4 Salary Negotiation Secrets for Women

Portrait of a businesswoman smiling in an office
Getty Images

By Lindsay Olson

Sad but true: Women are still earning about three-fourths of what men are, across all industries. And while we can shake our fists at the unfairness of it all, it often boils down to our unwillingness to negotiate for more money.

Let's face it: Your boss isn't going to hand you a raise without some prodding, so sharpening your negotiation skills can only help. Here are stellar secrets from professionals that can help you turn your next performance review into a raise:1. Practice the art of negotiation. Don't wait until you're sitting across your boss to sharpen your skills, says Daria M. Brezenski, a psychologist and professor who teaches entrepreneurs and career professionals. She says: "The problem with asking for money of any type – raise, promotion, price of a product or otherwise – has to do with confidence, and confidence has to do with practice. She adds that rather than a "boxed set of replies," the right words "come from being familiar with the situation [and] being able to frame the present." For the latter, she cites examples such as the emotional state of boss, volume of the setting and feeling in the room, like if it it's relaxed or chaotic.

She has seen effective results when her students – particularly women – practice negotiation in real life. She encourages them to go to farmer's markets, flea markets and yard sales to negotiate the price of objects for purchase. "This gives my students and clients experience and confidence, learning how to evaluate the environment. In asking, getting turned down and going on to the next dealer without feeling discouraged, gaining confidence, learning 'how to' techniques [and] recognizing who is amenable and what to ask for."

2. Plan the discussion. Walking into your boss's office in a tizzy over how little you're earning won't get you far. Instead, prepare what you'll say, and even write out your presentation, says Dana Manciagli, career coach, speaker and author. "Don't wing it or think that having a conversation is effective. It's not."

She suggests writing out the flow of your discussion and limiting the topics to three items. Specifically, you should be ready to share the purpose of the meeting and your objective, share data on why you believe you've earned a raise and then request a salary increase.

After that, she says, review you plan with a friend or mentor to find any holes, and fix them. Finally, book a 30-minute meeting with your boss. Make the agenda solely about your career. "Be sure you don't let him or her or yourself start it with other work-related topics. Dive right in. Lead the meeting and be clear and prepared. Take notes, listen and respond in an impactful way."

3. Be aware of body language. Don't put so much focus on researching what you're worth and preparing your discussion that you overlook body language. Women especially can give off the vibe of submission if they're not careful. In a negotiation conversation, you want to come off powerful and confident.

Carol Kinsey Goman, is a speaker, author and body language coach who says it's important to keep your head straight during negotiations. "Head tilting is a signal that someone is listening and involved – and a particularly feminine gesture. As such, head tilts can be very positive cues under some circumstances, but they are also subconsciously processed as submission signals. (Dogs tilt their heads to expose their necks, as a way to show deference to the dominant animal.) When you want to project confidence and authority, you should keep your head straight up in a more neutral position."

She also says it's important to take up space – rather than condensing your body – with elbows at your side and legs crossed. She says that status and authority are nonverbally demonstrated through claiming height and space.

4. Keep a bragging folder. If you're like many women, you find it difficult to talk about your accomplishments. But you'll need them to convince your boss that you're worth more.

Cristy Villarreal, a public relations specialist for Beckman Coulter, suggests keeping a folder in your email inbox labeled "Compliments." Anytime someone gives you a kudos via email for your hard work, store it there.

"Some people find it difficult to brag about oneself. That is something we should all work on, but until then, let others speak for you. Print out the emails, highlight key statements and place in a file folder. Bring the folder with you when you meet with your supervisor. Ask for a raise and have the data to back up why you deserve one."

While you're not guaranteed to get the salary or wage increase you want every time, these tips will better position you as an assertive and valuable asset to your company and increase your likelihood of making what you're worth.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. Hoojobs was voted as a Top Career website by Forbes. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues and is chief editor of the HooHireWire – The Hoojobs Guide to Hiring & Getting Hired.
Read Full Story