience to ask for that raise or promotion before graduation day?

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Jess with Kim Keating

Kim Keating, CEO & Founder of Keating Associates is an expert in salary negotiations and committed to helping women identify their value and get paid their worth. Kicking off the workshop, Kim addressed the fears we face when choosing to negotiate and key action steps to take before entering a negotiation in order to maximize your financial gain. She emphasized the importance of conducting salary market research and developing a BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement). These steps allow women to make informed decisions at the negotiating table and know when to walk away.

Key Takeaways

  1. Do your homework and know the market rates before getting to the table.
  2. Silence is golden and can be a powerful negotiating tool. Don’t be afraid to pause.
  3. Ask data-driven questions during the interview process, and request sources for the interviewer’s salary quotes.
  4. Make an informed decision. Understand your BATNA as it relates to the full compensation package. Prioritize your ‘must haves’, ‘great to haves’ and ‘nice but not necessary to haves’. Know when to walk away.
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Power poses!

At the end of the event, the workshop attendees took an oath that we will never take the first offer (no matter how awesome it is) ever again. This measure will ensure that we hold each other accountable and support each other throughout our career negotiations.

I am grateful for the women in our cohort, including Michelle Gallagher, for making this event a reality. Although the worth of many things in life can be negotiated, you simply can’t put a price on you very own network of capable, collaborative businesswomen. #knowyourworth #getpaid

Jessica Gershuny is the Director of Women’s Initiatives for the Part-Time MBA Association. Her focus at Smith is Human Capital and Organizational Behavior. She highly recommends the Smith elective: Collaborative and Competitive Negotiation. In her day-job, Jessica is a certified federal and graduate school career coach with over five years’ experience in talent acquisition and coaching. She is passionate about women’s empowerment in and out of the workplace. Find her on LinkedIn.