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Ask Upfront: Negotiate a Higher Salary and Earn More Money

by Ginger Dean on March 5, 2012

Negotiate a higher salary, and you’ll earn more money over both the short and long term. But according to Women Don’t Ask:

  • Women don’t like to negotiate. In surveys, 2.5 times more women than men said they feel “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating.

  • Women suffer when they don’t negotiate. In one study, eight times as many men as women graduating with master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries. The men who negotiated were able to increase their starting salaries by an average of 7.4 percent, or about $4,000. Another study calculated that women who consistently negotiate their salary increases earn at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don’t.

  • Women have lower expectations and lack knowledge of their worth. Women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs; men expect to earn 13 percent more than women during their first year of full-time work and 32 percent more at their career peaks.

But It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

If you’ve ever been on an interview and held your breath until the final offer only to be disappointed, please, read on.

One of the most frustrating aspects about the job hunt has to be hoping that they will make an offer commensurate with your worth. Not only your worth but taking into consideration what the company has actually budgeted for the position. But how do you know the amount actually budgeted for the position?

You Ask!

Men ask for what they want twice as often as women do and initiate negotiation four times more. Men, socialized in a “scrappier paradigm,” learn to pursue and energize their goals at work and home. The two key elements are control and recognizing opportunity.

– Amazon Review, “Women Don’t Ask

Here’s Your Opportunity! Take Control!

For example, let’s say your current salary is $55k and market salary for your position is actually $65k.

The company you plan to interview with budgeted the position between $65k-75k but negotiates between $58k-$60k with you. I don’t know about you but that would grind my nerves.

The point? Play the game and stop wasting your own time by waiting until the last minute to find out the salary being offered for the position.

Ask For The Salary Range Upfront

  1. Break The Rules: Show Me Yours And I’ll Show You Mine. Ask upfront for the budgeted range for the position during the first phone call with the recruiting manager. This way you get them to break one of the first rules of salary negotiation. This seems innocent upfront because after all, they don’t know if they will make you an offer but you get this information ahead of time. You get them to give you their number first and you know whether it is worth your time to interview and jump through hoops for the position.

  2. Waste Less Time. You waste less time by doing this during the first call with the HR person/recruiter. What is the point of interviewing for a position slated to pay you 5-10% less than what you’re paying now? This also holds them to their word. Get them to name a range and you gain the advantage when it’s time for negotiations. However, if you’re unemployed and desperate for work, then you may want to take it no matter the offer.

  3. You Have The Advantage. Take It. They want you, remember? There is no unwritten rule that says you can’t ask first before you interview. It actually makes more sense to do so rather than being disappointed and exploited in the end when it’s time to talk money.

  4. Maintain salary integrity. Taking a job making less than what you’re paying now shoots you in the foot down the line. During this economy it is understandable why employers may low ball potential employees, but don’t give them a reason by taking a lower salary now. Why? A future employer may look at your salary history and see that you took less than what you were making previously and offer you less thinking you’d be willing to take a hit “for the team.”

Yes, this goes against the grain in salary negotiations, but really, how many of you have gone the safe route only to be disappointed? You have bills to pay and if you know ahead of time the market range and budget for the position you walk in informed with a stiletto up on the negotiations.

More tips

  1. Research your market. Get on LinkedIn and survey your colleagues to determine actual market salary ranges for your desired position.

  2. Find a mentor in your field. They can often shed light on the field and give you more to think about when interviewing for a position. Their experience translates into leverage for you when walking into an interview.

  3. Be confident. Act as though you don’t need the position. Positioning yourself as desperate for the job in order to be liked puts you in a position to get low-balled. You’ll hate yourself for it when you see your first paycheck.

  4. Sell yourself. Write your resume and cover letter tailored specifically for the position. If you can’t do this then don’t apply. If you were the hiring manager, would you hire you based on your cover letter? If you have to stretch the truth to apply then don’t bother applying.

Have you ever asked about the salary range upfront before interviewing? How did that go over with the recruiter? Did you eventually get the job? Let us know in the comments!

Ginger Dean

About Ginger Dean

Ginger is the founder of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, a personal finance blog for women who want to dominate their finances. Amongst the issues we address: money management: making it, saving it and growing it which supports the theme: Breaking Financial Ceilings One Stiletto At A Time. We’ve been featured in Business Insider, Lifehacker, Consumerist, MSNBC, DC Fox News, Essence, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, Hope For Women Magazine, Madame Noire and the MSN Project Engage Web Series. Since it’s inception, Girls Just Wanna Have Funds has grown into a thriving community of women passionate about financial freedom. A licensed psychotherapist with Masters degrees in Forensics and Counseling Psychology, Ginger frequently addresses money issues with her clients to help them manage their deepest money fears to emerge in control of their financial lives.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle March 5, 2012 at 10:40 am

These are all great tips!

Reply

Michelle March 5, 2012 at 11:59 am

I should also say that while I did not negotiate, I wish I would have.

With one of my jobs that I applied for, the money wasn’t enough, and I tried negotiating. In the end they came up a little, but it wasn’t enough, so I had to reject the job offer.

Reply

The Happy Homeowner March 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

If you’re not comfortable negotiating salary, you can always try for better benefits and/or more vacation time. When I began my new job, I successfully negotiated an additional week of PTO. A little bit of well-mannered requesting goes a long way!!

Reply

One Frugal Girl March 5, 2012 at 11:45 am

Another tip is to look for a job when you don’t need one. You will feel much more confident interviewing for a job when you know you aren’t in dire circumstances. You’ll find yourself speaking much more openly and honestly about salaries and other job related items.

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Yelonda Mack March 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I agree! What I have found out is that it is best to get a good starting salary because the annual increase are minimal.

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Lori March 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I found the same benefit to negotiating the extras ahead of time. By putting it on the table right up front, the importance of what I was asking for was respected and understood. I stated clearly that I was excited about the position and looking forward to negotiating, but that I needed to clarify the part that was non-negotiable for me which was time spent with my children. I stated my needs for vacation time (which was a lot since I decided to start high) and we started the negotiations with that understod (and accepted!). The advantage was that it wasn’t part of the salary at all – and yet the value, in dollars and cents, was huge!

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Jan Messali March 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm

My ‘day job’ is teaching elementary school… no negotiating there. In previous positions I have been successful at negotiating benefits.

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CanadianSaver March 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm

I unfortunately have no negotiation power at work as my job is unionized, (that’s what I pay union fees for though, they do the hard work!), these are great tips that I wish I’d known during previous jobs!

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Wendy T March 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I was one of those who choked, even though I knew I was worth it. I remember the last job I had the owner said she’d start me at the lower wage, and I’d have to prove to her what I was saying about my worth and what I could bring to the company.

In no time at all, my salary went up 50%.

Those were the days :)

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444 March 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Great article. One of the best tips is the one about acting like you don’t need the job. I can’t count how many times I or someone I know has gone on an interview without much enthusiasm for the job, and an offer was made on the spot or shortly thereafter. It must be some sort of subtle psychology at work but I think it works.

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