Salary Negotiation for Women Part 2

Salary Negotiation for Women Part 2Salary Negotiation Skills for Women: Close the Pay Gap! Part 2

Last week, I wrote about the importance of salary negotiation skills for women in my article, Salary Negotiation for Women. In it, I drew from information presented in a webinar by Professor Deborah Ellis that emphasized how salary negotiation skills can help close the gender pay gap.

I promised last week to share more about specific salary negotiation skills. Following are some of the issues you might run into and how salary negotiation skills can help you address them.

What if you’re asked about your prior salary or salary expectations at any point in your job search?

Some employers try to get you to state a number before they do, which is in no way a good thing for you. A low number sets you up to be underpaid by some organizations, and a high number sets you up to be eliminated from consideration. Knowing how to answer the salary expectation question is hugely important for women so that they get paid fairly, not based on a previously too-low salary.

Here’s how Professor Ellis recommends responding if you’re asked about your salary expectations or previous salary:

  • If you’re in California, Massachusetts, Delaware, or Oregon, or in the cities of New York City and Philadelphia, you can explain that there are laws stating you are not required to answer it. These laws are a great step toward ending pay discrimination.
  • For instance, say, “I’m sure that if you decide I’m the best candidate for the job, we can agree on an appropriate salary for the position.” Or ask them “What is the range that you’re thinking of for the position?”
  • Show them you’ve done your research. Say, “I’ve done some research and understand that the range for this position is $X to $Y. I trust you will offer a fair salary based on industry standards.”
  • If you must state a number, state a range. Or ask for a number at the top of the range you’ve researched, and explain you’re hoping for that salary but are willing to negotiate.

Once you get an offer, here are Professor Ellis’s tips on how to negotiate effectively:

  • Do not initiate a salary negotiation conversation before you get a job offer. Do not ask in your initial phone interview about salary, benefits, or working from home. Wait until you’ve been offered a position before you bring up any of these issues. Otherwise you will be seen as immature at best, and greedy at worst. You won’t get a second interview.
  • Be prepared. Before you step into a negotiation, calculate your target, your ask, and your bottom line. Gather as many objective facts as possible, including the salaries of others. There are two main ways to do your research:
    • Surf the web. Use,, and industry-specific websites.
    • Ask your networks (including LinkedIn!). If you’re a woman, ask your colleagues what a man would ask to be paid for this job. If you want to work from home, find out ahead of time whether other people in similar positions have worked from home.
  • Ask for up to 20% over your target. And don’t accept anything below your bottom line.
  • Negotiate the total package just salary–keep salary and benefits, title, scope of responsibility, travel, flexibility, and resources to accomplish your job on the table. Asking for more than one thing allows you to trade off. Keep in mind that some benefits might be non-negotiable, and do not push on those.
    • Note: If you’re asking for multiple things, let the employer know at the beginning of the conversation—and ask them in what order they would like to address those things.
  • Understand and leverage the concept of anchoring. Here’s how anchoring works: The first number anyone says is the number that everyone will remember. So don’t say a low number first or you’ll be stuck with a low number! Start with a high number and then anything else will sound smaller.
  • If you have another offer, that’s a great benchmark and bargaining point. Always be conversational and pleasant while you’re advising a potential employer of other offers!
  • Identify employer’s interests. For more good advice on this strategy, read Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton.
  • Ask for time to consider an offer if you need it. If a company wants you, they’ll be willing to wait—whether that’s overnight or even a week or two, depending on the situation.
  • Practice with peers or a professional interview coach—and then go negotiate!

How can I learn more about salary negotiation and salary negotiation for women?

Here are some great resources suggested by Professor Ellis:

If you are a woman (or a man) with an upcoming interview, try using some of these salary negotiation skills, strategies and tactics. I’d love to hear the results!

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