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Success Story: I don’t know if I am qualified to apply to be a Director. How do I do this?

So I help a lot of readers. They email me, I reply back (and am happy to), and I am their sounding board. This success story was so well-received by you lot (I make $26K and can’t do this any more) that I decided to post the second one.

I offer career & money coaching here. If I can’t help you, I will say so upfront especially if it is not in my area of expertise (e.g. real estate investments), I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or money.

You can read all of my other Success Stories here.

Research has men apply when they’re 60% qualified, women when they’re 100%. Ridiculous, right?

Well, this story I have about an exchange I have been having with a reader for a longgg time, finally says it all.

Basically, she is a consultant at a company, and she had an opportunity to apply to be a Director at a more permanent location. She would not have to travel, she would get more time at home, and it all sounded awesome.


She felt like she wasn’t qualified.

I went over her years of experience, and it looked like she pretty much checked about 75% of the boxes and then some.


She makes $90,000 currently as a consultant.

The job was going to pay $120,000 (firm and final offer, no real negotiations) but the actual salary range for Director based on her research was $150,000 – $200,000.

She was hemming and hawing over it, but then decided even at $120,000 it was $30,000 more than what she made.

Plus a title.

She wasn’t even going to apply…. and in lieu of posting our email exchanges, this is what came out of the entire exchange I think would be helpful to pass along as tips / advice.


You are pretty much already pre-approved. You are qualified for the job if they looked at your work experience online, and they contacted you, it means.. YOU QUALIFY.

Where she felt some doubt was: Well am I qualified ENOUGH?

I always trot out this old adage about how a woman thinks she is qualified to talk about foreign policy only if she has had 10 years of deep experience in the subject and a man thinks he’s qualified if he drives a Honda.

Anecdotal perhaps, but so incredibly insightful to illustrate my point.

Women on the whole, never think they are qualified enough.

“Oh they asked for 15 years, I only have 10 years”

WHO CARES? 15, 10, it’s all in the ballpark! If you had 5, I’d say we have an issue, but 10 or 15, it’s about the same.

“Oh it looks like they want someone with deep experience in this industry… I only did it once”

Again, you did it ONCE. It is good enough. It is better than having no experience.


No one is born a Director / Vice-President / CEO

Everyone works up towards it, and every job that you take, brings you closer and closer to the next title and next set of responsibilities.

When you first begin, you’re a newbie for sure.

You don’t know what to say, what to do, how to act…. but after 2, or 6 months, have full confidence in your personal intelligence and ability (and just sheer hard work ethic & gumption) that you can LEARN. You can evolve, learn, make mistakes, do better next time and kill it after a year.

All it takes is hard work, elbow grease, and navigating in the way you think is best.

Only you know deep inside if you are way out of your comfort zone (think, a little toddler being tossed into a huge ocean to swim without any floaties), or if you are within your wheelhouse but slightly uncomfortable (picture me, on the beach, with no formal swimming lessons, swimming out into the deep ocean alone) ….

You can learn on the job.

Everyone does it.

Some hide it better than others.


Even if they contacted you and it looks like you have absolutely nothing to do with the job tasks and responsibilities, keep in mind that it is HR people who are writing descriptions for jobs they aren’t really sure how to do.

They have generic descriptions, and generic notes, and the only ones making the real decision are the ones who have to work with you and hire you at the end.

Sometimes, what they write on the description is NOT WHAT THEY WANT. I cannot count the number of times I have gone into an interview expecting “A” and gotten “Y” instead, which was exactly in my wheelhouse (or not, sometimes but I was honest about it).

You cannot assume just off a written text description that it  can fully identify who you are as a candidate and employee, so give it a shot.

Apply. That’s the first step.

Success is really just trying over and over again, making changes and fixing things until you make it.


She wasn’t sure about the salary but I told her:

Look, it’s $30K more, but even better, you get a TITLE.

You can use that to get a better position and therefore, more money.

You don’t need to stay at the job but you do need the title. When you get your next job, you can say WHATEVER YOU WANT FOR YOUR SALARY.

They don’t have to know you were making $120,000.

For all they know, you were making $200,000!


They have already been sifting through and discarding people who are not fit for the job in their opinion.

They have already tossed aside 10 resumes before they looked and considered yours.

Or, they looked at your resume and wanted YOU specifically for whatever reason.

You have NO IDEA what they want you for – it could be nothing related to what they posted. Don’t go in there with any biases.

They contacted you and therefore they want you.

You are worthier than the others they passed over.



This schmuck she dealt with at the end was not only unprofessional, demanding an answer without even giving her a courtesy 24 hours to think it over, and all signs point to him never having even asked his superiors to consider her counteroffer, but pretending that he did.

If the person you deal with seems shady and not at all trustworthy or professional, consider CC’ing the person you interviewed with in all of your email exchanges.

It might seem very awkward, but if they are the ones who are deciding in the end as it comes out of their budget, no skin off your back just to secure your situation.


Yes, she did.

She nailed it at $140,000 a year, which is $20,000 over what they offered (GO NEGOTIATIONS!) with a $5000 signing bonus, and I could not be prouder.

She got a $50,000 salary bump instead of the $30,000 she went in with.

She even got to stay at her old job, get her significant year-end bonus of almost $20,000 and then will start her new job.

She obviously did all the work, and was calm, successful and way more poised than I would have been considering the scumbag she was dealing with in HR, and it is so awesome I can’t even breathe.

There is always an extra $10,000 – $15,000 lying around

The only thing I would have done differently in those negotiations, not knowing the HR person and all of that, is I would have stayed firm at the $150,000 salary.

It is not a huge deal, but I know the first offer is not always the best one. Just like the first hotel room is always the crappiest one by the elevator.

At these kinds of salary stakes, companies always have a $10,000 – $15,000 additional amount of money lying around to compromise with.


They are not going to lose their best and first candidate over $10,000.

Last piece of advice?

Save your salary bump. Spend no more than 50% of it (net) (I prefer spending no more than 25%), and save the rest.

That way, you get to enjoy it, and save it. Win-win!

Get Inspired…

Learn more…


Read more posts on budgeting.

Salary Negotiations

Read more posts on Salary and Negotiations at Work and more specifically on Women who Work.


Loved this? You can read all of my other Success Stories here.

I offer career & money coaching here. If I can’t help you, I will say so upfront especially if it is not in my area of expertise (e.g. real estate investments), I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or money.


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