Career workshop encourages female employees to ‘know your worth’


For women who want to get ahead in their current job or move onto a new job, career consultant Emily Bennett quoted some sage advice:

“If you don’t know your own worth and value, don’t expect someone else to calculate it for you.”

Bennett, who works in Pitt’s Career Center, spoke to a few dozen women on Feb. 11 about “Knowing Your Worth & the Value of Negotiation.” The event was sponsored by the Women’s Affinity Group.

She offered tips on knowing your value, smart goal setting, appraisals, resumes and salary negotiations.

Know your value

  • Assess your skills and know where there might be gaps. She suggested using a chart to monitor skills you wish to improve or get, including planning how to do that and setting a deadline to achieve your goal. You can find one at

  • Know your personal brand. This means knowing the skills and experiences that you bring to any job.

  • Conduct research on the job titles you’re interested in and the job market. Women often underestimate themselves and think they shouldn’t apply for a job unless they meet 90 percent of the requirements, while men will apply with only 75 percent of the requirements, Bennett said. Women need to know that many of their skills are transferrable, even if they don’t exactly meet the requirements.

  • Be your own advocate. Now is not the time to be humble, Bennett said. You need to let your boss know all the things you do that she may not be aware of.


  • Keep track of accomplishments and challenges throughout the year, so you’re ready when appraisal season starts.

  • Make sure your boss knows if something isn’t working or if you need additional resources.

  • Understand how your boss is evaluating you in addition to the HR evaluation. His standards may be different than the official appraisal.

  • Focus on your strengths and any initiatives or improvements you created.

  • List potential resources you could use and any big plans you have for the next year.


  • Again, take stock of all your accomplishments.

  • Use strong verbs, such as managed instead of helped.

  • Tailor your descriptions to reflect appropriate skills to your job and/or future job search

  • Consider reverse engineering a resume — what would you like it to look like in two to three years and then figure out what you need to do to get there.

  • Keep your resume updated, so you’re ready if a job opportunity comes along.

Salary negotiations

  • Know your value. Sites like can help you know what the market rate is for your current or future job.

  • Know your target for salary and benefits. For some places, like Pitt, a strong benefits package can influence your salary requirements.

  • Remain positive and flexible. Don’t get personal. Anticipate your employer’s reactions and responses.

  • If asked for a required salary on an application, it’s better to put in nothing or a range, if possible.

  • During an initial interview, be prepared to deflect any questions about salary with comments such as, “I will be better equipped to discuss money once I understand the requirements of the job, and how well my qualifications fit the role.”

  • If you know what the market rate is, you can ask for 5 to 15 percent higher than the range, as a negotiating tactic.

  • Practice what you plan to say, such as, “Thank you for the offer. Based on my research with comparable roles in this area, I was thinking of a salary in the range of …” or “With my experience, I was expecting a salary closer to X. Is it possible to negotiate closer to that number?”

  • Remember, the employer has picked you. They want to make it work.

Many of these suggestions are from the American Association of University Women’s Start Smart program. The online workshops aim to give women the skills to successfully negotiate salary and benefits.

It’s important to negotiate for higher salaries, Bennett said, because of the continuing wage gap between men and women. Over the course of a lifetime, this can add up to thousands of dollars in lost wages.

Other resources

For budgeting: and

Cost of living calculator:

Take-home pay calculator:

Salary calculators: or


“Ask for It: How women can use the power of negotiation to get what they really want” by Linda Babcock (Carnegie Mellon professor) and Sara Laschever. This is the featured book for the Women’s Affinity Group’s upcoming book club, which is set to kick off from noon-1 p.m. March 7 at 531 Alumni Hall. If you’d like to join the Book Club, please fill out this form to reserve a book. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion provide the books, but you are asked to commit to reading the book if one is purchased for you.

“Nice Girls (Still) Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers” by Lois P. Frankel (Grand Central Publishing, 2014)