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How women can negotiate for the salaries they deserve!

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By Kate McClorey

Although the art of negotiation is undoubtedly an essential skill to cultivate and develop when in pursuit of a fulfilling career, it is also one that many candidates are often too timid to put into practice and master. A recent study by Glassdoor found that 59 percent of employees accepted the first salary they were offered, and did not negotiate at all!

When we take a closer look at the statistics, we find that women were less likely to negotiate a salary rate reflective of their qualifications and experience. Researchers found that 68 percent of women accepted the salary they were offered and did not negotiate - a 16-percentage point difference when compared to men (52 percent).

Having worked in the recruitment business for many years, I have certainly needed to polish my negotiation skills on behalf of both clients and candidates. Although it may be impossible to seal every deal, my experience has taught me that negotiation is a skill that can literally make or break one’s career in recruitment - and indeed in any industry!

For this reason, I share my insights on what you can do to negotiate the base salary you deserve, as well as increases further down the line in your employment.

But first, why aren't more women negotiating?

It is widely believed the gender pay gap is largely due to a negotiation skills gap – meaning that one of the reasons that women are paid less than men is because they do not know how to ask for more. While there is some truth in this commonly held belief, it is hardly the whole story. For example, a joint study from Cass Business School, the University of Warwick and the University of Wisconsin has found that women ask for salary increase as often as men, but men are 25 percent more likely to receive them.

According to figures from the Fawcett Society, the gender gap currently shows that on average, men are earning nearly 14 percent more than women. While the pervasive theory behind these statistics suggest that women are less likely to ask for pay rises, Sara Laschever, co-author of Women Don't Ask, women who do ask for salary increases can be perceived as too aggressive, whereas men asking come across as assertive and in control.

What you can do to get the salary you deserve

When negotiating salary, it’s important to think of the big picture, and how everything adds up over time. If experience has taught me anything, it’s that research, preparation and adopting a collaborative negotiation approach will ultimately increase your chances of getting the salary you deserve. Here are my top 3 tips below:

1. Do your research and be prepared

Before entering a negotiation, it’s not only important to do your homework, but also to think of all the ways you might be coerced into thinking that you are asking for an unreasonable base salary or increase. Doing so will enable you to then enter the negotiation armed with hard data about market rate salaries, which will be difficult to dispute.

You might also be told that the salary increase you are requesting is for more experienced workers. In this case, you can respond with facts about your performance – either in previous roles and projects within different companies or your current employer. You could point out that pay should reflect more than just time spent on the job, but education and results as well - highlighting quantifiable achievements that have resulted in cost reductions or revenue increases.

Whatever the case may be, your existing or potential employer may respond with silence, as he or she processes what you are saying. When you find yourself in this scenario, you should make a conscious effort to project confidence, which means being comfortable with potentially awkward bouts of silence that will likely emerge in the conversation.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. Silence and confidence are your strengths

When we think of masters of negotiation, we often tend to envision a loud, assertive and charismatic individual bulldozing their way through a meeting until their demands are met. But it turns out that during a negotiation, silence can be an effective tool to get what you want and deserve. Many people who involve themselves in negotiations grow uncomfortable with pauses of silence, and will start talking just to break the silence. This can often lead to them revealing too much or backtracking from their initial position.

In learning to be comfortable with occasional periods of awkward silence, you’ll ultimately become a force to be reckoned with when entering any business negotiation. You need to articulate your proposal, sit quietly (for however long it takes) and give the other person a chance to respond. For example, if a prospective employer brings to the table a compensation package that is lower than you expected, respond enthusiastically about the job, but make it clear that the financial offer is not reflective of the market value or your skills and experience. You can do this by asking for time to review the entire package and identify all the areas that are worth negotiating over. Remember that silence can be your golden ticket to achieving your salary, so don’t back off from your stance - even if there is a somewhat uncomfortable period of silence initially.

3. Take a collaborative and representative approach

Research shows that women get better results when they negotiate collaboratively. That means that it may be worthwhile for you to negotiate an increase whilst highlighting how your performance will add value to the business. Essentially, you need to link your responsibilities with a communal concern.

In short, you should always remember to play to your strengths, and do your best to keep the conversation focused on finding the optimal solution for all parties involved. Although negotiations which result in both sides getting exactly what they want are certainly not a regular occurrence, through a reasonable and thoughtful discussion you can move closer to achieving that objective!

About the Author

Kate McClorey is Managing Director for Search IT, Digital & Change. With over 15 years of specialist technology recruitment experience, she possesses a proven track record in managing, directing, building and developing high performing IT recruitment businesses. Her thorough knowledge of Britain’s Technology sector and the rapid pace of change has equipped her with effective insight into how best to meet the demand of employers.

Would you like an impartial view of your worth as you seek your next job in technology?

Search IT, Digital & Change is a champion for gender diversity and equality! If you would like to explore the opportunities available within this vibrant sector - be it data science, development, UX/UI or project/programme management for example, we are recruiting for what could potentially be your next opportunity! All are welcome to apply, provided that you have the necessary skills and expertise for the role of your choice! For more information, you can contact Kate McClorey on [email protected] Alternatively, you can see our comprehensive list of vacancies by clicking the button below...