Top 5 Salary Negotiation Tips for Women: The Boston Edition

Paul Revere StatueBoston, my hometown, is a great place for inspiration to set yourself free of the fear to negotiate pay and benefits.  As the birthplace of our revolution reminds us, one is not handed equality; one has to fight for it. In the same manner, women need to speak up to have a shot at equal pay. As an added bonus, one estimate shows that people who negotiate can earn as much a $1 million more during a career. So, women here are five tips to negotiate your pay and benefits inspired by the many historic sites and a holiday that are Boston.

The Old North Church: “One if by land, two if by sea.” The British could arrive one of two ways. Either way, the patriots were ready.   They created options to handle the potential situations. Similarly, there is nothing as effective in negotiating as not needing to take a job. Create options so you do not need to accept anything offered.  You can do this by talking to recruiters who contact you especially when you are perfectly happy at your current job. Hey, they will need to offer you the world to get you to leave something you love. Guess what? They often do.  If headhunters are not contacting you, then apply to a dream job that you think you have no shot of getting from time to time and update your LinkedIn profile so recruiters will start contacting you.

The Battle of Bunker Hill: It’s been decades since I walked to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument. I could say the lesson from the Monument is stamina. Keep going until you reach the top but I’m going another route. The expression “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” came from this battle. The saying means don’t use your vital resources (bullets) before you are sure they will have impact. The same is true with answering two common questions; 1) what is your current pay and 2) what do you want to earn. Don’t shoot this information out in the application. Just skip over the questions or enter “0” if the field is required in an online application. Your pay will first be used to compare you to other candidates and then to benchmark your salary offer when you get the job. With the gender pay gap at 23%, your current pay will make you look less desirable than the male candidates and hinder you from getting an interview. When you do get a job offer, the salary will be lower if you had a low previous pay. Also, as a woman, you will most likely state a desired amount of pay that is 30% lower than the guys are saying. Once again, lowering the amount of pay offered should you get the job.

Tea Party Ship: Say NO just like our fore fathers and mothers said. Instead of no to taxation without representation, say no to the first salary and benefits offered. Managers expect negotiations so that first offer is never the best one. You don’t even need to say the word no. Try “That offer seems low based on the current market.”

Evacuation Day: I know, it’s not a physical place but it definitely is part of the background of Boston. Growing up, Evacuation Day was one of my favorite holidays. Let’s face it, Evacuation Day creates a way for Irish Proud Boston to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day since Evacuation Day falls on March 17th. This is a great lesson in finding creative solutions. Incorporate your benefits package in the negotiation so you can be creative. You can’t increase the base salary. How about a signing bonus? Commuter allowance? Cell phone allowance? Additional vacation time? Putting more things in the mix allows both parties to find a fit that works.

USS Constitution aka Old Ironsides: The warship survived very lengthy and close range battles. Just like a warship, you need to be ready for a few shots to come your way. The more ready you are, the more likely you are to overcome the pushback in the negotiation.  Classic NOs from hiring managers and recruiters include:

“We can’t afford to offer you more.”   You can prepare your response by having researched the organization’s finances for the past few years.   Your response will be something similar to, “Wow, that’s surprising. I saw your profits grew double digits for the past three years.”

We can’t pay more because that’s the highest pay in the department.”   You are looking for pay that is the market rate for the job. Research salaries on one of the many salary research sites or job boards that exist. Check with a trade association for your industry or job function.   Then respond with, “That’s interesting to know but not what matters. I’m looking to make market rate for the job and that offer is below market.” You can see more responses to Classic NOs in this free download.

Take to heart the five tips above and you can emulate the Boston sports teams and become a champion at salary and benefits negotiation.