Women in IT: Knowing our Value

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Last week I shared my experience as a woman in technology attending the Grace Hopper conference. I promised to share the one distinct way, when it comes to landing that dream job, women are very different from men. And it’s the one thing that’s holding us back from achieving all that’s possible in our careers.

When it comes to salary negotiation, unfortunately, women still live in the dark ages. We often don’t know our value or how to ask for what we’re worth. And during the last two decades of my career, this hasn’t changed a bit. We don’t do this well – in many cases, we don’t do it at all. Men have no problem stating what they want or need or negotiating a job offer.

Women, on the other hand, are so grateful to be chosen. Too often, we just say ‘yes’ because we’re afraid they’ll rescind the offer.

At the Grace Hopper conference one session, Letter to my younger self: Things I wish I knew when I first started working, offered some irresistible lessons. It was a packed session; the content was practical and funny. The speakers performed a skit on how to negotiate a job offer. Despite their practical advice, attendees begged the presenters for more. Afterward, during the Q&A, women were lined up at the microphone, and anxiously asked: HOW do I negotiate a job offer?

Why do we have such a hard time with this?

First, here’s my advice on how to prepare for and get a solid job offer:

Fake it until you make it. This is all about confidence and self-worth. And until you have these, you have to pretend you do. How, you ask? Read on.

Do your research. To increase your confidence, you must know what you’re worth. If you need data (yes, I’m talking to you engineers out there) then go to salary.com to see what the pay range is for your skill set and job title. Use this data to arm yourself.

Up your value. Update your LinkedIn profile regularly and consistently. This keeps you at the top of peoples’ (and recruiters’) inboxes. Get recommendations from current colleagues who value your work. Put your resume in the hands of trusted friends. People know people. Tell them you’re looking. Be open to possibilities. Then interview. Get a job offer and ask for what you want. Worst-case scenario: You’ll get interview practice and build confidence and self-esteem in the process. Best-case scenario: You’ll get a job offer from an unexpected and great company and you’ll consider it.

You can’t negotiate an offer until you have one, so start here. In my next post, I’ll share some scenarios on how you can negotiate a job offer – and get what you’re worth. Until then, you can check out some of my take-aways from this session at the Grace Hopper conference on Twitter @angelaprgirl #ghc12.

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