Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What You Want
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
When it comes to negotiating for a desired salary or benefits many people feel uncomfortable and avoid asking for what they want. In fact, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change”, found that women in particular are more apprehensive regarding negotiating and do it far less than men. This failure to negotiate salaries at the start of their careers could leave up to $2 million on the table. Here are some tips for polishing your negotiating skills to get what you deserve:
- Do your research. Understand what the industry averages are based on your role, skills, experience, education and location so you can enter the conversation prepared with data and details for why your qualifications fit the salary you are requesting.
- Understand what you want. Besides a competitive salary range, you should also think about other benefits that could contribute to your overall compensation package and/or life balance. Consider asking about health and dental insurance, 401(k) contributions, bonuses, stock options, tuition reimbursement, funds for professional development and dues, travel allowance, mentoring/coaching, childcare, health and fitness programs, vacations and flexibility with working offsite.
- Understand what the other party wants. This also requires some information gathering. If you are seeking a raise and/or promotion you must communicate how you can deliver needed solutions to the department and company.
- Practice your delivery. Being successful at negotiation requires you to be comfortable and prepared. By rehearsing your approach, you can come across with grace and politeness, while also being confident and persuasive. In their book 3-D Negotiation, David Lax and James Sebenius recommend making a statement that could secure the discussion in your favor without coming across as extreme. For example, if your research suggests that you would fall into the $70,000 to $80,000 pay range, but a higher salary seems within reach, consider saying, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard that people like me typically earn $80,000 to $90,000.” This does not sound like a demand.
- Discuss the future. Whether your salary offer is negotiable or not, it’s important to ask about the outlook for salary raises or promotions. The future potential for advancement and income growth may help you weigh your decision differently. Get any promises for position or salary growth in writing if possible.
- Look at the big picture. If you don’t get the salary or raise you want right away you can respectfully ask your boss about working out a specific plan of deliverables and a timeframe for an increase. Take notes so you have the details in writing. Report on your progress regularly so when goals are met it will be easy to grant your raise.
- Honor your worth. You are your own best ambassador so don’t undersell yourself. Most employers will respect that you are a good negotiator and show leadership skills by aiming for a competitive deal that supports your expertise and value to the company.
For more information on this topic:
Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation and Positive Strategies for Change – by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want – by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever