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Negotiation Skills for Immigrants – Tiffany Uman

A chat with Tiffany Uman, a career strategy coach helping ambitious professionals FAST TRACK their success & CRUSH their goals in record time. We discussed how immigrants can successfully negotiate their salaries and promotions to get the compensation they deserve and continue to grow in their careers.


Tiffany Uman
Career Strategy Coach

In this episode of FiatVault, Tiffany Uman shares tips onhow new immigrants can develop negotiation skills to get the raise and promotion they deserve. 

Tiffany draws wisdom from her over 12 years of experience as a top executive at L’Oreal Canada to share relatable, valuable and useful career tips. She has a library of useful resources in the form of eBooks, guides and assessment tools for career growth on her Instagram page.

Listen to the full episode below or read on.

How often should you expect a promotion at work?

Tiffany UmanThere’s not really a rule of thumb. Certain organizations will have a little bit more structure in terms of internal movement and growth and those timelines are there to create a sense of structure or an expectation. But it’s not to say that you can’t get around those timelines too. 

And this is where I would love to focus on helping you fast track your growth, because this comes down to being very proactive, whether it’s a structured environment or not, you want to be in control of your own career and having that is critical.

So if let’s say you’re in an organization where you have a good sense of when timelines happen on promotion or typically what that path would look like, you still want to be able to talk about it and make sure that you’re clear on what needs to happen to get to that next step.

If you don’t have that clarity from your boss internally, you’re going to have a lot of question marks and you might end up wasting a lot of time. Focusing on things that aren’t actually directly going to help you get there. And the more information you equip yourself with, the more easily and quickly you can get there.

Also, it might be better to stay a little bit longer in certain roles to really reap the fruits of its labor and help you towards your next step. So if you’re changing roles every three months or every five weeks, that’s not always the most ideal. The question is, how much can you really get done in that short timeframe in terms of impact, building up your track record and your personal brand?

So generally, a good rule of thumb regarding when to expect a promotion is around that year and a half to two year mark. This is for your own growth, for continuing to stay challenged and motivated, and to not lose sight of the longer-term goals that you set for yourself.

And then within that, of course, there’s some wiggle room but that would be probably a very overall rough timeline I would give as a guideline. And then obviously taking that proactive stance to see what flexibility there is to maybe make that happen for you sooner.

Does a promotion always come with a salary increase?

Tiffany Uman: There are different schools of thought on this. I would say ideally it does accompany because otherwise you’re pretty much leaving money on the table.

Think of it this way. If you’re being promoted, chances are that means you’re taking on a different scope of responsibilities and this can be a lateral promotion and also a vertical promotion. 

Vertical promotion is literally moving upwards in your organization while lateral promotion means moving into a similar type of level possibly in a different function, or in a different team so you’re able to learn a different skillset. 

In the latter case, sometimes companies won’t offer a salary raise. They use the argument that, “Well, you know, you’re learning new things. This is part of your development”. But you’re going to be taking on more and I never want you to be in that trap where you’re doing more but not necessarily getting compensated for it. 

That’s why I love coaching my clients on negotiating at every opportunity that you get. Because if you don’t ask, you don’t get, and you really want to be able to frame that well for future progression as well.

And on top of it, especially when we’re talking about vertical promotions, these are perfect moments to negotiate because the company already values you. They see you as the ideal candidate to take on this next role. So if they value you to step into that position, they should value you enough as well to pay you for it. And that’s where it becomes not so much, “Am I going to get a salary raise? It’s more around how much of a salary raise you’ll get”. And then negotiation becomes more oriented around the number versus if it’s actually going to happen. 

Also, sometimes it depends on what you’re prioritizing. Maybe you really do want that title change. Well, then inquire – when will that salary raise come through? Don’t just leave it open. Try to get a gauge of what that timeline looks like. What are you missing now to get that salary raise at a later time?

So that way you can keep that conversation going and it won’t sound awkward or feel weird when you bring it back up to your employer at a later time

Why should you go after promotion and not wait for it to come to you?

Tiffany Uman: This one of those key blind spots that so many professionals fall into. Taking a proactive approach will bring it towards you sooner. And so what I mean by that is there are some things you can do, and these are the things that I dive into a lot more through
my coaching efforts. 

Of course, you need to be good at your job in order to get promoted. Otherwise, it’s going to be a little bit of a hard sell, but that’s just one part of the equation, right? Are the right people recognizing your work? Are you visible? Do people know who you are? Is the impact that you’re creating being well received?

Are you making sure that you’re your own biggest cheerleader and that you’re not down selling yourself or downplaying your wins? And this is especially important amongst professional women, where we tend to do that a lot. I used to be very guilty of this. I felt like talking about my wins was super selfish, that there’s the team effort too. “I can’t take credit for all of this”.

But I realized that can work against you, especially if you’re an immigrant coming into a new company and you’re building up a track record from scratch. You want to be able to showcase that, not only can you do the work, but you can really build a brand and relationships that are going to help you propel yourself forward in your career. And this is where that proactive stance is so crucial because no one’s going to tell
you to do that. 

And I can tell you in my own experience and why I love talking about this is it directly happened for me. Several of the promotions I got (I achieved seven promotions in under 10 years of my career) came to me a lot sooner than I expected because of these things that I’m talking about. 

Listen to the full episode

Tips for positioning yourself for promotion at work

Tiffany Uman: I’d say one of the most important is managing and clarifying expectations especially if you’re coming into a new company and you’re starting a new role, you need to really understand very early on what are you being evaluated on and how do they measure success in that role?

What is it going to take for you to go from meeting expectations, to exceeding expectations? Because typically that’s a level you want to get at to be able to be promoted, but you need to understand what they are looking for in order to make that happen. Make sure you’re having regular touch points in conversations. I often see ambitious professionals put far too much reliance on performance reviews to have conversations around promotions and growth, but there’s a lot that has to happen beyond that timeframe.

And if you’re just waiting for those moments, when those decisions are typically happening, you probably have missed a lot of the groundwork that would have had to happen before that. The third thing is definitely building on the personal brand and the relationships. There are key internal decision makers in your organization that are going to influence your progression. So you need to know who these people are. Do I have connections with them and how can I leverage those connections in a way that’s going to help me get to where I want to go faster.

How to confidently negotiate a raise

Tiffany Uman: I know there tends to be a lot of worry or anxiety or taboo around bringing up the conversation of money or salary in many companies but when you think about it, this is the direct reflection of the work that you’re doing. 

There’s nothing wrong in talking about this. There’s definitely ways that you want to frame it that’s going to help build your case. And that’s why having the conversations, not just at performance reviews. And so a great way of framing these types of conversations, especially with your boss, is essentially building on your own track record. 

So let’s say you’ve been in your role for a year and your boss isn’t having conversations around getting you promoted, you can initiate that. What you can do is lead into the conversation with your track record and kind of say, “Look, I’m really looking forward to the next steps in my career and I’m really proud of the evolution that I’ve had since I started in this role”.

That’s where you would probably want to highlight some key wins, and remind them of your impact and the evolution you’ve had from when you started to where you’re at now because that’s going to directly tie in.

The other key facet of this conversation is also coming equipped with some industry benchmarks so that you’re not just coming up with things out of thin air. 

Now you don’t have to outright give a number right off the bat. You could just set the stage and say, “With that said, I would really love to explore a salary raise for the end of this year or going into next year, is that something that you’re anticipating already on my behalf?”

You could also just ask it like a question and it’s so much less intimidating that way versus making it like an ask right off the bat. Just ask the questions that get you to the outcome but in a way that’s more curious to learn the process. For example, are there things that you further need to see from me that will help this increase to happen?

Make sure there are no roadblocks standing in your way because the more information you have, the more you can then action it to make sure that it happens for you. 

Get actionable and inspiring tips for your new life abroad

Negotiation tips for Immigrants

Tiffany Uman: I want to make something super clear —

You can be absolutely grateful for your work and absolutely still want more money or to be paid more. They are not, one or the other. They can absolutely co-exist and asking for a salary raise or positioning yourself for a promotion doesn’t take anything away from your gratitude.                                                                     
                                             TIFFANY UMAN

When you ask for a salary raise, the worst that’s going to happen is that they’ll say no, which honestly isn’t even the worst of such situations because I always say if it’s a no for now, it’s not a no for never. And once again, similar themes to what we’ve talked about today already is you want to build on when that next conversation can happen.

If it is a no for now, for whatever reason, understand why it’s a no for now. Are there things that you’re missing? Are there things you can do differently? What’s going to help position you better for that so that you can have a follow-up conversation? So I hope that builds up the confidence for anyone who is immigrating or starting a new role to know that you can absolutely be grateful and still want more for yourself.

Mindset and confidence

Tiffany Uman: Mindset is everything. When it comes to career growth, It’s the one thing that can really hold you back. Just like some of the points we talked about earlier, that feeling of gratitude for your job that might keep you from even talking about salary raises. That’s a mindset thing. 

It’s a mindset block. It’s your mind, it’s a limiting belief that convinces you that you shouldn’t be asking for more because you’re already grateful for what you have.

Mindset is so closely tied with confidence and confidence holds a really big weight when it comes to putting yourself forward, positioning yourself strategically, having these conversations, following up on these conversations, and building a roadmap for yourself that will help you get from point A to point B faster. And when you’ve got your mindset right, I often say this can be your biggest asset.

So I definitely want to leave you guys with that kind of notion of putting yourself out there because the downside is often very small and the upside can be very thick.

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