Ladies, as much as I believe that women are as smart and should be as successful as men, there is one thing that routinely holds us back. We are not good negotiators. Did you know that in a study conducted by Linda Babcock, Professor of Economics at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University, she found that students graduating with a master’s degree were not equal? Only 12.5 percent of women had negotiated their job offers while 51.5 percent of men had negotiated theirs.
Over your lifetime, the failure to negotiate can cost you upwards of $1 million dollars in lost income. Are you willing to give that up? If not, ask yourself: “Am I prepared to negotiate my first salary?”
I realize there are all sorts of reasons why women don’t ask. Do any of these sound familiar?
- I don’t want them to change their mind.
- I am afraid they wouldn’t like me if I asked.
- I am just happy to get a job.
- I am scared.
- I don’t know what to say.
If you have one or all of these thoughts, you are costing yourself money and benefits. I am not going to try and convince you that negotiating is not scary. It is! What I am going to tell you is that no one has ever died because they negotiated a job offer. You are going to just have to pull up your big girl panties and go for it!
Men routinely ask and therefore they routinely get. Before becoming a coach, I spent 15 years as a recruiter helping people negotiate. I never had a job offer rescinded because of a negotiation. They didn’t always get everything they asked for, but they were never sorry they asked.
If you are still wondering how to approach a negotiation, here are some keys to help you succeed.
- Before you start any negotiation, figure out exactly what you need to be happy. Don’t get greedy, but do get honest. Women who are not honest with themselves, at this point, will not get the best results. If you don’t know what you want, how will you be able to communicate your request to others?
- Next, do your homework. Research salary comparisons to figure out what other people are making in this type of position. In most cases women are offered less than their male counterparts, so you need to know what the industry is paying. You can find this information on sites like salary.com. Have all of this information documented to back up your request if asked.
- Don’t fear getting a no. You will get them on occasion, but they should never stop you from asking. If you present solid reasons for your request you have at least a 50% chance of getting more. If you don’t ask you have a 0% shot at getting more and you are immediately pegged as less of a leader.
- Practice your request with a friend or a parent. Talk it out. You will be more confident and come across more polished.
- Remember not to whine. This is business. There is no whining in business. As soon as you start sounding like a little girl you will have lost the negotiating power.
- Last and most important: Only negotiate if you are truly interested in the position. If you are not interested in the overall position no money will change that. When you negotiate, you are saying, if these things were different I would accept this position. It is not a game to see who will give you more money.
Don’t Let Good Girl Behavior Hold You Back
I know when we are young girls we are trained by our parents and peers to share and not take more than we are offered. In this case, you need to forget those rules. If you don’t ask you will forever be behind your male classmates who did ask. Yes even the class clown who never studied.
Even as I write this, I know that many of you are still not going to ask because you are afraid of what the company will think of you or that they might change their mind. I have helped hundreds of people negotiate job offers and I can tell you that absolutely no one had an offer rescinded due to negotiating. I can also tell you that women are still paid 77 cents to every dollar that a man makes and this is largely due to the fact that we are not willing to negotiate.
A $28,000 Raise
To motivate you slightly, I want to share a story about a young woman I recently helped with her first salary negotiation. She had not negotiated her initial salary offer and found out that she was being paid almost $40,000 less than the average pay for her position. She asked me to help her get over her fear of negotiating so she could ask for a higher salary at her upcoming yearly review. When she first got her job she was so happy to get a job that she just took what they offered and now she was paying for that decision. Two years later she is missing the$60,000 – $80,000 in additional income that she might have made if she had negotiated her initial offer.
To prepare for her negotiation, she followed the steps I listed above. She did salary comparisons as well as put together a detailed report about her successes and how much money she had generated for her company. She also knew exactly what she was willing to accept as a bottom line. By sticking to her guns she was able to get herself a $28,000 increase in pay. Was she scared? Absolutely! But she knew that if she didn’t ask she would continue to lose money that she should be earning. She is still not where she would like to be, but she is way better off. Her company now realizes that she is important to their success. They take her more seriously than before when she was viewed as the little girl who didn’t ask.
Now that you know the power of negotiation and the steps to take when you engage in a negotiation you are ready. All I ask is that when you get your next job offer you ask yourself: “Can I afford not to negotiate?”
About the Author
Zee Worstell is the founder of AccelerateHER International, a boutique career coaching organization. Zee works with busy, professional women and women just entering the workforce to suspend the “Good Girl” beliefs learned when they were young and replace them a with an empowering belief system rooted in self-confidence. She is dedicated to helping career-focused women learn how to stand in their greatness and create success in their career while still having time for their families.
During her 15 years spent as an Executive Recruiter, Zee has witnessed many women sabotage their careers because of what they were taught as young girls. Using observation, personal experience and extensive research, Zee has developed her proven T.H.R.I.V.E. system. This methodology guides motivated women towards the success they desire using strategies that allow them to create prosperity on their own terms. Author of the audio program “Good Girls Finish Last…Confident Women Finish First” Zee Worstell is quickly becoming recognized as an expert in the field of women’s career development. Meet Zee at www.GoodGirlsFinishLast.com. Connect with her on Twitter @confidentzee and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/zeeworstell
- What you’re losing if you fail to negotiate
- Why negotiating doesn’t need to be scary
- Zee’s A.S.K.S. negotiation system