Know your worth: Tips for negotiating your salary

Thinking about asking for a raise? Here's how.


Could you use some help with your negotiating skills when it comes to asking for a higher salary? If so, you’re not alone. While everyone wants a salary in line with their skills, contributions, and experience, many people, women in particular, fall short when it comes to negotiating for a bigger paycheck.

Why? One theory suggests this is due to cultural biases against women who seem too aggressive or self-serving. As a result, women are 23 percent less likely to enter salary negotiations than men.1 Global staffing firm, Robert Half, reports that 68 percent of men and only 45 percent of women negotiated their salaries.2 This gender imbalance contributes to men outpacing women in promotions and to 64 percent of women reporting that money is the leading cause of stress in their lives.3 But there are tips to help you improve your financial well-being, your salary negotiating acumen, and your chances of earning more.

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Tip 1: Prepare ahead of time

To frame your argument convincingly, you need to understand your employer’s needs and what’s important to the organization. Do your homework by tapping your network of contacts who are knowledgeable about the organization. Also, research the company and industry online through articles, as well as sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, which can help you determine a salary range that is appropriate to the position. From there, make sure you include solid reasoning behind your requested salary and are prepared to speak about why you deserve the amount you’re asking for. 

Tip 2: Build your pitch with a trusted friend

Practicing your negotiation skills is a great way to build your confidence. Just like you train for a 5K, it helps to train for a salary negotiation. You can proactively practice your pitch with someone you trust to give objective feedback, and then revisit any of the stumbling blocks he or she identifies. Even one time through can make a huge difference between being caught unprepared and moving forward with confidence.

Tip 3: Use what researchers call an “I-we strategy"

Whether you’re interviewing for a new position or asking for a raise, this strategy involves asking for higher pay while simultaneously explaining why your requests are reasonable (the I). Then make it clear that, ultimately, you’re on the same team and have their best interests at heart (the we). Researchers have found that such an approach helped women achieve their goals, while also making a good impression.

Tip 4: In your initial salary request, ask for a precise number and aim high

For example, ask for $72,750 instead of $70,000. According to researchers, you’re more likely to get a final offer closer to your pay goal when you do so. The reason: Employers will assume you must have thoroughly researched the market and your own value to come up with such a specific amount and, therefore, deserve that amount. Since you’ve already done your research about the company and have a good idea of the pay range, shoot toward the high end of the spectrum to establish a higher reference point.

Tip 5: When you’re offered a job, avoid agreeing to anything on the spot

A better tactic is to thank the potential employer for the offer, reaffirm your enthusiasm for the position, and then ask for a couple of days to mull it over. That should buy you some time to consider your next steps. 

Bonus tip: You could bypass salary negotiation altogether by becoming your own boss

Becoming an entrepreneur puts you in the driver’s seat to build a business based on your values, while allowing you to control your income, a preference shared by 75 percent of women. A career as a financial professional is a great option for people who are good problem solvers, empathetic and trustworthy, with a desire to help others. Find out more about what it means to be a financial representative with Guardian.

Ultimately, no matter what choice you make, negotiating savvy helps. Even if you find the process difficult, and most people do, there are plenty of techniques you can use to become a better negotiator and achieve the salary you deserve.

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