I learned to negotiate at the age of 28 years old from a guy I was dating who happened to be white. At the time, I had an offer for a position, but I wasn’t happy about the proposal, and while my family told me to accept “because who was I to think I could tell them what to pay me.” The guy told me to ask for what I wanted because the least they could do was to counter with another offer, and proceeded to teach me the art of negotiation.
Reasons to Negotiate
He explained that black women make about 63 cents to the white man’s dollar and that if paid on the lower end of the pay distribution when starting a career, it is nearly impossible to make up the gap throughout the rest of your career. Therefore, you are continued to be paid lower than others in your field over the career span.
Personally, my favorite way to negotiate is through email as it is easier for me to articulate my needs and wants. Others like to bargain over the phone to hear the pauses, waits, and intonation of the person in which they are negotiating. Here are some ways to prepare yourself while waiting for the offer.
Steps to Negotiating
1. Preparation is Key
Search the internet for the pay range in the market where you work with similar years of experience to you. Glassdoor does a fantastic job of listing the pay ranges for careers in general and within individual companies. Additionally, make sure you know the dollar amount and the rationale for the salary you are requesting.
It is going to be uncomfortable to negotiate at first, but practicing with a friend who is skilled at negotiation is essential. Make sure that they can critique your auditory, body, and facial expressions. Practice until you are comfortable with “arguing” for yourself and what you desire.
Typically, when negotiating, I like to ask over the amount that I want so that I have the added possibility of being offered higher than the amount I desire.
Ask the recruiter or HR rep to give you a couple of days to decide if you want the offer. Feel free to counter with an additional offer. Most employees have a range of pay that they are willing to pay for a position and will often offer you at the lower end of that range. Give a verbal acceptance only after you have thought about the deeply and precisely.
For example, A recruiter offered 60,000 for a position, but I desired 65,000. I countered with 70,000 and provided the rationale for having X years of experience, degrees, certification, etc. After some days, the HR rep could come back with an offer the same or lower than the 70,000 I requested. For argument’s sake, let’s say they returned with an offer of 64,000. Depending on the benefits package (medical, dental, gas allowance, cellphones, remote work) I may accept. Always consider the benefits package when negotiating salary because the recruiter might be able to provide something outside of pay to make up for the difference in pay.
Negotiation is a must for the business world, and not attempting to negotiate leaves money on the table. Personally, when I know a job offer is coming I start mentally preparing myself for the assertive conversation I am going to have. Also, negotiation is not just for salaries, you can negotiate for other perks on the job.
Have you ever negotiated? If so, how did you go about it?
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