Table of Contents
- 1 Be Prepared
- 2 Know Your Rights
- 3 Research the Industry
- 4 Think About What You Bring to The Table
- 5 Consider What You Will Say
- 6 Keep in Mind Your Minimum, Expected & Dream Salaries
- 7 Be Positive
- 8 Don’t Talk More Than Necessary
- 9 Don’t Take It Personally
- 10 Understand the Cost of Not Negotiating
- 11 What to Do if You Get a Lower Offer Than You Hoped
- 12 Summarising Salary Negotiation
According to AAUW, women currently earn 80% of what men earn. The gender pay gap continues to exist and while there are multiple theories regarding the cause of the gap, one of the most commonly heard is that women do not negotiate their salary (while many men do). This theory is backed by multiple studies, including a Mulberrys survey on salary negotiation that found 1 in 3 women have never asked for a raise while for men the figure falls to 1 in 5.
However, a recent study by Harvard Business Review found that even in situations where women do ask for a raise as often as men, they are still less likely to actually get the pay increase. It seems that professionals are being paid based on their gender and negotiation skills rather than their value and experience. To help combat this and close the pay gap, we’ve created this guide to negotiation so women can be prepared, comfortable and confident when it comes to negotiating salary.
Negotiating salary is, at times, avoided by women because of the increased likelihood of experiencing social backlash and resistance as a result – something that is not as frequently experienced by male candidates. Let’s be honest, women are starting with the odds already against them but deciding not to negotiate salary can have a considerable impact on your pay slip and future salary. Being able to effectively negotiate is vital in order to get the pay you truly deserve. Use this guide to enhance your negotiation skills and overcome the barriers frequently faced by women in these situations.
Preparation and research are essential to a successful outcome during negotiations. Salary negotiation is a situation you will find yourself in multiple times throughout your career when you apply for new positions and start new jobs. Therefore, taking the time to prepare for negotiations now will help you throughout your career progression. When preparing and researching for the salary negotiations, ask yourself the question “what do I need in order to be effective in this role?”.
There are three main factors that make up a job role/ offer, these are; job title, base salary and extras (paid holiday, health care, pension, bonus etc.). Think about each factor individually and then as an overall package. You can decide what your targets and expectations are and then prioritise them. Think about what non-salary benefits are most important to you and keep these in mind during negotiations. When you view the entire package, you can more easily come to agreements and solve problems by trading off issues as oppose to solely talking about base salary which can seem like a win-lose situation.
Many mid to high level jobs have negotiable salaries, by researching the job and company you can determine if the job you are going for is negotiable. In some jobs, the salary is fixed but the benefits are negotiable or vice versa so a bit of research can help you determine what the situation is with the role you are applying for. Maybe you have contacts within the company who will be able to offer some assistance and advice on the offer you have received as well as extra information on the company’s compensation practices. All the additional information you can collect helps you to have a clearer idea of your potential employer.
Know that you are absolutely within your right to try to negotiate for a better offer, if you don’t ask you will be forever wondering if there was the potential for a better deal. Being fully prepared is key to a successful negotiation.
Know Your Rights
Discussing salary is an uncomfortable topic for many of us. In fact, in some states in America, it is now illegal for employers to request your previous salary information. Those states include California, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York City, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Puerto Rico and San Francisco, but even within those locations the specifics of the laws vary.
Before you begin your salary negotiations, find out what the laws are in your country or state. The laws are in place partly due to the impact such questions have on pay equity so being aware of them can help your cause. If you live in an area where it is illegal for your employer to ask about your pay history, you can simply respond to the question by mentioning the law and redirecting the subject to salary expectations/ requirements instead.
If an employer asks you what you are currently earning they are often seeing if they can offer you less than the salary they have in mind. If you were being underpaid in your previous role and your new employer discovers how much you were earning, they may see this as an opportunity to continue underpaying you. It is important to know that you do not have to disclose this information and when you know your rights on the subject, you can confidently move on from this question if asked.
There are several ways you can deal with a request for your previous salary information, even if it is legal for the employer to ask the question you can tactfully avoid answering it:
- One of the best ways to handle the conversation is to switch it to salary expectations instead
- Refuse to provide the information on the grounds of legality or confidentiality
- Provide compensation information but not the salary component
- Provide the information if you are comfortable to do so
- If you are filling out a form that requires your salary details you can simply put dashes in the related boxes to indicate you have seen the question but are not willing to disclose the information or you can put your target salary and leave a note in the comments section stating the salary figures reported reflect your current salary target.
Research the Industry
Negotiating salary with confidence is much easier to do when you have knowledge of the standards and average salary for your industry. There are several websites that give average salary information for a range of jobs, these sites include PayScale and Glassdoor. Using these websites will come in very handy when you are preparing to negotiate salary as they display salary ranges and average salaries for similar positions related to your industry and your location.
You can find out in a few clicks where your current salary sits on the scale and you can use this information within your negotiations. If you are being offered less than market value, you can discuss the average salary ranges for the industry and the pay you are willing to accept in alignment with these. Knowing average salaries will allow you to assess your expectations and decide what you realistically want to be earning.
It is also beneficial to research the company you are negotiating with, you can often find information on company salary ranges as well as the average salary ranges of their competition. This will give you a much clearer idea of what to expect when discussing salary with them. The more you know about the company and industry before you negotiate pay, the stronger your case will be.
Think About What You Bring to The Table
When negotiating salary, it is important to focus on the value you bring to the company, list your accomplishments and achievements and use these within the conversation where possible. According to Mulberrys, 57% of respondents compile their achievements to prepare for a negotiation.
Discuss your track record of cutting costs/ improving efficiency/ increasing revenue etc. By representing the benefits and interests to the company it will demonstrate how securing a good pay will represent a mutual win for you both.
Be specific about how you can be valuable to the company and explain why you are worth a higher salary. Back up your requests with data regarding your past performance and relate this to your future with the company, a sturdy and structured proposal like this will be a lot harder to turn down.
Consider What You Will Say
Knowing what you would like to say before starting the negotiations is essential. Make sure you have a clear idea of how much you would like to earn and tell your employer what you want from the job in order to make your expectations known. Take the time to think of other valuable options that you can suggest if the employer is not able to offer you the salary you want. Remember the points above about looking at the job as a whole (salary and extras) rather than looking just at the salary.
It is often a good idea to create a script for yourself and run through it a few times before the negotiation takes place. This can help ease any stress or anxiety, can give you more confidence and can ensure you say what you would like to say without becoming overwhelmed. By preparing a script and considering what you will say ahead of time it will give you a much clearer idea of how the conversation will go. Reading the script and role playing with another person can also help you to consider possible directions of the conversation, this will give you the opportunity to consider how to respond and allow you to deal with the actual negotiations calmly and professionally.
According to a survey coauthored by Frohlinger, women often find it easier to negotiate on behalf of others rather than for themselves so if you turn the situation round and consider what you can do for the employer you may find it easier to negotiate. The end result is still better pay for you but you are able to tackle the negotiations with the same level of effectiveness as you would when negotiating as a representative for someone else. Tackle the salary negotiation with the mindset that your ambition is not about you, it is about the best thing for the organisation.
Keep in Mind Your Minimum, Expected & Dream Salaries
Now you have done all of this research on the average salaries for your industry, you will be able to realistically decide on your minimum, expected and dream salaries. Having these three markers in your mind is hugely beneficial as it allows you to put the figure you are offered into a category and decide how you would like to move forward.
- Minimum Salary – This would be the lowest salary you are willing to accept for the role.
- Expected Salary – This is the ideal figure that will generally sit comfortably among the amount other employers are paying for similar roles. If you are highly qualified your expected salary may be higher than average rates.
- Dream Salary – This would be the top end salary for the job (but be realistic when deciding what your dream salary would be). Consider high-end salaries for similar roles and roles for those with similar experience and qualifications as you when thinking about your dream salary.
It’s important to go into negotiations with a positive mindset, it will help you to negotiate more effectively and think more clearly throughout the conversation. By taking some time to get into the right frame of mind you will be able to face the negotiation with openness and a willingness to collaborate rather than compete.
It is also important to be aware of emotions, having control over emotions can help you be more self-assure and confident. It is completely natural to feel a certain level of anxiety when you are negotiating pay but it is important not to let this overpower you. It also helps to be able to understand the emotions of those you are talking to, as this will assist you in reaching solutions that benefit you both. Watch your language, tone and emotions throughout the negotiations. Express gratitude and enthusiasm (even if you are not feeling particularly enthusiastic) before you begin to negotiate.
Don’t Talk More Than Necessary
We understand that salary negotiations are nerve-racking and it can be tempting to talk and talk in order to avoid awkward silences. However, it is best to clearly state what you want and then stop talking to give the other person a chance to think about what you have said and thoughtfully respond. Let them have time to consider what you are asking and be patient when waiting for a response. Talking too much is problematic when it comes to negotiations, so remember that silence is your friend even if it feels slightly awkward.
Don’t Take It Personally
Negotiation is not about winning or losing, it’s about coming to an agreement both parties are happy with for the benefit of them both. Remember that this is a professional setting so avoid getting defensive, dramatic or angry when discussing your salary. Below are some tips to keep the negotiations on track:
- Stay with the facts
- Be professional not emotional
- Discuss results
- Treat it as a collaboration
Most of all, remember that the result of the negotiation is not a reflection of your value.
Understand the Cost of Not Negotiating
Even in this day and age, women earn less than men. The sad reality of the situation is that right now, it is likely you are being paid less than your male colleagues. According to Harvard Business Review studies, men are far more likely than women to negotiate in order to promote their own interests. According to Monster, many women do not negotiate their salaries at all. While this may feel like the easy route to take and you may believe that your employer will increase your pay as and when they feel it fair in alignment with your accomplishments and efforts that could be a long shot. The result of not negotiating salary is actually getting less than you are worth, year after year.
Although an increase in pay might not seem worth the effort when you look at it as the difference in your annual salary, when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture; for example, the total additional pay you’d earn over the span of your career, the figure is far more substantial and makes a much bigger impact. Not negotiating your pay has a snowball effect that influences not only your current pay but also your salary increases in the future as well as your bonuses.
Further to this, being underpaid can impact how you feel about work. You are likely to be less satisfied and less productive when you are being paid less than you should be. According to Payscale, 75% of those who requested a raise received some kind of a pay increase. Besides, learning to negotiate helps you to grow by developing your communication skills and allowing you to more confidently tackle difficult issues.
What to Do if You Get a Lower Offer Than You Hoped
If you are offered a lower salary than you are willing to accept, first take some time to consider the offer that has been made. After considering the offer, ask if there is any flexibility and explain that the figure is lower than you were expecting and the reasons for this. You may consider taking a lower salary if there are going to be regular salary reviews or if the benefits, work hours or career development opportunities make up for the lower salary.
If the salary is lower than you were expecting and the benefits do not make up for it, it is worth negotiating if there is flexibility. If the salary offer is more than 20% less than you were hoping for, it is unlikely the employer will be willing or able to increase the salary to an amount you’d be willing to accept in which case, the job may not be the right one for you.
When you accept a new job, asking for a salary review in six months or for a year end bonus if you hit certain targets can be a great way to demonstrate your commitment and abilities to the company and show them the significant value you will bring.
Summarising Salary Negotiation
Negotiating salary is a big deal for many women, a 2010 study found that women adjust their bargaining behaviour to manage social impressions. A lot of women are uncomfortable negotiating their salary but we hope with the use of this guide you feel more confident and prepared to handle future salary negotiations.
With preparation, understanding of the situation and knowledge of the industry average salaries you will be able to negotiate with accurate figures, realistic goals and thoughtful conversation. Couple this with the value you are bringing to the company and you are likely to move closer to your goals with far less hurdles than you think. Remember that even small increases make a big impact over the course of your career so take this opportunity to increase your earnings.
If you are feeling unsure, anxious or nervous, take some time to compose yourself and remember that there is no harm in asking. Women can be excellent negotiators so play to your strengths and keep focused on finding the optimal solution for both sides. Remember, it is a collaboration not a competition. Know your worth and know that we are routing for you!