Review: Fearless Salary Negotiation

Posted in Reading, Work

America loves itself some self-help and self-improvement. Whether it comes in the form of endless LinkedIn Pulse posts, self-help (and self-promoting) articles on Medium, or the vast industry of self-help books, we are all suckers — myself included — for trying to learn and apply simple techniques that reward our attention and obedience with some improvement in happiness or well-being or whatever qualifies as “better”.

Fearless Salary Negotiation is one such book intent on helping the reader maximize their salary. It reminds me a bit of a book that was recommended to me when I started out my career: Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute is a classic, and was the book that helped me take a more active stance towards offer negotiations1. Both books work to explain how the hiring process works, and more importantly, how companies and hiring managers think about starting salaries and budgets and their decision processes.

I’m reading Fearless now, however, having had a decade of experience plus a bunch of years of management under my belt, and I didn’t find it all that useful. I suppose if you’re new to the work force, or had never thought about negotiating your salary, then Fearless is a fair introduction. My reservation stems from how the book reads like a sales pitch; it offers additional “resources” online, which inevitably leads to additional paid material and even consulting classes. And whereas Negotiating Your Salary tries to explain some of the psychology, Fearless offers up a series of letter/email templates that feel narrowly applicable.

And that’s the biggest problem I have with this book: I categorize it as a bunch of anecdotal advice, stemmed from narrow circumstances and generalized incorrectly to broad application. Other offenders include tomes like The 4-Hour Workweek and Rich Dad, Poor Dad; they’re certainly inspirational stories, but the authors are trying to sell the readers on how to replicate their success, often without acknowledging the contexts that enabled them to even tell the story to begin with2. Fearless reads like someone who found success with a few tactics, but decides to spin that into a sellable strategy for the masses.

  1. Prior to reading that book, I took the unfortunate but common stance of thinking that I was lucky to even land a job.

  2. In the case of Rich Dad, the author eventually filed bankruptcy and was subsequently sued for a bunch of shady business and financial dealings.