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How to bolster your earning potential after you're fired

Getting fired affects women differently than men when it comes to their future earnings.

© (iStockphoto)   Women can suffer greater financial penalties than men after getting fired.

By Robin Madell, U.S. News & World Report

Adding to the pileup of statistics on gender inequities in the workplace, a new study reports that women experience a major salary drop after being fired, while men's salaries rise after the event. surveyed more than 1,000 people who had been terminated by their employers to examine how the experience affected them financially and emotionally. The biggest finding was a sizable salary inequity between women and men at their subsequent jobs post-firing. While women on average saw a 24 percent decrease in salary in their next position, from $44,098 to $33,485, men in the same situation actually ended up making more in their next jobs, reporting a 1.3 percent average salary bump, from $49,005 to $49,642.

This salary discrepancy was true despite the fact that more women than men (60 percent versus 53 percent, respectively) felt that their terminations were unfair. Indeed, men were more likely than women to have been fired for poor performance, disobeying the boss's orders or violating company policies, according to the study.

Additionally, women may typically be more productive employees than men, according to data from workflow management platform Hive. A study of 3,000 Hive users found women were assigned 55 percent of work and completed 10 percent more work than men.

Unfairness doesn't change the fact that women may end up earning a million dollars less than men over the course of their careers, reports Merrill Lynch. To help prevent this disparity, women need to learn solid negotiation strategies and skills, especially after they lose their jobs.

Whether you're coming back after being fired or just want to have the best chance possible to make more money, here are some negotiation strategies that can help you achieve your goals.

Cite Service Over Self

At a 2017 forum at Stanford University, Facebook COO and founder Sheryl Sandberg pointed out that women need to use different negotiation strategies than men if they want to have the best chance of success.

Sandberg noted that while men can say, "I deserve this" as part of their negotiation, using that tactic as the sole framework could backfire for women. Instead, Sandberg suggests that women link their ambition to showing service to others, explaining to managers how a raise will benefit their whole team and company.

If you're interviewing after being fired, including a learning component to your service orientation may help as well. Your goal is to show how the specific lessons learned in your previous position actually will make you even more valuable to your new team.

Allude to an Ally

The following language helped women land better outcomes during salary negotiations, according to Hannah Riley Bowles, senior lecturer in public policy and management at Harvard Kennedy School and Linda Babcock, economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who have researched negotiating strategies for women:

"My team leader during the training program told me that I should talk with you about my compensation. It was not clear to us whether this salary offer represents the top of the pay range. My team leader told me there is a range in terms of how much managers are paid in their first placement. He thought I should ask to be paid at the top of that range."

What's notable here is that when women suggest that another authority – such as a manager, thought leader, organization, book or website – prompted the request for more money, it's taken more seriously by hiring teams. While it's unfortunate not to be as successful as men in simply asking for higher pay based on your own merit, this technique has been proven effective for women, so it's worth trying. After being fired, it can be particularly helpful to show this alliance with an outside source or authority who believes in your overall ability despite the recent termination.

Just Ask

Asking for a higher salary certainly doesn't guarantee that you'll get it. But not asking guarantees that you won't. Men negotiate four times more often than women for their first job and are eight times more likely than women to negotiate starting salary and benefits overall, according Babcock. When women do negotiate, they ask for 30 percent less than men do. Twenty percent of women, though they say they understand the importance of negotiation, never try it at all.

Women, if you lost your last job and want to keep pace or do better financially than male employees in your next company, then take a page from men's playbook. When asked to use a metaphor to describe what negotiating feels like, men said it's like "winning a ball game" while women said it's like "going to the dentist," Babcock reports. If you approach your salary negotiation more like a challenging sport than a dreaded event while using the strategies above, you'll put yourself in the right frame of mind to succeed.


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Career Advice: How to bolster your earning potential after you're fired
How to bolster your earning potential after you're fired
Getting fired affects women differently than men when it comes to their future earnings.
Career Advice
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