How to negotiate your salary – Part 1

Why women don’t negotiate.

We’re nurturers, right? So, we’re not supposed to be warriors looking out for ourselves. We’re taught to be nice, play by the rules and wait our turn. Sadly, our turn never came and no one told us we didn’t need to ask permission to want more out of life. We’re people-pleasers, we don’t like to rock the boat or be seen as pushy or assertive.

Why women need to negotiate:

Men have traditionally always made more than women. This is not news. But things aren’t getting better. Even though women outnumber men in terms of degrees earned, we currently in Ontario, Canada make 72 cents for every dollar a man makes.  Yikes! In the U.S. women make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work (right out of college).

Women also predominate in part-time and casual work (where your hours change from week to week). These part-time jobs are low-paying and lacking in insurance benefits.

So, before you sign your next job contract, please read through these tips.

  1. Never discuss compensation until you’ve been offered the job.
  2. Never, ever sign anything the day you receive it. Everyone expects that you’ll take a day or two to read it over, reflect on it, and have a lawyer read it for you, etc.
  3. Never accept the 1st offer and always counter-offer. You can counter-offer on issues beyond just your base salary. What about bonuses, perks, vacation time, health insurance, flex time, gas mileage and travel expenses, per diem, commissions, training opportunities, tuition payments, etc.
  4. Never say you need to speak to your spouse about it. Honestly, if you can’t make a decision without consulting your spouse, the company probably doesn’t want you. I know this sounds harsh, but women always say this, and men never do. Even if it’s true (like of course you want to discuss things with your spouse! Just don’t say that to your boss). You need to sound like you make your own decisions.
  5. Do your homework. You must know what the average salary is for someone of your related skills and experience. You’ve got to have a reference point for why you’re asking for a certain amount.
  6. What’s your walk-away point? You need to know your absolute lowest acceptable offer. What are you not willing to work for? (That’s your walk-away point.) Be prepared to walk away if the salary or conditions aren’t suitable. You don’t have to accept the job, you can walk away. (Easier said than done if you really need the income). But, you also have to weigh the pros and cons of being underpaid; this will start to grate on your nerves eventually. If you really need the job and there’s nothing else out there for now, still negotiate, still try to get more than the original offer.
  7. Recognize that gendered ideas about how women should act still exist. Women are still perceived as demanding if they negotiate, whereas it’s expected for men. Research shows that during negotiations women should smile, be friendly and nice and show concern for the company first. I know it’s gross, but Sheryl Sandberg recommends substituting “we” for “I.” Research shows that women come across better in negotiations when they show concern for the company first.
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