Negotiating Your Way To Sucess
Even in an era when it’s now sort-of-acceptable to talk about sex, the subject of money is still a big taboo. The confidence to ask for a pay rise, or to negotiate your salary and benefits is hard, particularly in your first job, but today we’ll look at four things to consider when negotiating at work:
Firstly, you need to know what your AIM is. As Sir Frances Bacon once said, knowledge is power, so do your homework and prepare well. Lots of different companies produce salary bandings and pay gradings so make sure you look at those, and that you know where you are within your own company. Talk to other people within your industry, and if you have a mentor or friend with experience, and you’re feeling brave, ask them what they think you could be earning.
Practice in the mirror, practice with your partner or even the dog, it doesn’t matter but rehearse WHAT you are going to say and HOW you are going to say it. What’s your opening line? The more comfortable you are with your reasoning and your arguments, the more likely you are to have a successful outcome to the negotiation. Bear in mind that things may not go well - this WILL happen to you, and it’s normal, so practice the scenario in which you’re at a dead end, and need to move the conversation on.
Next comes positivity. You may want to keep your cards close to your chest on figures, but what you say, and the tone in which you say it can go a long way to creating a good atmosphere at the opening of meeting. Remember to smile: it will make people more receptive to what you’re saying.
Another positive move can be making the first offer in a negotiation. Again, this goes against the accepted wisdom never to move first, but research has shown that in an initial salary negotiation, job seekers who make the first offer reach a final salary agreement that is, on average 30% higher than those that wait. You may not want to look too demanding or assertive, or any of the other negative traits that women have to be so careful to avoid in the workplace for fear of being branded “difficult”, but take the initiative if you can. If this is a salary negotiation and the company can’t cope with a woman who knows what she wants, then that is probably not going to be a healthy and rewarding workplace for you in the longer term.
The real take-home message is to aim high. It is well proven that men ask for more money than women, and get more too, so the best place to start is by asking for an amount that is higher than your ideal pay. The more you ask for, the more likely it is that your offer will be rejected the first time, but it’s much easier to come down from a high goal than to climb your way up from way down low.
You will make mistakes, and that is OK. Some of those can be mitigated by preparation and practice, but the reality is that you might not succeed in getting what you want the first time around. Be persistent. If you think you deserve a pay rise, and you’ve got strong, tangible reasons to back your case, ask again in 6 months.
Requesting regular reviews to assess your progress helps to emphasise the good work that you’re doing, and to showcase your value both to your boss and to the company as a whole. Keep researching market rates to know where you stand.
Remember, you have every right to be there, and every right to ask for what you want. The worst anyone can say in a negotiation is ‘No’, so be brave, and good luck!