How To Fix The Career "Mistakes" That Affect Your Paycheck

Photographed by Sarah Anne Ward.
I strongly believe that you can't get very far in life by winging it. Of course, as a financial planner, I'm obviously biased. But the fact remains that earning more money provides you the opportunity to build a strong financial foundation and begin to identify your goals, whether that's buying a house, traveling more, upgrading your lifestyle, or saving for retirement.
Saying you want to make more money and actually earning a higher salary are two different things. So how can you craft your career, negotiation, and investment strategies from the very beginning, so you have the money you need to make those dreams a reality?
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The truth: It’s not easy. We all worry that past career and negotiating mistakes will prevent us from ever catching up financially. The key is to learn from those bad experiences and set up a strategy that works for you.
Thankfully, there's a wealth of great advice out there. And today we've rounded up some of our favorite tidbits from a recent Ellevate panel that featured Ann Shoket, author of The Big Life , Alexandra Dickinson, founder of Ask For It, and Jaime Petkanics, founder of The Prepary, talking about the three most common hang-ups they see holding women back — and how to catch yourself before you fall for those traps.
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You Fell In Love With A Job

“From the time you were 16 years old, you were looking out of your bedroom window dreaming about your Big Life. You imagined the perfect job that would give you the freedom, adventure, and meaning that crave in work. And you crafted every step to make it yours — you interned, you networked, you took every leadership opportunity — finally the job is on your horizon and the pay is crap. Or maybe it’s not a job after all, but they’re offering an un-paid internship, or a perma-lance gig with no benefits. But you tell yourself that this is job is so meaningful and so you take the low-pay/no-benefits/no security job and stay on your parent’s insurance and wait tables on the weekend.

“This is not the path to financial security. You know that. But love clouds your vision.

“Instead of putting all your hopes and dreams into this one dream job, ask yourself what about it excites you, and how can you get those qualities in a job that pays enough for you to pay your rent. Don’t sacrifice money for meaning. You deserve it all.”

—Ann Shoket, author of The Big Life and former editor-in-chief of Seventeen
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You Forgot To Do Your Research

“Walking into a job negotiation without knowing what other people in the same job are paid is like showing up to a black tie wedding in sandals and a sundress. Basically, you blew it.

“But embarrassment can be avoided when you know your facts: Start with Glassdoor or Payscale to get the basics. Then, you’re ready for the advanced class: ask your colleagues — men and women — to ballpark their salary for you. It’s okay to start with an icebreaker email. Something short that says: I'm doing research because I'm about to ask for a raise. I think you have some information that can help me. Would you be willing to share your ballpark salary with me? Then, hop on the phone if they’re up for it. It’s much easier to judge a situation when it’s an actual conversation. Promise to return the favor by sharing the results of your negotiation. It’s the sweetest way to say thank you (although cupcakes don’t hurt either!)”

—Alexandra Dickinson, founder of negotiation consultancy Ask For It
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You Were A Little Desperate

“When you’ve spent weeks or months cycling through interviews, working on your talking points, planning every outfit, and waiting anxiously for news after every meeting, by the time you get the job offer, you’re so grateful to have gotten it and afraid to mess anything up by rocking the boat, especially by negotiating!

“But hold up: You have more power in this moment than you think. Once a company has spent tons of time and effort on recruiting and interviewing, they're ready to be done too. When they've found you, they want you. They do not want to go interview 10 more people and start all over again.

“If the offer doesn't meet your expectations in any way, and remember, you've done your research so you know exactly what those expectations are, now is the perfect time to have that conversation and ask for what you want. Say something like, “Thank you for this offer. I’m so excited about this opportunity. Based on [your research and data here] I’d like to see the offer increased by…”, is not a conversation you should be nervous to have. No company will think less of you for negotiating at this point. In fact, when done in the right way, they’ll be impressed."

—Jaime Petkanics, Founder & Career Consultant, The Prepary
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