Today’s post is written by Katie Donovan. She is a salary negotiation coach, blogger, and speaker on equal pay and women’s salary negotiations.
Men see salary negotiation very differently than women. A recent post about salary negotiation on Brazen Careerist by Ken Sundheim started with “Pushing to see what you can get is human nature.” That may be true for men and salary negotiation but for the typical women pushing for more when getting a job do not often go hand-in-hand.
1) You Need to Negotiate Your Salary and Compensation Package
The most important advice women need regarding salary negotiation is that negotiating is an acceptable and expected part of the hiring process. All good hiring managers keep some money out of the initial offer to ensure they can negotiate with the person they want to bring on board. When you accept what is initially offered, then you have lost some of the money right off the bat. Start the process with a statement of excitement for the opportunity, but disappointment for the salary.
Ask to walk through the entire compensation package before you start the back and forth of numbers. Finding out that you get only two weeks vacation and pay the full cost of your health insurance after you settle on a salary causes for some very awkward reopening of negotiations. It is much better to see the full picture before the active negotiation.
2) The Value of the Job is NOT Tied to Your Previous Salary
The second most important piece of advice is not to provide your salary history to potential new employers. Simply keep that field blank when filling out an application. The job has a market value, and that market value has nothing to do with what you earned before. If you are like most women, you are underpaid in your current job, thus adding 10% – 15% to your current underpaid salary to figure out the right pay level at your next job will continue your path of being underpaid.
Yet, it is the easiest way that most companies figure out what to offer future employees. Remember you beat out a bunch of other candidates to get the job. You have been deemed the best person for the job. Don’t you deserve to be paid like the best if you are offered the job?
3) Salary Negotiations Research is Readily Accessible
When researching the salary range for you current or next job, do not get stuck on the title. Your company may use some funky, trendy name for your job but you need to use more generic descriptors for your research. For example, long ago I was an inside sales representative for a small start-up and the company wanted to give me the title TelEvangelist for telemarketing/evangelist. I would find nothing on such a title but would find tons of information for inside sales representative.
Definitely research the salary ranges on various salary research sites such as Salary.com, Glassdoor.com, and Payscale.com. No one resource is perfect so you want to use a few to find a consensus. Other great resources are trade associations for the industry or the job. Many have salary information available either on their site or by requesting it.
4) Never Provide Your Desired Salary
Now that you have done the research you know what the job should pay, you want that amount. You will find you are asked for your desired salary throughout the interview process, but never supply it until you have a job offer and are actively negotiating.
There may be a field on the application for the desired salary. Keep it blank. You may be asked to provide it in your cover letter. Do not reference it. You may be asked in the interviews. Good and acceptable responses include “a competitive salary”, “it’s negotiable”, or the classic answer a question with a question “What is the budgeted salary for the job?”.
You will be well on your way to earning more as you incorporate these four bits of advice for women and salary negotiation.
Note from Anna: I also asked Katie this last question that I get all the time.
Anna: One question I have for you since this is your specialty, what do you do if they absolutely require your desired salary and won’t move further without that salary?
Katie: I haven’t found that to be the case. Typically, they will couch it as “I don’t want to waste your time so can you tell us what you are looking to make.” Answering in a professional manner that salary is negotiable or please share the salary range approved for the job will handle the situation 99% of the time. If you are unlucky enough to be in the 1% that just won’t budge, then make sure you have done your research before applying for the job and know the market value for the job. Give a range such as “Based on my research the job should pay in the $60K – $70K range. Or low $100Ks.” Make that number higher than your actual goal, because whatever number you state will become the ceiling of the negotiation.