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Karen Edwards Blogger

Negotiate With Confidence

Posted by Karen Edwards | May 23, 2017

Welcome to the May 2017 ÖWLI blog. This year is flying by and we are nearly ready to release our agenda for this year's Össur Women's Leadership conference! We can reveal that this year's conference, scheduled for Sept. 28-30 at Össur's Orlando, FL campus, will feature a half-day workshop on building your personal brand and an extended panel discussion (one of last year's most popular sessions). The conference fee is only $50 and includes all meals, education credits and entertainment (yes, there will be another dinner outing!). Be sure to note that the Business Owners/Directors/Managers roundtable will be held as a dinner session the evening before the conference, Wednesday Sept. 27. This is also included in the conference registration fee. Register now before all 50 spaces are taken (see the calendar below for the link)!

This month, we are honored to present our guest blogger, Julianne Gupta. Julianne is an ABC board certified Prosthetist Orthotist. She graduated from Northwestern University for prosthetics in 2009 and orthotics in 2011. She has been working at United Prosthetics in Boston, MA for the past seven years and she also serves on the ÖWLI Steering Committee. This month Julianne offers terrific advice on salary negotiating.

Negotiate with Confidence

In 1963, John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, which prohibited sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions. Basically, equal pay for equal work between the sexes, under federal law. However, 54 years later, the pay gap continues despite the years passed since Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and the Beatles came to the US.

The biennial salary survey from O&P Edge, last published in October 2015, highlights the scope of the problem. From the beginning of our career (0-4 years' experience), women are paid $2,500 less annually than their male equivalent. Thereafter (5-9 years' experience) the pay gap rises to a $6,000 difference. Meanwhile, at 10-19 years' experience, the pay gap further increases to an average difference of $12,500 annually. If the existing pay gap remains constant and you work an average of 40 years, you would make ~$427,500 less than your male counterpart who started at the same time while doing the same job! This doesn't take into account funds potentially lost in a 401K, cash bonuses, or other benefits. The goal of this blog is to provide you with helpful tips to negotiate your salary with confidence to help reduce this gap.

I remember the first time I had to negotiate my own salary. For prosthetic residency, I was granted an interview at my ideal facility – one that offered as much practical experience as I could muster across a broad a range of disciplines. As I was just starting out, and certainly lacked proficiency, it was difficult for me to ask myself what am I worth? But without finding a good answer to that question, how was I in a position to negotiate? I distinctly remember thinking, I just don't want to ask for too much. I discussed what I should ask for with my husband the night before. He insisted that I ask for about 15% more than I'd intended, while pointing out my strengths and giving me a laundry list of reasons why I was worth it. When questioned about salary during the interview, I threw out the figure my husband suggested and it was promptly accepted. Since that time, I've successfully negotiated annual raises over the past 8 years. I've found that entering an interview with appropriate negotiation skills, competitive salary knowledge, and a plan of action is the best means to decrease the pay gap.

Concerning negotiation skills, conventional wisdom is to avoid discussing salary until after you've been offered the job. The background research conducted for this blog agrees with this tradition. If you are asked, try deflecting the question by saying I think I need to learn more about the job responsibilities and workload before discussing the salary range. Or be forthright, simply saying I would rather talk about that after I am offered the job. Once the job offer is extended, the balance of power either evens out (they want you and you want them) or is in your benefit (they want you and you're undecided).

In the age of the world wide web, competitive salary knowledge is only a few keystrokes away. Numerous websites, including and, provide the salary range for a multitude of job titles by location and years of experience – including prosthetists and orthotists. These websites allow one to define a realistic salary. I'd suggest asking for 10-20% greater than the mean, while being able to clearly and concisely state what makes you better than average. Remember that you are entering a negotiation! Asking for the average will make that your ceiling, rather than your floor.

Lastly, develop a plan of action. One school of thought is to let your potential employer provide the first figure. That way, you can counter with an increase of twice the difference between the offer and what you deem a fair wage. For example, if your aim is for $50,000 and you are offered $45,000, then you should counter with $55,000. In framing your counter offer, a suggestion would be to say based on my research on CPOs with similar experience in the area, I believe a competitive salary should be around ____. Always be prepared for the question, "Why do you think you deserve this salary? What makes you worth this much?" Prepare your pitch ahead of time. Have you had any recent accomplishments? At your last company did you run any successful clinics? Do you have any recent educational courses you've pursued? What were your recent successes you brought to the last company? Any unique skill you may be able to bring to this company that they do not already have? Do you already have established referral sources in the area that you can bring the company?

Once salary is determined, it is best not to forget about benefits. You may be able to negotiate for a greater amount of paid sick leave/vacations/holidays, a cash bonus, enrollment in a 401K, medical and dental insurance (individual and family), disability, or even a specific schedule. Identify the potential benefits important to you prior to the interview and you may be surprised what you can negotiate. When all is said and done, always remember, get everything in writing.

Hopefully this will provide you with a few tips to help you more confidently and wisely approach your next salary negotiation. Preparation is the key to success. Good luck!

Thank you, Julianne, for sharing this great advice!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Reserve a spot on your schedule for the following upcoming ÖWLI events…

Jun. 16, 2017, 12-1pm Pacific Time: ÖWLI Webinar Series: Work/Life Balance. Our ÖWLI Webinar Series for 2017 continues with a look into a topic with which we all struggle -- how can we have "more time" to bring balance to our busy lives? Led by ÖWLI's own Karen Edwards, this webinar incorporates a video by time-management expert Laura Vanderkam and discusses how planning and choosing our activities can result in "created hours" and improved quality of work and life. Register HERE

Sept. 28-30, 2017: Össur Women's Leadership Conference, Orlando, FL. If you came last year, you know you want to come again! If you missed last year's conference, NOW is your chance to register for this unique, professional conference designed exclusively for women in O&P. This year's schedule includes a workshop on building your personal brand, an extended panel discussion, multiple networking opportunities as well as some great entertainment. FYI, the Owners/Directors/Managers session will be held prior to the start of the conference the evening of Wed. 9/27 with a dinner, so make your plans accordingly. We only have 50 spaces available so REGISTER EARLY HERE !!

Nov. 10, 2017, 12-1pm Central Time: ÖWLI Webinar Series: Attract the Attention of Influential Sponsors. Harvard Business Review has reported that high-potential women are over-mentored and under-sponsored relative to male peers. In this webinar, led by Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching, Inc., explore the difference between mentors and sponsors. Learn four ways to make the most of mentoring conversations, and how to identify potential sponsors. Discover eight steps to gaining sponsorship, and leave with a personalized plan to attract the attention of an influential sponsor. REGISTRATION INFO COMING SOON!

Best wishes for an amazing month,

Karen Edwards

Director, Össur Women's Leadership Initiative

ÖWLI Quote of the Month: "We must raise both the ceiling and the floor." – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Talk to us!! Your feedback is welcomed and encouraged! Please let us know what you think of our initiative, share your ideas, share your victories, or just say “hi” by emailing us at And join the ÖWLI Facebook Group today!