Men are four times more likely than women to negotiate, says Linda Babcock, Carnegie Mellon University economics professor and co-author of Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide.
Studies show that formal negotiating classes can lead to better outcomes, especially for women. Here are some valuable negotiation tips to consider the next time you need to talk about your salary.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
Fear of rejection or a negative outcome keeps many women from asking for what they deserve. It is important, however, to not be afraid to ask.
A better salary is much more than just what you can earn at the moment. According to Babcock, women who fail to negotiate their salaries at the start of their careers could leave up to $2M on the table over their working life.
Even if you fear that your employer will say “no,” remember that if you don’t ask, the answer will be no by default.
Do your homework
Information is a powerful tool for women, and people in general, in a salary discussion. Find out what the competitive salary range is for your position. You are unlikely to get what you’re worth if you don’t know what that is.
Use sites like Salary.com, Payscale.com, or Glassdoor. Search by gender (when available), city, skill, and experience to get an accurate picture. It’s also valuable to speak to people you know – both men and women – in the same or similar roles.
Quantify your achievements
Women are great at promoting others. Many, however, are less at ease with self-promotion. As a result, women tend to undervalue themselves when presenting their accomplishments, talents, or even their potential.
Quantifying achievements is a great way for women to highlight their accomplishments. Not only are numbers an objective measurement, but they can also help you solidify your credibility. This negotiating class tip tends to be most effective when you focus on accomplishments that impact the company’s money, time, and people.
Focus on your value and not your needs
A common mistake many women make when negotiating salary is to focus on their needs. Unfortunately, while your needs matter, they don’t make you unique or valuable to a company. Chances are, your co-workers are in similar situations, too.
Instead, frame your request in terms of what the employer needs. Place strong emphasis on what benefits you bring to the position and to the company.
Studies show that women have a tendency to be more accommodative in negotiations, and this can lead to apologizing for things they shouldn’t. At the negotiating table, opening your request with statements like, “I’m sorry, but I need to ask for more money…” can lessen the weight of your argument before you’ve even begun. Similarly, following up your request with statements like “… I apologize for needing to have asked“ can have negative consequences.
Don’t apologize when you ask for better terms for yourself. Remember, you’re not asking for a personal favor. In exchange for your salary, the company is getting your talent and experience. Your ability and contribution are what allows your employer to maximize their profits.
Due to many societal norms and cultural messages, women have been programmed to believe that asking for more money makes them greedy, materialistic, or gold diggers. As a result, women may be extremely nervous when trying to negotiate.
Asking for more money when you are nervous may cause you to accept a low offer or ask for less than you deserve. Confidence is, therefore, crucial. Negotiating classes recommend the best way to build up your confidence is by practicing ahead of time. Create a script of what you want to say, and have a friend or family member listen to your pitch. Also, practice your answers to common or potential rebuttals.
Be careful not to overdo your practice. You want to sound confident, but genuine and not over–rehearsed.
Think about what else you can negotiate
When it comes to your salary, money isn’t the only item on the table up for discussion. Most compensation offers also come with a benefits package that you can also consider.
Find out what the company offers in terms of benefits. Don’t try to negotiate each one. Chances are, you’re only going to have a limited time to discuss your pay package. Instead, think about what is most important to you. For instance, you may ask for a flexible work schedule, additional paid time off, or professional development opportunities.
Pick the best time to ask
In negotiation classes, experts say the ideal time to talk about salary is when you have the most leverage.
People tend to have more negotiating power when a company expresses interest in their talent. So, for a new job, wait until the company makes you an offer before you talk about the pay.
For a current job, don’t wait until the performance review season to ask for an increase. Typically, most companies finalize raises before going over employee performance. Instead, give your manager time to consider the request. Put in your request about two to three months before the review season.
According to PayScale.com, almost 80% of people who ask for a raise get one. While women are up against years of social conditioning getting in the way of asking for what they want, you have the power to set personal changes in motion to overcome this barrier.
So, whether you’re negotiating a raise at your existing job or the salary at a new job, consider using the above tips to succeed in getting what you want.