It’s no secret that men are often paid more than women. However, each year women leave millions of potential earnings on the table due to lack of negotiation. Many reasons why women avoid negotiations are rooted in societal expectations. Here are some of the barriers we face and how to get around them to get paid what you’re worth.
1. Fear of rejection.
Women are taught from a young age to be more reserved and to consider the needs of others. Many women want to be accepted by their potential employer and not cause any problems at the start of the relationship. Negotiating a salary can feel like you are disagreeing with your future boss. However, it is your right as a future employee. You don’t have to accept the first offer. Employers expect you to counteroffer. The hiring manager is prepared to up the ante when the initial offer is challenged. It’s much easier to speak up when you know what you are worth.
2. Not knowing your worth.
A lack of knowledge can cause you to leave money on the table. Do research on the salary of people in your position. Don’t just consider the average; see what the highest pay is as well. Compare skill sets and accomplishments to determine a number that you would feel comfortable asking for. GlassDoor.com gives you a snapshot of salaries of people with your title in your geographical location. There are also features where you can search for how much the company you are interviewing with pays their employees. When you are equipped with this information you can make a counteroffer that is suitable to you and avoid low-balling or overshooting on the salary standard.
3. Thinking the offer is “good enough” or fair.
In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg talks about how she almost took Mark Zukerberg’s first offer. It was more money than she had ever made. Yet, her husband knew that it wasn’t enough. He convinced her to negotiate her salary on principle. Not because the money was all that mattered, but so that her future boss would feel that they had to push to get her because she’s so valuable.
Just because you’re being offered more than you’ve made, don’t assume that the amount is all that you can get. Consider the entire compensation package. Benefits, stock options, vacation and bonus and your office space can also be considered during negotiation. You should also think about the tools you need to succeed. For example, an assistant could make a huge difference in your success.
4. Unaware of how and when to present a counter offer.
Some women avoid negotiations because they are just not sure when or how to discuss compensation. The key to successful negotiations is avoiding the topic as long as possible until you are ready to present an offer. Try to avoid sharing your previous or current salary with the hiring manager. What you currently make should have no bearing on what they should pay you. Keep the conversation focused on you as an asset to the company and how much you could be worth to them. If negotiations make you squirm, then level the playing field by asking what the salary range is for the position. You can then use that information when you are offered the job. Be sure to always give a specific number in your counteroffer. This gives you leverage and a place for the hiring manager to negotiate from; otherwise they will just give you a slight bump.
5. Fear of being too assertive or aggressive.
If you’re concerned about coming off too strong, just remember to fight like a girl. Meaning, you can be firm in negotiations without adopting an “in-your-face” attitude. You don’t have to act like a man to negotiate like one. Use your smart senses, wit and calm demeanor to ask for what you want. Speak up and smile. Believe in yourself and your self worth. People will respect your position, take you serious and respond accordingly.