Episode 25 - Why You Need to Negotiate Your Salary…Always
How are you? Can you believe it's JUNE, and we're already halfway through 2022? I was hanging out with my family over the Memorial Day weekend, we were barbecuing, and I served up my famous Mac n' Cheese. We were all talking about how fast time flies and why it's important to capture every moment and take advantage of the time we have. That's exactly how I feel about negotiating, particularly salary negotiations, which is what I want to take about today. As women, we must learn how to capture every moment and take advantage of every opportunity to get the best offer and the best pay that we can.
After years of negotiating employment contracts, settlements for discrimination suits, and multi-million dollar labor bargaining unit agreements, I've learned firsthand the power of negotiating. It's why I've ALWAYS negotiated my salary and every contract I receive for services. I think at this point, it's just a habit.
The truth is, women who regularly negotiate are likely to get higher salary offers and more raises. Of course, it's not a guarantee, but in my experience, when my clients or I have negotiated a job offer, it usually results in a salary increase. Sometimes, it's five or twenty thousand dollars, but I've been able to negotiate a salary bump of $50 thousand with one employer. Honestly, you never know how much flexibility an employer has until you ask. As they say, the answer is always no if you don't ask.
Also, if you have young children, elderly parents or family members struggling with a severe illness, having a flexible schedule and time off are valuable things to negotiate. Negotiating for telecommuting, additional leave, medical leave, and alternative schedules can make all the difference in how much you love or hate your job. I have had clients refuse to leave a job that provided an amazingly flexible schedule until they found an employer willing to match it or beat it.
Negotiating also allows you to shape your job to suit your interests and talents, ensuring you're working in your zone of genius, leading to greater satisfaction at work. When you're confident about what you have to offer and bring to the table, you're more confident asking for it and getting it.
When you feel you have the tools to advance your career, you're less likely to stay stuck in a job that doesn't pay enough or that doesn't suit you. And knowing you can handle complex workplace negotiations will make you feel powerful and in control of your career. You'll be confident you can handle whatever life throws at you.
It's no secret that women of color in the US experience the gender wage gap most severely. It's the tangible consequences of sexism and racism in the US and how our country has systematically devalued women of color and their contributions. Over time the pay gap adds up, resulting in lost wages that mean women have less money to support themselves and their families.
According to Pew Research, Latinas are typically paid just 49 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, resulting in a difference of about $28,062 per year. Native American women are typically paid just 50 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men resulting in a difference of about $25,000 per year. Black women are typically paid just 58 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men resulting in a difference of $23,074 per year. White, non-Hispanic women are typically paid just 73 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men resulting in a difference of $15,057 per year. And Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women are typically paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to a white, non-Hispanic man resulting in a difference of about $12,600 per year.
Overall, if these wage gaps were eliminated, women could buy:
More than 22 months of food;
More than 17 months of child care;
Nearly three semesters of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, or the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year college;
More than 12 months of rent (one year); or
Nearly 9 additional months of premiums for employer-based health insurance.
I don't share these numbers to provoke despair but rather to provide a broader economic and societal context of why negotiating for our salary and pay are important and, if ignored, can result in long-term financial hardships.
Even though we know we should negotiate our salaries, women often believe that if they ask for more, the employer will rescind the offer, or worse, they think they should wait until they're in the job and after working hard and proving their worth, maybe then they can negotiate. The problem is neither scenario is true. You'll actually NEVER have more leverage to negotiate than when an offer of employment is presented to you. Once you get inside, there are no guarantees.
The ultimate goal of salary negotiation is to deploy the maximum amount of leverage to get the highest level of salary and compensation from the prospective employer while (and herein lies the challenge) making them like it, or at least not resent it.
So how do you do that? Here are the key things I want you to know to successfully negotiate your highest level of compensation.
First, don't talk money during the interview process; wait until you get an offer.
Now I often hear, "I know I'm not supposed to answer questions about salary or salary history during the interview process, but what am I supposed to do when someone asks point-blank?" And that's a legitimate complaint, but there are ways around answering that question to refocus the interviewer on providing you with crucial information for you to determine whether or not the position is a right fit for you. In fact, you can let an employer know it's too early in the process to talk salary because you're still trying to get a feel and understanding of the organization's needs and your compatibility and that your salary is confidential information that you're not able to share. Also, most states have enacted salary bans that prohibit employers from even asking about your salary on an application or in the interview process.
There's a 3-step process I walk my clients through to know exactly how to handle these situations, regardless of how many times the employer may ask you.
Also, when you talk money too early in the process, you can create what's called an "anchor bias" that can trap both you and the employer into a dollar range that's not on par with what you bring to the table or what the position should pay you. Unless you have excellent intelligence on the precise salary range for the job in the company you're interviewing for or are skilled at creating a counter-anchor, it's best to just avoid the conversation upfront.
The second thing you have to do is learn how to manage your mind.
If you're a regular follower of this podcast, you probably knew I would talk about managing your mind. The entire interview process is very stressful. When it comes to salary negotiations, studies show that most women would prefer to quit their job and find another one than negotiate their salary.
When the emotional part of your brain is activated, it instinctively goes into fight, flight, or freeze. The rush of cortisol (the stress hormone) to your brain clouds the evolved logical thinking part of your brain, causing you to potentially react in harmful or less productive ways. Your instinctive reaction to survive (or get out of or away from whatever is causing you stress) responds to all the hormones rushing through your body and your brain's inability to distinguish a life-threatening situation or a stressful job interview question.
So before that "alarm" gets triggered, you have to have a plan for managing your brain so you can think logically and make the best possible decisions for yourself. When you manage your thoughts, you can manage your emotions. In an emotionally activated state, you'll default to old habits and patterns that won't serve your negotiations.
Third, information is critical so do your research.
The more info you can get on the salary range for the position you're going after, the better. In fact, it's the holy grail of leverage. The best way to get that information is through networking, research, and listening carefully during the interview process.
For the employer, the best leverage they can have over you is knowing your current salary, so you don't want to release that information during negotiations. But we already talked about that.
Most people don't talk about what they make, but for women, it's almost unheard of to ask another woman how much she makes. But while it may be awkward to talk numbers with your besties, it can prove to be highly beneficial if we start cluing each other in on what we're making out there. Knowledge is power. And the most powerful, successful women among us are already talking about their money situation with their closest friends. So while we won't hesitate to tell our friends about a great deal, sale, or place to eat, we need to be just as open about helping a sista out on getting the best deal she can get on her salary too.
In addition to your bestie, you can find out salary info through informational interviews and general networking. I'll do an episode later on the power of networking and how you can bypass a lot of this through networking. In fact, over 80% of jobs are acquired through networking. But in terms of gathering salary intelligence, reach out to people and ask them their thoughts and knowledge about salary ranges for positions you're interested in so you can better understand what people pay across companies and industries.
Then make sure you're doing your own research. While Glassdoor, salary.com, indeed, and LinkedIn can provide you with some good salary information, be sure you're also checking out salary sources for government, non-profit and academic institutions to do an apple to apple comparison.
Finally, it's essential to know what the employer is thinking during this process. This may help to calm your own fears about negotiating.
First of all, 84% of employers are expecting you to negotiate. So in anticipation of that, they may be holding back by about 10-30% in order for them to have a little wiggle room in their offer.
Also, the hiring manager has been reading through applications and interviewing, on top of their own workload; having their team pick up the extra work to cover for the position they're trying to fill, and have some urgency around getting someone on board sooner than later, so the last thing they want is for you to say, "I'll pass" because that means they'll have to start that long, arduous process all over again, wasting even more time, money and resources.
So the employer is just as worried about you saying no as you are of them rescinding the offer if you say you want to negotiate. In fact, if you're the candidate of choice, the one they're making an offer to, they want to do whatever they can to get you to YES…which equals leverage. Rarely are the top 2 candidates equally ideal. There's a reason they offered you the job. At this time in the process, you will never have as much leverage to get what you want.
But you have to have a cellular level of confidence in what you bring to the table. Your talents, gifts, skills, abilities, and the ROI you can bring to the employer. I talked about this in the last episode. If you don't see how you're unique in the market and that people don't have what you have to offer, your employer may not know the value you can bring to them either. Remember that employers will sometimes select a slightly less qualified candidate on paper but clearly superior in terms of confidence and emotional intelligence.
After all of that, if a company can't move on the dollars, you can always look at other aspects of the compensation package and negotiate the things that matter to you, but you first have to know what those things are. So make a list and prioritize what matters to ensure you get everything necessary and that you want. I wrote an article about salary negotiations for Forbes, and I'll share a link in the show notes.
So there you have it. To recap:
Don't share your numbers.
Manage your mind.
Research and get as much data as you can.
Know that the employer is often as nervous as you.
If you can master these things during your interview process, you'll have the leverage you need to negotiate your salary and the compensation package you want. So NEGOTIATE. The more women negotiate their salaries, the more we'll diminish the implicit bias and the inequitable wage gap that negatively impacts women, generation after generation.
Get support if you need it. I love coaching my clients on salary negotiations or going after a raise or promotion. It takes some work on your part. Preparation and practice are key. But if you're willing to put in the time and work, it will pay off for you again and again in the future.
Well, that's it for today, Rebels.
I want to remind you about our monthly roundtable called The Boardroom. We'll have a facilitated discussion on issues just like this and other vital matters facing midlife career professional women. Join us on the last Friday of the month at 10am PST. Our next Boardroom meets on Friday. June 24th at 10am PST. If you can't make it, you'll be able to get the recording if you register.
You can register at www.carolparkerwalsh.com/boardroom, and I'll also add the link in the show notes for your convenience.
Also, please leave a comment and review, and don't forget to subscribe to this podcast. I would greatly appreciate it.
Until next time…have an amazingly rebellious week!