Negotiating Comp After A Career Break

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In meeting other mothers making shifts in their career to lean into parenting for these early years, there is a lot of chat about if, when and how we would go back to the traditional workforce. One company helping on a larger scale is ReBoot Accel, which we profiled earlier in the month in our Work That Works For Mothers series. It’s a Silicon Valley based company that helps women who have taken career pauses re-enter the workforce. They provide workshops, coaching and an amazing community for women (both in person and virtually) to support and encourage one another during the journey. ReBoot focuses on offering new skills, clarity, confidence and community to accomplished women looking to resume careers. Above that, they also work with companies to help them source this talent and to ensure they are doing everything they can to hire this amazing talent pool while also supporting the women currently in their workforce.

As an early and avid follower of Mother Untitled, Megan Strickland, ReBoot’s Business Development Senior Manager is graciously sharing a three-part series on downshifting, career pauses and re-entry. Her first topic is negotiating compensation after a career pause and what to expect. Whether you’re just trying to wrap your head around the option to go back to work down the line or you’re preparing for that transition now, Megan’s tips are smart yet simple:

  1. Do your homework!

    Research the company/position on GlassDoor, Salary.com or Payscale to understand the salary range of the position in your given geographic area. You will likely see a salary range. Think about where you fit within this range considering your degree, experience, and skill set development during your pause.

  2. Recognize that a compensation package is more than a salary number  

    Think through all the components of an offer package. Define what is most important for you. Be willing to make trade-offs based on your needs. Here are examples of things to consider: salary, bonus, signing bonus, equity, benefits, working terms, start date, vacation, role, development, work/family balance, flexible work option, and remote work option.

  3. You have the most negotiating leverage when you have an offer in hand 

    The company has spent resources during the interview process and have determined you are the right person for the job. They typically don’t want to go through the process again - so don’t be afraid to negotiate for something more than was offered. But do be smart about how you go about it:

    • Don’t be unrealistic about salary (refer to #2).

    • Negotiate for your ‘value,’ not for what you need. (The conversation should not be about how much you need to cover childcare but instead about the value you bring to the team/company.)

    • If they don’t appear flexible on salary due to their concerns about the time you have been away from work, ask them to be willing to re-negotiate salary after 6 months (sooner than the annual review cycle) after you have proven your ‘immediate value to the team’ or that your are ‘performing at a similar level as those who have been in the job.’

    • Negotiate live - either in person or on a live phone call.

    • Practice - out loud - remembering to thank them for the offer and to represent your ask as being related to the value that you are confident that you will bring to the company.

    • Smile and be confident as you ask for what you deserve.

What helped you if you re-entered after time away from traditional work life? Was there a specific hurdle not mentioned here?

Megan Strickland is ReBoot Accel’s Senior Development Business Manager and joins us for a 3-part series on mixing motherhood + workplace re-entry.

Photo by Jessica Lorren for Mother Untitled