2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on negotiating a salary, but you may also want to check out our most recent advice on salary negotiation.
Ladies, have you ever negotiated your salary or other benefits? Share your tales from the negotiating table with us — we want to hear your wins! This probably won’t be terribly relevant for all of the summer associates out there about to accept job offers, as those are usually lockstep/nonnegotiable offers — but perhaps one of you has a story about someone who actually did negotiate that offer.
Some thoughts out of the gate on negotiating a salary:
- Negotiate. There are all kinds of statistics about how women don’t ask for more money — even Sheryl Sandberg’s inclination was to take the first offer for her Facebook position!
- If you’re starting at a new company, negotiate hard. Companies will pay a lot more for a new employee than an existing one. (This is one of the reasons people advise you to jump ship to climb the ladder!)
- Overcome your fear of negotiating. I’ve seen all sorts of tricks for how to get over your fear of negotiating, such as focusing on other people who will be affected by your salary (such as your kids, your ailing mother, or so forth), or focusing on your value to the company.
- Let them name the number first. There are entire theories (such as the Noel Smith-Wenkle Salary Negotiation Method) about how to sidestep the question so the employer is the one who has to give you a number first.
- Assess the company benefits you’ll be getting as part of the negotiation package — and look for differences between your current job’s benefits package and the job offer on the table. Look at the flex spending opportunities, 401K (including the match, any vesting time, or waiting time before you qualify to invest in it), and dependent care package (even if you don’t yet have kids!). If the new company can’t match it, see if you can put a monetary amount on it — even something like a free monthly subway card will save you more than a thousand dollars a year.
- If possible, negotiate in person or over the phone — avoid email. There was a lot of conversation a year or so ago about a female academic who had a job offer rescinded when she tried to negotiate; one of the missteps that people pointed at was her fairly cold email requesting everything.
- We’ve rounded up a bunch of further reading below, but this Harvard Business Review article about how to use “relational accounts” when you start negotiating is really helpful. From the article:
First, you want to explain to your negotiating counterpart why — in their eyes — it’s legitimate for you to be negotiating (i.e., appropriate or justified under the circumstances). Sheryl says that in her negotiations with Facebook, she told them, “Of course you realize that you’re hiring me to run your deal team so you want me to be a good negotiator.” Sandberg wanted Facebook to see her negotiating as legitimate because, if she didn’t negotiate, they should be worried about whether they’d made the right hire.
Second, you want to signal to your negotiating counterpart that you care about organizational relationships. After pointing out that they should want her to be a good negotiator, Sheryl recounts saying, “This is the only time you and I will ever be on opposite sides of the table.” In other words, “I am clear that we’re on the same team here.”
Ladies, what are your top tips for negotiating? Those of you who’ve hired women who’ve negotiated, what was your takeaway?
- How to Negotiate Salary: 37 Tips You Need to Know [The Muse]
- More Reasons Women Need to Negotiate Their Salaries [Harvard Business Review]
- Stop Saying Women Are Bad at Negotiating Salaries [Bloomberg Businessweek]
- How to Negotiate the Salary and Benefits You Deserve [Fast Company]
- The best way to eliminate the gender pay gap? Ban salary negotiations. [Washington Post]
- How to Negotiate Even if You Really, Really Hate It [Fast Company]