In the lead up to the women in SaaS summit 2022, we’ll be hearing from a whole host of women SaaS leaders on some of the most challenging topics facing women in SaaS today. According to a recent study by Hired, men were offered higher salaries than women for the same job title 59% of the time.

For this reason, we’re kicking off this series, with perhaps one of the most crucial subjects facing women in SaaS today: career progression and pay negotiation.

Transitioning into a new career can be a nerve-wracking business. What if you don’t have the right skills? Are you going to lose the salary and benefits that you’ve built up over years in your current field?

What about your other responsibilities? These are all reasonable concerns to have, but according to trailblazing Customer Success Manager, Jeri Lim, it’s more than worth the risk.

The value of risk-taking

Jeri spoke to the Future of SaaS’ Women in SaaS Summit last year about the joys of risk-taking as a method of transforming your career. Negotiating your salary can seem like risky business, so who better to tackle this topic than a seasoned risk-taker like Jeri Lim.

At just under-grad level, Jeri chose to live in a predominantly spanish-speaking part of Spain, all with the goal of improving in the language. It was lonely and difficult, but Jeri persevered, and she now credits this experience as forming the foundation for her risk-taking mindset.

According to Jeri:

“When you think about the idea of taking risks, the value is pushing yourself to do something even though you know that it might be uncomfortable.  It might be the more difficult option, but that push is what helps you to grow.”

We asked Jeri about the following key talking points:

  • Transitioning into CS from a non-SaaS background
  • The risk of changing careers
  • Negotiating pay

Transitioning into customer success without SaaS experience

Right now I’m mentoring a group of military spouses with teaching backgrounds who are looking to pivot into customer success in tech. There are two major things that I advise them to do. The first is to identify transferable skills.

I started my career in China, working in international education and study abroad consulting. What I learned from that experience is that the skills that you can bring over from a background in education transfer into tech and customer success very well.

In CS, you do a lot of teaching. You're working with people who have varying levels of tech experience and helping them to understand the functionalities of a SaaS platform. Any kind of teaching or mentorship experience is invaluable.

How to Know if Your Company is Inclusive
Worried that your organization isn’t doing enough to promote inclusivity and diversity? Thankfully, the world of SaaS is waking up to the long-term benefits of diversity and inclusivity.

It’s all about professional branding. Focus on the skills you’ve acquired throughout your career and think about how they can serve you in your future career.

The second piece of advice I would give is to get certified. There are plenty of courses in customer success and other areas of SaaS available online. I got my Salesforce certification last year, and it’s helped take my SaaS career to the next level.

If you can identify your transferable skills and go above and beyond to get at least one or two certifications, that’s going to help you to build a powerful pitch when you're looking for your next opportunity.

Negotiating a salary that reflects your worth

There are a lot of books out there with great strategic advice about salary negotiation. The biggest takeaway that I've gotten as I've been reading up on how to navigate this conversation is to be data-driven in your ask.

Don’t just go into a meeting with your manager like “Here’s how much I think I deserve to get paid.” Do some research into what other people with the same amount of professional experience as you are earning, and don’t only count your time in SaaS – your other experience is valuable too.

If you only have one year in tech, for example, but five years in other sectors, tie all that together and present it in a data-oriented way to strengthen your salary negotiation.

Assessing the risk of leaving your current job

We all have different factors to take into consideration as we think about the next step on our professional journeys. Maybe you’re concerned about financial obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or healthcare benefits.

Before you hand in your resignation or dive head-first into an entry-level position, identify your non-negotiable priorities so you can better evaluate if a risk is worth taking. If you absolutely need to have a certain amount of income or savings in the bank, you can still quit your job in the future, but maybe now isn’t the right time.

Final thoughts: Cultivate a risk-seeking mindset

It can be hard to throw caution to the wind and embark on a new adventure, so take it slow.

If you're looking for more strategic, responsible ways to take risks, identify some smaller challenges that can help you to cultivate a risk-seeking mindset. Then, maybe a year from now, you'll be ready to take on a bigger risk and transition into the career you really want

Psst..Women in SaaS summit is back. Want more vital, timely discussion from the leading ladies in SaaS? Secure your place right here.