By Georgene Huang
It’s not uncommon. You come across the fact that a coworker is making more money than you and feel confused, angry, or both. Perhaps you were just offered your dream job but the salary or vacation time isn’t quite where you want it to be. How do you handle the situation?
While companies and institutions should ideally be doing their part by conducting compensation audits and paying you your worth, it doesn’t always happen. If we want to close the wage gap faster (the World Economic Forum estimates it will be 217 years before this happens!), women need to ask for what they want.
On average women make about $0.80 for every $1 that a man earns – keep in mind, this statistic looks even worse for women of color. Negotiating is one thing that you have the power to do to help close this gap and yet studies show that women tend to negotiate less frequently than men do. They’re also perceived more negatively when they do negotiate. But in my experience, negotiation is an essential step in realizing your professional value and getting what you want.
Of course, mustering the courage to negotiate — and knowing what exactly to say — isn’t always easy. But these four easy steps will help you nail your next negotiation.
1.Identify what you want.
Determining what you want is necessary to understanding how you will ask for it. Are you looking for a raise, more vacation time or a better signing bonus? Maybe you feel you’re overdue for a promotion and now is your chance to talk to your boss about it. It’s important to recognize your value and the assets you bring to your company, so that you can determine exactly what you want to accomplish from your prospective negotiation.
- Find your leverage
After figuring out what you want, you should consider what leverage you have and what you’re willing to compromise on in order to achieve your main goal—whether it’s increasing your salary or getting more time off! Determining your BATNA, or “Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement” will be crucial to your negotiations. Your BATNA essentially answers “What do I have to lose?”
Once you’ve determined what the best alternative outcome could be, it’s also important to know what you’re willing (or not willing) to compromise on. For example, if you’re asking for more vacation time, maybe you’re willing to work nine-hour days instead of the standard 8. Knowing both your BATNA and trade-offs before entering any negotiation will prevent you from making impulse decisions that may not benefit you during the discussion.
Additionally, anchoring is another tool that you can use when it comes to negotiation. By making an initial offer when asking for a raise, you can lock your manager into a train of thought by “anchoring” him or her to an initial figure. I do advise using this carefully, though, especially when negotiating a salary for a new job offer. You don’t want to under-ask or set expectations too high, but that’s where research comes in.
Don’t rush into the negotiation without knowing the details. From creating a business case for yourself to getting stats about current market salaries, you want to be armed with information. Using websites like Fairygodboss to explore salaries and benefits can help you determine what people in similar roles and industries are being paid. This can help inform if your initial offer or current salary is on par with other professionals in the field.
It can also be beneficial to get the inside scoop from a recruiter who works in that space. Ask friends or others in your network with a similar role about their salaries and benefits. Talking about salaries with peers and friends is one way we can help close that gap and end the taboo around discussing compensation!
From there, you can start building the business case for yourself. Outline why you deserve what you’re asking for and create a script around that. Confidence is key in any negotiation and doing your research, as well as practicing your talking points, will make you more self-assured when the time comes to ask for what you want.
- Go for it!
It’s true that practice makes perfect. Once you have your business case ready and script prepared, begin to practice your talking points. If you feel confident about your delivery, it’s time to schedule a meeting. Timing is critical, so make sure that you schedule a meeting with your boss when you’ll both be able to focus on the conversation at hand.
With these four easy steps, you can conquer any negotiation in a prepared and professional way. Bonus: Help other women with their research by leaving a salary tip today, and we’ll send you a Fairygodboss tote bag (email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line SDS and your mailing address)!
Georgene Huang is obsessed with improving the workplace for women. She’s the CEO and Co-founder of Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women to discover the hard-to-find intel on work-life balance, salary, maternity leave policies, and how companies treat women. Previously she ran the enterprise business at Dow Jones and was a Managing Director at Bloomberg Ventures. She is a graduate of Cornell and Stanford Universities.