outfit: power dress ( + my money coach session + a woman’s approach to salary negotiations)

ootd 5-17 2

[outfit: French Connection ottoman dress, PACT leggings, Vionic orthaheel flats, long cardigan gifted by Mijeong Park]

Seems like whenever I’m wearing this “power” dress, I end up having a great day at work.

This is the ottoman fabric dress I bought a couple months back, that’s got great structure and garnered a compliment of “you remind me of Diane Rigg” the first time I wore it to work.  And some of you commented that the dress was a “strong look”.  And I agree.  It’s been dreary and a tad cold in the mornings so I dipped back into my autumn/winter wardrobe and resurrected this thick warm dress for work today.  Something about the structure and the stand up collar makes me feel like a power woman.  It was a nice change because all week I was feeling really stressed with all the uncertainty around my future co-worker leaving at my next job.  I won’t find out more information for a while because the person I’m supposed to talk to is out on vacation.  It’s been tough being in limbo.  But today, things turned around a bit.  At work I got really positive feedback that was entirely unexpected.  It really lifted my spirits and made me feel ever more confident in myself.  Maybe the dress had something to do with it! (j/k).

In other wardrobe news, the dressy-dress finally came!  And I really like it!  What a relief!  It isn’t black after all!  It’s this dark slate gray color that I like even more than black!  I’m so happy with it.  It can’t get any more nondescript but the thing feels amazing and the crepe silk has such a beautiful drape, that graces the body so beautifully.  The dress is actually made of four pieces sewn together, ie. there are two side panels which are almost invisible but function to bring the waist line ever so slightly in.  I think that’s what separates this tank like dress from the millions of other potato sack-like tank dresses out there.  I was fully prepared to wear a potato sack, but I’m glad it isn’t one.  I’m also glad it just barely passes the knees, because that makes it feel a little more dressed up than it would otherwise.

ootd 5-17

[pre-owned Eileen Fisher crepe silk dress from the Real Real, $40]

The one downside of this dress: there’s a faint discoloration on the front of the dress, that I think I’ll be able to get out with handwashing.  It’s hardly noticeable, so it’s not an issue that would cause me send it back for a refund.  That’s the thing about stuff from The Real Real.  Seems like they often come with significant flaws that aren’t apparent in the description.  My Marni cashmere cardigan for example came with a pea sized hole on the arm, that I had to repair myself.  I rarely have this problem with buying from Poshmark.

In other non-wardrobe related news: I had my 3rd phone session with my “money coach” last week.  I had cancelled the last two phone sessions because I was delinquent on finishing my budgeting homework.  You see, I have this tendency to want to bury my head in the ground when it comes to financial planning.  But alas, I finished my homework, which was to fill out an excel sheet with information regarding my future income from my future job in California and detailing my expected expenses in Los Angeles.  The excel sheet that my money coach created has formulas built into it so that you don’t have to do the calculations yourself.  If you want a copy of the blank form, send me a private message on my about page, and I’ll email it to you.  I left several spaces blank because I simply didn’t have basic knowledge about how much things would cost.  For example, I didn’t know how much car insurance would cost per month.  I also didn’t know what tax bracket and how much take home pay I’d be getting based on my projected salary.  These were all things my money coach was able to tell me, especially since he is from California and most of his clients are based out of California.  I was so happy to leave all those childcare expense sections blank.  Whew!

After this assignment was done, he now has a sense of how much leftover money I would have at the end of each month to put towards savings/investments.  We will have our final session later this month, where he will help me decide what percentage to save, put into retirement, and invest.  He advised me not to buy disability insurance (which many doctors do buy) because my line of work is not physically demanding, and really only requires me to use my mind more than anything.  Whereas surgeons, cardiologists, dermatologists and many other physician specialties depend heavily manual dexterity and physical health, ie. if a surgeon damaged his hand, he’d be out of his job completely and would not be able to find a job nearly as high paying as that job.  My future job will offer disability insurance that covers situations in which you’d be totally disabled and unable to perform any job, which is what would need to happen for me to not perform my job or some version of my job essentially, so for my specific situation it didn’t really make sense to buy disability.  But for most doctors, I would say it does make sense to buy “own profession” type disability to get coverage for your income.

And speaking of income, with the new revelation that my future co-worker is leaving, which leaves me doing the job of two people, I am exploring how to use this to negotiate a higher salary before officially signing my contract.  I spoke with some of my senior (over age 60) female mentors at my current job and many of them, having regretted not asking for more money in their careers, were very encouraging of me asking for more money, saying things like “You gotta demand more money.  Not ask.  Demand!”, or “Know your worth!  You are a highly trained professional.  Get what you deserve!”.  (Which is true; there are very few psychiatrists in this country with advanced training in treating medically complicated patients; there’s a big shortage of qualified people to do this work as the geriatric population is growing and getting sicker). Some of my female mentors griped about how men in the same position would ask for more money in a heart beat and that I needed to stand up for myself and do the same.  But when I asked them how much more money I should ask for, the answer was less clear.  If I am expected to do the job of two psychiatrists, should I get paid the salary of two psychiatrists?  That seemed like too much to ask for in my opinion.  But, should I get 50% more, 30%, 25% more??  Nobody I spoke to so far has any idea.  There are still some mentors that I could ask for advice, who have been around long enough to know a thing or two about salary negotiations.  I still have a lot of things to figure out….

I thought about writing this in a formal post, but that idea seemed daunting.  I’ve learned that I’m more likely to post if I keep things sort of stream of consciousness and informal.  I don’t ever want this space to start feeling like work even if that means the writing isn’t as good as it could be. But anyway, I thought you guys might be interested in this whole process.  Not enough people talk about it, I think, so I wanted to put it out there.

10 thoughts on “outfit: power dress ( + my money coach session + a woman’s approach to salary negotiations)

  1. Glad that you like the new dress! Eileen Fisher can be so versatile. I ordered a Miheong Park dress after seeing your blog and asking about sizing, and I really like it. I washed it gently in the washer the other day (and laid it out to dry), and it’s passed the ultimate test: a-ok without hand washing.

    About the salary, YES I’d say that you need to ask for more money and that not asking in this situation (doing a job that is designed for two and double that which you signed up for) would reflect upon you. Before my current role, I was in finance, and the amount of hubris around salary negotiations was astounding… EXCEPT it’s not hubris when someone else recognizes that your ask is legitimate and gives it to you. I was shocked, literally speechless, in the final months of working that my ‘work husband,’ a friend who entered in the same cohort, took home 35% more than I did, all in, in the previous year. I knew the 77 cents on the dollar thing between men and women, but I didn’t think it would happen to me because I already negotiated my salary. (When I was stymied over actual salary number, I negotiated hard for additional vacation days–and got them.) And at every turn I was told “there’s not that much wiggle room. Entry level is set across the board, throughout the cohort.” Clearly untrue!

    It’s also rare that one has a definable justification at all, as opposed to “I’m really good. And good should be quantified by x dollars.” I know that you’re not asking for advice, but excuse my wanting to blurt this out. I think a good strategy is walking in and behaving as though the salary needs to be changed–and that the only discussion should be how much. For example, this is what I imagine in my head: “I’m estimating that since the hiring process is starting from scratch, we’ll need about 3 months to interview, choose, and train to the point someone new is in the wards with me. On that estimate I calculate an all-in annual salary of $125/year. In my experience, based on the last two hires, 3 months is a conservative estimate that takes into account the added work that I’ve already done in the weeks before today’s conversation.” And there–you’ve tied your salary bump to amount of time you’re doing multiple jobs. If anything, this’ll light a fire under the hiring committee.

    [In this example, you make $100 a year–and no need to remind them verbally what your current salary is. If this is a talk-and-decide-now kind of person, it’s to your advantage that they’re not sure because it keeps emotions out of it a little more. It’s more difficult to talk in terms of a percent increase because management’s incentive is to just attack that number: they know they just want to press the % down as much as possible, regardless of the value to which it’s tied.]

    And there’s the fact that this is your opening offer–they may well counter, so it’s basically to your advantage to (1) tie your ask to something concrete, in this case time, and (2) shoot high. Say that you think it’ll take 6 mo to hire and let THEM challenge your assumption on that.

    (Also, so interesting to hear about your subspecialty! Did you consider consult-liaison, or did you know geriatric was for you?)


    1. Oh I’m glad you liked the MP dress. Mine got dirty too but I have not washed it. There’s some loose threads on it that I need to repair at the tailor so I will probably get it dry cleaned while it’s there but glad to know handwashibg works too. Thanks for the much needed advice about negotiating. I hadn’t thought about the idea of talking about percentages and not exact dollar amounts. That’s gold. I will have to practice and choose my words carefully. There’s a book about negotiating called “getting to yes” which I had meant to read a long time ago. I should finally read it. And lastly I do C-L work actually. It’s a broad field.. but generally older people are sicker and they make up a lot of the people we see.


  2. “Getting to yes” and “Crucial conversations” (I prefer this one actually) are business school staples, and they were so helpful for me, even in the medical field. The books really just help you see, through example, that people can manage to see things 100% differently from you without having to be inconsiderate/jerks/oblivious. It’s like yanny/laurel… total disagreement, but all in good faith and both correct at the same time!


    1. A famous sports psychologist came to give a talk at my hospital and he recommended Getting To Yes, but if you say Crucial Conversations is better, I ought to check that out. Thanks for the recommendation.. this might make the difference!


  3. I’m listening to a podcast literally right now called Safe for Work and the topic is negotiating. The female host is always saying, if you don’t ask you don’t get. You can always think in terms of how much more time/ work you anticipate in the context of being solo in your role and ask for your salary AND vacation package to be reflective of it. If it’s going to be that difficult to recruit into your specialty you could be carrying that workload for a while, so you should have fair compensation.


    1. For sure. It doesn’t hurt to ask and can definitely pay to ask the right way. For me, I won’t hesitate to ask, but I just need to figure out the details of what I’m asking for… it’s tricky to figure out what’s considered fair.


  4. So true. And fair probably isn’t the right word since you don’t necessarily have a ton of other people out there to compare roles/pay with and figure out where you should be up front. I don’t think it would be out of line at all to discuss what you think is a reasonable salary increase now, but keep the door open to reassess six months down the line once you’ve really had a chance to evaluate your workload.


  5. I run a physician recruiting firm (we work with neurosurgeons and neurologists) and you should definitely have the conversation about compensation. I always like to frame it as less of a negotiation and more of a problem solving exercise. This is hopefully the start of a long-term, positive relationship and you should all have similar goals. I think if you approach it along the lines of you are concerned that the workload might be more significant that you expected and you always want to be a team player but you also want to make sure you are fairly compensated, that should be a good way to open the discussion. I also liked the percentage advice and think that could be a nice way to handle additional compensation while the second position remains unfilled. Do you have some compensation data available to understand what the market looks like so you have a basis for understanding what they offered you and how it compares? If you want me to send you the MGMA data for your specialty, let me know and I’ll be happy to send it along. If there’s anything else I can do to help, just say the word. Women definitely have a harder time with this than men and you deserve to be paid what you’re worth!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s