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Become a Negotiating Pro

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A lot is being said about women achieving – or not – pay equity:

  • Jessica Chastain reportedly helped both Jada Pinkett Smith and Octavia Spencer negotiate higher salaries in recent films;
  • The 2018 USA Women’s Hockey Team threatened to sit out games if the USA Hockey refused to pay them equal to the men’s team’s salary;
  •  In an open letter to the BBC General Director, published in the London Times, forty-two female journalists demanded pay equal to that of heir male counterparts.
  • And don’t forget: PWCC is an annual sponsor of the Chicago Equal Pay Day.

Seven years ago NPR published a report outlining women’s hesitance to ask for a higher salary; not much has changed in the interim. Women still must work 44 days into a following year to achieve pay equity with their male colleagues, reflecting an overall wage disparity of American women making, on average, 79 cents for every dollar that the average American man makes.

But what if you don’t have a high powered friend or a women’s empowerment organization behind you when it comes time to negotiate your salary?

Remember the importance of your initial salary: it is the basis for all future salary increases unless you change jobs or employers. Here are some helpful tips for successfully negotiating the salary you want:

First, do your homework.

Calculate your value.  Make sure that you keep a list of your accomplishments that is up-to-date.  Document your achievements and praise from higher-ups. When you prepare for a salary discussion, come with specifics and numbers.

Research the job and the employer to be sure that the compensation package is negotiable, as there are some jobs, such as those in retail and with unions, that offer fixed salaries. However, many mid-career to high-level jobs come with compensation offers that may be part of a salary range, with a low, mid, and high point, or that is paid selectively based on the candidate’s qualifications.

Research salary ranges in your industry. Websites that offer salary data and salary calculators, such as, and, can provide you with some benchmarks for job titles and salaries within specific companies. Even theBureau of Labor Statistics offers wageestimates for each sector in the US.

Consider your financial needs. Before you even think about negotiating salary, it’s important to consider how much you need to earn. Is this a dream job or a lateral move? If it’s your dream job and the salary is lower than you expected it to be – or requires a pay cut – could you make adjustments to your budget to accommodate a decrease? What are the benefits and how do they compare with your present job? If the offer isn’t close to your expectations, you may not want to even enter into a negotiation.

Then, negotiate!

Don’t accept a job/salary offer immediately. Give yourself a day or two to form a strategy for how you’re going to handle the negotiation.

Use the information you’ve gathered to make a pitch. When discussing a job offer with an employer, be ready to explainwhy you’re worth a higher salary. You can share the data you have collected, remind the hiring manager of your credentials, and reiterate your ability to help the organization succeed.

Rehearse with a trusted friend, colleague, or coach. One of the many things that creates anxiety and prevents women from negotiating in the first place is not knowing how a salary negotiation is going to go. Think through various scenarios and practice talking them through. Develop a script that lays out your accomplishments, plans, and salary expectations. Practice that speech until you have it down cold. You will feel more prepared for the conversation, which will make you feel more confident and comfortable. Be sure to assess the role playing too so that you can hone your skills and improve your pitch.

Remain positive. When the job offer is much lower than you anticipated, keep any negative thoughts you might have to yourself. Don’t demand more money. Even if you get it, it may cause hard feelings. If it’s so low that you know you won’t take it, it’s fine to mention that the offer wasn’t what you expected. Thank the employer for the offer and move on.

Remember that not just salary is negotiable.  Some of the other things you should consider negotiating for include title, responsibilities, moving expenses, more vacation days, start date, professional development opportunities, and the chance to work remotely.

Give them time to consider your counter. Develop a one-page takeaway. Make your presentation, put the sheet on the manager’s table, and ask to schedule a second meeting.

Remember: no one else is going to negotiate on your behalf!  Do so with confidence -- being your own advocate will be integral to your future success.

ubmitted by:   Carol Jambor-Smith, Principal and Founder, Jambor-Smith  Communications

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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