You’ve got a job offer. Great! Huge congratulations – you’ve already done great work and you should be proud of yourself. But, before you say yes, stop and think for a minute. Are you getting the best that you could from this situation, or are you going to look back with ‘what ifs‘ and ‘if onlys‘?
According to several studies, including one from Nottingham University which looked at salaries in 56 different sectors, women start out in their professional lives being paid less – and then spend the rest of their careers playing catch up. The Nottingham university study found that 77% of women started on a lower salary than their male counterparts. According to their study:
Girls are socialised into having lower confidence and so, lower expectations of their capabilities – as such, they are likely to settle for lower salaries when offered their first job – less likely to negotiate and ‘bargain up’ the offer.
It’s really scary, whether it’s the first time you’ve asked for more, or the tenth time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. We have to start doing this. Nothing will chamge until we do, and things have to change.
The good news is recruiters and hiring managers expect you to negotiate your salary – it doesn’t make you seem greedy or demanding, it makes you seem like you have a business head on your shoulders. If you’re in a role where negotiating things is going to be part of your remit, before you even join is the time to get started. Even if it’s your first job, the chances are your male counterparts are already doing this, so you don’t need to worry, you’re in good company.
But, what should you do?
1. Make sure you’ve done your research
Wether you’re negotiating a promotion, a new job, or your gym membership, knowledge is powerful. If you go in blind you’re never going to know if you’ve just had a monumental win, or been totally shafted. Look at the market, check out benchmarking, make sure you’ve spoken to other people in similar roles, and if possible – have a back up in your pocket. In every relationship, you’re never more powerful, or more desirable, than when you have other options
2. Imagine you’re speaking on behalf of a friend
A lot of women are firece protectors of the people they love, they defend and look after everyone else and put their own needs last. If that’s you, imagine you’re advocating for someone else- picture youself asking for a fair deal on behalf of your sister, or your super talented friend. Would you sell them short, or let them settle for less than they deserved? Would you tell them ‘oh well, maybe you’re just not worth it?‘ No, you wouldn’t, you’d tell them not to settle for anything less than the best so don’t do it to yourself either.
3. Be flexible
It’s important to listen. There are a lot of reasons why a comapny might not be able to give you exactly what you want right away. Listen to thwt they say – maybe you can agree timescales that work for both of you for when things are ahiveable. Or, it might be that you find that a higher salary isn’t possible at the moment, but they have other benefits to offer like additional holiday days or flexible working. Listen to what they have to offer, think about what’s valuable to you, and make an informed choice.
4. Be prepared to walk away
Not every offer in every company is going to be right for you, and that’s fine. Go into the discussion knowing what’s essential to you, and what you’re willing to sacrifice – what’s a deal breaker and what’s just nice to have. If you don’t reach a point where both you and your prospective employer feel like you’ve got a good deal, it’s not a relationship that’s built to last. There are other options out there, and other opportunities for work relationships that will make you feel valued and respected.