How Women Can Take Control of Salary Negotiations

There has been a lot written recently about the gender wage gap, which sees women today earning just 49 cents to the typical men’s dollar, according to a data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. There are, of course, myriad theories about why this gap exists. But I’ve been wondering not only about the why but also about the what of the situation: What can women do to start taking control of salary negotiations? It’s a good question to consider, especially as we enter a new year!

Lee Miller, a contributor to Monster and author of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating: How to Convince, Collaborate, and Create Your Way to Agreement ($24, McGraw-Hill Education) offered some of the best advice I found on the topic in her post on titled “Salary negotiation mistakes by women.”

First, she identifies what she calls “the three biggest mistakes” women make when negotiating job and salary offers:

–Not seeing situations as opportunities to negotiate

–Not negotiating for themselves like they would for someone else

–Not being willing to say no

Once aware of those common pitfalls, it will be easier to avoid them. Miller offers the following advice to help women get a leg up in the salary negotiating process:

–Realize almost everything is negotiable. The fear of damaging a relationship often holds women back. But as Miller notes, “It almost never hurts to ask … You may not get everything you ask for, but you will be surprised at what you do get.”

–Negotiate for yourself as forcefully as you would for someone else. That isn’t “selfish” or “unseemly.” No one but you is going to do it; and not negotiating can have long-term financial effect. As Miller points out, “Every future raise you get and every bonus going forward will be based on what you negotiate now. If you accept too little, this mistake will be compounded for the remainder of your career.”

–Don’t be afraid to ask for more or to say no to an offer because you want to keep everyone happy. Be polite but firm when asking if the employer can improve the offer. “If not, you need to be willing to walk away,” Miller stresses.

Are you a woman who has successfully negotiated a salary increase? Send me your story and it might end up in a future Careers Now column!

(Article written by Kathleen Furore)