Whether you're climbing the corporate ladder or running a home business, it's important to know what you're worth. Women in business need to invest in themselves by negotiating higher pay.
I've written in the past about how women are leaving $500,000 on the table over their lifetimes, and how one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to negotiate a higher salary at the outset.
Negotiating higher pay is something I struggle with, and I know that I could probably raise my rates as a freelancer. But it's still difficult for me to really feel as though I “deserve” the higher rate. And there is still that element of fear that I will price myself out of the market.
What would my family do then?
But I'm slowly getting tot he point where I understand that negotiating higher pay is an investment in myself. Not only would I earn more now, but I would also secure my future a little better by reclaiming some of that pay gap.
So, what can women do to improve their skills? Mariella Dabbah, author of Find Your Inner Red Shoes: Step Into Your Own Style of Success?has some thoughts on women and negotiation, and how to turn into a better negotiator.
Women in Business: What's Holding You Back?
Dabbah offers this list of faults that women have when it comes to negotiating higher pay:
— Women are convinced that their circumstances are fixed and out of their control, whereas men tend to see negotiation possibilities everywhere.
— Women see common interest and try to find a joint solution, whereas men say, “This is what I want and I won't budge.”
— A sense of entitlement is weaker in females than in men. A study conducted by two psychologists found that females would pay themselves 19% less than males would for the same task.
— Unlike men, women don't lobby for pay raises *in advance* of performance evaluations. Then when pay-raises occur, managers (male or female) think Jane didn't ask for anything so I can give her a smaller share, and give John what he wants so he doesn't quit.
— Studies show an aggressive attitude sometimes displayed by men generates a negative perception if exhibited by women.
Looking at this list, it appears that some items really are out of your control. The last point, especially, throws up hurdles for women in business. (It's also one of the hurdles that Sheryl Sandberg discusses in Lean In.) How can you employ some of the negotiating tactics that men use when you will be seen negatively for doing so? It seems like a losing situation all the way around.
How to Approach Salary Negotiations as a Woman (or a Man)
The good news is that there are things women in business can do when negotiating higher pay. Dabbah suggests that women can come across as self-confident without being seen as “mannish” (which seems to bother many people) or “bitchy.” Here are some of the tips Dabbah offers — and they'll work for men as well as for women when it comes to negotiating higher pay:
- Talk about your achievements objectively. Use numbers, when possible, to quantify your accomplishments. You should be able to show marked improvement and performance.
- Know what's typical for someone with your skills, education, and experience. Understand the market, and do the research. You want a good idea of what to ask for before you go in.
- Consider more than just money. In many cases, the benefits you receive at work can be worth more than just the money. Factor in the possibility that you can telecommute, get more vacation, or enjoy some other perks in lieu of financial compensation.
- Negotiate more often.?Dabbah thinks that you should look for the potential to negotiate in a number of ways and places. You should even start lobbying for a raise ahead of performance reviews so that you set the stage for your request.
- Avoid taking things personally. You really do need to control your emotions, and to concentrate on what you do for the company, rather than couch things in language that focuses on your own needs or requirements.
Another consideration is what's negotiable and what's not. Know ahead of time what you are willing to give up, as well as what you aren't. And if you are really serious about what's you're not willing to give up, you need to be ready to walk.
It can seem a little counterintuitive to employ some of these tactics. And you might be concerned. After all, there's a kind of “don't rock the boat” mentality that can hold?anyone back, male or female. That sort of thinking puts fear ahead of investment in yourself, can lead to lower earnings over your lifetime.