One of the questions we’ve asked thousands of women in the Fairygodboss community is, “What career advice would give another woman considering a job at your employer?” Everyone’s answers are different, but there are four recurring themes that can help you whether you’re conducting a job search or simply trying to figure out how to better navigate your career.
1. Negotiate your starting salary.
It's not surprising that this is one of the most common pieces of advice our community gives. Women at Oracle, and companies as wide-ranging as Microsoft, The Home Depot and Calvin Klein say that other women should “Negotiate their starting salaries.” Often times, this comment in a job review is accompanied by an explanation that small percentage increases in salaries every year are the norm at their employer. Women say things like: “I was just happy to get the job and took the first offer. I should have negotiated for a higher starting salary.” Or this detailed review from a woman at Neilsen Holdings: “Negotiate your pay well when you come into the organization since merit raises are kept tightly to a 2 to 3% budget. HR will say that to grow your pay you should focus on moving toward promotion, but even for promotions HR will typically determine that you already fall in the role’s range and not give you an increase due to the very wide pay bands. HR policy also includes differentiating not only on the percent of your raise but also on the timing. Manager roles and above wait up to 18 months between raises unless you’re the very top rated talent.”
2. Ask for what you want.
It’s not just money that women think others should be more vocal about negotiating. When it comes to things like more work flexibility, getting plum project assignments or reduced travel schedules after having a baby, women in our community tell other women to go for it, even if it seems hard: “Find and own your voice. If there are things that are important to you, negotiate for them. If they are deal-breakers, you decide if it’s important enough for you. Oftentimes it is truly a matter of asking.” Or: “Negotiate what you need/want. Anything is possible. Ask for what you need.” (Wouldn’t you like to know where she works? Spoiler alert: It’s a woman who works at EY).
3. Do your research.
There is a lot of advice about finding out more about what things are like at a company, in a department or within a certain group before taking a job. Culture is important, and it seems that many women feel burned by the consequences of doing too little due diligence and subsequently finding that their expectations are not met. As one woman writes: “Summer internship. Wish I did more research on the group I joined. Ended up being the only female in my particular group, and was called out as being ‘different’ than the 23-year old analysts I was working alongside during my final summer review.”
4. Speak up if something isn’t right.
This advice usually takes the form of “Don’t ignore problems and hope they will go away.” In other words, women tell other women to make a change or speak up, rather than stick to a job or put up with something that doesn’t make them happy. “I would not depend on leaving it to the management to get my promotion/raise. I would fight tooth and nail for my dues. I would also speak up about why technical projects went to the men, and why women were kept out of the company’s upcoming strategies.”
While every company and job has it’s differences, it’s fascinating to see that women of all income levels and seniority levels in our community repeatedly share these 4 pieces of advice. If you hesitate to take this advice seriously because these people are perfect strangers making generalizations, consider where you currently get your career advice. According to a recent poll Fairygodboss conducted. 60% of women said that their career advice came from articles and things they read, as opposed to the advice of people they knew, like mentors or sponsors at work, or family and friends.
Fairygodboss survey: Where do women get career advice?
Whether you’re thinking through strategies to get promoted more quickly, or finding out which departments of companies are the best for the work-life balance you want, other people who’ve lived through those experiences are, by definition, experts. Few of us actually can afford the time or money it takes to get truly personalized advice from career coaches, but the good news is that in the meantime, the wisdom of the crowds may be able to serve you quite well. The voices of millions of employees out there makes every job seeker and career planner’s life just a little bit easier.
This article was originally published on Forbes.
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