When Accepting Jobs, Parents Are Leaving Benefits Behind, Expert Says

  • Alison Taffel Rabinowitz is a negotiation coach and founder of The Finishing School.
  • She has helped negotiate about half a million dollars in raises throughout her career.
  • This is the Rabinowtiz story as told to Lauren Finney.

This essay is based on a conversation with Alison Taffel Rabinowitz. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I am a negotiation coach. I help people by coaching them and providing the scripts needed to get the best compensation package you can negotiate with your current or potential employer. I cover career attitudes, career storytelling, and scripting what to say to close the deal. I’m your professional hype girl.

On average, I can bring my clients $10,000 to $15,000 more than what they were initially offered. But the wins can be more significant, especially if you were underpaid in a previous role. My biggest win to date was a client I helped get a $100,000 raise at a career pivot where she was severely underpaid in the previous role.

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I also help brainstorm benefits: think late starts to take vacations, bonus packages, reviews to get earlier raises, equity, flexible hours, and relocation fees to name a few. My best “gain” for my customers is trust. I help them reach their full earning potential, and nothing excites me more than seeing a client go from being afraid of questions to recognizing and celebrating their value – and getting.

Here are some of the mistakes I see in parents.

Not asking for enough money

Mothers are particularly guilty when they feel less confident about returning to work. I think many moms underestimate their newfound multitasking skills and worry that potential employers will judge them for perceived weaknesses, such as

If you don’t know how to tell your story to market and negotiate yourself as a high achiever, you’re paying the “parental tax” and you’re leaving money and other benefits on the table.

Don’t negotiate other benefits

I also see people fail to negotiate other benefits such as possible future parental leave, paid time off, or other benefits. While you can’t negotiate FMLA or family and medical leave — you must qualify for it — you can negotiate extended paid or unpaid leave beyond FMLA and negotiate things like splitting your leave when the time comes to take it .

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You can also negotiate your work environment. The pandemic changed everything; Many companies are incredibly open to hybrid or remote work in this new world, and it’s negotiable.

Other benefits you can negotiate include budgets for fertility needs, sabbaticals, continuing education and training, and additional paid time off.

Don’t leave emotions out

You must remember that this is a business transaction. Treat it as such. I encourage my clients not to say thank you when they receive an offer and instead to say, “Could you please give me a minute to get my notes out?” This gives the job seeker a chance to breathe easy and set himself up for success. After this short break, I advise them to listen carefully to the offer before accepting it. Then I coach them to say exactly what they need to say to get the offer or negotiate other things that are important to them.

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Don’t negotiate at all

I often see parents – especially mothers – who feel like they can’t negotiate. Negotiation is cumulative, and each time you fail at negotiation, you hurt your lifetime earning potential. This can result in you earning less base pay, but it also means missing out on bonuses, raises, and other benefits. Not only can not negotiating set you back financially, but it can also make you feel undervalued as an employee if you later discover that you are not being paid fairly in relation to your peers. You don’t know what you’re leaving on the table unless you try.

Negotiate everything you want before signing the offer as this is the best time to set expectations.

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