While the gender wage gap that exists in the United States today is slowly closing, there is still a difference between what men and women make for the same job (and the gap widens when you factor in race and other social categories). While it is up to the government to establish equal pay officially, there are things that women can do to help close the gap. One of the reasons that women are typically paid less than men for the same job is that women don't negotiate for pay. This may not be the case for all women, but it certainly is for most.
Women have been socialized to take what they are given, as opposed to asking for more. This issue is huge when it comes to negotiating salary, and more women need to empower themselves by learning negotiation strategies. So, if you're getting ready to go into a big interview where you will probably be negotiating your pay, here are ten tips to help you negotiate for a higher salary.
1. Do your research.
First things first, do your research. It's really important to go into the negotiations knowing exactly what you want and it has to be an accurate number. If you're asking for more than any person in your career field makes, you're going to look ridiculous and odds are you're not going to get it. On the other hand, if you're asking for less, you're going to end up with less.
2. Build your confidence.
No negotiation goes well if you're not confident and aware of your value to a company. If you know you're a good fit and you work hard, then you deserve to be paid well for it. Do whatever it takes to walk into the room with confidence, and don't let anything tear that down.
Confidence can come from a variety of factors: 1) what you wear. Pick something that you feel really good in. 2) Practice. We'll get to that later but it will make you more confident. Or even 3) preparing right before the interview. Whether this means meditating or listening to your favorite music, you know what works best for you. Do the things that really get you up and ready to do your best.
3. Pick a number, not a range.
Once you have done you're research and you're feeling good about your value as an employee, it's important to pick a number from the salary range you researched and stick to it. It's best if you pick a number at the higher end of the range; odds are the person on the other end of the negotiation will try to lower it anyways (it is called negotiating after all).
4. Be polite, but forward.
It's especially important to have a good attitude when the interview is happening, so be sure not to get carried away. Being polite is the best way to show respect but also demonstrate that you're serious about your career.
On the other hand, being polite does not mean that you accept whatever terms come your way. You have to be forward and firm about what you want or you're just not going to get it.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
Before the interview actually happens, the best way to be prepared for the negotiations is to practice, practice, practice. You have a couple options here: either practice with your friends or family members or get a professional negotiation coach. When it comes down to it, either is effective if your practice enough.
6. Be awake with a clear mind.
This tip is pretty obvious and straightforward, but still important. If you're not fully awake or on your A game, you could get thrown off and end up walking out having accepted a low salary. The best way to negotiate is with a clear mind. Just focus on what you want and that you know you deserve it. Oh, and get a good night's sleep, too.
7. Ask questions about the job.
With any interview, it's important to fully understand the job you're going into (or hoping to go into). You might find out, after asking questions about the job description and the company, that the job you're applying for is just not a good fit. It's important to find out these things before getting into negotiations so you can avoid the trouble if need be.
8. Don't let your emotions get ahead of you.
During the interview, you might be thrown off by the number that your (future) employer offers. It may be way too low and it may question your value as an employee. Don't. Let. This. Happen. If you let your emotions get in the way of your main goal, you won't take the steps needed to get there. Besides, if the employer seems to have a personal issue (or sexist issue) with you, then you probably shouldn't work for them anyways.
9. Don't get personal.
When it comes to negotiations, it's important not to bring your personal life into the discussion. Mentioning that your mother is very old and sick or you just had your second child is NOT the thing you want to be saying when someones looking to assign a dollar amount to you. Well it seems problematic and it's definitely sexist, that's just the way things are. Employers, both men and women, are likely to offer lower salaries to women who are married (because they are expected to have kids soon) or have people to take care of. Just don't mention anything personal and it will only help to increase your image as a career woman, which you probably are if you're reading this.
10. Be ready to walk away if needed.
Now remember, even after reading all of these tips and going through negotiations, if you're still not being offered enough pay, you can walk away. It's that easy and simple. You know your value and if you're not going to be well-compensated for it, then just leave. You'll find somewhere else that is willing to pay you more.