Negotiating an offer at a new job is challenging on its own. What if you’re switching industries, too? If you’re concerned that you’ll have no leverage or that you’ll be forced to simply accept whatever you’re offered, here are three steps to prepare for your negotiation.
Be upfront about why you made the switch
Take ownership of your career path. If you feel sheepish about why you wanted to change industries or have a gap on your resume, get clear on your own intentions before you try to explain them to someone else. There’s no substitute for representing yourself with confidence. In the best case, your future employer will think you have potential but will make you work extra hard to prove yourself. Or you might miss out on the opportunity all together. You have to believe in your abilities before they will.
Get out in front of the questions they’ll have by volunteering to share your story. Let’s say you were miserable in your high pressured finance job, burned out, and then went through a tech skills boot camp to become a junior developer. You’re concerned that employers will see you as too far along in your career to be interested in re-starting at the bottom of the totem pole, and too used to a salary and incentive structure that you wouldn’t be eligible for. Rather than avoiding this awkward subject, address the elephant in the room and move the conversation forward.
Show off your new skills
Getting a great offer means convincing them that you're worth it. If you’ve taught yourself a new skill, or gone back to school in order to enter a new field, be proud of the initiative you’ve take. Show off what you’ve learned and how you’ve applied it in the real world. If you’re brand new and haven’t had a chance to use your new skills in a professional capacity yet, find or create opportunities to do so. Employers will want to see or hear examples of things you’ve done, not speculation about how you would do something.
For example, if you’re a budding graphic designer but don’t have paying clients yet, you could imagine what your ideal client would want and then execute it. Design sample wedding invitations and thank you cards, then get them printed so that you can photograph your work in situ and include it in your portfolio.
Understand how your salary will change
This is particularly relevant for anyone who is open to taking a more junior role in exchange for the opportunity to enter a new field. First, you should understand whether you are likely to make more or less than your previous role. Do this by researching online as well as talking to people in similar roles about what they’re making. Don’t know anyone in your new field? Start by looking for people who you have something in common with, like fellow alumni from your university.
Second, especially if you expect to make less, you should make it clear in your discussions that you understand the salary range for this type of role is different from your previous industry and you accept that change. You can ask about ways to advance once you’re more established and outline what criteria you’d need to meet in order to be considered for a promotion down the road.
This post originally appeared in Women@Forbes, where Alexandra Dickinson is a contributor. She writes about how to use a negotiation mindset to achieve your goals.