How to negotiate salary like a (wo)man

With inflation of 7.5%, its highest rate in 40 years in Denmark, many are resorting to tweaking their budgets to adjust to the new reality. And rightfully so – as a money coach I strongly advise to constantly keep an eye on what’s going on around you and adapt your finances accordingly. Interestingly, we as women are statistically more likely to prioritize our time and energy to focus on the spending part of our money and sometimes undervalue the income part of it. There is even a greater difference to be made by working on increasing our income. One great way to do that is by a  targeted, well prepared, well researched salary negotiation strategy.

 

If you haven’t been living under a rock in the last few weeks, you have probably already heard of the recruiter’s post on salary negotiation that went viral on social media for all the wrong reasons. This hiring recruiter offered the candidate $85.000, because that’s what the candidate asked for. You would think that this is a great negotiation scenario – she got what she asked for, right? Well, not really – the budget was $130.000, that’s $45.000 difference! Although there is so much in this recruiter’s tweet that I disagree with and makes me angry (Fx.  her attitude of someone “with power”, publicly shaming someone, not helping close the financial gender gap, paying employees fairly etc.). There is a part of her message that every woman should pay attention to – #beConfident and know your worth!

Negotiating your salary has and always will be a psychological game and going in you need to be prepared for it. Here are my 3 tips to help set you up for success at your next salary negotiation!

1. They ask and you ask

Women traditionally think they’re not empowered in the hiring process and go in waiting for the recruiter (or the hiring manager) to ask them about their salary expectation. No, you have as much power as they do – it is a game for two players. So don’t be afraid to speak up and ask. Remember that you bring value to them, there is a reason they called you in for an interview. Don’t answer right away with a number. Tell them that you would like first to get a better idea of the role and the company and will be happy to discuss the salary at a later stage of the interview process. This will give you a chance to get them even more invested in you and have a better chance of negotiating at a later stage when it is harder for them to back off once they see you as the perfect fit for the role. 

 

Not all recruiters will allow this to slide and will insist on getting a number from you then and there. This is the point when many women will cave in and reply with their number. Don’t do it. Ask again phrasing it differently. When they ask again, turn the table around and use the opportunity to ask them what their hiring budget range is. There is always a hiring budget that is known. Some recruiters will not like to respond and throw the ball back in your court. If a recruiter says that they don’t know the budget, then simply say that you are happy to discuss this topic again when they’ve had time to research it and get back to you.

2. Come prepared and do your research

When the time comes to give your number, you better have a damn good idea of what this role and your experience are going for. You don’t want to look like you undervalue yourself, but you also don’t want to scare them away with an unreachable number. (I will skip the basics assuming that of course you decide on your number before you walk into the room and don’t make it up on the spot). But how do you find out what is reasonable and what you can expect? This is especially hard for expats.


We are very fortunate that the job market in Denmark is fairly well regulated, and there are labor unions we can turn to when we need help. Did you know that your union is also one of the best places to turn to for fresh eyes on the salary you should expect from a prospective employer? Yes, you can always google it, go on Glassdoor and ask your network – and you should do all of these too. However, the advantage the unions have is that they do regular surveys and research the salaries in different fields of work and get fresh information from the ‘source’, which is their own union members. The information they have on salary is actually very detailed drilling down on industry, company size, profession, years of experience, education. They even have data specific to some companies and office locations within the company. They also share information between unions. Yes, the unions are talking to each other and this is great news for you. This means that you can get a very good idea of what salary range you should expect before walking into the negotiation room.

3. Rehearse like a Hollywood star

Everyone knows that preparing for an interview is very important. However, most of the preparation revolves around researching the company, being ready to answer what you suck at and what you are great at, memorizing every detail on your resume.

 

When it comes to money, the preparation often stops with researching the salary range and deciding on your lowest deal-breaker number. Somehow, the negotiation part of the process for asking for that number is overlooked. You need to get mentally prepared to go through with the negotiation. This includes hearing yourself saying out loud the salary you want, paying attention to your voice and intonation in that moment, studying your body language when the recruiter comes back pushing on you asking for their salary budget. Practice makes perfect and every actor utilizes an important tool that I am sure you have at home too – a mirror. Yes, I know it sounds like a cliché, but can you honestly tell me that you have rehearsed in front of it and done it many times so that the salary you are going to ask for doesn’t sound crazy in your head. Have you heard yourself asking the push back questions, standing your ground on how low you are willing to go? Why this is important to do is because when you do it enough times ahead of the interview, your brain starts getting used to the sound of what you are going to say, you come out more confident and start believing that you are worth that money. 

 

There is a lot of emotion that we tie into money. We equate the numbers with our value as a person. Knowing that this is a numbers negotiation game and that it has nothing to do with how valuable you are, helps you stand your ground and be more confident in your demands.

And if a company refuses to engage in a dialogue with you on this, well then maybe it is not a good place for you anyway.

Author

Stanka Ranchev

Advisory Board Member at Career Club DK

Money Coach and Founder of Your Kickass Money www.yourkickassmoney.com

Connect with Stanka on LinkedIn!

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