The 5 Reasons Women Need to Negotiate

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When you don’t negotiate your salary, you could be losing out on more than $1 million over the course of your career.

In fact, collectively, women who do ask for raises and invest accordingly are bringing an estimated $12 trillion to the table, according to Sallie Krawcheck.

Negotiating can be scary. But it’s also a necessary part of moving forward in your career — and, of course, getting the income you deserve. 

A little background.

Women who ask for more money at work are often perceived as aggressive, which can impede their willingness to negotiate. After all, through societal expectations, women are taught to behave in a conciliatory way and not rock the boat, even when men are often rewarded for the very behavior that would be deemed aggressive in women.

This so-called aggression can take a toll on other aspects of their work life, such as making friends with colleagues and even receiving raises in the future, according to researchers at the Kennedy School. 

Why women need to negotiate.

1. The gender pay gap persists.

In 2018, women earned 85% of the amount men earned, according to data from Pew Research Center. We’re starting from a lower place to begin with, so it’s necessary to negotiate to earn our due.

2. Women face other challenges in the workplace.

Sexism and unconscious bias are rampant in the workplace, and some women are not taken as seriously as they deserve. Negotiating a salary is one step they can take to overcome some of these challenges, demonstrating confidence and not just lying back and accepting this treatment.

3. They could be leaving money on the table. 

Remember that initial statistic we mentioned? Women who don’t negotiate could be leaving ore than $1 million. That’s a lot of money over the course of your career.

4. It will help you advance in your career.

Negotiating isn’t just about money. It’s also about progressing in your career. You might even be negotiating a promotion (which hopefully comes with a higher salary). In order to move up in your career, you need to gain the confidence to ask for what you deserve. Doing so shows that you believe in your own value; if you don’t recognize your worth, others won’t, either, and you’ll be stuck in the same place.

5. You’re more likely to get the salary you want if you negotiate.

Of course, it’s possible to get a raise or a promotion without asking. But it’s more likely if you do. That’s just how the business world works.

When it is and isn’t appropriate to negotiate.

Of course, there are some times when it makes sense to negotiate and others when it might now be appropriate. It’s a good idea to negotiate when:

• You have another (higher) offer.

• You’ve been consistently performing well and have taken on duties outside of your original job description.

• You’ve been in your job for a sufficient period of time. (At least a year is typical, although in some cases it may be appropriate to ask sooner.)

• You’re prepared to turn down a job offer if the prospective employer refuses to give you the salary you want.

• You truly believe you deserve more than you’re earning or are being offered.

You should rethink negotiating if:

• You don’t have sufficient justification for asking for a higher salary.

• You’ve only been in your job for a short period of time (if you’re asking for a higher salary in your current role).

• The prospective employer tells you that the offer is not open to negotiation.

• Your reasoning has to do with personal issues (your kids’ college tuition, you need to make a mortgage payment, you’re late on this month’s rent, etc.) rather than job performance.

How to ask for more money.

1. Consider the pros and cons.

Is there any downside to asking for a higher salary? Unless your situation falls into one of the above categories, it’s unlikely that trying to negotiate will hurt you in any way. A current employer is not going to fire you for asking, and a prospective employer won’t withdraw an offer unless you go about it in an abrasive way.

2. Plan.

Figure out what you’re going to say beforehand. This is important for both current jobs and job offers. If you receive an offer, ask for some time to consider it before immediately accepting, so you can figure out your best course of action. You may want to write a script or some notes about what you’re going to say so you feel comfortable.

3. Have an exact figure in mind.

You should do some research on salaries at your company and the industry to come up with a figure that’s appropriate for your position or desired position. If it’s too high, they’re going to refuse and may not go up at all. If it’s too low, you could be missing out on the income you deserve. Articulate this figure in your meeting.

4. Come with evidence as to why you deserve this salary.

Spell out your accomplishments. If you’re negotiating your current salary, make a list of tasks you’ve taken on outside of your job description, ways you’ve contributed to the team and successes you’ve had. If you’re negotiating a salary for a new job, make a list of the qualities you bring to the table — after all, they chose you for a reason.

5. Call a meeting with your manager.

If you’re negotiating at your current place of work, schedule a specific time to talk, rather than asking if she has a minute out of the blue. This will allow you to present your case and give her some time to prepare, too.

6. Make your case.

Using the materials you’ve gathered in steps 1-5, state what you want and explain why you deserve this salary.

7. Move on and repeat.

If you don’t get what you want, don’t dwell on it. Learn from the experience and use the lessons as fuel for next time. If your manager says no, ask when might be an appropriate time to revisit this. And then repeat the process.

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