How women can and should negotiate a better salary

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negotiate better salary

Experts agree that you should always negotiate salary. After all, your income isn’t only a measure of your work contributions, but it’s also one of the most important factors that will affect your quality of life and financial future. 

With inflation levels rising at some of the fastest pace not seen in years, it’s fair to assume that if you’re not getting a raise, you could actually be losing money. Even small bumps in your salary can make a big difference, and there’s no harm in asking! 

Plus, we’re in the midst of a tight labor market, which means companies are facing more competition when it comes to hiring. You can use these factors to your advantage when it comes to securing a better salary.

Unfortunately, many women can be afraid to ask for a salary boost or negotiate better terms. Although it may not be the most comfortable conversation you’ll have, it is an important one. 

Plus, being prepared and doing the research beforehand can help you feel more confident and get you the results you’re aiming for. Here are some top tips for how women can negotiate a better salary. 

Prepare your negotiation skills

Before you go to an interview or a promotion meeting, be prepared. Try rehearsing what you want to say before the big day until you can deliver your case. The more you practice, the less nervous you’ll feel. 

Summarize your accomplishments to demonstrate your value and support your request for additional compensation. Follow up by highlighting what you want to do for the company in the future. You’ll want to wait until the end of a meeting or until you’ve secured a job offer before you really begin salary negotiations. 

Know your worth

You will have a better chance at fair compensation if you research the going rate in your market. An experienced hiring manager will have the upper hand if you enter a salary negotiation without knowing your market value.

Check out online sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and PayScale, or talk to peers and recruiters in related fields to come up with a number. Remember to build in a little buffer space above your desired number since employers will try to negotiate down.

Don’t give the first number

Negotiation tactic number one: don’t be the first one to mention numbers. Wait for your boss or interviewer to put an offer on the table first. If you decide on a number, say $50,000 per year and the budget is $60,000 per year, then you would have sold yourself short by an extra $10,000 per year. 

If possible, try to ask what their budget is first. And if you are pressed to give a number, you’re better off giving a range rather than an exact figure. 

Avoid sharing current salary

If the interviewer asks about your current or previous pay, avoid sharing information. Recruiters may use this number to make an offer, so you may end up with a lower offer if you name a price right away. 

Instead of giving a number, refocus the conversation back to discussing how much the market is willing to pay for your skills. A potential reply could be, “I’d prefer to focus on the value I can add to the company, not my current salary.” 

The recruiter’s response could help you assess whether the employer is bargain hunting or would be unable to afford your desired compensation.

Use finesse in your words

Always start on a positive note during negotiations. Start by telling your boss or interviewer how much you look forward to growing with the company in the future. If you feel awkward about doing this, practice with friends or family members and ask for constructive criticism to make sure you don’t come off arrogant and demanding. 

You want to create the impression that you’re receptive and confident, so you have to choose your words with care. Mentally prepare to show gratitude and enthusiasm even if the offer is lower than what you expected because sulking will leave a bad impression. 

Negotiate in benefits

The money on your paycheck does not reflect your whole salary. Ask your interviewer or boss what other benefits are negotiable aside from the base pay. Think work flexibility, career development, incentives and bonuses, company-supported work-life balance, higher education reimbursement, health-related perks, childcare, insurances, 401(k) match, and stock options when trying to find the perfect job. These extras are valuable options that could make up for lower base pay.

Be prepared for pushback

During the negotiation process, you may get what you want on your first try but it’s normal to face rejection. If your boss says no, be prepared to explain why you deserve a specific salary and back it up with market research, your past performance, and how your value adds to the company’s goals, productivity, and revenue.

While lobbying for higher compensation, don’t forget to pay attention to what your manager is saying. Understanding management’s position helps you find a solution that benefits both sides. However, be prepared to walk away if you can’t get an acceptable offer.

Evaluate offer

Got an offer? Congratulations! If needed, ask for 24 to 48 hours to review the offer. Use this time to evaluate whether you should accept the counteroffer or not.

Don’t expect the new offer to tick off all the boxes, but consider whether you are willing to live with the trade-offs. If the terms don’t align with your personal goals, turn down the offer politely.

Revisit yearly

Negotiating compensation should not be a one-time thing. Revisit your responsibilities, salary, performance, and market compensation every year. If you are a valuable asset and you’ve taken on responsibilities that led to higher company earnings, fight for a higher salary. 

And with living expenses rapidly increasing, it’s only appropriate to ask your employer to boost your wages. Keep in mind that if you don’t receive a raise and inflation goes up considerably, you’ve actually received a salary cut since the real value of money has decreased. 

Don’t be afraid to take leave your company 

Finding a company you want to stay with for the long haul can be great. However, don’t feel obligated to remain attached to a job if you’re not receiving your worth in return. Some companies will actually pay outside hires more than the people they promote internally. 

This is why it’s so important to regularly check the average salary for your line of work and how much your competitors are paying people in similar positions. If you feel like you have been given the short end of the stick, don’t be afraid to seek out another offer from another firm. 

And if you’re smart, which you are, you’ll use a new, better offer as leverage during negotiations with your current employer. 

Secure the pay that reflects your value

When your salary no longer makes sense according to your value, it’s time to talk about pay with your boss or hiring manager. Sharp negotiation skills help women close the gender pay gap and receive fair wages. Addressing this disparity is an important step towards empowering women.

Women likely feel confident taking charge of family finances as breadwinners brandishing solid money habits. Earning a higher salary provides a strong foundation, and investing wisely can help your savings grow. 

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