Claudia Telles nearly doubled her salary at a Chicago-based hospital.
The 28-year-old went from making $41,000 on the business-operations team to $72,000 as a quality specialist — and she plans to double her new compensation in the next two years, she tells Business Insider.
She made the $30,000 leap through savvy negotiation.
Telles didn’t necessarily have an innate knack for salary negotiation. “Negotiation is nerve-racking, especially because you don’t do it every day, or even weekly or monthly,” she says.
So she tapped into the wealth of resources out there and learned the skill herself.
In addition to finding a mentor, attending negotiating workshops, and using online tools, Telles dove into books.
We asked for her top picks:
1. “You Can Negotiate Anything,” by Herb Cohen
Cohen’s book touches on the power of legitimacy, Telles explains: “It’s about how we perceive what is written as the final word. For example, if you read in a job description, ‘two years experience,’ and you only have one year, you should not disqualify yourself. What is written is just a suggestion — what they’re really asking is, ‘Can you do the job without us having to train you on the basics?'”
It also dives into the power of risk-taking. As Telles learned, “We have to be able to take risks in order to gain from them.”
2. “Value-Based Fees” by Alan Weiss
“It’s more for business, but you can apply it to anything,” she explains. “His idea is that instead of coming in saying, ‘I want this,’ you come in and showcase your value first. That way, the question is never, ‘Should we hire her?’ The question is, ‘Up to how much will we pay to keep her?’ These are two very different conversations.”
After studying the ins and outs of negotiating, she practiced relentlessly. She would record herself and study her body language, posture, and tone of voice.
“At first, I hated watching myself,” she remembers. “I would look up to the sky or to the side when I got nervous and I had ‘flying hands.’ But eventually, it really polished up nicely. By the time of the interview, I’d done 50 or so practice rounds and it just came out effortlessly,” she says.
When it comes to salary negotiation, most of the work happens before you enter the interview or meeting. It’s all in the preparation — and as Telles proved, you don’t have to be a natural negotiator to get the raise you deserve.
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