A Million Dollar Conversation for Success

Often it is said that women are afraid to negotiate for pay and raises because they view negotiation as confrontation.  Successful negotiators know that when it comes to employment matters, negotiations are more of a conversation than a confrontation.

In my employment law practice, we represent individual executives in the negotiation of new job offers as well as severance offers.  Previously, I worked as an in-house legal counsel, so I have experience on both sides of the negotiating table.  Based on this experience, I can tell you that most employers have some room to work with you when it comes to salary and other terms of employment – so negotiating can pay off.

A 2013 study by the American Association of University Women affirms that developing negotiation skills can help workers to be paid fairly.   The study points out that negotiation savvy is especially tricky for women because some behaviors, like self-promotion, that work for men aren’t perceived favorably when used by women.   

Three critical steps I recommend to be successful in salary negotiations are to:

  1. Research industry and company norms so you know what you’re bringing to the table, and what you should be asking for;
  2. Be strategic about your “ask” and do it in a positive way, showing the hiring manger why giving you that for which you are asking will create value for the company; and
  3. Have a “Next Best Thing” in mind if you don’t get exactly what you want, and a gracefully exit plan in the event you reach impasse.

Whereas 57% of men will negotiate a job offer, only 7% of women will do so.  Over a lifetime of earnings, negotiating even a small increase of 1% can lead to an extra $1million in earnings.  Here’s how:  In his book The Salary Tutor, Jim Hopkinson figured that if you started out at age twenty-one with an annual income of $20,000, received 5% raises annually, and retired at age sixty-five, you would accrue lifetime earnings of $3 million. But, even if you negotiated just a “teeny-tiny bit,” and received 6% raises instead of 5% raises, Hopkinson shows that your lifetime earnings would jump to $4 million — an additional $1 million in salary over your lifetime. There's the missing million.

Take meaningful steps to empower yourself to be able to have a skillful negotiation conversation about your next job offer.  In How to Negotiate a Killer Job Offer, I describe in detail the proactive negotiation process I utilize in my work, so you can try to apply it and increase your chances of obtaining the outcomes you desire in your next job offer.  And for the other 43% of men who aren’t negotiating, you deserve to speak up for what you’re worth, too.