Economy & Jobs

Negotiating Salary to Get Paid What You’re Worth

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The ability to negotiate can be one of the biggest determining factors of your lifetime earning potential. Countless studies show that women tend to be less aggressive negotiators, which may be a factor in the gender wage gap. First-time job seekers rarely try to negotiate their starting salaries. As Millennials start to take over the job market, it’s important they learn the art of negotiating salary.

Asking for the Number

You’re never going to get what you want without asking, especially when it comes to your salary. Many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of countering an offer or raise. Freelancers may feel intimidated about asking for more for fear of losing the gig altogether. But if you want to get paid what you’re worth, you have to ask.

“Get comfortable with uncomfortable silence,” says Stefanie O’Connell, Making Your Way veteran, solopreneur, and founder of The Broke and Beautiful Life. “There’s always going to be that moment in negotiation right after you’ve made your ask. Don’t undercut yourself by interrupting the other person’s consideration of your offer.”

Prepping With Leverage

Asking for a raise requires more than the courage to state your salary desires. You need to prepare for the meeting.

“Always go into a situation having as much information and leverage on your side as possible,” explains Dave Olverson, founder of The New York Budget. “If you are negotiating a higher salary, make sure you have an airtight case for the value you provide to the company.”

Dave suggests being creative with your leverage. Don’t focus solely on the value you bring to the company at large, for instance, but also on the value you offer your specific boss or manager. Highlight the ways in which you make that person’s life easier.

The Power of Walking Away

One of my favorite negotiating tactics has always been the walk-away. It’s most useful when making a big purchase, such as a car, but it can work when you’re negotiating salary as well. Positioning yourself as willing to walk away gives you incredible leverage. But you have to be comfortable with the idea of following through, because there is no guarantee that the other side will cave.

This tactic can be used for negotiating salary at your current job if you have an offer on the table for a competing job. You should be willing to leave your job for the new offer if your boss decides not to meet your salary demands. Alternatively, you can stay and accept less pay; don’t forget to factor in the value of benefits during this time. If you can’t get your employer to agree to the salary you’re hoping for, you may be able to get them to agree to additional vacation time, the ability to work from home on some days, or other benefits.

Don’t be afraid to go after those extra dollars or benefits. Your drive to negotiate could make a huge difference to your income or your work-life balance, and knowing and being able to speak to your value can only help your career.