In these trying times, a lot of people are losing their jobs and that creates fear resulting in a demand for salary increase or looking for other jobs. But our guest, Monica Faberman believes that you should be able to negotiate your true value to the company especially if you feel undervalued based on your compensation and work flexibility. Monica is an HR consultant and thought partner for small to medium-sized businesses. She works with companies to set employee success which builds trust and positive culture within the company which is not purely based on their title, income, or position and influence but on their skills. Listen and know your real value by properly negotiating with your company!
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The Power Of Negotiation In Unleashing Your Real Value With Monica Faberman
In this episode, we are going to be talking to an HR professional who is going to provide us with her perspective on navigating your career in the corporate world. Monica Faberman is an HR Consultant and Thought Partner for small to medium-sized businesses. She works with her clients to create HR systems that set employees up for success and establish cultures of trust and inclusivity. Monica believes that we all have the ability to lead from any position. Leadership is not your title, income, or position at work. It is how you lead yourself through your life and your relationships. Stay tuned for this very important conversation.
I have Monica Faberman, the Founder of IlluminatedHR. Monica, welcome. Thank you for being here. You started your own HR firm. We talked about this a little bit last time as far as how do women value or undervalue themselves when it comes to their career development? I am excited to talk to you because we are going to get all the ins and outs from an HR perspective. Please, let me know how that is.
I am excited about this conversation because there are a few different perspectives that I can speak from, and one is internal HR. I was and still am HR for companies. I am part of the recruiting process, the negotiation process, and the annual review process. I have that perspective on it from internal HR. I have also found jobs and negotiated jobs for myself.
I also do a lot of HR phone screens. I have a lot of these conversations where I am talking about compensation and value. To add to that, I did go out on my own and started doing freelance HR and HR consulting with a number of companies. Through all that process, I had to figure out what my own value was as a consultant and set my own rates with all of that, which we can talk about.
To answer your question directly and provide some backup to my answer, what I see a lot, especially with women, is there is no connection to the value they bring and how that translates to the finances. A lot of times, feeling undervalued is a feeling that is valid. I see it all the time. I have felt it myself. Translating that feeling into the action of getting the value that you think you deserve and figuring out what that value is a process.
That is where a lot of people I have seen get stuck. They have this feeling and maybe there is resentment or frustration. They are like, “I do not know how to move forward. I do not know what to do with this.” That is when it gets stuck. They either make asks that fall flat because there is not a lot to back it up or they do not ask and they hold that discomfort, which is the last thing that you would ever want for anyone.
When it comes to value, it translates into dollars. When we are able to show our value, then we can ask for compensation. You are talking about feelings a lot, “How do I feel about myself? Is it more of the skills that I bring and am I able to articulate those skills?” Can you break those down for me?
It is both. Through my story, learning my value through working at companies that had never had HR before, I realized I had the skills and knowledge that they needed. What I did not have was the confidence that those things were valuable. It has to do with the hard skills, which would be technical skills, your career, anything that you have worked on hard skills on your resume and not undervaluing those. Also, not undervaluing the other contributions that you bring your perspective. Having confidence in your perspective, your decision-making, and your discernment might be a little bit softer skills. It is your ability to influence. I am listing skills here.
We all have unique strengths. This is the question that I would ask someone, are you connected to what your unique strengths are? Do you know what they are? Do you have confidence in them? How do you think and talk about them? The way you are going to think about them and take ownership of your expertise and value is in the way you think about them. I would ask people to think about how they think about their skills.
Do you have voices that say, “I am doing the bare minimum. I am not that valuable,” or whatever those thoughts are? Ask if those are true because those are the voices that are going to prevent you from owning your value, being confident in it, and making those confident asks. Once you get your story straight with yourself and your relationship with your value, you are better able to articulate that and tell stories around what your value is to other people.
You can do a salary review. There is so much data out there right now. There are so many states that are passing laws and Colorado is one of them where jobs have to post the salary ranges for the position, which makes it much more equitable for everyone. There are forces that are conspiring with you to help people do this and make things more equitable.
You can go look at that number and say, “I am making $40,000 when I should be making $45,000 or $50,000. If I left, I would have the same job making $45,000 or $50,000 but I do not want to leave.” Instead of saying, “This job is over here. I should be making that.” Think about, “What am I contributing? How do I confidently make an ask and demonstrate?” Instead of saying, “I should be making more money. What is my relationship with my value and how do I tell that story?”
You talked about a whole bunch of different things. I want to go back to the skill. I know that there are knowledge skills. For everybody reading, knowledge skills are more of how a lawyer needs to know the law or a doctor needs to practice medicine. Knowledge skills are one thing. The other thing is also transferable skills. Are you organized? Are you able to prioritize those things? Everybody knows what transferable skills are. It is almost like they need to understand their knowledge skills.
We all have unique strengths. Be connected to those strengths. – Monica Faberman Click To Tweet
You also talked about making the connection between your relationship with yourself and your unique strengths. That is important for you to know your knowledge skills. There is a book that I have, What Color is Your Parachute?. It is a book that has all of the exercises that you can take. You are able to identify your knowledge skills through a variety of exercises. What Monica is trying to say is that you need to do a little bit of legwork to identify your strengths and skills so that you can make that connection with yourself. Monica, am I getting that right?
Once you do that, you are able to articulate more what those skills are, which translates into compensation. You also said something a little bit different. You are talking about what you believe about yourself. That more talks about your limiting beliefs. One of the things that I am constantly talking to people about is, “know that you deserve the career of your dreams.” Once you know that you deserve it, you start looking at things a little bit differently. If you do not think that you deserve it, why? Start thinking about, “Why is it that I do not deserve it?” What are the beliefs that you have about yourself? That is important.
You talked a little bit about negotiating. Negotiation for women is sometimes difficult. What are some of the things that you find when you are dealing with some of your clients and in your past corporate job? What were some of the things that women would not do that you would think, “You should be doing this?”
Asking questions, having conversations, and when you bring money into it, sometimes there is a fear of losing the opportunity. That is what holds a lot of people back from negotiating. If you are being offered a job, you make a reasonable request or ask a reasonable question, and they retract their offer, you do not want to work there anyway because that is how they handle communication and employer relations. That is how they view their employees. They might feel scarce when you are in that conversation. You are like, “I do not want to mess this up.”
It is not having that scarcity mentality and not outsourcing your power. That is what I think about a lot because all of a sudden, you give them all of the power. I want employees and people to know that you have a lot of power, even though your employer is the one paying you for your services. If you want to look at the numbers, it costs them a lot of money to replace you. That is a cold answer. At that base level, you have the power and value that you bring.
When someone does not want to negotiate because they are scared of losing the opportunity, you are giving them all the power in the situation. I want people to be aware of the power that they have. The recruiting climate is tough. If you have someone who is offering you a job, they want to close that deal. Understanding where they are coming from and what their goals and their priorities are, they want to close this deal. They have offered you the job.
Now, you have to think about what is going to make you want to say yes. If they are coming in, I would advise people to be aware of the type of companies that they are negotiating with and what is realistic for them. A small startup is not going to have as many perks and resources as a big corporate company. They might offer things like flexibility, a flexible time off, and 100% remote work because they are competing against either household names or companies with a lot of perks.
You can negotiate salary. There are also other things you can negotiate, like expectations on time off and incentives of bonuses for performance metrics. There are more levers that you can pull at flexibility. What is important to you? That is an opportunity to start the relationship on that foot where you are coming in empowered and then continuing to be empowered. If you can do that work to come empowered, you can continue to be that way throughout your career.
I love the fact that you said not outsourcing your power. That is huge. A lot of people are afraid of negotiating. One of the questions that I am asked quite often is, “What exactly do I say?” I had read somewhere that when a man negotiates, they may say something as simple as, “Is that the best you can do?” It boils down to one sentence. What do you think is the best sentence that you could recommend people to use as a non-confrontational way of negotiating?
If someone said, “That is the best you can do,” I do not know how I would react to that. I would not recommend that. Be gracious. Express your interest. Make sure you are willing to take the job first before negotiating. I would recommend that. If you can’t reach a number or a negotiation, that is great. The one thing that I would say is you need to be gracious. Say, “Thank you. I am excited about this conversation. I am thrilled to have this offer on the table. The number that I was looking for is X. Is that possible?”
That is a simple and easy way. It is way better than, “Is that the best you can do?” I liked that a lot. It is a simple, straightforward way of saying the words and negotiating without having that fear of that confrontation. You also talked about the fear of scarcity. If you do not negotiate, then you are probably afraid of losing that offer. If someone is going to pull away from an offer because you negotiated, then you probably do not want to work there. Let me ask you this as an HR professional, is it expected for people to negotiate?
It depends. The short answer is yes. The long answer is it depends on the compensation transparency philosophy at a company. There are some companies that do not negotiate because they have a very structured compensation philosophy. For the most part, they will and the conversations that happen on the back end are, “We offer 70 but we are willing to go up to 80.”
A small startup is not going to have as many perks and resources as a big corporate company, but they might offer things like flexibility, a flexible time off, and 100% remote work. – Monica Faberman Click To Tweet
There are other things that you can negotiate, not just salary. You can maybe negotiate vacation or work remotely two days a week. That is important for people nowadays. Now that we see the difference in the quality of life that a lot of us are working from home. I love what you said about Colorado having to post the salary. That is fantastic. One of the things that I am working toward is eradicating the gender gap. I am trying to do that for women in corporate by empowering them to advance in their careers. Kudos to Colorado for doing that. Do you think that is going to be something that translates into other states in the country?
There are a few different and interesting things happening in the world of compensation. One of them is these state laws. Massachusetts, where I spent fourteen years there, has some also. A lot of companies are grappling with the fact that they were paying regionally but now everyone is remote and moving around if that is in their ability. What do I do if there is a super low cost of living area? Do I still pay this metro downtown rate? The answer to that would be a national rate.
The optimist in me says yes but knowing that there are also a lot of states out there that do not have a lot of employment regulations. I am not an expert, but that is around stuff like, “When and how long do employees need to take breaks?” Colorado also has a much higher threshold for exemption from overtime. It is $45,000. The national one is between $20,000 and $30,000. Colorado is an employee-friendly state. There are other employee-friendly states but there are a lot of them that do not put that legislation out there.
It is exciting to know that some states are trying to close that pay gap. I will go back to something that you said earlier. You said, “The people need to learn how to tell their stories.” We already talked about their transferable skills, knowledge skills, and negotiating. What do you mean specifically by people need to learn how to tell their stories?
That comes back to having a personal connection to your value. As you were talking about that negotiating question, there is a way to sell yourself authentically and that is being connected to your value. For example, when you are in a room or maybe it is a Zoom room and you are negotiating with an HR person, you want to give them something that they can say yes to. Let’s say you are negotiating a higher salary, flexibility, or you have a family, you have kids, and you need to pick them up at school X amount of days a week, you are asking for flexibility around hours there.
If you come in with confidence and say, “This is what you are going to get from me. This is what I can provide. I have done this for many years. I am confident in my ability to do that. I will bring this value to your company and this position. These are the things I take seriously,” or you are also asking for that flexibility and extra $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, or whatever that is, you give them something they can say yes to. Telling your story is the external result of finding that connection and owning the value that you can bring. Does that answer your question?
Yes. You connected it well. With all those skills and knowledge that you have about yourself, you are able to articulate it in a story manner instead of giving all these metrics on everything that you did on your resume. Your resume is your first point of entry into the company. I love that you are saying that you need to have a connection to your value so that you are able to tell them in a story. That would typically happen in the interview, right?
That is your first gateway. To give a third perspective to someone who is like, “How do I do that?” You know who you are and you know what you are capable of. The person interviewing you has no idea. They do not know who you are or if you are going to be someone that is going to come in and leave three months later. These are all the things that they are thinking of, like being able to fit in with the culture or meet the qualifications of the role.
You know that about yourself. They do not know that, so you have to communicate it. It is way easier said than done. They do not know who you are and they are trying to figure it out. When you know who you are, you can easily translate that and then set yourself up for success, too. If you are not telling an authentic story, that is when different expectations are being created.
You are right there by telling the authentic story. That is key. Someone asked me, “What do you recommend for practice questions before going into an actual interview?” What type of questions are typically asked in an interview? I have heard that a lot of behavioral questions are asked. My recommendation is, “Always have a story to a question.” I told the person that asked me, “Go online. There are tons of behavioral interview questions. Answer them and try to have a story for each answer or each question.” Is that what you are talking about telling your story?
It is hard to tell what people are going to ask and how detailed they want to get in their interview. It is a great idea to go online and see what questions are asked. Another thing you could do is walk through your resume and figure out how to tell the story of your accomplishments, the lessons that you learned, the struggles, the things that you overcame, and your accomplishments. Also, maybe when something did not go well.
I have heard people say that if they asked a question about a time where you failed or things did not go so well, what happened and how did you react to that? If someone has nothing to say to that, that could be a red flag in that realm of authenticity. We are all human and have things that do not go as planned. What happens is what we do in that scenario when things do not go as planned. Go through your resume and find stories of all of those things that you can tell and have them prepared.
Walk through your own resume and try to figure out how to tell your story. – Monica Faberman Click To Tweet
Some of the best interviews that I have been in are the people that I know from the HR phone screen and they are going to go all the way to that offer. It is this phrase called empathetic imagery. When they are describing, you can visually see the picture that they are painting. They are telling you a story and they are transporting you into that story. That story could be something they did in the past or want to do in the future.
We hired a creative director and she was telling me about her processes. I got this clear image of the work that she did, what she was going to create and provide, and what her expertise was. She had done this before, so she was able to communicate that. Those are the types of things. When you have a clear picture in your mind and you can translate it, that is what works.
I will have to look up empathetic imagery. I was picturing your creative director telling you the story. I do not even know what the story was but I was picturing it in my head. That is great. We have talked about a lot of stuff but I want to circle back to your story. You had mentioned last time that while you were trying to go into your HR business, there were naysayers in your life. Tell me a little bit about that.
To put it in a nutshell, people were scared for me. A lot of people were scared about a lot of things because it was in the 1st and 2nd half of 2020 when there was so much uncertainty. I am already here telling my friends and family that I want to go out on my own, figure it out, and get clients. I had people say, “This is not the right time.” I had someone I was partnering with and they told me that I do not belong in business. That was late 2020, and here I am. I have started a business that has doubled in revenue. It started at $50,000 and I am on track to make $100,000 this 2022 with my own business. I assume we can talk about numbers here.
You can talk about whatever you want. I totally get the whole fear, especially from your family and in your relationships. It is like, “I do not want you to get hurt.” If you do not go out and get that beautiful relationship that maybe breaks your heart, you are not prepared for the next relationship. It is the same in business. You were employed in the corporate as an HR professional and then you decided to go out on your own, but the people that you love and trust are scared for you and telling you, “This is not the right time.” What propelled you to go forward and still set up your business?
Thank you for refocusing that. There was something inside of me that knew it was not true. I am not a competitive person. I am not going to prove someone wrong. That is not what motivates me personally. When people were saying that, whether it was a fear of like, “Is Monica going to get her stuff together and figure this out?” It took me about a year to figure it out, and that year was tough.
There was something in me that knew that A) It was their fear, not mine, and B) When someone was telling me that I am not capable specifically, I knew deep down that was not true. Some people get motivated by, “I want to prove this person wrong.” I do not think about that person. It helps me create those boundaries and that thought does not belong here. That is not my thought and is not true for me. Maybe that is true for that person.
What is interesting is you start to see people only say things that are true for them because that is how they see the world. That is not how I saw the world, so I knew deep down that it was not true for me. I created boundaries in my heart and in my head. That was like, “That is not welcome. That is not true. That is not the reality we are operating in.”
Kudos to you for overcoming all those naysayers, as we call them but also for identifying that those were their limiting beliefs. They were not your limiting belief. It was not like you were trying it out. You were clear. Congratulations, because not many people will do that. A lot of people are like, “Maybe they are right.” Instead of, “I can do it. I can go set up my business and be successful.” You are successful right now and you continue to move up the business ladder in your situation.
Boundaries are another thing that is important. We need to create boundaries for those people that may not support us. We may have to stop talking about that particular topic and move on to something else when it comes to family. I love that you said, “I knew deep down that was not true for me.” That is fantastic. That has allowed you to develop yourself and continue to grow and learn. Now you are helping other people do that as well to get careers. You are recruiting and you have a company. That is amazing. Congratulations on all that.
Thank you. So far, I am making it up as we go along.
Monica, I am asking everybody to give me two actionable recommendations for people to take away. A lot of times, when I hear podcasts, they have all these experts on, and I am always left with, “How do I apply that to my day-to-day life?” What are two recommendations that you can provide to us?
When you have a clear picture in your mind and you can translate it, that's what really works. – Monica Faberman Click To Tweet
Depending on where you are with your value, it might be helpful to ask other people how they see you. Ask people who you care about and trust for feedback first. I say that because it is a personal thing and you do have ultimate responsibility for your value. If you are having trouble figuring out where to start with that, ask other people who you love and trust in a professional setting. I asked my mom for feedback and she said, “You are grumpy when you are hungry.”
Ask maybe a colleague or someone, “What do you appreciate about working with me?” You can say whatever you are trying to do. If you are having trouble with that process, start with the external piece and then do not rely on that but figure out what is in there that is true for you. That would be one tangible thing, especially if you are having trouble.
Another thing that helped me get through a particularly difficult time with confidence and value was I wrote down a list. It was big me and little me. The little me were all these beliefs that I had about myself that were holding me back, like I was lazy, I did not belong, I was not enough, or I was not old enough. You have them on a piece of paper, you identify it, and you say, “This is little me.”
You could give a name for your inner critic. “This is little me talking. What would big me say?” You look at your list and you say, “I am capable. I have accomplished all of these amazing things. I am smart and caring.” Those all feel generic but you can still take ownership of them and then you are going to have your own unique things. Those are two things.
I love the big me and the little me. That was a perfect way for you to explain how we write down all those nasty things that you say to yourself about yourself. That is a bunch of crap.
It is crap but it is also a part of you. Who knows where it came from? This is going to sound corny but if you pretend it is not there, you give it more power because you are not paying attention to it.
Thank you so much for those two wonderful takeaways and for spending time with me. This has been a wonderful conversation. We touched on a lot of things that I did not even think we were going to touch on.
That is a wrap for our conversation with Monica. I hope that you got value on how to figure out your worth in the corporate setting. I am going to recap the two tips that Monica provided us. The first one is when you are trying to figure out your value, ask people that you know and trust in a professional setting for feedback. You can ask them something like, “What is it that you appreciate about my work?” That is tip number one.
Tip number two is that Monica goes through a process of identifying her limiting beliefs called Big Me, Little Me. She essentially takes a piece of paper. On one side, she titled it Big Me, and on the other side, she titled it Little Me. The Little Me column is where you write down all the negative or limiting beliefs that you have about yourself. In the Big Me column, you challenge those negative thoughts.
For example, on the Little Me side, you can write, “I am lazy or I do not belong.” On the Big Me side, you can ask yourself, “What would big me say about this?” You then challenge the little me thoughts. You can go as far as, “Is it true that I am lazy?” “Of course not. You might have a lazy moment.” “Is it true that I do not belong anywhere?” “Of course not. You may not feel that you belong in a specific situation.” Again, you are trying to work on your limiting beliefs.
The one thing that I always say is do not believe everything that you think about yourself because sometimes, we are our own worth enemies. That was tip number two from Monica. If you have any suggestions on anything that you want to learn more about or maybe a topic that you think is important for us to discuss in the show, please send me an email or a DM. With that, thank you for spending a few minutes with us. Remember to be brave, be bold, and take action. Until next time.
- Monica Faberman
- What Color is Your Parachute?
About Monica Faberman
Monica is an HR consultant and thought partner for small to medium-sized businesses. She works with her clients to create HR systems that set employees up for success and establish cultures of trust and inclusivity. Monica believes we all have the ability to lead from any position. Leadership is not your title, income, or position at work, it is how you lead yourself through your life and your relationships.