Surely by now you’ve memorized the depressing statistic that women earn only 78 percent of what men do. According to research by the American Association of University Women, it doesn’t matter what job or how gender-balanced the workplace is: If you’re a woman, you’re probably earning less.
There’s a lot of history and sociology behind the gender gap, and most of it you can’t control. The one thing that you do have power over?
Negotiating the best salary you can.
In her book “Women Don’t Ask,” author Linda Babcock found that only seven percent of women tried to negotiate a higher salary when offered a job, while a full 57 percent of men did. The result? The men were earning almost eight percent more than their equally qualified female counterparts.
Negotiating your salary and benefits package is crucial if you want to get paid what you’re worth. You can’t just follow the same list of tips and techniques that men do, though — like it or not, women are perceived differently in the workplace, and you need to make that work to your advantage. Here are five proven salary negotiation tips for women to negotiate a better salary.
- Figure Out What You’re Worth
This is the one piece of advice here that applies equally to men and women, but men tend to do this for themselves already. A recent study by Fidelity revealed that women are incredibly uncomfortable discussing money: While 44 percent talk to friends about work, only 11 percent discuss salary.
This reticence is a huge problem, because it makes it much harder for you to know what to ask for when negotiating a raise or salary package. Get your ducks in a row by reaching out to contacts in your field and checking out a salary calculator to figure out an accurate salary range for your position. Having a competitive number in mind will give you confidence and keep you on track during your negotiation.
- Pretend You’re Representing Someone Else
While you’re researching, start to think of your negotiation project as if you were an agent for a candidate who looks a lot like you. List all her best qualities and accomplishments, and think about how you would describe her to someone you were trying to impress.
Stanford Graduate School of Business professor and negotiation expert Margaret A. Neale reports that women are actually better negotiators when they are representing someone else’s interests. She explains, “As a woman, it’s unacceptable for me to be greedy on my own, but it’s completely acceptable for me to negotiate for someone else, because that is a caretaking thing.” If you can mentally remove the negotiation from your personal needs and make it about someone else (like a pretend client who’s just like you), you’ll get better results.
- Focus on Fulfilling Your Company’s Needs
If pretending to be your own agent requires too much mental jujitsu for you, try thinking about your company’s needs instead. When men negotiate, no one seems to mind, but studies show that when women negotiate, they pay a significant social cost and are perceived as more difficult to work with. If you’re worried that asking for higher pay might make you look bad, you’re not crazy.
You can solve this by presenting your salary needs in conjunction with building relationships and fostering teamwork. Talk about your skills in a way that shows you understand how they can benefit the company and how you can add to the culture of the workplace. When you show you’re a team player, your negotiation tactics later will seem more reasonable.
- Stop Talking
If you feel uncomfortable whenever there’s a lull in the conversation, practice keeping your mouth shut. Nervous chatter will often land you in a position of weakness during negotiation, and talkative women are most at risk.
Victoria Pynchon teaches negotiation and strongly recommends asking an open-ended question, then resisting the urge to jump in with an answer of your own. When you sit in silence, you subtly force the other person to come up with a solution to the problem — namely, the pay package you’re looking for. Resist the urge to fill up the airwaves with asides about your personal life and needs, and give the person across the table a little time in the hot seat instead.
- Make a Counteroffer
Put your code of silence to good use when it comes to discussing your salary. It’s much better to wait for your potential employer to name the salary so you don’t accidentally lowball yourself. Likewise, don’t talk about your current salary unless asked directly.
Once you do hear a number, don’t accept it as a final offer. Most employers expect to negotiate compensation packages, so be ready with a counteroffer, and be sure to highlight your experience as well as the special skills that set you apart when you up the ante. If the salary can’t be raised, don’t forget to dig into all the benefits to see where there might be additional wiggle room.
Negotiate the Paycheck You Deserve
If you want to be paid what you’re really worth, negotiating your salary is non-negotiable: You simply must do it. So do your research, frame your negotiation as a way to help your employer rather than yourself and practice the art of judicious silence to get the paycheck you deserve.
What tips do you have for negotiating salary? What tactics have worked for you? Share in the comments!