Salary Negotiation: Women’s Edition

During my senior year of college, I struggled with the idea that I could negotiate my salary with employers. The concept of asking for more money scared me because I thought if I asked I would be viewed as greedy and possibly get my offer revoked! I also didn’t know how much money I should ask for and when would be a good time to negotiate. As a result, I avoided the conversation altogether.

When it comes to negotiating salary, many women struggle in this area. According to the Harvard Kennedy School, “laboratory and survey evidence has suggested that men are significantly more likely to engage in salary negotiations than women.” One possible reason for this is that men may feel more comfortable having the conversation than women. Women are more likely to sell themselves short and avoid negotiating because they do not want to come across as rude or are afraid of hearing the word “no.”

However, the truth is, there is NOTHING wrong with negotiating salary. Salary negotiation is necessary because everyone should get paid what they are worth! You know your work ethic, and you should get paid for that!   

Now, you might have a bunch of questions about salary negotiation, or you might not fully understand how you should even go about asking such an uncomfortable question. To help us gain a better understanding of salary negotiation, I sat down with Jennifer Clough, Career Counselor at Dickinson College and Professor of Counseling and College Student Personnel at Shippensburg University, to provide some insight on the topic. Check out the interview transcript below:

Kaljah: Why is negotiating salary important?

Jennifer: Salary negotiation is essential because you should get paid what you are worth. If an employer offers you a salary that does not align with your worth, then you are getting the short end of the stick. Employers tend to expect that you’re going to ask for more, so there is little harm in asking. The worst they can do is say no. Employers will not rescind your job offer, nor will they get upset that you’re asking. If they do, then what does that tell you about management at that job?

Kaljah: When is it the right time to negotiate salary?

Jennifer: Definitely not in the first interview. You do not want to negotiate salary too early. Usually, jobs either have a pay range in the job description, or they ask you to include how much you would like to get paid in the application or your cover letter. The best time to negotiate salary is when you get the offer letter because you know they want you. When analyzing your offer letter, also look at the benefits you are receiving because you might be in a situation where the pay is not that great, but you are receiving some perks, such as time off, vacation, dental benefits, tuition remission, or something else.

Kaljah: If an employer asks for a salary amount, how much should someone ask for?

Jennifer: If asked to provide a salary, use a range so you have some flexibility when negotiating. For example, if you think you should get paid around $45000 for a job, and you were asked to supply a salary, you might use a range of $43,000-$52,000 or $44,000-$49,000 depending upon how sure you were about what people get paid in similar positions. A good website to use for understanding salaries is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook: www.bls.gov/ooh

Kaljah: Do you have any tips on how someone should go about negotiating their salary?

Jennifer: It is best to negotiate salary in person, but that might not always be possible. The second best option is by phone, and the third best option is through email. Also, give yourself time to be excited about the offer, and then think about t it. Do your homework by looking on salary.com or glassdoor.com to see what people typically get paid in similar positions. That way, you know if they are paying you a decent salary for the job or not.

Kaljah: How should someone negotiate their salary?

Jennifer: You should say something like this: “Thank you so much for the offer. I wanted to know if there was more flexibility in the salary. I was hoping (INSERT AMOUNT HERE). Is that possible?”

If the salary is firm, you can ask: “Is there wiggle room for other benefits, such as (INSERT BENEFIT HERE).

Another thing I would advise is NOT to apologize for asking for more money!

Kaljah: Do you have any tips on negotiating salary for someone who recently graduated from college?

Jennifer: 1) Practice! The only way you will feel more comfortable asking is by practicing with someone, like a Career Counselor or willing friend, who will be able to give you feedback.

2) Keep in mind that if you ask, you might get more, which is great and if you don’t get more, then at least you tried, which is more than most women do!  You have nothing to lose by trying.

*END*

The main thing I want you to take away from this interview is that you will only become more comfortable with negotiating your salary through practice. You have to put yourself in that uncomfortable situation to get better and feel more confident in asking. As hardworking women, we owe it to ourselves to negotiate our pay!

Still have questions about salary negotiation? Leave a comment below, and I will respond as soon as possible!