The Dreaded Salary Negotiations: Three Things You Can Do to Up Your Game

Job applicants having interview

The September issue of Marie Claire magazine included a collection of helpful articles on what working women can do to close the wage gap.  Featuring input from the New York Times columnist Jessica Bennett’s newest book “Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual,” the article outlines some sobering statistics on the wage gap between men and women, but more interestingly, some things you can do to negotiate more effectively for yourself.
So let’s start with the facts.  According to the article, the Census Bureau still estimates that women still earn $0.79 for every dollar that men make.  A 2016 Survey Monkey report cited that 55% of women vs. 45% of men say they have never asked for a raise. Finally, a Carnegie Mellon University study found that when offered a job, 57% of the men asked for more money but only 7% of the women did.  Shocking, but what do we do about it?
We have to learn to advocate for ourselves and understand the right time to do it.  Bennett recommends that when negotiating, cite your specific accomplishments, but tie it back to the team to show a collaborative approach.  Don’t compromise quickly and take the first offer on the table and don’t relate your ask to your personal needs.
In my experience as a Human Resources Leader and learning to negotiate on my own behalf, I know how hard this can be on both sides.  In over 20 years of talking to hundreds of women about negotiating their salaries, from CEOs of large public companies to women entering the workforce, I have never talked to one who enjoyed advocating for themselves.  Companies have budgets they are charged with managing and we hate having to ask for something that should be so evident that we deserve. So how do we do it?
I encourage women to know the facts, be aware of the timing of when they should negotiate and practice their salary pitch.  Here are some tips to help with your salary negotiations:
Know the facts:  There are plenty of resources available to get salary data on what jobs pay. and Indeed are two easy to access free websites for job seekers and employers which provide salary data based on job title.  Use these resources as a baseline of what market pay for the role is.  Negotiating with the facts and your accomplishments can help to support your request and give you the confidence that your request is reasonable.
Timing:  I always recommend that the best time to negotiate salary is at the time of hire or promotion.  Communicate your ask by saying “this is my targeted salary that I am looking for in the new role.”  If the salary comes up short, don’t be afraid to ask if they can get closer to your desired amount, split the difference or as Bennet says be reviewed in six months for an increase.  If you are waiting for the next merit increases at work, set the stage early with your boss that given your accomplishments or added responsibilities you would like to have a discussion at your review about a higher salary. Tell your boss in advance that your salary goal is x and how can he/she help you to achieve this if your performance continues to excel?
Practice Your Pitch:  Lastly, don’t forget to practice your pitch before you ask.  Since these conversations are typically uncomfortable, it’s important to script out what you will say and how you will respond to the push back.  Avoid having these conversations on the fly (unless the timing is right and you are ceasing an opportunity) and don’t have them when you are emotionally run down.
The reality is just like anything else, you get better with practice, so learn to negotiate in small steps and use every opportunity to negotiate as an opportunity to not only achieve your goals, but to up your game.