Tips for Acing a Salary Negotiation Conversation

By Mason Braasch

Whether you’re deciding what to eat with your partner or haggling over bedtime with your kids, negotiation plays an important role in everyday life. However, when it comes to negotiating salaries, many women shy away. In fact, a recent survey from Glassdoor revealed that women are 19% less likely to ask for a raise than men.

Negotiating your salary or asking for a raise may feel like a daunting task, but local experts offer advice on how you can walk away from the conversation feeling satisfied.

START THE CONVERSATION

Having the courage to initiate a negotiation can be one of the biggest roadblocks to achieving a raise in salary. Valerie Zaric, a futurist, career strategist and the host of The Family Money Podcast, says that the best way to start a negotiation is to stop overthinking it.

“I think that so many people overthink it … all you really have to say is, ‘is this salary flexible?’ That’s step one,” Zaric says. “Even if you’re shaking, and you’re nervous and scared, if you just ask that question, you’ve done better than a lot of people.”

In any negotiation, the worst thing that you can hear is no, and being prepared to hear it can subdue pre-negotiation jitters.

“Dare yourself to believe that you can, and be able to laugh about it if you don’t get it,” says Araceli Esparza, CEO and director of Midwest Mujeres, a business mentoring program for women.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

The best tool for a successful negotiation is evidence that you are deserving of what you are asking for. Heidi Duss, founder and chief consultant of Culturescape Consulting, says that entering the conversation ready to showcase what you bring to the company is key to a successful negotiation.

“The value that you bring to the organization should be laid out right in front of them,” she says. “If there’s data around the return on investment, obviously that is all positive and valuable information that’s going to prove your case.”

Duss suggests collecting this data over time in order to be prepared for future negotiations.

“My recommendation is that you’re constantly documenting the value that you bring to an organization, so that when you do have those conversations, you can say ‘this is why we’re meeting, and this is why I think that I deserve a raise,’” Duss says.

It can be hard to put your value into words. Zaric suggests looking beyond company profit and showcasing other values that you bring to the company as well.

“Go into the negotiation knowing your value,” she says. “You can expand on your unique background skills listed on your resume or explain how the work that you have done has saved your company time or money.”

Negotiations don’t happen overnight, and establishing yourself within the company, as well as nurturing relationships with your colleagues, are important in advocating for a better salary.

Esparza recommends planning for your “ask” at least three months ahead of time, so you can start gathering what you’d like to present, as well as continue to cultivate relationships with co-workers.

KNOW YOUR NUMBER

When entering a salary negotiation for a new job, it’s a reality that many women feel like they’re asking for too much, which often leaves them settling for a less-than-ideal salary number. As a general rule, Esparza suggests asking for 10-20% over your bottom dollar.

“If you don’t ask for your high dollar first, you’ll end up with a salary lower than your bottom dollar. It’s better to start off with a higher number,” she says.

Although conversations surrounding money can be awkward, Duss says that being direct about your needs and expectations is the best way to approach a negotiation.

“It’s important going into an interview that you set those expectations very clearly upfront,” Duss says. “A lot of people don’t want to talk about salary when they first interview. However, a lot of times recruiters will ask.”

GO IN WITH GRATITUDE

Zaric says that the biggest mistake women make in salary negotiations is coming in with the wrong mindset. Entering these tough conversations with a sense of gratitude can alleviate tension, and make the negotiation go smoother.

“Going into the negotiation knowing where the company is coming from is going to help you,” she says. “Talk about how you would like to work together as a team [to achieve the company mission and goals], and come to it with a sense of gratitude and not aggression.”

ASK FOR HELP

Practice makes perfect, and Esparza suggests practicing your negotiation pitch with anyone who will listen. Turning to your support system, such as your friends and family, to practice what you will say is a great way to build confidence going into the conversation.

“Practice and talk to the people around you,” Esparza says. “Get them excited about this new development that you are going to embark on.”

WOMEN WORKING IT

Interested in what Zaric, Duss and Esparza had to say? Check out their businesses, which focus on helping women in the workforce.

Valerie Zaric is the host of “The Family Money Podcast,” a podcast dedicated to financial independence for families. The podcast is available on Spotify and Apple music, and also airs on 103.5 The Sun, a Sun Prairie radio station. valeriezaric.com

Heidi Duss is the founder and chief consultant of Culturescape Consulting, where she works with organizations to establish creative strategies for gender equity, LGBTQ+ inclusion and intersectional allyship. culturescapeconsulting.com

Araceli Esparza is the CEO and director of Midwest Mujeres, a mentoring program that supports Latinas and non-Latina women in improving communication skills, building their businesses and professional development. araceliesparza.com/midwestmujeres

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