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Negotiate Like A Man


I was recently engaged in a search in which very few people in the US are qualified: under 15, to be exact. Interesting enough, the final candidate pool consisted of 2 qualified individuals – a male stepping into the role and a female with a few more years of experience than the male co-candidate. Several rounds of negotiation ensued with both candidates and the end result didn’t surprise me: The male candidate ended up negotiating his compensation to a level more senior than the more experienced female. The male got the job.

Gender pay-gap is a hot topic. Females are programmed early on with sugar, spice, and everything nice; couple this with both conscious and unconscious gender biases in productivity and performance and the gap is continually compounded over the lifetime of a career. The Coalition of Labor Union Women estimates that a female corporate, college educated worker makes hundreds of thousands less than her male counterparts – $713,000.

So listen up, because it could make a big dent in that retirement account.

  1. Most employers anticipate some negotiation.

All negotiation starts with fully listening, from the initial phone call to offer stage. While in some corporations they will disclose up front the limitations on the position, some do not especially if the role is newly created. Companies expect some amount of candidate collaboration on compensation, so begin listening to those cues early on to better formulate your compensation.

  1. Do your research; Ask a man and everyone else you know in a similar role about their compensation.

If you rely on your network, you will find the market rate for your role. I would rely less on the online calculators and do your own research if time affords you the opportunity to do so. Different industries and geographies tend to have different parameters on pay scale so keep that in mind as well.

  1. You are not only negotiating for you; you are negotiating for the absence of your time in other areas.

You are not asking only for you. You are also asking for your absence in other arenas that need your skills and/or time as well. Balance your negotiation with how else you could be spending your time.

  1. Keep it positive and focus on your advantages in the role.

Eliminate the possibility of negativity in negotiation by highlighting the overall value of your work, perspective and impact. I once had a single mom tell me “I won’t take anything less than 160K and I am worth every single penny”. Guess what, she was right, and then some.

  1. It’s okay to turn an offer down.

It’s okay to turn down an offer if you are seeing what you want. Keep in mind that some employers might be willing to work with you in other areas outside of base + bonus so be sure to ask for a better match, retirement plan, vacation prior to turning anything down. You may be surprised that most employers are willing to meet you in the middle.

I’ll leave this post with a thought: most women are naturally wired to be great negotiators. We fail to execute on this within salary negotiations because you  know – sugar, spice, everything nice. There is room in every negotiation for snails and puppy dog tails, so don’t be too sweet to ask.

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