Do you find it difficult to negotiate a raise? Why do women have such a hard time asking for more money in job situations?
A survey conducted by Glassdoor found 68 percent of women accept the salary they are offered and do not negotiate. We can do better.
Know Your Worth Before Starting Negotiations
Just like when you’re pricing a house to sell, you have to price your unique job skills and experience according to the market. Not according to what you feel you’re worth, what a colleague earns, or what you earned when you left the workforce five years ago.
A salary specialist named Olivia Jaras has written a book for women called Know Your Worth, Get Your Worth: Salary Negotiations for Women. In the book, she talks about the variety of reasons women have for undervaluing themselves.
About 31% of women don’t negotiate the pay they’re offered when they start a job due to concerns about the consequences. Some of this is because women feel uncomfortable negotiating. But some of it is related to the fact that women don’t realize what they’re worth in the market.
There’s a story in the book of a C-level executive who realized her colleagues were earning hundreds of thousands of dollars more than she was because she hadn’t negotiated her salary when she took the job. She hadn’t done any research on her market worth, so she grossly undervalued herself.
The title of the book is indeed the crux of the matter–as women; we don’t often know or recognize our dollar value in the employment market, so we accept less pay.
Sometimes, we are desperate to rejoin the workforce after being home with our children for a number of years. We might be grateful for the opportunity to work part-time or have flexible hours. Therefore being less willing to speak up for more income for fear the job opportunity will be removed.
Arm Yourself to Negotiate
Olivia’s company offers a service that uses proprietary information to give women a really good idea of what they should be earning. You can also use free services like GlassDoor or Payscale to find information on what others earn in specific fields.
Unless we’re armed with knowledge [meaning cold, hard money facts], we don’t have the upper hand in negotiating. This is doing ourselves a disservice as a gender because we tend to shy away from talking about money.
If instead, we were more forthright about salary in networking meetings and when mentoring younger female professionals, we could help each other understand our worth in the market.
Use Silence to Your Advantage During Negotiation
Negotiating feels very personal because it makes such a substantial financial impact on your life. However, the most successful negotiators can take personal feelings away from the negotiation table.
If you’re currently underpaid and applying for a new job, the recruiter will inevitably ask how much you now earn. If you’d like to negotiate a much higher salary, but don’t want to reveal what you currently earn, you can sidestep the numbers question and focus on your achievements instead.
If your current or potential employer begins to talk about reasons why she couldn’t pay you more, try resisting the urge to jump in and instead say nothing. Allow her to explain her reasoning without feeling the need to immediately agree, as we women are want to do.
Silence can be a very powerful negotiation tool, mainly because it allows you to react in a way that eliminates much of the emotion from the conversation. You can make non-committal comments such as “okay,” or “interesting” without agreeing.
Make It a Habit to Ask for More
One of the most potent ways to increase the amount you’re offered is to simply make a counter-offer when you’re presented with the first salary number. If negotiating feels scary, prepare yourself to make one counteroffer.
Many companies send their offer details (including the specific amount of pay being offered) via email. When you receive the offer, you can plan to make a counter-offer, even if it’s a small one. You can also counter via email.
If they are offering $50,000 per year and two weeks of vacation, counter with $55,000 and three weeks of vacation. Always couch the offer in terms of the value you’ll bring to the company (“Because of my years of experience and the accomplishments I’ve shown in my previous position, I am requesting a starting salary of XXX.”)
The company may not be willing to give you a higher salary, but they may provide more vacation or other employee benefits. Offered $15 per hour? Ask for $18 per hour. The company may say no. But you’re flexing your negotiation muscle, getting practice, and creating a habit of not accepting the first offer.
Negotiate Your Next Raise
Remember, negotiating is a skill like any other, and with practice, you will get better. Researching your worth, practicing negotiating tricks like silence, and preparing to counteroffer, will serve you well when the time comes.
Let us know of any salary negotiations you’ve gone through recently!
Article written by Laurie
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