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How to get what you deserve – Salary Negotiation 101

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I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association (SCCA) , International Women’s Day event – where I shared my views and tips on salary negotiation and empowering women to negotiate correctly so that they can get what they want. Firstly, negotiating salary isn’t easy, and it can be especially difficult for women.

I have witnessed this first hand, with over ten years of experience in the executive search industry negotiating many salaries on behalf of my clients both male and female. I’ve always been astonished in the different approaches to negotiating salary.

Male candidates by and large, would typically approach the salary negotiation with an “attitude” that can best be described as: “whether I’m worth this amount or not I’m going to start the salary negotiation on my terms”. In contrast a large number of women I represented felt extremely uncomfortable in asking for what they wanted.

A recent survey by Glassdoor showed that women are less likely to negotiate compensation, two out of three women (68 percent) do not negotiate pay compared to just about 52 percent of men. In general, women are less likely to ask for more money when they are offered a job and more likely to stay in a lower paid job. The reasons vary, but some of it involves being uncomfortable discussing salary and being hesitant to ask for more.

The fact that women find it difficult to negotiate compensation also inadvertently contributes to the widening gender pay gap between what men and women are paid. Given that you’re not starting on a level playing field, due to gender biases such as, occupational segregation, bias against working mothers, and direct pay discrimination, being able to negotiate a compensation package is extremely important. It must be noted, what drives most of us irrespective of gender is the passion, recognition, challenge and independence our jobs give to us. However, at the same time, it’s important to be well-compensated for the work you do, because it’s what you deserve and your worth it!

So here are my top tips I shared directly with a fun group of highly successful female lawyers hopefully it can galvanise you to:

Always Ask:

It is critical to “ask”; its sounds very simplistic but according to research only 12 percent of women negotiate salary compared to 52 percent of men. Not negotiating can cost you significantly over the course of your career – which is detrimental to yourself and family. Why get paid less than your worth?

Do Your Research:

One thing I’ve always advised my clients not to do when starting a salary negotiation is picking a random amount and then start the negotiations not knowing whether its to low an amount or too high.

The best approach is to do your research beforehand. You can discover your market value researching salary rates for your role and sector by utilising the many online resources that are available.

You can also reach out to recruiters who will have great insights on what the market is paying and willing to pay for a profile such as yourself.

Decide a range:

After doing your homework you will be armed with enough data to make an informed decision on how much you should ask for hopefully your manager will be prepared to have a productive conversation about what’s possible – My suggestion at this stage is to conduct a Maximax and Maximin approach – meaning set the lowest amount your willing to accept and the highest amount that would satisfy your wildest desires. Don’t be afraid to think big - Most of us, especially women, unwittingly limit our earnings by lowering our expectations.

Negotiate in Service To Your Organization

Negotiation isn't about one person winning and the other losing. It's about each party giving a little to keep or get what they want most. Walking into your managers office and demanding X or Y typically doesn’t work for most women – a more successful approach is explaining why your pay raise will also benefit the organization.

Stay Positive:

If you get a yes at the first time of asking for a pay raise, you’re an excellent negotiator and don’t need to read any further – but for the majority of women they may not experience such positive outcomes.

After gaining the courage to ask sometimes rejection will seem like a bitter pill to swallow and damage your confidence – but its important to remember salary negotiation is a process and many factors will influence the outcome which are outside of your control. After you negotiate a pay raise, whether your successful or not, write down what the experience was like for you. What worked? What didn’t work? What can you capitalize on? What can you improve? All of this will come into play as you head into the next round of salary negotiation.

Set a time line

It’s also important to establish a timeline so that you and your manager can check in at regular intervals to monitor your progress and make sure you’re on track to achieve your goal in a reasonable time period.

Hopefully these tips result in successful outcomes for you in your next round of salary negotiation. Making more money is not the most important motivator about our jobs but negotiating a pay raise is not something you should do, but something you have to do -- because you know in your heart, you're worth it.




About half the sky

half the sky (HTS) is a career platform for women in Asia. We connect women to career opportunities at companies that care. We also want to equip you with information, tips and strategies to navigate the workplace today and the future.

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