Negotiating Your Salary – Don’t Leave Money On The Table

Whether you’ve just been offered a job, or you’re hoping to make more money doing the job you’re in, negotiating your salary, or your salary increase, is a critical step in the process.

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To some of us, this may sound exciting. Like a chance to sell yourself and the opportunity to showcase all you bring to a company. For others, the thought of asking for more money elicits a different feeling. One of discomfort, anxiety and reluctance.

Regardless, your ability to successfully negotiate a higher wage will set you on a path of earning a lot more money over time.

The Gender Wage Gap

If you’re a woman, this is even more important.

In 2015, female full-time workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent.
-Institute of Women’s Policy Research

In addition, according to Linda C. Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Melon, women who fail to negotiate their salaries at the beginning of their career could leave up to 2 million dollars on the table.

That’s serious business, and serious money.

Asking for More

So let’s get down to it. How does one become a savvy negotiator?

  1. Over Prepare

Do your research. This cannot be overstated. You have to walk into your meeting with all of the information you need to sell your boss on your raise (or increase in salary). Research the market value of your position, create a one-page document that highlights what you’ve done for the company this year, or what you plan to bring to the one that’s trying to hire you. Hit your high points, share what you’ve accomplished so far in your career, and make it clear that you’re worth whatever you’re asking for.

Which leads us to the next tip.

  1. Know Your Number

You’ve done all of your research, so you know exactly what other people in similar positions in similar parts of the world are making. You have an idea in your head of the “range” you’d like to find yourself in, and you’re wondering what you should ask for.

Don’t give them the range. Choose a number, at the high end, and state that number. This is your “blue sky”, dreamland number. A salary you’d be thrilled to accept. Give them this number, because if you have to go lower, you’ll still be in a good place. Give them a range, and they’ll choose somewhere at the low end. That’s just good business.

  1. Prioritize

Sometimes, you’ll want to work at a company that simply can’t pay you what you’re asking for. Before you get into the meeting, you have to be really clear about your limits. Are you willing to walk away if they don’t say yes, or are there other perks that would entice you to stay?

It’s good to have a prioritized list of your non-salary wishes, in case you want to keep negotiating after the money talk has come to an end. An extra week of vacation, more paid time off, a flexible work schedule or a few days of telecommuting per week.

  1. Don’t Say Yes Right Away

Caveat: If they say yes to your blue sky number, feel free to say yes right away. But if they go lower than you wanted, make sure you take a breath before you say anything. Pause. Take a little time. And then don’t be afraid to counter.

It’s a negotiation after all. A “no” from the person across the table is just the beginning.

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