September 18, 2008
Today I met with a gentleman and a scholar, and the conversation turned to salary negotiations -- as it inevitably does when either party is blogging about that subject and she shamelessly harasses her friends about personal financial matters.
He has a philosophy which I adore. His minimum fee is $50 per hour. I won't tell you his industry, because it's a tight knit one, but let me say this: most people charge around $15 per hour for the same work.
If he earns less than that, the project is simply not worth his time. That way, people only come to him with interesting and substantial projects, and he gets a load of cash for every one.
Sounds like Linda Evangelista's classic quip about supermodels: "We don't get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day." Why should they?
On the flipside, this mercantile maverick confessed, he doesn't know how to haggle. Show him sticker price and he'll immediately plunk down the cash. "I don't know what it is. I guess I don't want to appear poor," he said.
Which gets me wondering.
Are there two types of negotiators out there? Those who bargain up salaries and those who bring down prices? Are men better at the former, and women at the latter, at least in large, loose categories? At least from what emerges here, I've been decent about bringing prices down. But what about bringing my own price up? (True, I don't have almost any opportunities; I'm on a non-negotiable fellowship. But to charge more than three times the going rate for a service, including the part-time work I do, would never even occur to me.)
If there's any truth to this, should I, as a woman, confidently charge more to a man for my services, expecting him to be shy about not affording them? Any thoughts?
I don't know what I'll ask for today. Technically, I could say I asked the scholar and gentleman about his negotiation strategies, but that's so meta.
This process goes in waves -- for a few days asking comes naturally, and then I flail and end up begging for library access and free bacon. But I'm hoping, hoping this will all pay off when I start the post-grad job hunt next spring.
UPDATE: Went to a cafe with a friend and ordered a lemonade. The idea was to stave off the colony of germs tormenting my throat. The drink, however, was very strange (unsweetened, and actually sort of tasting like chicken broth. She also tried it and agreed). So, I asked the waitress to bring me a Naked Juice. Not for free. Nothing gained. But at least I enjoyed my drink.
I'll be in NY for the weekend, and I'm curious to see how this project unfolds there. Could be hard. Yet if I ask for anything less than I did today, it wouldn't be asking. Damn...