Women: Win at Negotiating your Job Offer

Women face a unique set of challenges when negotiating job offers. Being viewed as ‘pushy’ when advocating for salary is an unfortunate bias that holds many women back from achieving wage parity in the workplace. It’s no wonder that when compared to men they’re far more likely to take that first offer; comparatively, men are 8x more likely to negotiate a higher starting salary.

A recent study out of Australia also found that when women actually do ask for raises, they are less likely to get one. (Rock, meet hard place.)

Same game, different ballpark.

Negotiation is, unfortunately, different for men and women out of necessity. It’s common knowledge that women in the US earn only 77.4% of men’s annual salary and data confirms the existence of workplace bias. Ladies, effectively sharpening your negotiation skills will help you to achieve your career goals beyond a salary. Whether you’re in the early stages of navigating the job market or you have an offer on the table you should be empowered to negotiate your next job contract.

So how do you prepare, especially if you’re not a “negotiator”? You obviously don’t want to ask for too much and risk coming across as out of touch, or get lowballed (so-to-speak).

But, first — here’s some surprising data:

According to TalentWorks data, being a job seeking woman gives you about a 50% hireability boost over men. Resumes with obviously female names had a +48.3% higher chance of getting an interview.

women hireability

We believe this is indicative of many reasons: women outperforming men in college (last fall women made up 56% of university students on campus nationwide), most recruiters are women, and how hiring and promoting more women boosts your bottom line.

Know your salary scale.

Before you’re offered the job, make sure you’re aware of the industry standard of pay (at least what is typical) for this position. Also, understand that your location, skill set, the industry, years of experience, and education/certifications all represent factors that you should leverage when nailing down the offer.

“To begin with, do your research.” says Erin Feldman, Senior TalentAdvocate with TalentWorks. “Try using a Fair Pay calculator or similar tool to be able to go into your negotiations informed. This will give you an idea of what folks in similar positions are making in your area. Then be sure to consider non-monetary compensation such as benefits, PTO, retirement, flex-scheduling, and the option to telecommute. These can have just as much value (if not more!) than salary alone.”

Frame your requests.

Every administrative assistant, programmer, and business analyst comes with a unique background. If you have skills that range beyond that of the job description, consider positioning them in way that ties back to the business. For example, if you’re a marketing manager with advanced SQL skills you can leverage the fact that not only do you have data analytics chops but database management experience that can directly contribute to advanced lead analysis. Know your strengths and differentiators.

Demonstrate your effectiveness.

Negotiation is an art, and you need to master it. Studies have shown that by using a certain negotiating strategy, specifically, saying “I’m hopeful you’ll see my skill at negotiating as something important I bring to the jobwomen improve both their social and negotiating outcomes. By knowing your worth as a candidate and presenting it in a relatable, personable manner you are not only effectively negotiating but making a good first impression as being a capable employee.

Maintain perspective, but don’t be afraid to walk away.

If you’ve done your research, asked for market rate, and are being reasonable if presented a low offer (and it’s becoming a back-and-forth), don’t be afraid to bail. Understand their constraints (i.e. salaries are determined by departmental budget), but hiring managers do in fact have wiggle room. It’s your job to figure out where they’re flexible (and where they’re not) and if that works for you.

Conclusion

Negotiating a job offer is part of the job search process. The more prepared you are to do so, the better you will fare. Remember that salary is important, but consider the whole deal such as the job’s potential for growth, flexibility with hours, and perks. Your goal is to position yourself effectively and get the job right.

Need some 1:1 practice with an actual hiring manager? For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

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Yay-You Got a Job Offer! Now What?

You finally got the call. Maybe it’s an offer for your dream job, or maybe it’s for a job you’re less than excited about. Either way, you’ve got a big decision to make. Hopefully, you have at least a few irons in the fire—meaning you’ve been interviewing with other companies. When it comes to the job hunt, you want to have as many options as possible. Job offers can fall through for various reasons.

Early in my career, I’d accept job offers the moment they were offered to me. I was afraid they’d be offended and pull the offer if I said I wanted to think about it. And they just might. Some employers get pretty huffy when you don’t accept right away. But, for me, that sends up a huge red flag, and I’ve worked in enough not-so-great situations to pay attention. If they’re being this rigid now, what will they be like when I start working for them? Plus, why would they want you to make a rash decision? It’s better for both parties when you’ve had a chance to think everything through.

So, now that I’m older and wiser, here’s what I do when I get a job offer:

I let them know I’m grateful for the offer and that I’d like some time to think it over. Asking to think over an offer is not an unreasonable request, regardless of how an employer reacts. They will do what’s in their best interest, so you need to do what’s best for you. The length of time I ask for depends on the situation. If I’m more interested in other jobs I’ve interviewed for or I’ve received another offer, I ask for as much time as possible—but never more than a week. Most employers I’ve dealt with are at least willing to give me a couple days.

I contact other employers I’ve interviewed with and let them know I have an offer. Like I said, options are good. I don’t want to be asking myself what if or feel like I’ve been too hasty in accepting an offer. Seeing if there’s any other interest helps me feel like I’ve explored every possibility. If nobody else is interested, that makes my decision easier. But sometimes I do have other interest, which makes things a wee bit more complicated.

I ask for the offer in writing, information on benefits, and a copy of the employee handbook. A written offer doesn’t mean the job is a guarantee. But it does allow you to see all of the terms in writing, so there are no misunderstandings. I always ask for benefits information, so I can compare it with competing offers (if any) or just make the most informed decision possible. I also request the employee handbook, if the company has one. This can actually tell me a lot about the company culture. Are there a gazillion rules that remind me of grade school? If so, I’ll pass. Does it talk to me like I’m an adult who deserves the benefit of the doubt? That’s a definite plus.

I think about what is most important to me in a role and negotiate based on that. You can ask for the stars and the moon, but that doesn’t always mean you should. Remember salary is just part of the package, and it’s not the only thing you can negotiate. It’s good to do some research on what other people in your role are being paid, particularly in your area. Payscale.com is a great site for this. Salary isn’t the most important factor for me—although it’s important to me that I’m being paid what I’m worth. Let’s say I get two offers for jobs that interest me equally—Offer A and Offer B.

Offer A: Pays 50% medical insurance and gives 10 days of PTO. No remote work allowed.

Offer B: Offers 5k less than Offer A. Pays 100% of medical insurance and gives 20 days of PTO. Allows me to work remotely 1-2 days a week.

Work-life balance matters a lot to me, so I’d actually take Offer B. Those insurance premiums can add up, and the extra two weeks off makes a huge difference. Plus, I don’t have to deal with commuting every day of the week (yay for less stress), which will help me save on gas.

Would I still try and get Offer B to come up on salary? Sure. I’d ask if they could match Offer A. And sometimes, I get a nice surprise and they do! But sometimes they simply can’t or won’t go any higher. At that point, I try to negotiate other perks, such as more PTO or remote days (if they don’t offer them). The worst they can do is say no. Well, I guess the worst they can do is rescind the offer, but—frankly—I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who responded that way to reasonable requests. And that’s the key. Keep it reasonable. Don’t ask for 100k when the market rate for your role is 50k. Don’t ask for paid summers off, a new car, and a trip to Hawaii. Use common sense and be ready to tell them why they should pay you more.

I ask any final questions I have. Now is the time to ask anything else you’d like to know. After all, this is a big decision. When I’m debating between job offers, these final questions will often swing me one way or another.

Remember—you need to look out for you. Know your worth and stand by it. Ask the questions you need to, and take heed if an employer refuses to answer them. If you’re feeling anxious or uneasy about an offer, trust your gut. It’s easy to shove those feelings away, because you want and need an opportunity to work. I’ve totally been there. But I can’t say ignoring my instincts has ever worked for me. On the other hand, a job that fills you with excitement and anticipation is worth checking out, even if it’s not perfect. I dare you to show me a job that is!

How do you handle job offers? Share your story below!

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