Advice by Carly Inkpen, Justin Wright and Tad Mayer

Three Negotiations to Achieve Career Fulfillment

You’ve no doubt heard the tired truism that “getting a job is all about connections.” Well, it’s true, getting a job is all about connections, but that conclusion, vague as it is, can’t take you very far. What exactly are these “connections,” and where do they come from?

From summer jobs you loved and hated; through late-night talks about what to do with your life; during informational interviews and mentoring sessions; to salary talks and promotion discussions—every step of defining and pursuing your career path requires you to interact and negotiate with other people. In each one of these encounters, you’re seeking to access something that you couldn’t get on your own: advice, clarity, new skills, a broader network of contacts, job offers, money, recognition, career satisfaction and stability. The back-and-forth of these exchanges generates ideas and provides guidance, encouragement, and work opportunities that would never come about if you were just sitting alone at your computer, applying anonymously to job posting after job posting, sending your resume and your potential into the ether.

Core proposition

The core proposition is this: get better at negotiating with others and you’ll get better at building, managing, and advancing your career, no matter what career you’re seeking.

Three Types of Negotiation

Drawing on leading ideas and research from sociology, behavioral psychology, social justice and collaborative negotiation theory, we’ve developed a powerful career development framework to help you harness the generative potential of honest and skillful negotiation. The process consists of three types of negotiations, which together form the core of the approach:

  1. Negotiating with yourself – to get clarity about your values, long-term goals, and immediate next steps. Without clarity, you’re stuck, either in a fruitless job hunt or in the rut of an unfulfilling job. Identify your core needs and interests that underlie your professional ambitions so that you can negotiate with purpose and direction for what’s truly important to you.
  1. Negotiating with connectors – to get the information and contacts you need to understand, enter, and excel in your field. By engaging and collaborating with connectors, you’ll catalyze ideas, strategies, and next steps you never would have dreamed of on your own.
  1. Negotiating with gatekeepers – to get concrete training and work opportunities that advance your professional goals. Every professional opportunity – be it a job, professional development training, or the chance to publicize your work – can only be accessed through other people. Use the “yesable” proposal, which is exactly what it sounds like: asking for something that meets your needs and also meets theirs, making it easy for them to say, “YES!”

Four Phases

These three types of negotiation will come up again and again in your work (as well as your personal life). But what you negotiate for and about – how you approach the conversation, and how you interact with your counterparts – changes dramatically depending on where you find yourself in your career development. You will utilize the three negotiations continuously as you move through four distinct phases of career advancement:

Phase 1 – Finding focus.  Effective career management begins with developing an understanding of what drives you, where you want to go, and where you honestly stand.

Phase 2 – Gaining access.  You then strategically negotiate for the support, assistance, and collaboration you need from others – connectors – in order to understand the professional landscape you’ve chosen and gain entry to paths that previously seemed unavailable, or were entirely unknown to you.

Phase 3 – Doing the work you love.  “Expand the pie” and make creative agreements that meet both your needs and those of employers – gatekeepers – to land work opportunities that give you perspective, skills, credibility, and leverage. As you get established and your bargaining power improves, you can begin to refine your workflow and opportunities to better meet your interests and ambitions.

Phase 4 – Building fulfillment.  Managing your career ultimately becomes a process of creation and ingenuity. Honing your work-life balance, spending your time doing what’s important to you, and seeking to shape your impact on the world are crucial to reaching a place of personal fulfillment.

Applying the framework – An Example

To illustrate a piece of the framework, below is an example showing how to initiate preparation for the second negotiation (Negotiating with Connectors) while in Phase 2 (Gaining Access). This example illustrates how to think about asking for an informational interview by focusing on both your interests and those of the person granting the interview – the connector.

One of the common misconceptions about informational interviews is that the prospective interviewer (you) is asking for a favor – i.e. for advice and guidance – without offering anything in return. This misconception can undermine informational interviews in a couple of serious ways. First of all, asking for a favor can be intimidating and therefore prohibitive: “You mean I have to approach this big wig and grovel for a chance to soak up their wisdom? Why would they want to talk to little old me? No thanks.” Or second, and perhaps more likely, this misconception will simply limit your notion of what the informational interview is, thereby compromising your entire effort.

Focus on interests – yours and theirs

If, however, you view the informational interview as a negotiation, then it plays out in a similar manner to all other negotiations. Hence, you’ll be asking: “How do I get what I need from this interview, in a way that meets the connector’s interests as well?”

We’ve talked to hundreds of connectors over the years, and we’ve also functioned as connectors ourselves. In our experience there are certain interests that are common to nearly all connectors, regardless of their field. When preparing to initiate an informational interview, try to put yourself in the connector’s shoes, and consider some of the basic values that you’re in a position to offer them, such as:

  • Recognition: being valued for their expertise
  • Reputation: being viewed as a facilitator or mentor
  • Convenience: having their schedule accommodated (and therefore respected)
  • Insight: understanding you and your perspectives on the field; and how their advice helps to advance an up-and-comer
  • Utility: meeting a potential collaborator/employee who may fill their staffing needs in the future
  • Affiliation: enjoying the opportunity to have an engaging interaction with an interesting (and perhaps likeminded) individual
  • Status: distinguishing them as someone of prominence and importance in the field
  • Appreciation: acknowledging the sharing of their time, attention, and wisdom

The above glimpse into identifying your interests and those of an informational interviewer shows how the approach opens new possibilities. Thinking in terms of interests is the foundation for all three of the negotiations in the framework. (If you would like more information about approaching informational interviews as negotiations, please read, “Getting Their Ear: Understanding Connectors’ Interests.”)

The framework described in this article offers you a solid foundation for negotiating and managing one of the most important long-term projects a person can have – a satisfying working life.

Carly Inkpen, Justin Wright and Tad Mayer

carlyThis article is drawn from concepts in End the Job Hunt, an upcoming book by Carly Inkpen, Justin Wright and Tad Mayer, due to be published in 2015. Carly has worked in negotiation training, cross cultural communications, mediation, research and writing, and she is now earning a Master of Social Work. Justin is an experienced ADR practitioner who has expertise providing transactional assistance, behavioral change, facilitations and both mediation and negotiation training and coaching. Tad is a negotiation consultant, mediator, facilitator, trainer and coach. You can reach them at

Public Libraries

You have arrived in a new country and have left your job, lifestyle, friends and family behind. Basically you have left all the social life around you. And here you are in a country which seems welcoming but it looks different both culturally and socially. You are finding it difficult to make new friends. You may feel apprehensive of going to the next door house and knocking at the door as you are unsure if it is acceptable in this country? And, you are bored of your monotonous life.

But, there are many ways to utilize your time wisely. And, one among them is public libraries. Are you aware that there are more than 16,000 public libraries in USA. You can enroll in these libraries easily as they have free memberships. They contain books on numerous topics and have many other interesting things apart from books, like journals, magazines, newspapers, cds. Public libraries are a good source of gaining knowledge, utilizing the time, and making friends. On monthly basis, there are many events conducted at the libraries. Public libraries also have classes and programs on various topics like english language, learning computers, etc.

Public libraries cater to the informational demands of people of all ages. Most of the times, you will find a local public library of your city at a walking distance or easily approachable by bus. One may think that in the age of internet, e-books and mobile technology nobody goes to the libraries anymore. However, this is not true as libraries are an affordable source of books. According to a survey, only about 28% of adults have read an e-book. Still most of the community depends on the printed books and libraries are a good resource for them.

The public libraries of today are becoming modern in respect of technology. If you do not have a laptop, you can use the ones available at a library for the use of general public. Through the website of the library, you can order your books for pickup, check the availability, renew the books, and check for the upcoming events.

Public libraries try to help you in whatever way they can. If a book is not available in the library, they check at the nearby libraries to see if it is available and you need not go to the other library to pick it up, they will get it for you at your library.

If you have kids, public libraries are a great way of getting books for your kids, letting them play in the play area and making friends with other mother. You might find another mom who is also trying to get a job and you can form a group in which you can help each other in interview preparations etc.

Remember libraries are not only about gaining knowledge but it’s also about making connections.

Shruti Sachdeva’s story

shruti anand

I moved to US in June 2011 soon after getting married. My first destination was Cincinnati where my husband was pursuing his PhD. Before moving to US, I was practicing dental surgery in India while also working as a lecturer in a dental college. The new beginnings in a new place also brought a well-deserved break from a busy past life.

After few weeks of settling into a new culture, and enjoying an idyllic life, I started thinking of my future plan. I became curious to know about American health care system, so I volunteered at a dental clinic, University of Cincinnati’s dental college and there I got to understand differences between work cultures of two countries. To speak with American patients was a great experience as it increased my ability to understand their problems in more detail. In end of 2011, we moved to Boston, a city that I have come to cherish for its unbridled enthusiasm and creative energy, all of which undoubtedly stems from having young students of various nationalities studying at many of the world-class institutions in the city. I became very keen to go back to school again. However, things were challenging as I was on dependent visa (F2) that has both work & study limitations.

I wanted to gain knowledge so that I can orient myself towards health benefits of the whole society. My husband was a great motivation for me and he always promoted my intentions of advanced studies. We did a research on the various courses taught in Universities around the area and in the meantime I also attended information sessions of couple of Universities. Finally we decided to target Masters of Public Health program from Boston University School of Public Health. In the meanwhile, I prepared for GRE and TOEFL and after getting through those tests, we applied for the program. It was very competitive but due to my good GPA during my bachelor’s and master’s degree, I not only got the admission but also received merit award. Initially, I was registered for Fall 2012 session but due to some visa related issues I had to defer my admission by a semester. For that period, I studied a certificate course through HarvardX where I learnt a new software called Stata that has application in statistical analysis purposes. Having practiced medicine for a greater part of my adult life, it was challenging to learn software and high-level mathematics initially. But soon, I started enjoying these activities. During those few months I also got myself involved in MIT Spouses & Partners Community, where I made new friends from various ethnicities. The time when you are away from your family, friends are always a good support. MIT S&P helps spouses to acclimatize in a new culture and provides career related guidance. Here, I attended weekly Wednesday meetings to strengthen my understanding towards US culture and made some good friends (including Shruti & Ankita).

Finally, my wait was over and I started with my Masters in Public Health with major in Biostatistics and Pharmaceutical program. It is a two year program and I have completed my first three semester of study with good GPA. In summers, I did few projects with my professors. It gives me pleasure and joy to work for improving health of the community. After accomplishing first step towards my dreams, I feel that if your target is clear, if you are faithful for yourself, one day you will achieve your goals. I know I have chosen a challenging path for myself but I am still learning from these experiences. In Boston, I have seen some of my lovely friends who are hard-working and were able to accomplish what they wanted to be and in my hard times I see them as an inspiration for myself. My husband and people like him always keep me motivated for my goals. I remember the times I have spent in my husband’s lab by working on my college assignments and projects. I wish to have many such times in the future where I can get his company while doing my own work.

For the spouses who are planning to move or have already moved on dependent visa, my advice is to recognize your interests and never giveup!

Shruti Sachdeva

Employment Authorization for H4 spouses

As we know that dependents of H-1B visa holders are on H4 visa in US and currently H4 visa holders are not allowed to work in US. However, there is a proposed rule according to which few H4 visa holders will get Employment Authorization and will be able to work. This rule is in proposal stage and is open for public comments. If you want this rule to be passed, we advise you to write your comments and send it to DHS before July 11, 2014.

The summary of the proposed rule (DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0017) is given below.
The Department of Homeland Security proposes to extend the availability of employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrant. The extension would be limited to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrant who are in the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment. This population will include those H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant if the H-1B nonimmigrant are either the beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) or who have been granted an extension of their authorized period of admission in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. This regulatory change would lessen any potential economic burden to the H-1B principal and H-4 dependent spouse during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, furthering the goals of attracting and retaining high-skilled foreign workers.

You can read the proposed rule in detail here.
You can also submit comments by any one of the following methods:

Online: Posting your comments here.

Email: Submitting comments directly to USCIS by email at Include DHS docket number USCIS-2010-0017 in the subject line of the message.

Mail/courier/hand-delivery: To Laura Dawkins, Chief Regulatory Coordinator, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529. Telephone (202) 272-8377. To ensure proper handling, please reference DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0017 on your correspondence.

There is a Facebook page named ‘H4 visa, a curse’ where they have posted few tips on what you should include in your comments. You can check those tips here.

Please remember that the rule is open for comments only till July 11, 2014.
Post your comment today to support H4 Visa EAD (Work Permit) rule and also ask your H1B Spouse to post!
Share it with your friends on H4 Visa to get the maximum support for this proposed rule!
Let’s do it together to bring the change!

L2 Visa

L2 visa is a dependent visa to accompany their spouse on L-1 visa. The duration of their stay is valid till their spouse’s L-1 visa is valid. If the spouse is a L-1A visa holder, then it is valid for maximum 7 years and if L-1B visa holder then it is valid for maximum five years.

On L2 visa, the spouse can study in US (part-time or full-time). But the major advantage for L2 visa over H4 visa is that on L2, dependents can work while on H4 dependents cannot. L2 dependents have to apply for EAD (Employment Authorization Card) with USCIS to be authorized to work in United States.

At a time EAD card is valid up to 2 years for L2 visa holder and then again it has to be renewed till the time they possess valid L2 visa status.

If your spouse plans to move to USA, then consider moving to USA on L-1 visa. One limitation for L-1 visa is that it is only available for multinational companies and L-1 is for inter-company transferees. That means while in USA, you cannot switch to some other company.

The key feature of L-1 visa is that there is no cap requirement unlike H-1B visa. Similar to H1B, L1 allows the holder to apply for a Green Card.

H-1B Visa

H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows professionals to work in the United States for a period of maximum 6 years. It is an employer sponsored visa category i.e. an employer must offer a job and apply for your H1 visa petition with US immigration department.

This approved petition is a work permit that allows you to work in USA for that particular employer. It’s also important to know that H-1B is job specific. The visa is only valid for work with the employer that filed the original petition. If you change your job then your new employer must file a H-1B visa transfer petition.

65,000 H-1B visas are issued per fiscal year for overseas professionals and 20,000 visas are available for people graduating from a US academic institution with an advanced degree. H1-B visa issued during the year becomes effective on October 1st. This means you cannot start working before October 1 even if your H-1B visa processing has been done in April. Usually employers start applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa i.e. on April 1. For instance, employers can apply as soon as April 1, 2014 for the FY 2015 cap, but you cannot start work until October 1, 2014.

It’s important to note that the maximum allowed limit of H1B applicants reaches within first few days due to thousands of H-1B petitions filed every year. In such a case computer-generated random-selection lottery is conducted on the applications received on first 5 business days of April. Dependent spouses can work only if companies offer them a job and apply for their H-1B visa petition. Since the applications received on first 5 business days of April are included in lottery, it’s advisable to look for the job as soon as possible. is the official website of US Citizenship and immigration services. You can read more about H-1B visa here. In USCIS’s official website, you can track the H1B visas left in a year before it reaches the cap. For fiscal year 2015, the cap has been filled. For more information visit the site. This means if currently you do not have the visa, but you have a job, still you cannot start working till Oct 2015. If you get lucky in the lottery for the next fiscal year i,e, 2016 then you may start working in Oct 2015 otherwise you need to wait till next year for applying again.

However, few sectors are exempt from this cap limitation. You will find more info on it in the Expert Advice from Mike Miller. Visit our Expert Advice section here.