Negotiate your salary as a Woman!


We’re fascinated by the words – but where we meet is in the silence behind them.
Ram Dass

Negotiate as a woman, right?

Give me more money! Wait, I am a woman, we are not supposed to be demanding! Butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I forgot myself. Let me rephrase that … could I, pretty please, perhaps, maybe, get a little higher salary oh mighty superior boss?

No, not right now? Oh, I see … my efforts and extra duties are not enough to be counted, right? Like, to be your deputy in charge, that is just … well lets call it … good for me! Yes, that is right, it is so very developing for me. Sacré bleu, how I will evolve from this position! I should rather be grateful for being given such an opportunity, right? How silly of me to request an increase in wage because of increased responsibility. I should rather just smile and humbly accept this opportunity. It will give me such a boost in my personal development.

Right! A woman is not supposed to be demanding. Especially when it comes to negotiating your salary, may it be a new position or increased duties in your current position. We are told to negotiate our salaries as a woman, not a man! We should accept the inequalities in gender. Then if we are to be so forward to even attempt to negotiate our salary, we are told to do it in a more soft and gentle way. You see, not doing this the female way, you might be seen as the devil personified, a she-devil even. Not good, right?

So, what are women to do then, should we not want to be seen as evil she-devils? Just happily accept, be grateful if anytime the next ten years you might just get a little Christmas gift as bonus? Moving to a different position, perhaps a new company, hell’s bells, cookies and pants, just be happy that they are even considering to employ you?

No, of course not, the statement about negotiating as a woman in a more softer way is purely ridiculous and not acceptable. We should not even think that we are requesting to much. More over, absolutely not be uncomfortable requesting a salary increase, no matter the circumstances and certainly not be told do it differently or softer, because we are women.

Recent experiences in salary negotiation

As a matter of fact, I am currently going through salary negotiating with not one, but two different companies for a possible change of position. With one of these companies, I am very close to finalize the deal. My current work position is satisfying, I have a good job that I like and receives a reasonable salary. Because of this, I can calmly choose to either accept or decline the new companies offer. If I will have the luxury of choosing between one or two position is for the moment unknown, much depends on what salary range the second employer will offer, although I suspect it may be similar to the level of the first.

What is your current salary?

After three successful interviews with different persons in key positions I landed the final interview. After, the unavoidable salary request discussion came up. They asked what my current salary was, hoping I would reveal it. Making their salary negotiations a piece of cake. This is where it is good to have done your homework. Be prepared to give a figure about what salary range you consider fair, which you should base not only on your current position but also on similar position in other companies. You should also be prepared for that they actually might ask you this quite forward question, as well as how you will answer to it.

As a result of my preparation, when I got the question as stated above, I chose to avoid an direct reply. Mainly since I feel this is none of their business and irrelevant for the position I apply for. Instead I replied something like I expect to be offered a salary in line with my experience and similar positions are paid. Before the interview I had prepared myself with some research for similar industries and positions. My salary request I gave to the company was based on this, but increased with about 10% in order to have margins for the upcoming negotiation I was expecting. Prior to the negotiation I had also calculated a minimum salary level I would be willing to accept, to know when I would walk away from the negotiation.

You are asking to much!

Accordingly to my expectations, the company quickly came back. They told me that first of all my salary expectations was way to high compared to what they could possibly offer and secondly that they did not believe that even their benefits would compensate for this difference. But, if I might reconsider, we could continue our discussion. As stated, their reply was expected and I requested to know what they considered to be a fair wage, considering my experience and education.

An offer was made, which was slightly under my current salary and to which I respectfully declined, stated it is way lower then my current salary. To keep the negotiation going, I offered to lower my request slightly and if they would not accept this, I firmly stated I would have to decline their job offer.

The sound of silence

Silence. Nothing. Convinced I lost the deal, I was doubting I did the right thing. Did I perhaps request to high salary, should I maybe been softer, less forward and demanding and so on. I was also angry, because I really wanted this position, but minding I’m quite happy in my current, I decided I refuse to loose money on this and that is it. I am worth what I requested and if they will not realize this, tough luck for them.

Shortly after this, I got a new job offer where I have just been through the first interviews and are to finalize the process with the last one tomorrow. This last time, the salary negotiation will most likely take place as well. Almost at the same time, just some days before this final interview, the first company came back once more. Now the offer is in my favor, they would investigate to see what they could do to meet my request to resolve this issue. Score!

Now, I am in a very good position. I can calmly evaluate both companies offers against each other and I also got a lot of good practice and experience of how to behave in salary negotiations.

Advices for a successful salary negotiation

The point to why I am telling this story is a desire to share my experiences, hoping that it might be of help for anyone else in a similar situation. I want to share my experience in how a potential salary negotiation could turn out and the key points I learned on the way.

For example, if you request a too low salary and don’t decide for yourself, a lowest level you can accept, you are lost. You need to be firm, not only to the company you are negotiate with but also to yourself. Had I accepted their initial low salary offer or not being forward and requested quite a bit higher salary then I would expect, I would of ended up with an offer even lower then my current salary. Unacceptable.

Key points

All in all, to resume. Below I have summarized what would like to share to you as for having a successful salary negotiation:

  1. Negotiate
    Of course, you might think. Duh! Why I state this seemingly obvious fact is because, unfortunately, many women don’t even negotiate their salary. They simply accept the suggestion without questioning or trying to negotiate. Don’t do it. Don’t just be grateful for the purposed offer and accept. Rather assume the offer is negotiable and start to negotiate. Remember, you do not need to accept what they offer you. The choice is yours.
  2. Prepare
    What do the company need, what competence and experience are they after? Investigate this and find companies that are similar to the one you are applying for and research their salary levels. Most important is being prepared, both in what is the general expected salary level but also what is the lowest you can accept.
  3. Give and take
    We all want to win, but a salary negotiation is not about winning as such, it is to find a compromise that both parties are satisfied with. Therefore, ask for more then you think is reasonable. Add at least 10% more then your current salary, if not more depending on what position you are applying for. Remember that you will most likely lower this amount in the upcoming negotiations.
  4. Believe in yourself
    They need you, your competence, experience, education, persona. They chose you from all the applicants for a reason and it wasn’t to have a little nice chat with a stranger. They think you are the one that possesses the qualities they need for this position. They believe in you, so why not believe in yourself as well?
  5. Break the rules
    The employer might come up with statements like, the salary is non-negotiable, that they offer a fixed package, that you are wrong in what you expect and so on. Don’t believe them, break the rules and negotiate anyhow. If not the salary, try things like vacation days or similar benefits.
  6. Silence
    Stay calm and let them do the work. Literally. If they ask you what your previous salary was, do not answer this question. Either you tell them it is confidential or that you expect a salary in level with your competence and experience. As you have given your salary request, may it be email, in a discussion, it really doesn’t matter, once you stated your request, keep calm and be silent. Do not apologies or start to hesitate. You need to learn to be comfortable with short moments of awkward silence, they are part of a negotiation situation.
  7. Be willing to walk away
    Yes, seriously. If they can not, will not, meet your request, walk away. Do not settle for good enough. You will regret over time if you accept a too less offer. You will also have that feeling of remorse if you accept something that you deep inside is too low and beyond your expectations. There will be more opportunities where they are willing to pay for your competence.
  8. Get support and objective advices
    Applying for new job positions and attending interviews with salary negotiations, is often experienced as stressful. Have someone to share your experience with, sometimes just to brief, sometimes to get an objective persons perspective on the situation. My husband which is both older and wiser then me, have a lot of experience of being the employer but also being on the other side, the employee. He is my confidant, my best friend and my mentor and has been of great help to get me through this process. He pushed me to believe in my strength and worth, dare request, to not to be afraid of being too pushy or demanding. An objective and supporting friend can be your greatest source to success.

Go get them!

That’s all for this time girls! Remember, you are worth it, no matter what they say! Now go and land that dream position including a high salary! Also, what is your experience of salary negotiations? Please add them below.

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