October 14, 2020
An article released by Harvard Law School in July of this year mentioned that one of the contributing factors to the gender earnings gap is a gender gap in negotiation skills. This study discusses women’s challenges with negotiating and demonstrates how finding confidence in negotiations can be harder for women than it is for their male counterparts. Negotiations can make women nervous and lead them to doubt themselves or their knowledge.
As women, it is critical that we continue to hone our ability to negotiate in all aspects of life. This includes negotiating for a salary raise, a promotion, or even things in your personal life such as buying a house, a car or negotiating bedtime with our children. We’ve put together five tips to help you be more prepared for any kind of negotiation.
- Negotiate as hard for yourself as you would for others
As women, we tend to push hard and negotiate more for others than we do for ourselves. We may feel guilty or undeserving of praise or a pay increase, and we tend to put the spotlight on someone else. We may advocate harder for promotions or salary increases for our team members. As mothers, we’ll do whatever it takes for our children, but we might not be that proactive or assertive for ourselves.
In a study,Linda Babcock asked men and women- MBA graduates- if they negotiated their job offers. Of those interviewed, 7% of women negotiated compared to 57% of men. We must take that step to go to bat for ourselves if we want to push to close the earnings gap.
In order to successfully negotiate, you need to be your own advocate. For salary negotiations, it may feel uncomfortable at first, but no one can speak better to your achievements than you. Make sure you have your accomplishments prepared to support why you deserve higher compensation, or what value you bring to the team.
- Do your research
This may be the most critical tip for salary negotiation. Before going into a negotiation, understand what the market indicates that job role is worth. Don’t start too high with your salary demands; you want to be realistic such that employers want to negotiate and continue discussions. But, if possible, you will want to start higher than where you want to land. Ideally, there is room for one or two conversations to get to where you are comfortable.
Websites such as Glassdoor.com and Salary.com can help you identify what the role you are interviewing for or looking to be promoted to is worth. Having an upper and lower limit set before you enter the negotiation will help you understand where to start, where you want to be, and where you are willing to walk away.
For other kinds of negotiation including for homes or cars, be sure to know the market value. Again, know your upper and lower limit, and do your research ahead of time.
- Know what is negotiable
Sometimes in organizations, salaries might be stricter. There may not be flexibility in budget as well as other limitations. In these cases, you can always negotiate other items.
Benefits like more Paid Time Off days, equity in the company, a larger bonus based on performance, flexible hours, or career growth opportunities are sometimes on the table. These benefits may have a large value for you that you can negotiate above and beyond a dollar amount.
You can negotiate the interest rate on a car when purchasing, or a better mortgage rate as well. All of these items may not be an exact dollar amount on the price but will save you money in the long run if you can negotiate them down.
- Be confident
When going into a negotiation, an important thing to remember is to be confident in your skills and know your value. Get comfortable with asking for more. An employer may even respect you more for your confidence and for knowing what you are worth. Don’t sit back and expect them to recognize your success. Tell them why you deserve a promotion, the position with extra compensation, or a raise, and what you have contributed and will continue to contribute to drive further successes.
In the case of new job offers, often employers expect negotiations. They may even set aside extra budget specifically because they expect to increase the compensation package through candidate negotiations. If you don’t negotiate, you could be leaving that money on the table.
- Be prepared for the “no” and don’t be deterred by it
We’ve all heard the saying “the worst they can say is no, right?” If you’ve followed all the steps above, but the timing is not right or if there’s no budget or resources, you may still get a no. Don’t let that deter you. Just because it’s not a yes today doesn’t mean it won’t be in six months.
By setting the expectation to revisit the negotiation in the future, you can reopen the conversation. You can express that you understand what the organization’s needs are, but you would like the opportunity to show them in the next six months that the benefits you will bring to the table will exceed the additional cost, or resource.
Look at it as an opportunity to revisit and continue to advocate for yourself rather than seeing it as an ineffective negotiation or as a failure.
As women, if we want to close the gender pay gap, we need to start advocating harder for ourselves and be sure we’re not leaving money on the table for someone else to claim. Steps like doing our research and coming up with alternatives to strictly salary demands or pay increases can help us bolster our confidence and become more successful in our negotiations.