Monday, October 1, 2018

Negotiate Your Salary—Like a Girl Scout!

If you want something, you need to ask for it.
Sounds simple, but when it comes to salary discussions, why can it feel so tough to ask for more?

One Glassdoor study found that women are more likely to accept a salary without negotiating than their male counterparts—68 percent of women to 52 percent of men. If you’d rather have a tooth pulled than negotiate your salary, you’re not alone. For many women, salary negotiations can be anxiety inducing for several reasons. For one, we might’ve been told from an early age that it’s not polite to talk about money—or we might fear coming across as pushy or greedy to a hiring manager, even though negotiating is seen as a valuable leadership skill.

However, not advocating for what we’re worth can be far more damaging. Most employees receive an annual raise in the form of a percentage increase, and while a standard 3 percent yearly raise doesn’t sound like much now, you’ll really feel those losses over the long term. According to the Center for American Progress, women stand to lose $430,480 over a 40-year career, based on today’s wage gap; other experts estimate a lifetime earnings loss between $1 million and $1.5 million. These losses are even greater for women of color. And because your salary is tied to your retirement contributions, the loss of compounding power can even impact your economic security in retirement.

Bottom line: the stakes are too high for women not to negotiate.

The good news? Girl Scouts grow into strong job applicants: they have the communication skills, teamwork experience, and decision-making abilities that help them stand out in a sea of job searchers, and these proficiencies have become increasingly desirable in recent years. As a strong applicant with marketable skills, you’re in a good position to negotiate.

Knowing how to negotiate is so important, it’s part of the Girl Scout Ambassador Leadership Journey, BLISS: Live It! Give It! But even if you didn’t earn a badge in negotiation, you likely learned some useful negotiating techniques through your Girl Scout experience. Tap into these life lessons to help you nab the competitive salary you deserve.

Be prepared
Being ready for whatever comes our way is central to the Girl Scout experience. Just as you’d toss a first-aid kit and extra water into your daypack before starting a hike, prepare for salary negotiations by doing your research. Use a site like Glassdoor or Payscale to investigate the average salary for similar roles in your industry and geographic location, and ask friends in your industry about salary ranges at their companies.

But don't stop there: dig a little deeper by looking at specific skills associated with the higher end of salaries in your role. If you have those skills, be sure to outline them to your employer and connect them to the salary range you seek. And look for company news that might impact the success of your negotiation; for instance, if company profits have increased in recent years, consider (politely!) mentioning this information if you’re told there’s no budget for a salary increase.

Practice makes perfect builds confidence

Chances are, you didn’t hit a bullseye the first time you tried archery or score a perfect 300 in your first bowling game. As we learned through Girl Scouting, confidence comes with practice, which is why you need to practice your negotiation tactics long before your final round of interviews or your year-end review.

Grab a trusted friend—or someone on your personal executive team—and run through both positive and challenging negotiation scenarios with them. Try honing your “I’m worth it” pitch, highlighting your most valuable attributes; you’ll also want to practice gracefully steering the conversation back to your worth if the hiring manager starts discussing the economy or company problems. You don't want to sound scripted, but the more you practice the more convincing you’ll be.

Be a good listener…and let silence work in your favor
So you’ve prepped for salary negotiations by figuring out the best way to advocate for what you’re worth—now don’t forget to listen! Active listening is a powerful negotiation tool that everyone can use. Does the hiring manager insist that the role is already budgeted for? Acknowledge their concern and ask where they can be flexible: can they offer perks like bonuses or extra vacation days? Similarly, pay attention to the hiring manager’s body language to determine what’s real and what’s for show: a sigh or a wince is a common technique you shouldn’t fall for.

Another powerful negotiating technique is silence—it’s awkward, and whether we like it or not, we often rush to fill those silences. Use silence to your advantage: if the hiring manager nixes the figure you give them, pause before asking for a number you can both agree on. You might be surprised to hear them offer another salary figure during that pause, or at the very least a clarifying statement you can use in any follow-up negotiations.

Still feeling anxious about negotiating with your employer? Keep in mind that many hiring managers will expect you to present some kind of counter offer, and larger companies keep wiggle room in their budget for these cases. According to Payscale, 75 percent of people who ask for a raise receive some kind of pay increase. The odds are in your favor, so conquering your fear of the “big ask” can be well worth your while!