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BY Bonnie Marcus

How to Avoid the Number One Mistake Women Make When Negotiating for a Raise

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Photo credit: Pixabay (headshot photo by John Abbott)

TAGS: asking for a raise, negotiating a raise, negotiation, how to ask for a raise

For years we’ve heard that the number one mistake women make negotiating for a raise is that they don’t ask for one. In fact, in their 2003 book Women Don’t Ask, authors Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever confirmed that hypothesis based on their research at the time. Women don’t negotiate as often or as well as men.

But now there is new research that reveals that may be changing. Younger women, specifically women under 40, are asking for raises as often as men, and are successful in negotiating a higher salary. That’s great news!

If it’s true that we’re getting bolder and learning to advocate more for ourselves, we will undoubtedly be in the position to have to negotiate for a raise. And we need to know how to do it well.

Certainly, you need to do your homework and research similar companies in your industry and geography to understand comparable salary ranges, but the most powerful tool in any negotiation whether it’s for a salary increase, promotion, or new position, is your value proposition.

It has been my experience, coaching hundreds of professional women since 2007, that by far, the biggest blunder we make when negotiating for a raise is not understanding our value.

Let’s face it. How can you possibly negotiate for yourself if you don’t understand the most persuasive piece of information in a negotiation? In other words, why should a company give you an increase? It’s never about how hard you work, your challenging workload, the long hours you put in, because that’s your job! It’s the value your work brings to the organization that matters. That’s what your boss and your company care about. And if you are able to communicate that with confidence, you have a much greater chance of getting a well-deserved raise.

How do you know what your value proposition is?

In my book, The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, I devote a full chapter to this. But in a nutshell, here’s some quick advice.

Think about a few of the successful situations you have been involved in at work, and determine how you contributed to that success. If you weren’t leading the project, what was your contribution to the team? What is it about your work and the manner in which you approach the work that leads to specific positive business outcomes?

After you recall several of these projects, a pattern will emerge about your contribution. That’s your value proposition. That’s your secret sauce.

Next reach out to a trusted colleague, mentor, or supervisor or former boss and ask them for feedback on this. It’s important to understand how others perceive you as well. Perhaps they will validate it or give you more ideas of what they see your unique contribution to be. That gives you great insight.

Whatever your value proposition, what’s important in the negotiation is to communicate how this will help the company reach its objectives. What your boss and your company really need to know is how you are going to help them in the future. Position your value proposition as a benefit to the company, not to you personally. That gives you the ammunition to get a raise.

--

Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed, is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker focused on women's advancement in the workplace. A former corporate executive and CEO, Bonnie is the author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, and co-author of Lost Leaders in the Pipeline: Capitalizing on Women's Ambition to Offset the Future Leadership Shortage.

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Related Community Discussions

  • All women should read the amazing negotiation advice in the book, "Women in Tech: Take your Career to the Next Level" by Tarah Wheeler. I applied the advice in a recent negotiation round and got a 15% bump in salary!

    Anybody have good advice for how to request a raise that's worked?

    Great article here: "http://www.geekwire.com/2016/book-excerpt-4-negotiating-tactics/"

  • Any tips on how to ask for maternity leave policy when getting a job offer? I really want to make sure I'm going somewhere that has something decent but they aren't on this site yet and I can't find info online for it.

  • Hi all - I'm in a bit of sticky situation. I just found out I'm pregnant yesterday and am expecting a job offer in the next 24-48 hours. The company I'd be joining offers 16 weeks of paid maternity leave for mothers who have been at the company for at least 1 year. We know that FMLA covers 12 weeks of unpaid leave for mothers who have been a the company for at least 1 year. So, given that I'd be giving birth before one year, I'm concerned that not only will I be entitled to no maternity leave whatsoever (paid or unpaid) but I could be in jeopardy of the company not holding my position for me. So my questions are:

    - Would I need to take disability in order to pull together some sort of maternity leave for myself?
    - Am I crazy to even take this job? I don't like my current position but I am comfortable and would be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave here.

    Husband thinks job happiness is critical and is encouraging me to take the job if I get the offer. He is confident we can figure out the maternity leave piece of things and make it work - and thinks that in NYC it's highly unlikely that a big, female-friendly company would not hold my position.

    What do you think? Super anxious about this! I suppose if I do get an offer I need to ask at that point for more details on the mat leave policy (without giving away that I'm pregnant) so that I can figure out if *perhaps* they do offer some leave to women who have been at the company for less than one year.

    This would be a great position and really advance my career so the timing is a real bummer.

    Thanks for your insight!

  • Hi all,

    I'm currently at a crossroads in my career where I have already been looking to leave the company, and I was suddenly told that my team would be merged into another dept and I would be expected to continue with my management responsibilities in this new dept, for only a very small salary bump. I'm thinking this is a great time to leave the company as my team transitions over the next few weeks, and I was told I should try to negotiate a "layoff package" wherein I am not only laid off by the company so that I may collect EI benefits (Canada), but also receive a small severance package. My question is: Has anyone done this before? What should I ask for?

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How to Avoid the Number One Mistake Women Make When Negotiating for a Raise

How to Avoid the Number One Mistake Women Make When Negotiating for a Raise

For years we’ve heard that the number one mistake women make negotiating for a raise is that they don’t ask for one. In fact, in their 2003 ...

For years we’ve heard that the number one mistake women make negotiating for a raise is that they don’t ask for one. In fact, in their 2003 book Women Don’t Ask, authors Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever confirmed that hypothesis based on their research at the time. Women don’t negotiate as often or as well as men.

But now there is new research that reveals that may be changing. Younger women, specifically women under 40, are asking for raises as often as men, and are successful in negotiating a higher salary. That’s great news!

If it’s true that we’re getting bolder and learning to advocate more for ourselves, we will undoubtedly be in the position to have to negotiate for a raise. And we need to know how to do it well.

Certainly, you need to do your homework and research similar companies in your industry and geography to understand comparable salary ranges, but the most powerful tool in any negotiation whether it’s for a salary increase, promotion, or new position, is your value proposition.

It has been my experience, coaching hundreds of professional women since 2007, that by far, the biggest blunder we make when negotiating for a raise is not understanding our value.

Let’s face it. How can you possibly negotiate for yourself if you don’t understand the most persuasive piece of information in a negotiation? In other words, why should a company give you an increase? It’s never about how hard you work, your challenging workload, the long hours you put in, because that’s your job! It’s the value your work brings to the organization that matters. That’s what your boss and your company care about. And if you are able to communicate that with confidence, you have a much greater chance of getting a well-deserved raise.

How do you know what your value proposition is?

In my book, The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, I devote a full chapter to this. But in a nutshell, here’s some quick advice.

Think about a few of the successful situations you have been involved in at work, and determine how you contributed to that success. If you weren’t leading the project, what was your contribution to the team? What is it about your work and the manner in which you approach the work that leads to specific positive business outcomes?

After you recall several of these projects, a pattern will emerge about your contribution. That’s your value proposition. That’s your secret sauce.

Next reach out to a trusted colleague, mentor, or supervisor or former boss and ask them for feedback on this. It’s important to understand how others perceive you as well. Perhaps they will validate it or give you more ideas of what they see your unique contribution to be. That gives you great insight.

Whatever your value proposition, what’s important in the negotiation is to communicate how this will help the company reach its objectives. What your boss and your company really need to know is how you are going to help them in the future. Position your value proposition as a benefit to the company, not to you personally. That gives you the ammunition to get a raise.

--

Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed, is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker focused on women's advancement in the workplace. A former corporate executive and CEO, Bonnie is the author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, and co-author of Lost Leaders in the Pipeline: Capitalizing on Women's Ambition to Offset the Future Leadership Shortage.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

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