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Women and Salary Negotiation: Short-Term and Long-Term Strategies

Human Resources

Equal pay legislation has reentered the political landscape fairly visibly in the past several months, and if recent talk is an indication, the topic isn’t going anywhere any time soon (to read statements from the legislators in my Twitter feed, at least).

Inequality in pay has yet to go the way of non-universal suffrage, so while waiting for reality to catch up with political and social will, what can you do as a woman interviewing for a good position to maximize your chances of being offered what you’re worth? There are some short-term answers to act on now, and some long-term strategies to put in place for pay off (so to speak) later.

Short-Term

- Don’t just do your research – do your data collection, too.

Sales recruiters from my firm (including myself) have already written about how crucial it is to do your research on what the market will bear for your current target job for someone with your current experience. That research is absolutely crucial.

But what’s equally important is going into negotiations with solid data of the ROI and direct effect on business growth that you achieved for your current and past employers. Numbers speak, and especially for business development job seekers (or sales, or marketing) those numbers are relatively easy to connect to your own performance.

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- Ask… Nicely

A 2012 study* found that, contrary to popular wisdom, women aren’t lagging behind in pay due to simply not asking for raises that their male colleagues request. We’re asking very clearly, this study found. So we’ve got to keep it up.  Sadly, that same study found that the squeaky wheel doesn’t necessarily get the grease.

It’s important to follow the baseline rules of asking for a particular salary (whether as a raise or a new job offer) dispassionately and cordially.  Stick to ranges rather than hard numbers, and it seems that the longer you can stay put within one company, the better for your long-term earning potential.

Long-Term

Broadening your skill set and deepening skills you already have is a no-brainer for anyone wanting to move up the pay scale. In a swiftly changing industry? Enroll in professional certificate courses and stay on top of trends and innovations coming up from industry leaders.

A specific exercise to work on new skills and capabilities might be as simple as picking the aspect of your discipline in which you feel weakest, and giving yourself six months to focus daily on improving there.

Long-term strategies for increasing your pay potential aren’t gender-specific; neither are the short-term ones. Maybe that’s the key. It’s unrealistic, and probably not desirable, to divorce your gender identity from your professional persona. After all, it’s part of you. When thinking long-term about how to win equal pay for equal achievements, take your gender out of the equation, and focus on your individual skills.

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