Just the thought of negotiating salaries when you’re starting a new job can put knots in your stomach. Fighting over money is probably on the list of most people’s least favorite things to do. What if you ask for too much and they rescind the offer? Or, what if you don’t ask for enough and they undercut the offer?
When you’re entering into a salary negotiation as a candidate you are at a disadvantage. Your hiring manager knows the range of their new-hire budget and you just have to go into with what you think you deserve. All this can be especially tricky if you’re a woman.
The reasons why there is a gender pay gap can be disputed, but it’s undeniable that it exists. And it’s even worse for women of color. The issue may be traced back to stereotypical views on gender roles: women are supposed to be agreeable, and not assertive, or they’re too meek to ask…blah blah blah, you’ve probably heard clichés like this before.
For women wishing to negotiate on salary, the following negotiation tips will be useful. However, they are tips that anyone can use. But before you get into it, let’s start with some cold hard facts. According to a recent Career Builder survey, 53% of employers are willing to negotiate on pay. Further, it’s estimated that people who don’t negotiate pay leave as much as $500K on the table during their careers.
Your desired pay is obtainable, you just have to know how to ask. When you are on the hunt for your next job opportunity, here are some salary negotiations tips you can use.
1. Be Brave, and Be Ready
As we said before, in a salary negotiation, you as the employee definitely have the short end of the stick and entering into a discussion can be intimidating. But $500K is a lot of money that you could be potentially giving up. However, the only statistic that matters here is that you lose 100% of the deals you never initiate.
So, to arm yourself before your salary negotiation, some research on the industry standards by location can help you determine an appropriate salary baseline. Make use of the latest US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports to research median pay in the US for your position. However, certain cities or regions have a higher cost of living. PayScale offers a cost of living calculator to use to determine the cost of living in your current location, or if you’re thinking of relocating for the job.
Next, go through your resume and determine the monetary value of all the skills you’ve acquired during your career. Did you get training in a particular tool or discipline? Did you earn your master’s degree (or higher)? Skills, degrees, and certifications justifiably increase your worth.
Now, if you’re negotiating your salary for a new job, make sure you know all the job responsibilities of your position before deciding your salary range. Some companies may require more of your position than others with similar listings. Starting off your salary negotiation with facts and data will help give you the confidence to ask for what you think you’re worth.
2. Give a Specific Amount, But Be Flexible
When you have determined your position’s national median salary, factored in your specialized skills, job requirements, and have accounted for the cost of living in your location, have a specific salary range in mind. The baseline should be the lowest you accept (depending on your needs and job competition).
Before you start talking numbers, make sure your employer is aware of the additional value you can add to their company. This will give you justification for your ask. Then, when it’s time to start with the negotiation, you want to lead with a margin of about 5% – 15% above the highest value in your ideal range. Aim high, because if they don’t agree to the offer, the only way for them to go is down.
Overshooting your top value by a small percentage will give you some wiggle room if their counteroffer is lower. It’s best to expect that you most likely won’t come to an agreement on the first go-around. However, you need to also be flexible enough to accept an offer within your ideal salary range.
3. Know When to Say No
If your employer gives you a counteroffer that’s lower than your acceptable range, it may be best to walk away. But before you do, see if you can take a day or two reflect on the offer, and to come up with your final counteroffer. If there’s no way you can come to an agreement on compensation, it may be back to the job hunt.
However, if this is a job with a company that you’ve had your eye on or if this is a job that you need to support yourself or family, remember to be as flexible as possible and think really carefully about if you should decline the offer and what it may mean for your future career down the line.
Salary negotiation is rarely an easy or enjoyable prospect. However, if you want to make the most of your career, you need to fight for what you’re worth. If you’re willing to negotiate on salary, it could signal to your employer that you’re confident and ready to go the extra mile to prove your worth.
The money is out there, now go get it!
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