Alexandra Carter, Columbia law professor, mediation expert, and negotiation trainer for the UN and several Fortune 500 companies, taught us how to negotiate anything on a recent Teach Me Something New podcast. “When you tactfully and collaboratively and skillfully negotiate for yourself, you are teaching your boss what kind of a negotiator you will be for her and the company,” she said. But first, know what you want before you attempt to ask for more. “The first question you should be asking on any occasion is ‘what’s the problem I want to solve?’ Do you know that most of your negotiation success is about figuring out which beach you’re heading for in your kayak and being really defined in that because otherwise you’re going to paddle all day and you’re going to end up in the jungle.”
That said, you should always negotiate when it comes to accepting a new job. Women, more often than men, tend to feel thankful for a job offer, overlooking the fact that they actually earned and deserved it. This outlook plays a part in why the pay gap remains so wide when it comes to men and women. According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, “Women are 11 percent less likely to enter negotiations than are men, and this gap arises despite the fact that those who enter negotiations almost always gain from doing so.” Negotiating a salary is part of the job interview — it’s not seen as a deal breaker when it comes to getting a job or a reason for employers to rescind the job offer. With Equal Pay Day just around the corner, read on for six tips to help you not leave any money on the table.
1. Do your research. Before you interview, make sure to research the company. Look on LinkedIn. Scope out the salary range and your personal market worth through a platform like Glassdoor. Learn about the company through employee reviews on FairyGodBoss. Ask questions. If you walk into a job that will pay you 30 percent less than what you are currently making, you could be wasting your time if increasing your salary is your primary goal.
2. Pick up the phone. You might be ignoring calls from recruiters, but you shouldn’t. Recruiters can help you determine the approved salary requests their clients have allowed for specific jobs. They know what people with your skill set and experience take home since they manage the salary negotiation process. Use their experience to your advantage.
3. Hold your tongue. Employers typically don’t name the first number; instead, they ask interviewees for a salary range or even their current salary. This strategy sets them up to have the upper hand — without a frame of reference of what’s actually possible, you’ll likely go too high, or worse, too low on your number. If possible, avoid naming an amount and redirect for more questions about the position. If they push, say, ” I value this role and this company and am open to negotiating.” Only negotiate when a job offer is extended to you (and use all that research you did earlier to help!).
4. Ask for it. In the Harvard Business Review study, researchers found that when women did negotiate their salary, they tended to end up with a better offer. So it’s not that women aren’t able to negotiate for more money; it’s just that they are choosing to do so less frequently than men. Try to get over any personal perceptions that you will “sound greedy.” Ask for more than you expect (knowing the company will negotiate on their end as well), and do it in a polite and respectful way. Don’t just assume you don’t deserve more money — make the case for why you do, using data and your past performance. You’ll never get what you don’t ask for.
5. Give a range. Another thing to consider is the range you state. You’ve already done your homework and can see what former employees have listed as a comparable salary range. Make sure when you tee up to negotiate, you offer a range with a $5K difference. If you give a $15K spread, chances are your interviewer will always go for the lower end of the range. Why wouldn’t they go lower if you’ve given them the opportunity? A smaller range will shift you to a higher salary goal.
6. Spread your insight. Share your stories with your friends and network. Encourage them to negotiate when they are up for a new job, and provide them the tools they need to achieve. Don’t be afraid to talk about salaries and market values with other people. The only way we can shrink the pay gap is through educating women on the power of negotiation.
Carter recalls a time she received an offer she thought she couldn’t refuse. “I called a senior woman in my field and I said, here’s the offer? Should I just take it? And she said, ‘I’m going to tell you what to do, Alex. You’re going to get back in there. And you’re going to ask for more. And I said, I’m going to ask for more. And she said, yes, because when you teach someone how to value you, you teach him how to value all of us. So if you’re not going to go in there and do it for yourself, I want you to do it for the woman coming after you do it for the sisterhood.”
Brush up on your negotiating skills with negotiating pro Alexandra Carter on Brit + Co’s Teach Me Something New podcast.