Salary negotiation: what you're doing wrong | Women's Agenda

Salary negotiation: what you’re doing wrong

When speaking on the topic of ‘Salary Negotiation for Women’, I invariably encounter women who bring varying levels of expertise on the topic – which is great.

Mostly, the women I speak with are aware of the benefits of salary negotiation but have resisted pursuing it for a raft of reasons ranging from lack of knowledge on the topic, to fear, lack of confidence and social conditioning.

I too can understand why many women avoid it, given salary negotiation is a small component of negotiation which is a fairly sizeable topic. This is evidenced by the many universities that offer negotiation subjects.

And as we know, many women tend to want to have a subject pretty well mastered before being confident to execute a discussion on it, which may be why we hesitate when it comes to salary negotiation.

It is pleasing when I do encounter women who are expert salary negotiators, and goodness knows we need more of these.

What I find more challenging is when I encounter women who have a little knowledge on the subject and a lot of confidence! While I love the confidence aspect I certainly don’t advocate going into the salary negotiation process half baked.

Recently I met with a lovely lady who was professional, intelligent and confident. She was looking to negotiate her salary with her current employer after a period of absence. In speaking with her she seemed pretty confident in her approach. I asked her to test her salary negotiation pitch on me.

What I found was that her negotiation pitch was full of holes. It was all about her and her needs! While your needs are a given, a negotiation pitch needs to be packaged up to highlight the benefits to the person and organization to whom you are negotiating with.

So what was wrong with the pitch?

–       The negotiation was based on her needing a salary increase to meet her life costs and situation – the cost of childcare, school fees, mortage etc. Her personal financial needs has no relevance to the negotiation.

–       The other part was based on her lengthy tenure with the company which does not hold a lot of weight these days. Tenure does not automatically equal a valuable employee.

–       Nowhere in her negotiation pitch did she articulate the value that she brings to the company, an achievement or two and basically how she can help solve their problems and why she is the best person to do it. –

–       She mentioned that she had not done any research on salaries for this or similar roles due to her role being a bit different. This is not good enough. You can always find a way to benchmark your role by documenting the core functions and cross referencing it against similar roles. Also ask others in the market place including recruiters. Add to this how good you are at what you do. Again you may like to seek other perspectives on where you sit!

I was glad she tried her salary negotiation pitch on me before her employer as we had a chance to speak about it, and she had the opportunity to see it from her employer’s perspective and realise the pitch was not up to scratch.

Identifying some of the things you’re doing wrong is a great step to getting a negotiation right. The woman who tested her pitch on me  subsequently went on to prepare something much more compelling.


Kelly Magowan is the Author of The Busy Women’s Guide to Salary Negotiation.


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