Avoiding the Pitfalls of the Pay Gap when Negotiating Salary
Regardless of gender, everyone wants to be hired at the best salary possible. Studies show that men are more comfortable negotiating salary terms than women. In fact, many women would prefer to skip negotiation altogether. However, there are several ways to ensure that you don’t get caught in the pay gap, because if you don’t speak up and ask for the salary that you deserve, chances are that you won’t get it.
The easiest time to negotiate a salary is after the interview when a new employer is eager to sign their latest recruit but before the new employment contract has been signed. Think of it this way; you’ve wowed the boss with your resume and experience, and they want to end the interview process because they’ve found an amazing hire, you. But before you sign on the dotted line you need to ask for the money you want. This in-between time period is perfect for negotiating. Here are a few pointers to make sure that your negotiation is a profitable one:
Do Your Homework: A little market research never hurt anyone. In fact, knowing what your peers are earning with similar degrees and work experience will help you come up with a salary figure that’s attainable. Employment specialists recommend choosing a number that is slightly higher than what you want. Investigating your field on the internet should turn up a general salary guideline. Another excellent resource is informational interviews with others in your industry. Asking general questions about compensation should give you an idea of what to expect for your particular expertise, providing a starting point with which to begin your negotiation.
Ask and You Shall Receive: One of the biggest challenges for women in salary negotiation is asking for what we want. We fear the risk of cultural backlash in the workplace when we speak up and say that we should earn as much as our male co-workers. However, remaining silent and not voicing your salary requirements will keep you earning less than you deserve. Some employers view negotiators as high-performers, so the bottom line is to take their offering salary and negotiate up.
Aim High and Leave Room for More: This means that if your new employer offers you $73,000 a year, you should be prepared to counter with a higher amount. Be certain to give them wiggle room, so that they can come back to you with a counter offer that’s still higher than your baseline salary. For example, $73,000 is an amount you’re happy with but you’d be over-the-moon with $75,000. Counter their offer with $76,000 which gives them $3,000 to play with which is still higher than the original offer of $73,000. Worst case scenario, they’ll come back a second time with the same salary, but at least now you know that they’re unwilling to budge on the number and you can act accordingly.
What to Say: Rebecca Thorman from US News and World Report offers this example of the exact words to use in a salary negotiation:
“’So glad to hear you’re looking forward to working with us. We’re really looking forward to having you. The salary we offered is what we have budgeted for the position and we feel it’s a fair compensation.’
This may sound like it’s the end of the conversation, but it’s not—don’t back down! The key here is to continue to show your enthusiasm and stay confident in your abilities. Try:
‘I understand where you’re coming from, and just want to reiterate my enthusiasm for the position and working with you and the team. I think my skills are perfectly suited for this position, and are worth $65,000.’
Now, don’t say anything else. Let the silence lie. Don’t try to fill it with more words or justifications. Just wait for the employer to reply. When she does, it may sound something like:
‘You’ll really be stretching us, but I’ll see what I can do.’
This isn’t the time to feel bad or uncomfortable. Simply reply, ‘Great, I appreciate that.’
The employer will likely come back to you, and accept your offer or offer something in the middle (‘We talked it over, and feel you’re going to exceed our expectations and be a great addition to the team. I’m happy to offer you a salary of $62,500’). If you asked for more than you wanted, you should feel success in accepting either outcome.”
The best way to avoid the gender pay gap is to enter the workplace prepared to negotiate. Be polite yet direct and enthusiastic. If you don’t ask for the salary you want, you’ll never get it. You may be about to start your dream job.
“The Exact Words To Use When Negotiating Salary” money.usnews.com. Retrieved 10 Sept. 2013
“Why American Women Lose at Negotiation and What We Can Do About It” www.forbes.com. Retrieved 10 Sept. 2013
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