Salary Negotiation, Part 3

Recently, the Career Center’s own Anne Nowak gave a seminar about negotiating your salary with your employer. In case you missed it, here are some of the key takeaways, part III:

Negotiation rules for women

It is 2020 and yet, study after study shows that women are earning less than men and that the glass ceiling hasn’t budged much. One of the reasons women earn less in comparable jobs is that they rarely negotiate their salaries. In part I of this series we showed how much financial difference negotiating makes over a lifetime of work. But only 1 in 5 women ever try to negotiate.

the double standard

Studies show that it is not easy for women to strike the right balance. Men are expected and encouraged to be ambitious, direct, and driven. Those are all positive attributes when relating to men. However, if women display the same behaviors, they are seen as unlikable and met with suspicion and even contempt. One study sent two identical resumes to hiring managers, with one difference: one had a man’s name, the other a woman’s. The managers who received the man’s resume praised his ambition and experience, and said they’d probably hire him; the managers who received the woman’s saw her as unlikable and weren’t sure if they’d like working with her, and passed on the resume. So, the same traits that are seen as positive in men, are seen as negative in women.

Effective strategies for women

In order to negotiate you need to be assertive. But being assertive is seen as negative. So what can women do? It has been shown that women are more effective in their negotiations if they stress “we” over “I,” if they’re more indirect about their needs, or if they position themselves as a helper. Female approaches to negotiation that have shown success:

  • “Help me make this work. In order to be most useful to this organization I need….”
  • “Here are the resources I need to be more effective for our company……”
  • “My mentor/team/supervisor suggests I bring this up …..”

While there are certainly women who have succeeded with the more direct male approach, this more indirect tactic is a good alternative for women who feel ill at ease with traditional assertive negotiation tactics. While it’s best to gauge the specific situation that you’re in, many women have found these shifts in negotiating style beneficial to the end result: a better salary or benefits package.

If you are interested in learning more about negotiation tactics for women, check out former Stanford Business School professor Margaret Neale on Youtube. If you’d like help preparing for an upcoming negotiation, the Career Center can help.

Written by Case Duckworth and Anne Nowak

Salary Negotiation, Part 2

Recently, the Career Center’s own Anne Nowak gave a seminar about negotiating your salary with your employer. Last month, we posted some key takeaways for jobseekers negotiating salary for a new position. In case you missed it, here are some of the key takeaways, part II:

Asking for a raise or promotion in your current role

Say you’ve been working at a company for a while and you feel you deserve a raise or a promotion. Do you just go to your supervisor and ask them for more money? Yes – but with a plan!! The conversation with your boss has to be well prepared.

Valid reasons for a raise or promotion are:

  • You have made the organization money, e.g. by selling much more than your quota; by growing customer base; by inventing a new product; by creating and conducting a stellar marketing campaign, by soliciting donors; etc.
  • You have saved your organization money, e.g. by auditing records and discovering waste; by improving workflows; by streamlining purchasing; by negotiating better prices, etc.
  • You have taken on considerably more responsibilities and have performed those well.

The following are NOT valid reasons for a raise or promotion:

  • You are getting married/divorced/are having twins…and need more money
  • You are buying a house and need more money
  • You hear that two colleagues of yours got raises and they are doing the same job as you

Now make your case. If you have numbers or statistics to prove your worth, excellent. But even if you don’t, prepare documentation of your accomplishments and make a good case for your promotion/raise. Focus on the value you’ve brought to the company.

However, you’ve also got to time your negotiation right. Asking for a raise during an economic downturn or company restructuring will probably be met with a no regardless of your accomplishments. Keep track of your company’s financial rhythm and budget cycles too – our presenter shared a time when she asked for a raise, and her boss agreed, but the company had finished its yearly budget two weeks before. She had to wait until the next year to make her case again.

further reading

  • Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You, by Jim Hopkinson
  • Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game, by Kate Wendleton
  • Getting (More of) What You Want: How the Secrets of Economics and Psychology can Help You Negotiate Anything, in Business and in Life, by Margaret Neale (electronic resource)

You may place any of these items on hold at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Stay tuned for our final post in this series, which will focus on special negotiation strategies for female jobseekers.

Written by Case Duckworth

Salary Negotiation, Part 1

Recently, the Career Center’s own Anne Nowak gave a seminar about negotiating your salary with your employer. In case you missed it, we’d like to present some of the takeaways here. Today;s post will focus on salary negotiation when you start a new job. (There will be a follow-up posts discussing other aspects of this seminar.)

Why should you negotiate?

While the answer to the question, Why should you negotiate your salary? might seem obvious, there are reasons beyond the immediate payday. For example, consider two employees: Chris and Fraser. Both were hired on the same day, by the same company. Both were initially offered $100,000 a year in salary. Chris decided that was a good deal and took it, no questions asked. But Fraser asked, “What can you do for me?” and was able to negotiate a 7.4% higher salary, for a total of $107,400 the first year. Afterwards, both men stay at the company for 35 years and receive identical 5% raises each year. When it’s time to retire, the men compare their portfolios and Chris is caught by surprise – if he wants to end up with as much wealth as Fraser, he’ll need to work 8 more years! Fraser’s simple, ten-second question saved him 8 years down the line. Negotiating your salary can do the same for you.

The big 4 rules of negotiation

  1. Ask. 84% of employers in the private sector (the number is lower in the public sector) expect you to negotiate. Accepting a salary offer without questions is the same as paying sticker price for a car – you’re only doing the other party a favor. You may be worried that your offer could be rescinded if you ask for more compensation, but let’s look at facts: if you have an offer, the company wants you to work for them. Hiring people is a lot of work – they’ve already published the job vacancy, read dozens of interviews, interviewed multiple people, maybe even multiple times, and they’ve arrived at their decision: you. They think you’re a great fit and they want you to come work for them. So it won’t hurt to ask for something extra. (Of course, we can’t guarantee they won’t rescind their offer – there’s always a risk, but it’s small.)
  2. Be Prepared. Use websites that compile salary information, such as,,, and (Also, if you have any friends in the industry, or even better, at the companies you’re applying to, ask them how much they make. If they don’t want to tell you, don’t push it – even though you’re usually well within your rights to discuss your salary.)  Take note: pay range will change depending on the job level, your qualifications and experience, and your geographical location. For example, companies in California tend to pay more than those in Louisiana to offset the higher cost of living. You’re also better positioned at the negotiating table if you have more education, certifications, or experience than the job posting calls for. Take note, too, of wider economic trends affecting your industry – you might have more leeway to negotiate in a fast-growing industry, as opposed to one that’s shrinking.  Use that information to your advantage!
    You should also think about your own goals: how much do you want to make? How much do you need to make, for your housing, transportation, groceries, and life expenses? If your dream job can’t offer you enough to live on, you can’t accept that job offer – and it’s better to know before you work there for six months and fall into debt.
  3. Whoever says a number first loses. Negotiating a salary is similar to negotiating anything else: information is ammunition, and you want to keep your cards close to your chest. If you’re asked about what your desired salary would be early on in the application cycle, such as on the application, leave it blank if you can. If it’s a required question, then answer it, but be aware that HR can use desired salary to screen applicants out of the consideration pool. Don’t bring up salary or compensation during your interview. If the interviewer does, try to deflect the question by saying something like, “I’d like to discuss salary after we’ve both determined I’m a good fit for the position.” If you’re a finalist for the position, you can ask them what range of salaries they have in mind, or what their budget for the position is. You’re just trying to get them to say a number first.
    Of course, there’s a small exception: if you’re extremely prepared in your salary negotiation, and you have a very good estimate, you can try “anchoring” the negotiation with a salary. Anchoring is a phenomenon that retailers use in sales: the first value we hear for an item tends to “anchor” its worth in our minds, regardless of its actual value. That’s why you’ll see “Was $1999, now $1300” in stores – they’re tricking us into thinking $1300 is a good deal, even though they were never going to charge $1999 for it. You can do the same in salary negotiations, but again, only if you’re prepared. You’ll need to know a lot about the job you’re about to begin, the industry, and your skills’ worth.
  4. Always make a counter-offer. Once you’ve successfully gotten them to say a number first, you say a bigger number. Make sure to back up your counter with your experience and expertise, and your research on salaries in your area and industry. They might accept your number, which is great! However, they might not be able to move on salary. If not, try asking them about other perks, such as bonuses (such as a sign-on bonus or year-end bonuses), benefits (like better healthcare or retirement), vacation packages, car or technology allowances, or an earlier performance and salary review. They’ll probably be able to give you something more if you just ask.


Remember, 84% of private companies expect salary negotiation for new hires. At the same time, they’re trying to save money. They’re not going to volunteer giving you more money or benefits – you have to ask. The same goes for companies you’ve been working for: if you think you’re worth more than they’re paying you, and you’ve got the receipts to back it up, ask. The vast majority of the time, the worst that’ll happen is they’ll say “No.”

Stay tuned for further posts on salary negotiation.

Written by Case Duckworth

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 7

This is the seventh post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

7th deadly sin: not negotiating salary

You read our blog posts about the first six deadly sins of job searching  and pulled off a top notch search. You reap your reward and have an offer for a great job on the table. They offer you what seems like a fair compensation package. Now don’t commit the 7th deadly sin of job searching and accept the package without negotiating!

Why you should always try to negotiate

Higher salaries compound over your lifetime. Let’s look at a theoretical example: If you start working at 21 and retire at 65 at a starting salary of $20,000 and you receive 5% yearly raises, this makes for lifetime earnings of $3 million. If you had negotiated 6% yearly increases instead, your lifetime earnings would be $4 million. In this example, negotiating translated into a $1 million difference (you can find this example and others in Jim Hopkinson’s very good book Salary Tutor).

Surveys of hiring managers show that 84% of employers expect applicants to negotiate!

Some ground rules

Timing – Salary negotiation is the last step of the interviewing process. It should only take place at the very end of the hiring process when you have been offered the job! If a potential employer or their HR representative asks you for salary requirements early on in the interviewing process, they only want to see if your requirements broadly fit with theirs. This is not the time for negotiation.

Preparation – Never ever go into a salary negotiation unprepared! Lots of variables go into the compensation equation, so do your research.

  • First of all, you need to be aware of your own requirements. Establish: 1) the minimum you need and are willing to work for, 2) a realistic salary for the desired position, and 3) your “slam dunk” number.
  • Your numbers have to be grounded in good information: Employer variables are: level and seniority of the position, size of company (large companies often pay better than small), industry (an investment bank will pay its administrative assistant more than a hospital or university), location (a job in Louisiana will pay less than the same job in California) Your variables are: education, length and relevance of experience, special certifications or skills.
  • The following websites will help you in your research of realistic salary ranges:,, . As always, your best source of information is from a contact that already works for your desired employer.
Compensation is more than just salary

So, what if you scored your dream job offer, but the money is not what you would like it to be? You are negotiating, but the company is maxed out on salary and can’t go any higher than what it already offered you. In this case, it’s time to get creative. There are other benefits that can be negotiated. You could ask about any of the following if applicable: sign-on bonus, yearly bonus, performance and salary review after 6 months instead of 12, guaranteed minimum number of hours, health benefits, car allowance, tech allowance (phone, tablet, laptop), vacation days, tuition reimbursement, training, stock options, payment of professional association dues, paid conference participation and so on.

“My industry doesn’t negotiate compensation”

That’s unlikely. You can try to negotiate in any industry. We have seen clients successfully negotiate salary or other benefits with government employers and hourly retail positions, both not known for their flexibility or generosity. Of course, there is no guarantee for success, but you owe it to yourself to try.

Additional Resources

Salary negotiation is difficult and uncomfortable for most people but there are a lot of resources that can help. Some of our favorites are:

  • Stanford University professor Margaret Neale, her negotiating advice is great overall but especially for women who still face special hurdles in this arena. Look her up on Youtube.
  • Jim Hopkinson’s book Salary Tutor is excellent, especially in explaining negotiation techniques.
  • Last but not least, any book in the GetFive (formerly 5 o’clock club) series is good, including Kate Wendleton’s Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game.
  • Of course you can always schedule an appointment at the Career Center and we will help you one-on-one with your salary negotiation strategy. Call us at 225-231-3733.

Written by Anne Nowak