Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all: Master Your Salary Negotiation with These 5 Tips
By Kara Scharwath
The data is clear — the majority of women hate to negotiate and will go out of their way to avoid situations where they have to do it, especially when it comes to compensation. According to a study from Glassdoor, 68% of women accept their first salary offer and men are three times more likely to successfully negotiate a higher salary. And it’s resulting in financial losses that add up over time. Research from Women Don't Ask shows that by NOT negotiating a first salary, you can lose more than $500,000 by age 60. Women who do consistently negotiate salary increase earn at least $1 million more over their careers than women who don't!
The good news is that with a little help and some diligent preparation, you too can slay your salary negotiation. Here’s how:
1. SET AN ACCURATE BASELINE
Use online resources like Glassdoor, Salary.com, and Payscale.com to ground your negotiation in hard data. Research salaries for similar jobs in your city at a comparable level of experience, education, skill, responsibility and performance.
It’s also helpful to talk with contacts in your field to get firsthand information from people who have experience in your industry. Don’t ask them what they make; instead, ask them for a range based on your role and level of experience. If you know any recruiters or have friends that work in human resources, they can be great resources too. If you don’t have those connections to reach out to, use LinkedIn to find people to contact or ask your college’s career services department to put you in touch with alumni.
By doing your due diligence, you base your argument on solid data, not just a feeling that you deserve more money. And you’ll feel more confident about the number you’re asking for.
2. PROVE YOUR VALUE
Comparative salary data is great, but you know what’s even better? Undeniable evidence that you’re killing it at your job. When you ask for a raise, your boss or manager is going to expect you to make a convincing case that you’re adding value to the company. Identify specific examples that clearly demonstrate your high level of performance, contributions to your team, and wherever possible, quantifiable results. This is how you can prove that you’re a valuable asset that’s well worth the additional compensation that you’re asking for.
3. REHEARSE YOUR DELIVERY
You should prepare for a salary negotiation the same way you would prepare for an important presentation or client pitch. Practice your language and delivery paying close attention to your body language, eye contact and facial expressions. You may be nervous on the inside but you want to come off as calm, positive and confident.
Write down the language you want to use and have a friend role play with you. Ask them to come up with some objections that your boss might pose and try to respond in real time. They can also give you feedback on how you can improve. Going through the scenario a few times will help you feel more comfortable once you’re faced with the real thing.
4. LISTEN + BE CREATIVE
A salary negotiation isn’t a one-way ask with a simple yes / no answer. It should be a collaborative conversation where both parties have an interest in finding a mutually beneficial solution. That means that what your boss or manager has to say is equally important. So, listen carefully to their responses, try to understand what they need, and be empathetic to where they are coming from.
If you don’t get the raise you were hoping for, there are other options you can explore that may be able to get you closer to where you want to be. Think outside the box about alternative benefits or other types of compensation that can round out your compensation package. This could include more vacation time, a better title, more equity, a performanced-based bonus, or an education budget to attend conferences or workshops. Your boss will appreciate your flexibility and willingness to offer creative solutions.
5. BE POSITIVE + STAY OPEN
It’s important that you pay close attention to your attitude and energy during the conversation. By preparing and doing your research, you can go into the negotiation with confidence and a clear understanding of your worth. Put yourself in a positive frame of mind and approach the conversation as a collaborative discussion with the goal of reaching a better outcome for yourself and for the company.
Salary negotiation is a discussion. If you’re not happy with where you ended up, set a follow-up meeting to keep the conversation going. Consider any feedback you were given on your performance and most importantly, try to learn from the experience. If you represent yourself well and keep an open mind, you’ll earn more respect from your boss, regardless of the outcome. Getting comfortable with and good at salary negotiation is an important and valuable skill you’ll be happy to have for life!