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Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate Your Salary

Review by Bill Westcott

In an economy that makes many professional women happy to even have a job it can come as a surprise that experts recommend that women not be afraid to negotiate with their bosses for increased pay. The pay gap between men and women for the same work is widely known, but until recently negotiating has not been seen as a way to reduce that difference. Research has shown that only 7% of women negotiate their salaries while 57% of men do. Of those who negotiate successfully, the average pay increase was 7%.

Many women report that they feel they are risking their reputations to negotiate and that the additional money is not worth the risk, but what they fail to realize is that the 7% difference compounds over time and translates to an average of 8 additional years in the workplace to reach equality with the individual who did negotiate years earlier.

One of the principal reasons for salary differences in the workplace is not that women are less talented or capable, it is they tend to have lower expectations and when they do negotiate they don’t do well because they fail to prepare thoroughly to negotiate in their own behalf. Ironically, women negotiating on behalf of others do better than men, so what changes need occur to allow women to do better for themselves?

The first step in doing better, is obvious: you have to ask! Having said that, there are important steps to take before you put yourself on the line. Take stock of your situation and before you take the leap, ask yourself what tools and abilities you have at your disposal which can affect the outcome. In your planning, ask yourself what is important to your employer and structure your request in a way that stresses communal benefits not just the benefit to you. Finally, when you package your proposal, know your options, but be careful to not pit your current employer against another potential job you are not sure you can get.

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