Equal pay is such a hot topic lately, but who is to blame? Linda Babcock’s recent book Women Don’t Ask, outlines the overwhelming lack of negotiation when it comes to women and salary. According to her study, 7% of women negotiate salary, compared to the whopping 57% of men who do. If we don’t ask, how will they know we want more money?
In all fairness, studies have also shown that when men negotiate salary, they are looked at as respected employees with go-getting qualities — when women step up to the plate, they are viewed negatively by both male and female hiring managers and sometimes penalized in a way their male counterparts would not be (Harvard Business School).
So what can we do to feel more comfortable having the “money conversation?” It goes without saying that you should have a game plan prepared for going into any interview, but perhaps, a greater focus should be placed on how you will conduct the negotiation of your final salary.
First and foremost, heighten your expectations.
They want you for the job because you are qualified—don’t be grateful for their first offer, instead assume they are going in low, and be confident that your number is in their range. Best case scenario they will agree to your demands, but even if they meet you in the middle you can leave there knowing you didn’t settle.
Know the position worth.
With websites like glassdoor.com there is no excuse for going into a meeting without an idea of comparable salaries. Utilize any sites that disclose salary and company information. Narrow your search by geographic region to account for cost of living expenses-the NYC account manager is going to make more than the one in Alabama, so keep that in mind.
They can smell fear.
Confidence is one of the keys to a successful career. You could be the smartest, the fastest, and the brightest but if you appear to be unsure of yourself and your work, management won’t be able to trust you fully. It is the same with negotiating. If you are unsure of yourself, the hiring manager will notice that you most likely will agree to the first number they offer. Don’t forget, this is something they do regularly; you are not the first person to ask for higher pay. Speak to them in a collaborative way, and know how you can help the company. Use your background to explain why you believe you are worth more—but again, if you’re not confident about your skills, why should they believe in your value?
You don’t have to be rude about it.
The misconception of being a woman with negotiation skills is that it is done in a shrewd no-nonsense way. That is not necessarily the case. Being polite and friendly, while knowing that you are the best person for the job can go hand in hand. You are not demanding a higher salary, you are explaining why your skills should yield a higher pay rate, so be polite—they say you catch more bees with honey.
Don’t strike out on the curve ball.
Be prepared for different ways the negotiation could go. You don’t want to get caught on a question that you never thought they would ask. If you tell them you are worth more and they ask why, be prepared to sell yourself again, just like you did in your initial interview. Being unsure of the direction of the conversation is a natural stress, but if you develop responses to multiple scenarios, you will be prepared to answer their questions in a confident tone. If you’re unsure and unorganized, reschedule.
Make the decision to negotiate in the first place.
If this is your first job offer, or a job that is # 1 on your list, you may be apprehensive to “ruffle feathers,” out of pure excitement. Keep in mind, if they are offering you a salary they won’t retract it just because you asked for more-so make the decision to negotiate. Set a higher goal for the outcome of your meeting and chances are you will come out with more money and definitely more confidence in your ability to negotiate.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research Reports that women make .22 cents less on the dollar than their male counterparts; but perhaps focusing our efforts on negotiation will yield more results than placing blame on hiring managers.
And if this article doesn’t get you motivated to brush up on your negotiation skills, Refinery 29, in partnership with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research provided their readers with the numbers showing the cumulative loss of money as a result of the salary gap.
Age 29: $29,845
Age 34: $54,733
Age 39: $109,034
Age 59: $531,502
I don’t know about you, but I could do a whole lot with an extra $29,000.
By: Renee Walrath