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Women at Work

How To Negotiate Salary

We Asked An Expert Negotiations Lawyer

There are people in the world who hire lawyers to negotiate higher salaries for them, and then there are people like me who ask those lawyers to share their top tips on getting a better deal. At PowerToFly, we sat down with Nicole Page, Partner at Reavis Page Jump LLP, for a Lunch and Learn where she shared how she's raised countless salaries for her clients. Nicole has a large female clientele and was offering advice for all genders, but during the Lunch and Learn, she focused the conversation on how and why women should work on their negotiation skills. If you're a PowerToFly VIP, you can re-watch the entire talk here.

1. Make A Wish List

Nicole Page: The first and main thing that I tell anybody who's coming to me and saying they've got a new job offer, or they're thinking of transitioning to a new position, is to make a wish list of everything that they want out of their next opportunity. This really helps you focus on the things that are really important to you. It also just solidifies what you're going to be asking for - it helps you get clarity.

2. Rehearse And Prep For The Negotiation

NP: I would spend a fair amount of time preparing for the negotiation, you almost want to study for a negotiation like you would study for a test. Ask as many people in your industry what their experiences are, and just keep practicing what you're going to say. You're going to be nervous, and probably anxious - practicing out loud can help you be as prepared as you possibly can be.

3. Research Salary Ranges and Ask For More

NP: Without knowing the salary range of the position, you're negotiating in a vacuum. Knowledge is power, as they say, and I encourage people to network with other people in their industry and find out what they're being paid. I know it's not easy, but the only way to truly validate a salary range is to start asking what your colleagues and peers are making. After you've done your research and found out what the market rate is, you are going to think about the number that you want, and you're going to ask for more than that. I'm not saying you're going to double that, but generally, when you're negotiating, the idea is to make some sort of compromise. You want to be able to go down a little, and let them come up - meet them in the middle.

4. Ask In Person—Not Email

NP: I think while you're in the process of negotiation, it's not a bad idea to do it in conversation. It's a lot easier for someone to say no in an email, but in person, you're able to advocate for yourself and may be able to do some convincing. You also want to identify your leverage in any negotiation - that will help you decide what you're going to counter with, or if you're going to counter at all.

5. Be Clear, Confident And Direct About Your Ask

NP: It's very important to be clear, and not wishy-washy in a salary negotiation. If you want something, you've got to be very direct about it. You cannot assume that someone's going to know what you mean. They won't know what you mean, and in fact, they're disincentivized to know what you mean because the employer is essentially giving you a salary offer they're hoping you're going to accept. They don't want to pay you more if they don't have to. I'm not saying this to cast dispersions on employers—this is just business and how business works. If somebody can pay you less to do a job, they will because it's more profitable for them. So, you have to be direct, and you have to be comfortable asking for a higher salary.

6. Be Self-Promoting

NP: You must constantly remind your employer how valuable and how great you are, not just in times of negotiation. Be self-promoting—you're just undercutting yourself if you're not, and many women feel that in doing so they come across as bragging, and that's just not true. Every time you do something good, figure out a way to let your employer and your boss know. Not in an obnoxious way, but just be creative about it. Don't assume that anybody's watching or acknowledging or cares, except for you. You have to look out for yourself all the time.

7. Make Sure To Have Your Next Ask Ready

NP: You might go into a salary negotiation and say, 'I want x more dollars than you've offered.' And the employer might say, 'Well, we just can't do that.' You always want to have your next ask in line. What I mean by that is that in response to the employer, you could reply, 'Well, if you can't give me the salary I want, then I need you to give me a better title.' So, you want to have a step-by-step guide on your list and in your brain as you go into the negotiation of what you're going to say if they say no to an ask. Refer back to step one - make that list!

8. Remember, It's NOT A Confrontation - It's a Precedent For Yourself

NP: Nobody likes a confrontation, and if you go into a negotiation thinking it is, you're just going to increase your own anxiety level. A negotiation is really just a conversation you're engaging in while being protective of yourself and your needs. Studies have shown that 5% of women and 60% of men engage in salary negotiations. This means that from the very beginning of your career, you are setting a precedent for yourself and what you deserve. Setting a precedent may not always mean salary, this could be a sign-on bonus, vacation time, or even general compensation throughout your time at the company. The first offer a company gives you, most of the time, is not their best and final offer. This is your opportunity to say that you want more or you want more of something - stay calm, and set a precedent.

9. If You Need Help, Find An Attorney

NP: There are a few reasons why people consult an attorney to help with the negotiation process. First, negotiating is hard, and at the end of the day, some people are just really uncomfortable doing so. If you're one of those people and have the resources, it really is so much easier to have an unbiased party negotiating for you.

Second, from experience, I have a lot of information about what other people in their fields are making. That kind of information is really valuable because it helps the person see if their salary is in line with the market or if they're really being underpaid.

In both cases, I'm completely subterranean. I'll work out the whole negotiation strategy and the counter-offer to the employment proposal, and their employer never even knows that they ever hired an attorney. It's almost like just having a counsel and coach to help you structure it.

10. Ultimately, It Might Be Uncomfortable, But Just Ask

NP: I think it may also help everyone to know that men are asking. The men are asking for raises, and they're getting them - there's no reason for women not to ask too. At the end of the day, if you want to get ahead, you have to put yourself out there - the only way to get what you want is to ask.

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