Negotiation Page

1

WHY NEGOTIATION MATTERS

Especially for Women

So you’re ready to ask for more? 

 

Learning to negotiate a raise or higher starting offer is an essential skill for the modern professional woman. Over the past 10 years, as the employment rate skyrocketed in the recovery after the Great Recession, wages were mostly stagnant until 2019:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

When the economy took a nosedive a decade ago now, companies learned to do more with less, and employees learned to be grateful for whatever we could get. 

 

But we cannot allow that past trauma to determine our new reality. We’re not living through 2008 anymore, and we must take an active, assertive role in demanding our worth by asking for more. This is especially important for women. 

 


 

Negotiating is part of the quest for equal pay

 

Women must be especially diligent about negotiating because we’re already more likely than our male counterparts to be systematically underpaid

 

 

 

 

 

 

The typical woman in America earns $45,097, while the typical man makes $55,291. 

 

And for women of color, the gap is even worse.

 

Compared to the typical white man….

 

    • Black women make 62 cents on the dollar. 
    • Hispanic women make 54 cents on the dollar. 
    • Asian women make 89 cents on the dollar. 
    • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander women make 61 cents on the dollar.
    • American Indian or Alaska Native make 57 cents on the dollar.

 

Sadly, the pay gap only seems to get worse over the course of a woman’s career. Being underpaid early on in your career can compound over time, making it harder to catch up. 

 

And for women who choose to pursue parenthood, the numbers are even worse, thanks to what social scientists call the motherhood penalty

 

 

 

 

WOMEN’S EARNINGS AS A PERCENTAGE

OF MEN’S EARNINGS, BY AGE, 2018

Ages 16 to 19 | 80.3%
Ages 20 to 24 | 89.1%
Ages 25 to 34 | 87.2%
Ages 35 to 44 | 80.1%
Ages 45 to 54 | 78%
Ages 55 to 64 | 75%
Ages 65 and Up | 84.8%

SOURCE: AAUW

 

Negotiation is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to closing the wage gap, which can also be closed with the help of public policy and corporate social responsibility. 

 

But what can you do to ensure you’re being compensated fairly? You can learn to ask for more. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to do just that. 

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    Negotiation Page

    Negotiation Page

    2

    KNOW YOUR MARKET WORTH

    What is your position worth to your employer? 

     

    To begin your negotiation strategy strong, establish a baseline expectation for compensation. What should a position like yours pay? 

     

    One of the biggest mistakes I see negotiators make is starting off by thinking your salary is a reflection of your personal worth. Let me be clear: 

    it’s not about you, boo! 

     

    It’s not about your fancy degree, it’s not about how special and hard-working you are, and it’s not about how much your boss likes you. 

     

    When establishing a baseline salary expectation, it all boils down to simple market economics: supply and demand. How hard is it for your employer to find a worker with your skillset? How much are people in your industry and region being paid on average? 

     

    You can find industry averages using sites like:

     

    • Salary
    • Glassdoor
    • Payscale
    • Indeed
    • The Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • Using the Salary Insights tool on LinkedIn.

    KNOW YOUR WORTH!
    25 pages of industry specific salary resources.


       

      Use Informational Interviews to Establish Salary Expectations

       

      Online research is a good place to start, but nothing beats the insights you can gather from networking and holding informational interviews with both men and women, peers and mentors, and anyone who’s familiar with your industry.   

       

      In fact, one easy way to ensure that you’re doing all you can to combat the gender wage gap is to talk about compensation with your coworkers and compare notes. 

       

       

       

       

      I find it’s easier to get a colleague to level with you if you’re willing to reveal your salary first. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty with numbers, you might have to be the first to volunteer specifics. 

       

      If asking outright what your professional contacts are making feels too direct, you can try these types of verbal side-steps instead:

       

      I’ve found that $70,000 is about average for this position I’m interviewing for. Does that sound right to you?

       

      I’m thinking of countering with an ask for $85k a year, plus a one-time signing bonus. Do you think that makes sense, or would you recommend something else? 

       

      Because I’m trying to ensure I’m not being low-balled, would you be willing to tell me if you’re making over or under $75k a year? 

       


       

      Am I allowed to discuss salary with my coworkers? 

       

      Yes! Despite corporate policies designed to scare employees into keeping mum, your right to discuss your working conditions – including your compensation – is protected under law. 

       

      Just keep in mind, it’s also your colleagues’ right to not tell you about their salary. So if you’re running into outright refusal from anyone, don’t take it personally. 

      Negotiation Page

      Negotiation Page

      3

      GET YOUR MONEY MINDSET RIGHT 

      What would more money mean to you?

       

      Money is a hard thing to talk about for most of us. It’s never just about market economics, is it? Money brings up deep insecurities about self-worth and memories of how we were raised to think about money. 

       

      In a world where women have historically depended on others for wealth, security, and retirement, thinking long-term about how we’re going to fund our lives can feel especially foreign. Too many of us were raised to wait for Prince Charming to ride in on a white horse and save the day. 

       

       

       

       

       

       

      But in today’s world – where being a single-income family has become more and more difficult and where women now make up 41% of sole or primary breadwinners in households with kids – provider pressure is real. 

       

      So when mentally preparing to negotiate, we need our best money mindset on our side. 

       

      One way to proceed in asking for more without feeling selfish or unworthy is to focus on how your negotiation will benefit others.

       

       

       

       

       

      Ask yourself:

       

      • How will bringing home more in your paycheck benefit your life overall?
      • How might it benefit your loved ones? 
      • Your children (whether you currently have any or might have any in the future)?
      • How about your broader community? 

       

      Get clear on what that additional income will mean for you and the people around you, and you’ll go into your negotiation feeling even more committed to asking for more.  

       


       

      Shift from Martyr to Mama Bear

       

      In my book, Bossed Up: A Grown Woman’s Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together, I share how I struggled with the martyrdom mindset, which left me feeling like I had to suffer for success.

       

       

      Martyrdom mindset:

      the underlying belief that success requires suffering. 

       

       

      When preparing to negotiate, a martyr mindset can seriously hold you back. You cannot be willing to fall on the sword, so to speak, to prove yourself worthy to a prospective employer. 

       

      Instead, embrace a mama bear mindset by focusing on how your negotiation will benefit others in your life, as outlined above. 

       

      Furthermore, strengthen your psychological standpoint by focusing on all the value you bring to the table for your employer, too. Begin keeping a brag book to chronicle your achievements, praise, and any accolades. Focus on all the ways you’ll help your employer by fighting for them in the future, and commit to showing them how hard you’ll fight by redirecting all that mama bear energy to fighting on your own behalf first.

       

      If all else fails, think about what future you would regret more: having asked for more and been rejected, or never having tried. 

       

       

       

       

      You don’t want to set yourself up for resentment down the road by failing to ask for what you really want up front. 

       

      With your mindset right, you’re ready to begin the negotiation conversation. 

      Negotiation Page

      Negotiation Page

      4

      START THE NEGOTIATION CONVERSATION

      One of the most difficult parts of the negotiation process is getting it started. Think about it: if your employer can avoid this conversation altogether, they gladly will!

       

      Don’t expect them to roll out the red carpet for your negotiation. 

      You need to be the one to make this conversation a priority.

       

      Below I’ll break down how to do just that in two parts: first for those negotiating a raise or promotion with an existing employer and second for when you’re negotiating a new job offer. 

       


       

      How to Negotiate a Raise or Promotion:

      Ask for a Review

       

      The first step to landing a raise or promotion is asking for a review. 

       

      Does your company already have a regular review schedule?

       

      If so, find out when you can expect your next one so you can come prepared to make your case. If needed, you can always ask to move up that timeline or have a preliminary conversation with your manager to discuss your performance. 

       

      A good question to ask your manager between formal reviews is this: 

       

      What can I be doing now to show I’m ready for a promotion within the year?

       

      No review in sight?

       

      If you work at an organization that doesn’t do regular reviews, ask for one! 

       

      This signals to your manager that you’re thinking about your future and want feedback on how they see your growth potential, too. 

       

      Use verbiage like this to ask for your review: 

       

      I’d love to discuss my past performance and my future potential here.

      I’d love to set up a meeting to discuss how I can continue to grow here.

      I’d love to check in to hear more about your vision for my position here.

       

      This future-focused language signals to your manager that you want to talk about a plan for a promotion or raise, so they can come prepared, too. 

       

      How to structure your review

       

      I recommend keeping your review a somewhat formal affair. Schedule it on their calendar, so both you and your supervisor have time to prepare and collect your thoughts ahead of time. 

       

      You’ll also want to consider your timing carefully. Schedule your review after a big win – once a project you’re managing wraps up successfully or when good news is shared company-wide. 

       

      I also recommend scheduling this conversation for a Friday, so both parties have the weekend to recover from what can be an emotionally intense exchange. 

       

      If you find your manager springing a review on you by casually popping by your desk to have this discussion in real time, ask for a more structured exchange instead. You might say something like:

       

      I’m excited for this conversation, but want a little time to get my thoughts organized first. Can we circle back on this tomorrow morning instead?

       

      If you find that your manager is constantly pushing the conversation back instead, don’t be discouraged. A postponed review doesn’t necessarily imply that a bad review is coming. They might be already advocating for you up their chain of command, and waiting for a response themselves. Or they might simply be overwhelmed with their own work. 

       

      Stay pleasantly persistent and take the lead! Remember, no one else will start this conversation for you. 

       


       

      How to Negotiate a New Job Offer

       

      How are most new job offers made? Over the phone! There’s a good reason for that: employers are hoping you’ll say yes to the dress, er, offer, right away in a flurry of flattery.

       

      Do NOT let this happen to you, boss.

       

      Don’t stress into yes!

       

      Buy yourself time to think things over with this kind of real-time response:

       

      First, open with gratitude: 

       

      Wow, I’m so thrilled to hear from you – thank you for the offer.

       

      Then, ask for the offer in writing (I’ll explain why this is important in a moment):

       

      As you can imagine, this is a really big decision, so I’d love to look over the details of the offer in writing – could you send those details over via email? 

       

      Finally, close by setting up a time to discuss the details of the offer live – either over the phone or in person: 

       

      Could we set up time on Friday to discuss the details of the offer together on a call?

       

      What you’re essentially doing is setting the stage for you to deliver your counter-offer, which is always best done over the phone or in person, never via email. 

       

      Why get the offer in writing?

       

      It’s much more difficult for employers to rescind an offer once it’s been made in writing.

       

      To be clear, it’s extremely rare for an offer to ever be rescinded, but by asking for it in writing, you’re creating an important paper trail. 

       

      Let’s say you interview for a big-time management consulting position that requires you to take on an important client project right away. Perhaps you’ve also recently learned that you’re pregnant, a fact you’ve chosen to keep to yourself (as is your right) throughout the interview process thus far. 

       

      Once an offer is made, you ask about the employer’s parental leave policy during your negotiation conversation. You share that you’d be willing to take this position so long as they can offer you at least 2 months paid parental leave, which you’ll be looking to take in 7 months. 

       

      At that point, if the employer chooses to “go in a different direction,” and rescind their offer, they’ve opened themselves up to the possibility of being seen as discriminatory in their hiring practices. This is a liability many employers would like to avoid. 

       

      Whenever you’re preparing to negotiate for something that has anything to do with your health, race, class, creed, ability, marital or parental status, be sure to get your offer in writing before disclosing what accommodations you require. 

       

      Regardless of what you’re asking for, it’s always in your best interest to get the offer in writing before you negotiate, to make sure the offer is as rock-solid as it can be. 

       

      Why ask for a live conversation?

       

      You’ll always want to ask for a real-time conversation – either in person, over video chat, or over the phone – because let’s face it: 

       

      No one likes a laundry list of demands!

       

      I know, I know – you might cringe at the thought of having this stressful conversation in real time but trust me, hiding behind your keyboard throughout this conversation is not going to help you!

       

      As a woman especially, negotiating is like tap-dancing on a tripwire of gender norms and leadership expectations. We want to come across as pleasant and warm while also showing strength and character. One of the ways to do that (which I’ll expand upon below) is to temper your very assertive ask with warmer body language, like smiling and nodding. 

       

      Should we have to do this? Hell, no! But does it help while navigating our deeply imperfect, sexist world? Often, yes. 

       

      Typing out a list of demands via email – no matter how many emojis and exclamation points you add in – gives you much less to work with than the myriad messages that can be sent using body language and vocal tone.

       

      Bottom line:

      ask for the time you need to prepare your counter-offer properly.

       

      Taking on any new job can impact YEARS of your life. Demand a day or two that you’ll need to fully review your offer and prepare to ask for more. You and your future are worth it.

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        Negotiation Page

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        5

        HOW TO PREPARE YOUR COUNTER-OFFER

        By now you’ve done your research to better understand your market value and you’ve asserted yourself to initiate the negotiation conversation. Now it’s time to prepare your counter-offer!

         

        Keep in mind, if you’re negotiating a new job offer, your counter-offer is in response to the details of the offer they’ve already made. You can’t counter until you see exactly what they’re offering you first. If you’re negotiating a raise or promotion, you’re countering your current compensation, which acts as the baseline from which you can start.

         


         

        Know your numbers

         

        How does the financial compensation they’re offering compare to the industry averages you uncovered in your research?  Is it below average, about average, or above?

         

        Then consider how you perform as an employee: is your performance reflective of a below average, average, or above average worker? 

         

        You may have already fallen in love with the idea of taking this position, but remember: when you did your market research before the offer was on the table, you were better able to discern what salary was going to set you up for long-term success and avoid resentment down the road. 

         

        Unless you’re facing financial hardship and need to take the offer as a bridge job to tide you over while you continue your search, you’ll want to seriously consider countering with a higher salary number.

         


         

        How much more can I ask for?

         

        This is the million-dollar question, and I’m afraid there’s no perfect answer or percentage that will work for every situation. But keep in mind the overarching goal: you want to do your best to flex your negotiation muscles in asking for more, without offending the folks on the other side of the table.

         

        Put yourself in their shoes: what kind of range do you think they have to work with? 

         

        I love this advice from Cindy Gallop:

         

        Ask for the highest number you can utter without actually bursting out laughing.

         

        The theory is to anchor the conversation at a higher number, so you can make concessions if need be, but not ask for so high a number as to leave your employer rolling on the floor laughing at your absurd request. 

         


         

        Consider the whole package

         

        Money is a top priority for many of us, but your salary isn’t the only component to your compensation package that’s up for debate. 

         

        For starters, here are other ways to ask for more money that might go over better with an employer who can’t afford a salary increase: 

         

          • A signing bonus
          • A moving bonus
          • A revenue share bonus
          • A quarterly commission-based bonus
          • A guaranteed pay increase after 3/6/9 months
          • Coverage for everyday travel costs
          • Coverage for new equipment you’ll need (software, hardware)
          • Coverage to offset childcare costs

         

        Beyond money, here are other non-financial negotiables that you can ask for, too: 

         

          • Equity or stock options
          • Flex time
          • Telecommuting
          • Title bump
          • Parental leave
          • Vacation / sick days
          • Project placement
          • 401k matching
          • An earlier vesting timeline
          • Insurance coverage
          • A health savings account
          • Other wellness programs/coverage
          • An annual professional development budget
          • An earlier salary review

         


         

        Ask, don’t assume

         

        You can get creative in achieving your career goals through negotiation. 

         

        One of our Bossed Up Bootcamp alums, Courtney, shared with me that she was thrilled at the prospect of a new full-time job offer, but assumed that meant she’d have to stop teaching her weekly class at a local university, where she served as an adjunct professor. She loved teaching on the side, but a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job seemed to make that impossible. 

         

        She was even preparing to counter-offering with a lower salary than what was initially offered, in order to ask for the flexibility to continue teaching on the side. 

         

        Don’t make this mistake: don’t negotiate with yourself. 

         

        Instead, I encouraged Courtney to simply ask for what she really wanted: the full-time job, the full-time salary, and the freedom to continue teaching this one course on the side.

         

        She wrote back to me a few days later with the good news: 

         

        I got the job, the salary I wanted, and the flexible schedule that would allow me to continue teaching!  

         

        Everything is negotiable – never assume otherwise! The only way to find your limit is to ask until you hear a “no.”

         


         

        Know your line in the sand

         

        A mentor I knew was looking for her next job and wanted to make a mindful, deliberate career change. As part of her job search process, she made a list of all the criteria her next job had to have in order for her to take it. She whittled things down to the absolute, most important aspects to her and was left with a list of 4 must-haves. 

         

        Upon landing a job offer, she negotiated back and forth for a few rounds and the organization was able to meet her on 3 out of her 4 top priorities. 

         

        So what did she do? She turned the offer down. 

         

        If this comes as a surprise, I don’t blame you! We’re used to thinking about compromise as an essential component to negotiation and aren’t used to getting 100% of what we want. But differentiating between your must-haves versus your nice-to-have negotiation priorities is about clarifying your line in the sand. You have to know when to say “no,” or live to regret taking a job that’s the wrong fit. 

         

        This is not about being greedy or selfish. It’s about setting yourself up for sustainability. It’s about avoiding a job you’ll instantly regret, feel resentful about, and find yourself right back on the job hunt again.

         

         

         

         

         


         

        Consider your alternatives

         

        Think carefully about what you want versus what you need. Knowing the difference can help you decide when to walk away from the bargaining table. 

         

        For those of you already thinking, “Yeah, right! I could never turn down a job!” I get it! 

         

        There’s a lot of privilege in being able to walk away – from a bad job, a bad living situation, or a bad relationship. Let’s acknowledge that. Having a foundation of financial stability puts you in a much stronger position to negotiate hard and walk away from a deal that doesn’t measure up. 

         

        Getting clear on your alternatives – whatever they may be – can help you enter the negotiation process from a place of strength, confidence, and clarity.

        Negotiation Page

        Negotiation Page

        6

        DELIVER YOUR COUNTER-OFFER WITH CLARITY & CONFIDENCE

        If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already done a lot of preparation to ensure your negotiation conversation goes well – brava! Now it’s time to break down exactly how to present your counter-offer to the person on the other side of the negotiation conversation. 

         


         

        How to phrase your counter-offer

         

        Whether you’re negotiating a raise with your current employer or a new job offer with a prospective one, think of delivering your counter-offer like making a layer cake: you want to follow a winning recipe to ensure things come out sweet. 

         

        First, express gratitude & establish positive intent

         

        If it sounds like I’m being redundant, it’s because I am. 

         

        Research by Mary Sue Coleman – popularized in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In – show that women who get ahead are those who remain “relentlessly pleasant” while asserting themselves, such as smiling during salary negotiations.

         

        Open the conversation by once again sharing how excited you are about this position: 

         

        Thanks for taking the time to discuss this offer, I’m confident we can find a way forward that works well for everyone.

         

        I’m excited at the prospect of joining your team and want to ensure we’re set up for success over the long-term.

         

        I’m looking forward to ironing out these final details so we can get to work, since I’m confident we’ll be able to do great things together.

         

        By opening with a clear, positive intent, you’ll help mitigate the social penalties women often face when asserting themselves. 

         

        Then, highlight your strengths

         

        If you’re going to ask for more, you need to explain why you’re worth more

         

        Point to the value you bring the employer. Be sure to focus it on their needs, wants, and fears – not yours:

         

        Based on my experience level and familiarity with the specific kind of problems we’d be tackling together…

         

        Because I can assure you I’ll go above and beyond what’s expected of me in this role…

         

        I know this role is a priority for you and the organization, and I’m ready to step in and contribute right away, so…

         

        Remind them why they offered you the job in the first place! 

         

        Don’t worry if this sounds like you’re repeating some of what you said in your initial interviews. Often by the time this conversation is happening it’s been days, if not weeks, since you made your case in your interviews. You might even be dealing with a totally different person at this phase, too. 

         

        Tie your strengths to your first priority ask

         

        Once you’ve opened your negotiation conversation positively, and highlighted your strengths, it’s time to make a clear ask for your number-one negotiation priority: 

         

        To move forward in this role, I’m looking for a starting salary of $75,000.

         

        My hope was to secure a 401k match, which is really important to me.

         

        I’d need the ability to work flexibly, ideally from home one day a week in order to move forward.

         

        Here’s what the whole counter-offer might sound like, all put together:

         

        I’m thrilled at the prospect of working with you, and am confident that I’ll make a great addition to your team. I appreciate the offer at $75K, but was expecting to be in the $85K range based on my experience, drive, and proven performance. Will you consider a salary of $85K for this position?

         

        Once you’ve put it out there, stop talking! Give them a chance to respond. 

         

        Typically, there are just a few possible reactions you’ll want to be ready for:

         

        • If you get a yes, express your appreciation, and pivot to your next negotiation priority. 

         

        • If they’re not sure, ask, “Can you look into that for me?” and plan to follow up on a future call. Then, pivot to your next priority anyway.

         

        • If they offer you something else, but it’s not entirely what you want, ask for some time to think about it and get back to them. 

         

        • If you get a firm no, express the importance of that priority to you and tell them you’ll need some time to think about it and get back to them. 

         

        This part of the conversation may include a lot of back and forth. You might run down a handful of negotiation priorities, depending on how far the initial offer is from what you want. Focus on active listening, and show you’re listening by nodding and responding to their comments, and asking for clarity when needed.

         


         

        Ask assertive questions

         

        Keep the conversation flowing by asking open-ended questions. They’ll help you get important real-time feedback and take the temperature of the room. 

         

        When you’re nervous, it’s easy to go on in a monologue, but don’t forget: a negotiation is a conversation. A good negotiator is constantly gauging the reaction on the other side of the table (or phone!) by asking questions like: 

         

        Would you be open to that? 

        What would you say to something like that?

        How would you feel about moving ahead at that rate? 

         

        Keep in mind: most hiring managers already have a range they’re approved to offer you. So if you’re asking for more and it’s within that range, you might get an immediate “yes” from them! 

         

        If not, that doesn’t mean it’s a no, necessarily. It means they might have to go up the food chain to seek additional approval themselves. If you’re dealing directly with a manager or executive, they might need to crunch the numbers and get back to you. 

         

        So if you’re getting resistance, try asking these kinds of questions instead, to keep the conversation moving in a productive direction: 

         

        Is that something you could look into further?

        Is this something you could consider and get back to me on?

        Can you look into that for me?

        Is there any possibility of meeting me halfway on this?

         


         

        Embrace silence

         

        Silence is golden when it comes to negotiation. 

         

        In fact, research shows that those who use more silence and pause in negotiations are seen as having more power. 

         

        After asking a tough question or making a direct ask for more, stop talking! 

         

        If this is difficult for you, as it is for so many of us, here are a few ways you can practice:

         

        Literally, put your hand over your mouth. You can do this more easily when negotiating over the phone, but you can do it more subtly in person or via video chat, too. 

         

        Take a deep breath and count to three in your mind. The few seconds break you take might feel like an eternity to you, but it puts pressure on your counterparts to fill the void. 

         

        If you’re having this conversation over the phone, hit the mute button once you’ve said your piece. It can help you resist the urge to over-explain or back-peddle your ask. 

         

        Once you’ve made the courageous effort of delivering a strong counter-offer, the ball is in their court. Let them feel the pressure to speak next. 

         


         

        How to practice delivering your counter-offer

         

        The best way to practice the art of negotiation is to replicate the scenario you’ll be facing when it’s time to seal the real deal. Practice this process out loud, with a pal, in a roleplay scenario. While it might feel a bit hokey, a little practice can really pay off.

         

        When practicing – and when it’s time to prepare yourself mentally for the real negotiation conversation – get your head in the game. Get up, dress up, and warm up. 

         

        Standing up and walking around (if you’re negotiating over the phone) can help you channel your nervous energy in a productive way. Dress up in whatever attire makes you feel like a boss, even if you’re not leaving your house.

         

        Whether you’re speaking to yourself in the mirror, with a role-playing pal, or into your webcam for a recording you can review later, you’ll get so much more comfortable speaking about yourself in a strong, assertive, and positive way if you practice it out loud. 

         

        You haven’t really prepared for a negotiation until you’ve prepared out loud.

         


         

        Get feedback

         

        The whole point of practicing your counter-offer is to learn and improve. It’s hard to improve in a vacuum, so get a boss bestie to give you feedback in real time. And hey, make sure you ask your fiercest friends to serve in this critical role for you, ok? Not the pal or parent who’s so worried about you getting just any job they don’t want you to negotiate at all!

         

        A little practice up-front can pay off in dividends on payday – and on every payday for years to come. 

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          BONUS

          COMMON NEGOTIATION PITFALLS TO AVOID

          I want to walk through some of the common pitfalls I hear folks sometimes run into when negotiating, and the best ways to bounce back from them while keeping the power on your side of the bargaining table. 

          I’m told there’s no room to negotiate.

          If you ask for more in your salary and are given a pretty flat “no” or simply told that there’s no room to negotiate, first think about how their offer compares to your line in the sand. Is taking this salary offer a recipe for future resentment? Or just a temporary setback? 

           

          Presuming that it clears your line in the sand at least, pivot to negotiating on non-salary items. You might make the transition with phrasing like this:

           

          I’m hearing from you that the salary is fixed, and I can appreciate that, but based on the unique strengths I bring to the team, I’d love to inquire about a one-time signing bonus of $5,000 [or insert any other negotiation priority of yours besides salary]. Could you look into that for me?

           

          “Could you look into that for me?” can be an incredibly powerful phrase. It tells the employer that their flat “no” isn’t valid until they at least run that request up the flagpole through their chain of command. 

          I’ve got two offers to choose between!

          Keep long-term satisfaction at top of mind: which job do you think will set you up for sustainable success? If you need more time to think, buy yourself some time and ask to visit the office and shadow a team member for a day. 

           

          There’s nothing necessarily wrong with sharing the news that you’re weighing more than one offer with your prospective employer and seeing if there’s anything they can offer to sweeten the deal, but keep your industry norms in mind. 

           

          Is using an outside offer as leverage a common negotiation strategy in your industry? If so, proceed away! If not, you should know that as much as I hate to share this advice, your use of the outside offer as leverage could backfire. Some research has shown that women who use this tactic can be seen as “overly aggressive.” 

          I’m desperate for a job, should I still negotiate?

          Not necessarily. Don’t feel like you’re being a “bad feminist” or that you “should always” negotiate. Some research shows that women know when it’s best to put the brakes on an assertive negotiation, too. 

           

          Trust your gut. Sometimes negotiating just for the sake of negotiating doesn’t make sense. Focus on your immediate goals and on understanding your audience. If you need to take a bridge job for now until you’re in a stronger position to negotiate more assertively, there’s no shame in that strategy, too. 

          I got a promotion without a pay raise - help!

          The frequency with which I hear this from women is infuriating! Getting a “promotion” in name only, without any compensation changes, puts you on the fast track for becoming incredibly resentful – and understandably so. 

           

          The best strategy here is preventative. If a team member leaves and you’re being asked to absorb their workload – even for a temporary period of time – do your absolute best to initiate a negotiation conversation right away, before you even begin picking up your former colleague’s slack. The conversation might be started with phrasing like this:

           

          You know I’m a team player and always happy to dive into the work that makes our organization so successful, but before I absorb a second job outside of the purview you hired me for, I’d love to discuss what compensation adjustments you had in mind as well. Do you have time on your schedule tomorrow morning to discuss?

           

          Keep in mind, there’s no time limit for starting this conversation. If you already accepted additional work without having this conversation for some time now, ask to have a conversation to “rectify” the mismatch between your increased workload and compensation.

          I got a negative response when I delivered my counter-offer!

          You’ve practiced and role-played so you’re ready to deliver your counter-offer calmly and with a persistently pleasant tone, and yet – the person on the other side of the table gets flustered or agitated. Maybe they just woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, or maybe expressing anger is their warped negotiation strategy to try and ruffle your feathers. 

           

          It is important that you stay cool, calm, and collected. Put it back on them to explain their response with some open-ended questions like these: 

           

          I can see that what I’ve said has surprised/upset/frustrated you and that wasn’t my intention. Can you help me understand your reaction?

           

          It seems like we’re headed in the wrong direction. What can we do to get back on track?

           

          I can see you’re not pleased with my offer. What do you think would be fair?

           

          It looks like I’ve taken you by surprise. Do you mind if I give some more background information?

           

          I know we haven’t figured this out yet, but let’s keep talking. I’m sure we can find something that will work for both of us.

           

          We are really far apart. Perhaps we can meet somewhere in the middle?

           

          What if I’m negotiating with a non-profit?

          Just because you’re negotiating with a cause-oriented employer, doesn’t mean you should assume there’s no room in the budget for a salary increase. Don’t fall into the martyr mindset of sacrificing your well-being for the job – it’s a recipe for burnout, resentfulness, and anxiety. 

           

          Set yourself up for sustainability. If money is tight, think about other negotiables that can help sweeten the deal: including a limited schedule, flexible hours, and the ability to simultaneously take on outside projects that will enable you to earn more.

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