Why look for just another job, when you can embark upon a whole new career? Learn about the latest developments in careers for military spouses. With your mobile lifestyle, there are certain portable careers that can offer you and your family stability and future growth. If you have any topics that you would like to see us write about, feel free to email the editor:
Women: Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate Your Salary!

Study after study shows that very few women even attempt to negotiate their salaries. In fact, in a recent surveyof more than 2,000 professionals on LinkedIn, only 26 percent of the female respondents feel confident about negotiating.

Chances are this figure is even smaller for military spouses, who often feel like the odds are against them in the job market. Just think about it:

  • Based solely on her resume, some employers may think she is a job hopper when she really relocates frequently to PCS with her service member.
  • The overall unemployment rate is high, but that of veterans and military spouses is even higher.
  • The job market favors employers since there are so many available and presumably qualified people looking for work.
  • And since employer budgets are limited, it isn’t likely that they would be willing or able to negotiate salaries anyway, right?

Well, not necessarily. Military spouses and veterans can boost their confidence in salary negotiations by listening well, timing it right, understanding the limits and creating a win-win.

Listen Well

“It is a ‘buyer’s market’ but negotiation is doable if you don’t make it so much about yourself. Make it more about how you can help an employer solve his problems,” said Michelle Woodward, career strategist and Master Certified Coach. “You have to be a great listener.”

Being invited to interview for a job means that you already started listening to what the employer wants. Not only did you pick up on the important skills from the job announcement, but you also demonstrated that you have those very same skills. During the interview, take those listening skills to the next level.

“Try to detect the employer’s concerns because you will need those clues to point out just how relevant your skills are to her needs,” Woodward said. 

Did she talk about a recurring problem that is similar to one you have resolved? Is there a new project coming down the pike that is similar to one you aced in your last job? If so, describe the challenge, action and result to demonstrate that you are a good fit for the job. This will put you in a great position to negotiate – when the right time comes.

Time It Right

Ideally, you shouldn’t discuss the salary until a job offer is made. However, sometimes the employer will just throw it out there and ask what salary range you had in mind.

“A great way to keep salary until the very end of the interview is to steer the interviewer away from it by telling him you really would like to have a better understanding of the job,” said Karin Durkee, director of social media at Corporate Gray, which connects military personnel and spouses to employers and job search tools.

If she asks again, put the ball right back in her court.

“You could say: ‘I have some idea, but I am sure you have a budget. What range does your budget allow’?” Woodward said. “It is very likely the interviewer will respond with a range. If it is higher than you hoped, just go with it. If it is lower, point out: ‘Based on the going rate and conversations with people who have similar education and experience, I was thinking more like’…” Woodward said.

Understand the limits

At all costs, be prepared to negotiate by researching ahead and knowing your limits. 

A quick check on the Department of Labor’s Career Onestop, shows that the median income for medical record technicians in Alabama is $26,400 and the high is $45,900. But, those who are stationed in Hawaii could pull in a median of $37, 900 and a high of $61,800 based on the cost of living.

“Be aware that although you can find the salary range for any job, some of them are non-negotiable. For example, just like the military, teaching jobs usually have pre-determined pay charts,” Durkee said.

In some cases, when salary can’t be negotiated, non-salary items can be, especially in private industry.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for tuition or transportation assistance. Lifestyle perks, like half days on Fridays, extra vacation time or periodic telecommuting might also be up for grabs,” Durkee said. “And service members should use a tool like the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s military compensation calculator, which takes into account far more than just base pay,” she added.

Create a Win-Win

Finally, the whole purpose to negotiating is creating a win-win situation. Your win in this equation will be feeling as though you are being paid what you are worth and that you will be able to meet your financial needs.

Before you even start your job search, sit down and take a close look at your own budget to figure out your limits. Knowing what you need to make ends meet will give you the starting point for your salary range. And granted, there is probably no limit to how much you would be willing to make on the high end, but to negotiate well, you do need to be realistic.

Both Woodward and Durkee advised adding about 20% to your lower salary limit to reach a fair and reasonable upper limit in your salary range.

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

Weekly Poll

Do you have a LinkedIn profile?