By Mariela Dabbah
Negotiating salary is one of the biggest challenges for women. But when it comes to shrinking the salary gap you owe it to yourself to do as much as you can to get what you deserve. You and only you are in charge of managing your career. Without a doubt one of the most critical aspects of that management involves negotiating salary.
Regardless of where you are in your career nothing beats having a few key salary negotiation strategies at the ready to help you feel confident when you walk into your boss’ office.
Why do women avoid negotiating salary
According to research, there are several reasons connected to your upbringing that explain why you stay away from negotiation situations:
- Women tend to think that their circumstances are fixed, out of their control —unlike men who believe that everything is negotiable—therefore, they don’t attempt to negotiate for themselves. (Too often women don’t even try to negotiate a salary offer, they just take it.)
- Women’s sense of entitlement is weaker than men’s. For example, a well-known study conducted by two psychologists showed that women would pay themselves 19% less than males would for the same task.
- Women don’t lobby for pay rises as much and as often as men do. When rises occur, bosses tend to give money to those who asked for it —usually men— and give a smaller share (if any at all!) to the women who didn’t ask.
Salary negotiation strategies that work
Although these salary negotiation strategies work both for men and women, they are particularly important for women because oftentimes they don’t apply them. Also, because they make use of some characteristics that are prevalent in our gender.
- Check how much people in your industry and in similar positions with equivalent knowledge and experience are making. (Look for men in your network who are willing to share how much they make for similar positions/responsibilities.) If you want to negotiate from a position of strength, it is critical to know where you stand in relation to your peers.
- Prepare a memo with your achievements since your last promotion and send it to your boss ahead of the meeting.
- Learn how to talk about your achievements in relation to how they affect your company’s bottom line. Whenever possible use numbers to quantify your accomplishments.
- Anticipate questions that your boss will ask and work from a win-win perspective. What’s important to your manager? Why do they need you? What is the current demand for your position in the market? Women are particularly well attuned to the needs of others. Leverage this advantage!
- Be ready to assume a challenge even if you don’t know 100% of what you’re supposed to do in the new position. Jump at the opportunity if you are 60-70% ready and have transferable skills to do the job.
- Understand that whatever the number on the table, it’s just a starting point.
Before you meet with your boss to negotiate salary, make a list of what you’re willing to give up and what’s non-negotiable. Knowing your walk away point will help you discuss terms more easily.
- See the potential to negotiate everything and everywhere both personally and professionally. When you negotiate a salary is never only about how much you make. Health benefits, flexible time, title, working from home, expense account, an assistant, etc., are all items that you should consider negotiable.
Although you are an excellent negotiator in other aspects of your life, negotiating salary could still feel uncomfortable. If you think about it as a sport, you can take the pain out of it and enjoy the challenge. I promise you once you embrace it, your male colleagues will be asking you for advice.