There’s no doubt, it can be challenging to be in the negotiating “hot seat”. In a recent study conducted by PayScale.com, 31,000 people were surveyed about salary negotiation, and over half responded that they had never asked for a raise. The most common reasons given for not negotiating included: feeling “uncomfortable”; and feeling afraid of being perceived as “too pushy”.
Avoiding the “Money Talk”
The findings are not surprising. While my clients are thrilled at the prospect of a job offer or potential raise – when faced with “the money conversation” – a fair number would just as soon skip right past that part of the process.
Advocating for a higher salary can be a scary proposition – and it’s understandable! Unless you’re in a career that requires regular negotiation (ie: attorney, arbitrator, agent), it’s uncharted territory. Add to that a need to be thought of as “nice”, “helpful” or as someone who doesn’t “rock the boat”, and many of us think it’s safer to just take what’s offered.
You’ve Got To Ask!
In their book, Ask For It!, authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever encourage women to build their negotiating muscles since women lag behind men in terms of salary and benefits. The authors report that women are regularly leaving money on the table in negotiations, in many cases, simply because they’re not asking for it. Babcock and Laschever drive the point home with sobering statistics – including one study that estimates that a woman stands to lose $500,000 or more by the age of 60 if she doesn’t start negotiating her salary as early as her first job – since future raises and salaries build upon each other.
PayScale.com is an excellent resource if you’re looking to determine your professional worth and how much you should be paid. It also offers a Salary Negotiation Guide with expert advice on how to build your negotiating muscles. Here are 7 tips compiled from the guide to help you ask for what you’re worth:
Reframe your approach. “Conversations leading to agreement” is a good way to think of negotiation. Know what you’re worth. Get a handle on what a willing buyer will pay – gender notwithstanding – for the services you offer. Have your back-up data and counter-offers ready, then have a friend or family member role-play with you – so you’ll be more prepared and comfortable in the actual meeting. Start the conversation with questions. Find out your bargaining partner’s needs, desires, fears, preferences and priorities. These diagnostic questions can significantly improve the outcome of negotiations. Answer Needs By Offering Benefits. Let your negotiation partner know how you can meet needs – backed up by solid data – before asking for anything for yourself. Frame proposals as mutually beneficial. Use objective metrics like “market value” rather than subjective ones like “what I believe I deserve”. Let them disclose a number. Always let the hiring manager share salary ranges first, or an offer post interview. Never accept the first offer.
When you consider that a conversation – sometimes no more than five minutes in length – can affect total dollars earned over the course of your entire career, it’s well worth working through any fear and discomfort you might have with the negotiation process.
Know your value, strategize and practice. By putting your “nice girl” image aside and game-face on in salary negotiations, you’re more likely to get what you want…because you asked for it!