Women and Salary Negotiation - Getting the Money You Deserve

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Even now, when women have made great strides to gain equality in the workplace, women are still earning, on average less money for the same job than their male counterparts. Even with government protections put in place to discourage gender based pay discrepancies, it is still happening. One of the reasons many experts suggest as to why women make less is that they are less experienced at negotiating a better salary.

When I think back, I can remember a time when I was offered a job that I really wanted. The human resources manager asked me about my previous salary and gave me an offer that was quite a bit more than I had been making previously. I was ecstatic and accepted it. I felt like I had just accomplished something huge. Not only did I get the job I wanted, but I got a sizable pay increase. I was through the roof.

My excitement and enthusiasm continued until I was talking with the other people who were hired at the same time as me, and my male co-worker told me what he was making. It seems that they offered him the same salary as me, but he asked for almost twice as much. According to him, they agreed without so much as batting an eye. Now, I am not a money motivated person; doing something that I love is more important that the salary, but once I found out that I could have earned more if I had negotiated made me feel like I had gotten a bad deal. No matter how hard I tried, I could never shake the idea that I had settled for less.

It seems that for many women, myself included, the idea of negotiating salary seems rude and overly aggressive. However, the truth is that negotiation isn't rude, and in fact, it is expected. Employers even seem to think less of employees who don't negotiate. Since, anyone hired to a position above entry level is expected to negotiate, employers rarely ever start off with their best offer. So, if you don't negotiate, odds are good that you will be getting paid much less than the employer was prepared to offer.

While this may seem like a small issue, accepting less pay can have a domino effect on the future of your career. For example, if you are being paid $7,000 less a year that what you could have gotten, when you ask for a raise, you wouldn't be getting a $7,000 raise. If you were to get a $500 raise, that doesn't even start to close the gap, because you could have been getting the same raise on top of the extra pay. What's more, most employers figure up raises on a percentage of your current salary, so even your raise is going to be lower than it would have been had you negotiated better.

When you take the next step in your career, be it a promotion within your company or a new position somewhere else, often your low salary will have a negative effect on your negotiating power. If you were offered a position somewhere else, they might think that offering you $10,000 more than what you are currently making is more than generous. But even then, you are only making $2,000 more than you could have when you started your previous job. So, you can see the far reaching consequences of not negotiating the best salary for yourself.

The only way to be sure that you are getting paid what you deserve is to do research on your industry and what the average pay is for your position. Once you have an idea of how much you are worth, you should consider reading a book on negotiation skills and practice with your friends and family. Get comfortable with it, and then you will be in a great position to negotiate the salary that you deserve.

Are you looking for a job in the Manhattan area? Be sure to visit ManhattanJobsite.com

By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.


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    Fully agree. Its about time women are paid for what they are worth! Time and time again, women just sit passively and accept the consequences. We work hard and expect to be respected and treated for our worth! Stop humiliating ourselves and  treating yourselves worthily!
    Very important to remember. Ladies, more people count on you, YOU, for what they need. Single parents especially.
  • Dellamar Moore
    Dellamar Moore
    the information you provided what's there a helpful to me I will be taking the tools that was given to me and apply it and the next job that I seek .thank you so much
    great advice
  • Kathleen Cartwright
    Kathleen Cartwright
    Good advice. Wish I had had it years ago!
  •  Connie Baldwin
    Connie Baldwin
    Thank you so much for this article, it opened my eyes to how employers see me when I'm settling for less than I deserve.
    This topic was great help. I will use it in my negotiation efforts. Thank you
  • Martha C
    Martha C
    Women & Salary Negotiations getting the money you deserve.  Thanks for the first half of the article that I don't make enough and never have,but HOW & what DO I use to NEGOTIATE?
  • Tamm F
    Tamm F
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience in salary negotiations for women in the workplace, it sheds a whole new light on the interview process and what I am worth in my field , with my knowledge! I will definitely be in negotiations with my next employer. sincerely,Tammy
  • Marg L
    Marg L
    Good article. Especially true for woman that were out of workforce, raising children and have no idea of their value.
  • Patricia R
    Patricia R
    Terrific article on the subject.
  • Mary T
    Mary T
    Very valuable information and very accurate.  This is me to a T, I couldnt agree more.  I am no good when it comes to negotiating, so yep I am definately looking into this type of information.  Thanks
  •  Lisa B
    Lisa B
    Thank you. We need all the help we can get.
  • DeborahS
    It's a good article.  I just attended a workshop on this topic from the Main Line Chamber of Commerce, Society of Professional Women, and they basically said the same thing.
  • Jacqueline H
    Jacqueline H
    Thank you for the advice.
  • tommie m
    tommie m
    thank you
    Just a question why is that when applying to a company that they want to know what you are being paid at your current job and you know what the salary is that they are offering for the job you are apply for why is this ask so much, if you put in their blocks what they are stating that the money will be you never hear back from the company when you know that someone got the pay.Women are the back bone of this country we can do 50 jobs to 1 that a man does
  • Elinor S
    Elinor S
    Your article has me in 100% agreement.  Reading the other comments not so much in agreement, I believe there are a few inherent problems possibly including fear, but primarily not negotiating in a friendly way.  A gentle reminder of the problems the company is facing plus what the job seeker brings to the table done with a smile on one's face should help the process move in the right direction.  In a down economy, generally speaking, an offer is made first and then the final negotiation takes place.  By this point, the company spent considerable time and money interviewing and does not want to repeat.
  • Linda M
    Linda M
    This article must have been written in the early 90's. I believe asking for a raise in salary requires being prepared to risk employment in todays job market.
  • Krystal Lichlyter
    Krystal Lichlyter
    This is a great article and it gives one a "go get 'em!" attitude.  But, in this economy, how do we know if the job was lost because of our offer of salary or the letter we get stating "we chose a candidate more suited for the position".  We all know this statement is more-or-less a form letter and doesn't say what they really think, simply because they can't say - or won't.  So if my qualifications aren't what they are looking for, or they found someone who better fits their needs, either by experience or personality, I won't know if it's because of the salary.  I am often asked what salary I am expecting, but have not yet been offered a position which gives me the option to negotiate.  And then there is the position that is offered where they offer a set amount: here's the position, this is the pay we offer.  Again, in this economy, I've been out of a full time job since November of 2009.  I can't turn down a job now, because of a few thousand a year.  As much as it hurts my feelings, I realize I will likely have to take a job $4-5,000 less annually.  How can I possibly negotiate and take that chance of not paying my bills?  Agreeably I will be hurting my future increases, but lower pay is better than no pay.  Stuck between some money or no money.  I don't want a job I don't want.  I love to work, and don't want to take a retail job just for minimum wage, when I know I'm worth more, and would not enjoy my days.  I will always do my best at any job.  Like everyone, I need to pay bills.

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