March is Women’s History Month, the perfect time to think about salary negotiations and how it relates to women in the workforce. If you’re like most people, negotiating for your salary isn’t the most fun part of the job offer process. In fact, it can be one of the most awkward. And it might feel like you don’t want to jeopardize the job you’ve just been offered by asking for more money.
But awkwardness aside, negotiating your salary is important. And this is especially true as a woman, since women have historically been paid disproportionally to men – and still are.
Why should you negotiate your salary at all? When should you do it, and how do you go about it in the right way? Let’s dive deeper into the topic of salary negotiation and discuss some salary negotiation tips for women that can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Why You Should Negotiate Your Salary
It’s important to negotiate your salary because you’re worth it. It’s that simple. You deserve to be paid what you’re worth based on the current job market. Unfortunately, unconscious bias – and even conscious bias, in some cases – makes it harder for you.
The gender pay gap is a longstanding problem that women are still dealing with today. According to PayScale’s The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2020, women earn 81 cents to every dollar a man earns. Women of color earn 75 cents to every dollar a man earns. So, you’re starting out your salary negotiations on an uneven playing field if you’re a woman – it’s important to do your part to advocate for yourself and get the pay you deserve.
Consider this: A report from Randstad found that nearly 60% of women never negotiate their pay at all. It might seem like it’s not worth jeopardizing the job offer you’ve just received. It might also seem like it won’t make that much of a difference if you bump your salary by a few thousand dollars a year. But bargaining for even an additional $3,000 to $5,000 a year over the course of your entire career will add up significantly.
Negotiating your salary means you’ll be paid your professional worth while addressing the unfair pay gap and setting yourself up for the future at the same time.
When Should You Negotiate Salary?
In most cases, negotiations over salary should occur after you’ve received a job offer, not earlier in the interview stage. In fact, trying to negotiate too early can harm your chances of receiving an offer at all. Think of it this way: Once you’ve been offered the job, you’ve proven that you’re the best candidate out of the pool. That gives you leverage to negotiate for better pay. If the employer wants you, they’ll engage in negotiations.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to counteroffer only once or twice. More than that, and you’re risking the employer’s patience. It’s also not advisable to revisit a compensation package that you’ve already agreed upon unless unforeseen circumstances enter into play.
Don’t be afraid to ask for some time to consider the offer once it’s been made; you don’t have to jump into salary negotiations immediately. Don’t wait too long to get back to the employer, though – give your first counteroffer within 48 hours or so.
One thing to remember: If you’ve been offered an entry-level position, there might not be as much room for negotiation as there will be in mid- to high-level positions. Some employers won’t consider negotiating salary for an entry-level position at all (although it doesn’t hurt to ask.)
How Women Can Negotiate Salary After a Job Offer
We’ve learned why it’s important to negotiate your salary, and in what timeframe you should start negotiations. The question remains: How do you actually go about negotiating your salary?
Here are some essential salary negotiation tips after a job offer has been made:
Research Industry Salary Trends
How can you know what you should be paid for a position if you don’t know what your peers make in the same kind of role? Having data on the industry salary trends for your particular job is a huge help when it comes to successfully negotiating a fair pay rate. You’ll want to know:
- What the national salary average for the position is
- What the average salary for the position in your geographic location is
- What similar companies or competitors pay employees in the position
You can use online tools like Indeed’s Salary Calculator to discover what a sensible salary is for your position based on experience, location, and industry. Having this information in hand during negotiations will go a long way towards boosting your confidence and getting you the pay you deserve.
Become Aware of Gender Pay Gaps
We’ve already talked briefly about the gender pay gap. And being well aware of it during salary negotiations is a good thing. Keep in mind that those pennies on the dollar add up substantially over the course of an entire career. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the pay gap results in women earning more than $10,000 less over the course of a year. When a career spans 40 years or more, that means a woman can miss out on upwards of $400,000 that a man would have made over that time period.
When you’re aware of the data and the pay gap statistics, you can negotiate a fair rate and work toward eliminating the unfair gap in salaries.
Leverage Your Industry Experience
In most jobs, the more experience you have, the more you can expect to be paid – and the more room you have for negotiations. Before negotiations begin, take some time to think about the experience you have. If the job requires a minimum of 5 years of experience and you have 10, point this out to the hiring manager. If you have leadership experience from past jobs, leverage that to your advantage.
You’ll also want to consider any specialized skills you have, or certifications and licensures that set you apart from the competition. Any kind of additional experience or knowledge you have is a good talking point to bring up during negotiations. It gives the hiring manager concrete reasons why you deserve what you’re asking for.
Determine a Specific Amount (at the top of your researched range)
Before you ever enter salary negotiations, you should have a number in mind. This number is your real goal – what you would really like to make at the end of the negotiations. Then, ask for a number that’s slightly higher than your real number. That way, if the employer negotiates down, you’re still satisfied.
Providing a salary range usually results in the employer offering on the lower end of that range. If you decide to give a range, make sure the low number is at the top of the range you’re looking for.
One step that many people skip when it comes to salary negotiations is the rehearsal. But it’s an important one. Going over your talking points with a friend or family member is always advisable – it will help you be more confident when the real thing comes along, and you’ll be able to get feedback that can help inform your negotiations. Talking about money can be uncomfortable, and rehearsing ahead of time is the best way to make things less awkward and achieve the results you’re looking for.
The more confident you are in your salary negotiation, the more the employer will consider your offers legitimately. Of course, you don’t want to come across as arrogant. Strike the perfect balance and clearly, concisely state your requested salary along with your main talking points as to why you deserve it. And remember to be prepared with your statistics and market research if the need arises.
Work with a Recruiter
Partnering with a recruiter is a great way to make sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth when a job offer is extended. Recruiters make it their job to know industry trends and salary averages – they’ll be able to source positions that meet your salary requirements and job goals. And they act as an advocate for you, negotiating salaries based on your input and desired pay. Plus, recruiters have access to exclusive jobs that aren’t always found on the major job boards.
Negotiate a Starting Salary with the Help of Opti Today
Are you interested in partnering with a recruiter to help negotiate for what you’re worth? Opti is the professional staffing and recruiting agency that can help. With offices around the Pacific Northwest – from Anchorage, AK to Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver – we meet you where you are in order to match you with a company you’ll love.
Contact a member of Opti’s recruitment team today to learn more and get started.