Salary Negotiation In Light Of The Satya Nadella Pay Gap Firestorm

In my latest career advice column for Money and Time, I cover salary negotiation, particularly for women in light of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s remarks not to negotiate but to trust the system. Here’s the unedited version:

If you’re a savvy, self-starting executive woman you might feel particularly deflated by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s remarks that women shouldn’t negotiate for more money. Here you are doing all the prescribed “right” things:

  1. Entering a high-growth industry, like tech;
  2. Working for a brand-name firm, like Microsoft;
  3. Proactively working on your negotiating skills, including preparing for your next review

…and then BAM! Here comes Nadella essentially saying you should just wait for the system to even out the gender pay gap. If the CEO isn’t going to support your efforts, why even bother?

Actually this is precisely why you should bother with all of the proactive hard work. Your effort and skills belong to you, and you can take them somewhere else if you should hit a brick wall. Sure, Satya Nadella’s unfortunate admission shows that a CEO of a major corporation may thwart your efforts just as a mid-level manager might or even a narrow-minded friend (in the guise of well-meaning advice). You may not get the support you expect. BUT, if you keep doing the prescribed “right” things, along the way you will collect some supporters to your cause, including more open-minded, equitable executive sponsors.

Create an amazing body of work
It still starts with getting results, establishing your expertise, and contributing to the bottom line. Don’t let your own work product suffer because Nadella doesn’t care – others care and are watching for promotion-worthy candidates. You want your name to surface.

Advocate for your accomplishments
Whether you trust the system or not, it will run itself. Trust your process more. Trust that you will advocate for your accomplishments. See my post on preparing for your next review for the step-by-step in making sure you get your due.

Build a strategic and supportive network
So Nadella is out of step and there are probably other CEO’s who share his view. There will be others — men and women, at every level, in every industry, in every functional area — who are supportive. I once had a banker at a big-name firm encourage me to “follow my heart” and take an unexpected career turn, even if it meant turning down his firm’s offer. He was so supportive and generous and gave me courage when I needed it most, and this was a BANKER! If I managed to find a mentor with a heart of gold in that industry, there will certainly be supportive senior people in any industry. Find them. Enroll their support.

Be a strategic and supportive support for others
Be the anti-Nadella. Don’t just throw your hands up at the amorphous system; proactively help others along and do your part to change the game. Pick the smart but shy person in your group and tell her (or him) that you will call on them in the meeting, and tell them what you will ask so they have a chance to prepare. Think of that colleague from another department who always helps you and write a commendation to their manager, cc’ing them. Return to your alma mater for a networking event or career talk. As you build your amazing career and advocate for yourself, reach back and better the system for others.

Negotiation Success Requires Desire Not Desperation – Video Blog

In today’s video blog I cover a critical negotiation success element: how to balance staying positive and showing interest without seeming too interested (i.e., desperate) and giving away your leverage:

You can find more Negotiation tips in our Free Resources Negotiation Toolkit.

Get Picked For Leadership: Strategies To Get Noticed For The Next Big Promotion

In my latest Forbes Leadership post I shared insights from 3 executives on how to get promoted into the executive ranks:

The strategies seem so straight-forward – collaborate; stay front of mind; develop a differentiating “edge.” But how do you do that exactly? Here are specific steps to take:

To improve your collaboration and expand your relationships:

Use your lunch break
The best way to develop relationships is to break bread with people. Getting to know someone over a meal makes it easier to collaborate later.


Enroll your manager’s support
Let him or her know that you want to meet more people, and ask for their suggestions. The ones who are happy to help will refer you gladly, and the less-supportive ones will at least know your intentions so it won’t look like you’re going over their heads.


Take it outside
Relationships are not only developed at the office. Don’t forget a company softball league or yoga class. You’ll meet people you don’t normally work with.


To stay front of mind since promotion decisions happen quickly:


Set weekly reminders
Let’s face it – you’re not going to remember to network with people outside your immediate area (or even in your immediate area). Set a reminder on your calendar to prompt you automatically. When it comes up, you have to reach out to 1, 3, 5 people, whatever you can muster. It forces you to keep relationship management front of mind.


Send regular updates to your boss in-between official reviews
People are busy. Your boss can’t keep track of everything you’re doing. If you wait till the year-end review, you miss out on the other 11 months of the year. A regular update plan also forces you to be mindful that you’re getting regular results.


Update your LinkedIn status
Recommend an interesting article you’ve read (that happens to be related to what you do professionally). Celebrate the completion of a project – “excited to be more than halfway to our fundraising goal and still 8 months to go!” Mention a conference or event you’ll be attending, and maybe someone from your extended network will let you know they’ll be there too.


To develop a differentiating edge:


Make a leadership role
You don’t have to wait for a promotion. Promote yourself by volunteering to put together a panel for your professional association or alma mater. This gives you official cover to research a topic of interest and network with people of interest.


Get published
You don’t have to start a blog (but you could). You can guest post on an existing one, or write an insightful and engaging comment. You can post for your professional association or alma mater. You can help your journalist friends on one of their pieces.


Find your go-to superpower and nurture it
When I did executive reference checks, one of my favorite questions was, “What is [insert your name here] the go-to person for?” Well, what are you the go-to person for? What is the thing you do that makes people wonder how you do it? Everyone has one of these, and if you don’t know what yours is, ask your colleagues, current and former, what your key strengths are. You’ll see a pattern and will now know what to highlight.


Which one of these 9 suggestions will you try? Don’t just read what executives say on how to get promoted into the executive ranks. Pick one or more and implement today.

Maximize Your Year-End Performance Review – Video Blog

In today’s video blog on maximizing your year-end performance review, I share a 4-step process to ensure you get the most out of your annual review — to put yourself in the best light, clarify what you need to do next, and ask successfully for what you want:

You can read about this 4-step performance review process in our blog: How To Make Sure Your Next Raise Is Bigger Than 3%.

Negotiation for Entrepreneurs and Freelancers: Get Paid What You’re Worth – Video Blog

In today’s video blog negotiation tip for entrepreneurs, consultants and freelancers, I share 3 strategies to get paid what you’re worth:

You can read about these 3 tips in my small business advice blog for Purple Clover: Stop Attracting Deadbeat Clients!

You can read more negotiation tips in the negotiation toolkit in our Free Resources section.

Your Career Questions Answered Career Change, Job Search for Diverse Interests, Salary Negotiation and More – Radio Show

In this episode of the SixFigureStart Career Coaching Radio Show, I answered questions on career change, job search for diverse interests, finance jobs, salary negotiation and the value of LinkedIn premium.

Check Out Self Help Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with SixFigureStart on BlogTalkRadio

Carrie asks: how to I escape the stereotype of my current profession (librarian) and successfully transition to a career that is not library related?

Rose asks: I have many functions and expertise in several subject matters. However, in my current position, my potential is not being utilized and there is no room for advancement. I am becoming numb. As I apply for potential new career positions: How do I present my functions and expertise without looking desperate?

Yuan asks: my priority is to secure a finance-related internship whether in banking or financial service industry. I would like to get helped with how to build my fundamental skills and access to job market as an international student.

Claudia asks: I signed up for LinkedIn business account and received a one-month free job seeker premium account invite. I’m thinking of taking them up on this offer, but am wondering its value, how recruiters perceive it (“advertising” active seeking vs. doing it “quietly”)…

Monika asks: How do you best negotiate a starting salary?

When A Recruiter Unexpectedly Calls

This post originally appears in my career advice column for and Here is my original, unedited version (so you can play Where’s Waldo with the changes):

You’re happily employed, and pick up your phone to find a recruiter on the other end. How do you maximize this call when you’re not actively looking?

First and foremost, respond

You absolutely need to take the call (or return the message). As a former recruiter, I’ve had some prospects shoo me off the phone like a telemarketer – “I’m not interested” then they abruptly hang up. Or they never respond to an email, voicemail or online ping. This is short-sighted since recruiter calls provide good market information, and being responsive encourages that recruiter to think of you for other opportunities.

Become the interviewer

Don’t just fall into the traditional role of you as the candidate and the recruiter as the interviewer. You are in the driver’s seat because they called you. So take control of the call, and learn more about the recruiter, their company, their client (the company that actually has the job), and what they’re looking for. This gives you market information, regardless of whether or not this particular position suits you. If the recruiter shares salary information, even better! Interviewing the recruiter allows you to get to know the recruiter and whether or not you want them in your network.

Find a way to say Yes

I don’t mean say Yes to going on an interview or feigning interest in the job. I mean say Yes to something – if you’re not interested, recommend someone who might be. If the position isn’t the right level or functional area, let the recruiter know what would be the right role. If the opportunity sounds like a possible fit, but you hadn’t thought about looking outside, say Yes to one more conversation. You want to be seen as open-minded and helpful.

Maintain the relationship

Now that you have made this unexpected connection, continue the relationship with good networking follow-up. If you promised the recruiter you’d think about their search, think about the search and call back with your ideas or your interest. If you didn’t agree to a specific follow-up action, keep the recruiter’s information for your general networking efforts – include them on your holiday list; send them an update 3 months from now when you’re working on something new; introduce them to your talented friend who is looking. (Just remember that referrals reflect back on you, so recommend people you know are quality).

Turn the call into a wake-up call

When I recruited candidates who were not interested, I would always ask them what they would be interested in down the road. This way, I could keep them in mind for a relevant opportunity. Would you know what to say if someone asked you about your interests and next steps? If you weren’t prepared for this recruiting call, prepare for the next one. Be ready to describe what you do, what your expertise is, and what your value is. Be ready to explain what companies, work environments, and roles would be of interest.

If you’re not getting calls from recruiters, why not? For both senior and junior roles, I relied on word-of-mouth referrals, as well as researching online databases, such as LinkedIn. If you’re not getting calls, check your online profile and buff up your network so people know to think of you and refer you.