Lindsey Ault-Authier did not plan for a career in the private sector. The 2006 graduate of Fairfield University originally set her academic focus on art history.
In her senior year, she was able to land an internship at a recruitment agency that led to a full-time job offer and an unexpected career in human resources that included positions at Gartner, UBS Investment Bank, FactSet and her current job as director of employer branding and campus recruiting at Danone North America in White Plains.
Ault-Authier recently returned to her alma mater for a virtual presentation titled “Women Negotiating Salary,” which offered insight and advice for women seeking more financial strength in the workforce.
She recalled her first big mistake in salary negotiation when she received a job offer from Avon Cosmetics in Manhattan after she was working for UBS in Stamford for about two years.
“What I didn’t factor in about a job in the city was the cost of commuting, the New York City taxes and those expensive New York City lunches,” she recalled. “When all was said and done, I actually ended up making less money than I had previously at UBS, although I was getting free lipstick and makeup, so there was that perk.”
Ault-Authier warned job hunters that it will “cost you to not negotiate and it’s not a small sum of number,” citing factors, including the percentage of salary that goes into a 401(k) and into a bonus as being tied into an initial salary — as well as the potential salary that for any new job that the individual may pursue.
“So, over time, the price of not negotiating is expensive,” she said. “Research has showed that men who have negotiated salaries typically increase them by an average of 7.4% percent. Research has shown that women who consistently negotiate their salaries will typically earn about 1 million more over their lifetimes on average than those who don’t.”
Ault-Authier pointed out that “recruiters also expect you to negotiate,” and she admitted that some women are not comfortable in this pursuit, fearing that they might be perceived as too aggressive or pushy.
However, she also pointed to human resources industry research that found “80% of recruiters report that candidates that negotiate make a better impression than those who just accept. So, while there’s often that feeling that maybe it won’t be well received, you know recruiters are expecting you to have this conversation.”
Ault-Authier encouraged women to consider the obstacles and challenges that arise in their financial lives, including temporarily leaving the workforce for childbirth and raising children, the financial stress that many women face following divorce and the scientific fact that women typically outlive men.
“It’s really important that we’re thinking about our long-term financial growth and why this matters over time,” she said.
As for successful negotiating, Ault-Authier recommended identifying realistic goals and setting aside non-negotiables.
“You want to think about stack ranking things like compensation risk versus work-life balance and if the company has room for growth,” she said. “You want to understand where you’re willing to give and where you’re not willing to give, and to be really clear and upfront on that.”
She recommended online resources, including Glass Door and Salary.com to have a better understanding of industry level salaries.
“Do your homework, so that way when you’re coming to the table you have facts behind why you’re picking this range,” she said. “And you can also feel confident that what you’re asking for is reasonable.”
Ault-Authier admitted conversations about money can be awkward, but she also cautioned against personalizing the process, especially when seeking a salary increase.
“Whatever’s going on it’s definitely important,” she said about the employee’s off-hours life. “But when you’re in the negotiation space, you want to be coming from a position of strength. You want to be sharing why you have value and tie that into where you can make an impact, as well as what’s fair and reasonable in the marketplace — and not so much in terms of your own personal needs.”