How to negotiate better pay

For years, we’ve been told that women are partly to blame for the gender pay gap; we need to start negotiating for what we’re worth.

Colour us unsurprised to learn that, like many other gender equity myths, this belief is more fiction than fact. Recent research suggests that while just 44% of men negotiate their salaries, 54% of women do. Mic drop.

Look like a million bucks

Pick that mic back up. Those stats mean that 46% of us still leave life-changing money on the table. Yes, life-changing. Your ability to have salary conversations in your twenties could be worth a million dollars over your career. Salaries tend to form a staircase; your first step is the foundation for future incremental increases. Start low, and you’ll be more likely to stay low.

If you also remember your twenties like they were twenty-plus years ago, don’t panic! It’s never too late to start. Seriously. After listening to our very first podcast ep, Powrsuiters quickly negotiated a combined annual increase of over $100k. 

Now, you can drop the mic.

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No one wins when you feel short-changed

Being liked is nice, but being respected will get you further. You may feel emotionally connected to your bank balance, but to the person across the table, your salary is just a bucket of someone else’s money. If you want to showcase your value to the organisation, the best way is to clearly and confidently ask for the entire bucket. 

New to negotiation? We’ve already shared some negotiation dos and don’ts, but here’s your step-by-step guide:

1. Take control

Many people approach negotiation with a ‘nice to have’ attitude. They’ve already mentally accepted the job because they haven’t considered their bottom line.

Turn that attitude on its head and decide on the package you need to make the job worthwhile. Weigh the flexibility, enjoyment, upskilling, and culture against hours, pay, and benefits. You might be willing to compromise on some things but not on others – so think about the full package and what levers you’re willing to push and pull.Money in your hand is the most valuable, but if your salary isn’t negotiable, what is? Consider extra holidays, 4-day weeks, insurance, flexibility, or professional development budget

Write yourself an actual list, so you go in with an explicit understanding of the different combinations that will work for you.

2. Have an acceptable Plan B

Most negotiations fail because of a lack of alternatives. A Plan B enables you to negotiate confidently because you know the exact point you’d be willing to walk away. 

Your backup plan doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be better than accepting a package you’re not happy with. It could be that you’re happy to stay in your existing role, step sideways or take a sabbatical. If you’re feeling under pressure to lock in a job, your Plan B might be lining up a bunch of other interviews, temp work, contracting, or cutting back on your lifestyle for a while.

Whatever your Plan B is, it has to be acceptable to you. Put some real thought into it so you enter negotiations confident you can walk away.

3. Do your homework!

Preparation is your friend, and there are a few things you should be clear on before you start negotiating.

Gather evidence. Know what other organisations offer for the same role, and don’t undersell yourself. You don’t need the same years of experience or background as others in the role – your difference makes you uniquely valuable. Remember, to your employer, your salary is just a bucket of money. You’re not taking anything from anyone else by asking to be paid what the role is worth.

The more you know about the organisation, the better. If you know others are working part-time or remotely, you’re better armed to ask for the same. Look at their team list on Linkedin, and reach out to your network to see if anyone has any connections. Knowledge is powr, so get as much of it as possible in advance.

Finally, practice. Role-play the negotiation and refine your answers to questions like “What is your current pay?” (Answer with the pay you expect). Practice pausing and identifying self-sabotaging statements like “I’m happy to take a pay cut; I just really want this job!” Negotiating in writing? Get your professional board of directors to read it before hitting send.

30 second action

List all the things that are important to you in a role – from salary to opportunities to stretch.

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