Last Monday I attended a Negotiation Workshop put on by Women Who Code Sydney. The speaker (Megan Cook from Atlassian) walked us through the reasons why negotiation is particularly difficult for women, along with a framework that we can use for negotiation in the future. Her approach was very similar to the one from Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, a book that I read in the Mi9 book club last year. The idea is that instead of viewing negotiation as a zero-sum game (where if I win you lose), we should instead approach it as a collaborative attempt to solve a problem. People asked questions like how you handle an offer from a startup versus an established company, and thorny ethical issues like whether you should lie when they ask your previous salary. (That one was mine, and FWIW I come down on the “Either lie or decline to give an answer” side of the spectrum.)
Coincidentally, on Friday I had breakfast with a friend who is starting out in her tech career and has a few competing offers to weigh up. I found myself advising her to push harder than I’ve done myself in previous negotiations. (That was a common thread at the workshop – the fact that women feel more comfortable negotiating on someone else’s behalf than their own.) I acknowledged as much, telling her my own history and the times I’ve regretted not asking for more. I’m also in the unique position now of having spent more than a year hiring developers for a team, so I’ve seen firsthand how it works from the other side of the table. “I know what you’re worried about,” I said, “and they won’t not like you if you negotiate. Trust me.” You can even turn down jobs and still remain on good terms with the company you rejected. It’s not as personal as you think.
And just to round out a negotiation-themed week, I found a couple great links that should be required reading for anyone weighing up a job offer from a tech company:
- What to Considering in Your Startup Job Offer
- How to Negotiate Your Offer at a Tech Company (or Anywhere)
Hopefully you find them as useful as I did!