Many women think they will accept a job, prove themselves, and then ask for a raise. This approach may result from believing that they are not in a position to negotiate, from being afraid that if they ask for more they might lose the job offer, from being uncomfortable negotiating, or simply from thinking that proving their worth before negotiating is the most effective approach. Whatever the reason, in most instances, they will be wrong.
Know Your Own Worth
When it comes to negotiating compensation, information is power. Determine what your skills and experience are worth in the market, and do not accept less. Your current salary will normally weigh heavily in determining the amount you receive.
If you are being paid below market value, and the company bases its offer on your current compensation, this will work to your disadvantage. For this reason, it is important to anchor salary discussions based on market value rather than on your current salary. To do that, you must know the range of salaries being paid to others with similar skills and experience.
Using a variety of career-based Web sites (like Salary.com, PayScale.com or Monster.com) you can gather information about salaries and benefits at employers where you might be interested in working, as well as at their competitors and at similar companies in other industries.
Discussing Your Current Compensation
Talk about your total compensation, not just base salary. Use an approximation such as, “My total compensation is in the low six figures.” Include your bonus, stocks, perks, and any other benefits in valuing your total compensation. Value and describe those items as favorably as possible without being dishonest. If your compensation has varied significantly from year to year due to bonuses, commissions, or stock options, you can talk about “earning as much as” whatever the highest figure was. You can also talk in terms of earning potential. People frequently make the mistake of failing to take into consideration an impending raise or bonus when they are negotiating a new position.
How You Ask Matters
People almost never lose a job offer because of what they ask for. When they do, it is usually because of how they ask for it. If you provide reasons to justify your requests, you may not get everything you want, but you will usually get something, and you will also gain respect for how you go about asking. You do not want to come across as strident, but you need to be firm about your expectations. Never threaten or make “demands.” This is particularly important for women because they are held to a different standard than men and are usually expected to adopt a more relational negotiating style.
Excerpted from "A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating" by Lee E. Miller & Jessica Miller, reprinted with permission from McGraw-Hill Professional. Copyright 2011.