Salary negotiations can be intimidating—even downright nerve-wracking. Worse, men seem to do it more often than women, giving them an edge in the workforce. According to salary.com, 46% of men always negotiate salary following a job offer, compared to just 30% of women. And while 39% of men are apprehensive about negotiating, that number jumps to 55% for women.
What many women fail to understand is that most salaries can and should be negotiated. That same study showed that 84% of employers expect prospective employees to negotiate their salaries, and even set aside money in the event they need to fatten an offer. Sadly though, many female workers fear being branded as money-grabbers and end up taking the first offer handed to them, leaving real money—and future earning potential—on the table.
Knowing that your future employer expects you to negotiate your salary, follow these five tips to help stack the cards in your favor:
- Do Your Homework
Rather than let the company determine what’s fair, come up with a salary figure that would compensate you for what you’re actually worth. Find out how much other employers in your geographical area are paying for a comparable job. Research salaries—both men’s and women’s—and use the men’s as your baseline.
- Don’t Speak First
Avoid talking about your salary requirements during the interview process, or divulging what you made at your last job. That information can be used against you. Rather, let the employer be the first one to share a salary range with you.
- Don’t Chicken Out
One of the first steps toward making what you’re worth is to decide to negotiate in the first place. Women often worry that asking for a better package will hurt or anger their future employer. On the contrary, your ability to advocate on your own behalf speaks volumes about your character and your confidence—attributes many companies seek in their future employees. So go for it, but wait until you have an actual offer in hand.
- Make a Counter Offer
If the offer falls short of what you believe to be fair compensation, you are in a position to make a reasonable counter offer. Confidently let your future employer know what you’re worth, citing your research. Explain how the company will benefit from the investment it is making in you.
- Don’t Forget Perks
Sometimes company benefits can make up for a shortfall in salary. Negotiate for a flexible work schedule, an extra week of vacation, or more stock options. With a little flexibility, you and your future employer should be able to compromise on a fair overall compensation package that meets both of your needs.