Yep, we all cringe when thinking about it. I don’t know many women who feel comfortable with this and if statistics are to be believed, men have much less of an issue negotiating a better salary, benefits, raises–you name it.
Linda Babcock, a professor at Carnegie Mellon has done research and written books about this. According to the stats she gathered:
- In surveys, 2.5 times more women than men said they feel “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating.
- Men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.
- When asked to pick metaphors for the process of negotiating, men picked “winning a ballgame” and a “wrestling match,” while women picked “going to the dentist.”
- Women are more pessimistic about the how much is available when they do negotiate and so they typically ask for and get less when they do negotiate—on average, 30 percent less than men.
- 20 percent of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary.
Here is WHY this is a problem (from the same source):
- By not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60—and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary.
- In one study, eight times as many men as women graduating with master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries. The men who negotiated were able to increase their starting salaries by an average of 7.4 percent, or about $4,000. In the same study, men’s starting salaries were about $4,000 higher than the women’s on average, suggesting that the gender gap between men and women might have been closed if more of the women had negotiated their starting salaries.
- Another study calculated that women who consistently negotiate their salary increases earn at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don’t.
There’s the stats and the impact of our not negotiating. It’s scary. By not negotiating you stand to lose $1 million over a lifetime of working. WTF?!
I’m a strong woman and I only started negotiating late in my humanitarian career (read one year ago). I think back now and can’t imagine why I didn’t just go back and at the very least even ask: Is there room for negotiation? It didn’t even cross my mind before till I started hearing about other women who would negotiate. Two of my friends negotiated and were aghast that I wasn’t. And it is expected that you will. If not for salary, then for benefits.
I’ve compiled some videos and sources to help other women out there and below are “top tips” from the videos and from my own experiences. Also, a GREAT read on how to ask for a raise can be found here. And I would read this piece for more great advice on negotiating a salary in the non profit sector. And for those that like scientific articles, read this.
This first video is an HR lady talking about how to negotiate salary:
This second video is a bit smarmy for my taste but he’s got some great tips.
And here is a video interview of Linda Babcock herself discussing the findings from her research:
And here are the WiA top tips. Please do add to these in the comments below as this is far from an exhaustive list.
Top Tip One: NEGOTIATE. You just need to be comfortable doing this. And it is expected that you will and it can’t hurt to ask. Get your head around this and feel the fear but do it anyway. The factor that people point to all the time to explain the gap between men and women in this matter is very simple: Women Don’t Ask. Do it–start asking.
Top Tip Two: Know your own value (based on a market assessment). You must do your homework and know not only what you are worth, but what the organization will pay and how it compares to what other organizations are paying. This is a bit hard in our sector as there is such a range but one way to do this is ask others for a range of what they get paid for a similar job to the one you are applying for.
Top Tip Three: Never ever never never ever give a number yourself to start with. The last time I negotiated though I was asked repeatedly for a number, I never actually gave one. I very honestly said, I have no idea what people in the US make for these jobs and so, I was told what the range was and I said I would like to be in the higher part of the range and left it at that. Do ask for a range and though I’ve had the experience where HR didn’t give me a range (that’s really weird) they should come back with at least a range. This hiring agency came back with a number but here’s where I made a mistake…
Top Tip Four: Have a number in mind. Figure out what your needs are and what you will work for. I didn’t have a number and I was so enjoying not giving a number that I ended up losing out on probably 2-3K more a year. I figured that out after I joined but I hadn’t really done my market research either and had no idea what people in the non profit sector in the US were making and had nothing to base my number on. The general rule of thumb on this is to aim higher than your number as there is compromise and the hiring agency (if they really want you) will come back and meet you mid way. So, if you are being offered $50,000 but you want $55,000, $say 60,000. Simple math.
Top Tip Five: Be ready to walk away. That’s a hard one since we all want jobs but down the line, you will get seriously annoyed at not being paid enough for your worth. This will affect your work performance and it’s not something you want to think about while working. You want to be focused on doing your best. You need to be OK with walking away.
Top Tip Six: Negotiation starts after an offer has been made. This is very true for salary requirements. I’m on the fence if this is the same if you have other things you are negotiating such as working flexible hours, or from home part of the time or for an accompanied post etc. That is a separate post coming later but for salary, my experience has shown that your strongest position is to get an offer, get a number from them and then go back and ask for more.
Top Tip Seven: It’s not just about the money. It can be about benefits as well. A friend of mine negotiated better leave for himself. Coming from a European background, American leave is a sad state of affairs and they knew this and he knew this and asked for that instead of a higher salary which he knew they would not be able to give him (he was going to be their Chief Financial Officer). At the end of the day, you want to work in an organization that you feel recognizes your value and will work with you to find you the best deal for your own circumstances.
Top Tip Eight: Take your time. If they’ve offered you a job, they want you. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a decision or negotiating what you want and need. We often feel rushed to accept as we are so grateful to be given a job but DO take your time. Think about it and weigh the pros and cons.
Top Tip Nine: Get it in writing. A rookie mistake I’ve made. How many times do you hear it…get it in writing. I took a job on the understanding that I would be able to travel and work remotely once a month to see my partner and I trusted that my manager would make it happen as this was discussed with him before I took the job and it was a make or break deal for me. A week into the job, he was like, ummm, so we should talk about it. 6 months down the line, I left the job because I had nothing in writing and not being with my partner was not an option. It was really sad since me and the org really fit with each other and loved each other but there you go. Lesson learned–get it in writing IN your contract or some other legal binding document.
Top Tip Ten: Learn from others and share with others. We want to hear your experiences and please add to the top tips list. There is so much out there and it would be good to hear from others on what they’ve experienced and how they negotiate negotiating!