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Silence Aggravating Little Self-Doubts- How to master Salary Negotiation For A New Job

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Using your authentic voice

Naina had always been ambitious. Growing up, she was the one who organized lemonade stands, started clubs in school, and got her homework done before anyone else. This ambition carried her into adulthood, propelling her to the top of her class in college, where she majored in business administration. Fresh out of school, she landed a coveted job at a prestigious financial firm. Everything seemed to be going according to plan—until it wasn't.

From her first day at the firm, Naina found herself in a male-dominated environment where casual sexism was the norm. She worked hard, often late into the night, but noticed that her male colleagues were the ones getting the high-visibility projects and face-time with the executives. Every time she mustered the courage to ask for more responsibility or better opportunities, she was met with vague responses or told she was "too aggressive."

Executive woman blonde hair holding a work bag and notebook
Know your worth and fight for it!

Despite progress on various fronts, women still face systemic biases and other challenges in the workplace, leading to lower salaries and less career advancement compared to men in similar roles. What's worse is that women also fall victim to our own self-limiting beliefs. We tend to want to be liked and not seen as threatening. This might help us in not being in the firing line but it doesn't help us be seen as strong leaders ready for the next promotion or next role.

salary negotiation for a new job - Understanding Systemic Bias and Self-Sabotage

The Roots of Systemic Bias

Women have historically faced systemic biases in various sectors, including the workplace. These biases manifest in different ways, such as lower initial salary offers and fewer promotions. Being aware of this bias allows you to prepare better for salary negotiation for a new job.

There is a well-documented social bias that views identical behaviors differently depending on whether a man or a woman exhibits them. When a man is assertive in stating his value and asking for a higher salary, he's likely to be seen as confident and assertive—qualities traditionally admired in the business world. On the flip side, when a woman exhibits the same behavior, she risks being perceived as arrogant, aggressive, or even self-centered.

A 2019 study by the Harvard Business Review confirmed that women who negotiate for higher salaries are perceived as less likable than men who do the same. This 'likability' factor often serves as an unconscious bias affecting women's career progression, where the dilemma becomes a choice between being liked and getting what they deserve.

Strategies to Overcome Bias

  1. Be Data-Driven: Counteract subjective biases by coming to the negotiation table with objective, data-backed arguments for your desired salary. This method leaves little room for your assertiveness to be mischaracterized.

  2. Use 'We' Language: While it's essential to be direct about your contributions and worth, framing your negotiation points in terms of how they benefit the team or company can help dispel the perception of arrogance.

  3. Seek Advocates: Sometimes, the testimony of others can carry weight. Secure endorsements or letters of recommendation that attest to your capabilities and contributions.

  4. Practice Collaborative Negotiation: Approach the negotiation as a problem-solving exercise for both parties rather than a battle to win. This approach can soften the edges of assertiveness and underscore your commitment to mutual success.

To break this chain, your negotiation approach should focus on demonstrating your competence and aligning your contributions with the company's goals. The key is to separate your worth from existing stereotypes and gender biases.

The Danger of Self-Sabotage

Many women fall into the trap of self-sabotage during salary negotiations. Examples include:

  • Negative Self-Talk: Downplaying your skills or experience.

  • Procrastination: Putting off salary negotiations for later.

  • Assumed Understanding: Believing others know your value without you voicing it.

These self-imposed barriers hinder women from advocating effectively for themselves.

The Importance of Self-Awareness and Self-Assessment

Creating Your Safe Space

One effective way to counter self-sabotaging behaviors is by cultivating self-awareness. Create a 'safe space,' either mentally or physically, where you are free from judgment or criticism.

Exercises to Boost Self-Awareness

  1. Mindfulness meditation to connect with your inner self.

  2. Journaling your achievements and positive traits.

  3. Positive affirmations that counter negative self-talk.

List Your Priorities and Desires

Understanding your needs and wants is crucial. Is it a salary bump, a new job title, or more flexible working hours? Prioritize these items and place this list in a visible area, like your desk, as a constant reminder.

Force-Ranking Your Priorities

Force ranking helps you understand what is most important when multiple options or pathways are available. It serves as a reference during negotiation talks and helps you avoid compromises that could derail your career goals.

Restructuring Proposals and Counter-Proposals

The Power of Data

Before you enter the negotiation room, equip yourself with data and information that can help you justify your salary expectations.

Tools and Resources

  1. Team Blind: This platform offers real salary data shared anonymously by employees.

  2. Provides comprehensive salary data, particularly for tech roles.

  3. H1Data: Useful for assessing market compensation rates, especially if you are in a specialized field.

Case Study:

One of my clients, Neena, is a highly-skilled User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) engineer. She had recently received a job offer that initially left her excited. The offer would have added an extra $30,000 to her existing salary, which seemed like a substantial jump at the time. She was almost ready to sign on the dotted line and accept this new opportunity.

After our initial discussion, Neena decided to do a little more digging. She turned to, a reliable platform that provides comprehensive and anonymous salary data across various industries. To her surprise, she discovered that the salary offered to her was actually below the market rate for UX/UI engineers with her level of experience and expertise.

Armed with this invaluable data, Neena felt empowered to revisit the negotiation table. But she didn't just walk in with anecdotal evidence; she prepared a well-structured argument to present to her potential employers. She highlighted her unique skill set, previous accomplishments, and how her expertise could drive value for the new company. Then, she backed it all up by presenting the data she'd gathered, showing that her salary ask was not an arbitrary number but one supported by market trends.

The outcome? Not only did Neena successfully negotiate her salary, but she managed to secure a whopping $45,000 increase over the initial offer. This wasn't just a win for her; it also showed the company that they were investing in a proactive, research-oriented professional who knew her worth.

And the moral of the story is: knowledge is power. A bit of research and the courage to advocate for herself transformed what was already a good job offer into a great one, perfectly aligned with market standards.

Aligning Your Request with How you can benefit the Company

Simply stating your expectations and backing them up with market data might not be enough. To truly succeed, you must also align your salary request with the unique value you bring to the table—specifically, how you can benefit the company in question. Here’s a guide on how to skillfully link your financial ask with the advantages you offer as a candidate.

  1. Understand the Company's Needs - What challenges is the company facing? What gaps are they looking to fill with your role? Once you identify these areas, you can tailor your approach to position yourself as the ideal solution.

  2. Articulate Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) - Your UVP is a succinct way to describe why you are not just a qualified candidate, but the best candidate for the job.

  3. Show ROI through Past Achievements - Use metrics and numbers to add weight to your claims. For instance, if you helped your last company grow its customer base by 30%, mention that.

  4. Speak Their Language - If the company is focused on growth, discuss how you can contribute to scaling operations or expanding market reach. If they prize innovation, highlight your problem-solving and creative thinking skills. For more details check out the post on mirroring.

  5. Offer Flexibility with a Focus on Long-term Gains - Sometimes, despite your best arguments, a company may have budget constraints that prevent them from meeting your initial salary expectations. In such cases, be prepared to discuss alternative forms of compensation that can make up for the shortfall, such as stock options, higher performance bonuses, or a more flexible work schedule.

  6. Seal the Deal with Mutual Benefits - Recap how your proposed compensation aligns with the value you'll bring to the company, ensuring a mutually beneficial arrangement. Make sure the other party feels good about the deal by talking about how you aim to hit the ground running.

Leveraging the Psychological Benefits of Advocacy

The Psychology of Negotiating for Another

When you negotiate as if you're representing someone else, your approach is often more forceful and better articulated. Use this psychological shift to your advantage. Imagine negotiating for a close friend or a family member who you believe deserves the best.

Techniques to Harness this Psychological Shift

  1. Visualization: Imagine a scenario where you’re negotiating for someone you care about deeply.

  2. Role-playing: Practice with a friend or mentor, acting as though you’re negotiating for them.

  3. Reframing Perspective: Continuously remind yourself that you deserve what you're asking for, just as much as anyone else does.

Practical TIPS for Success at the Negotiation Table

Be Prepared to Counter

It’s common for employers to counter your proposals. Prepare for this by having a list of alternative perks or benefits you'd be willing to consider. For a list of perks get this cheat sheet.

Maintain Professionalism

Being assertive is key, but there's a fine line between assertiveness and aggression. Your tone, choice of words, and body language should all convey confidence without appearing confrontational. For a list of weak words and strong words, check out this blog post.

Also, this Salary Do's and Don'ts will help you prepare for your interview.

On Naina 's story, It wasn't long before the external biases she faced started affecting her internally. Naina began to question her abilities. "Maybe I'm not leadership material," she thought. "Perhaps I'm better suited for the background." She became hesitant to speak up in meetings, fearful that she'd be labeled as 'bossy' or 'difficult,' adjectives she knew could be career-limiting for women but badges of honor for men.

Ultimately, Naina realized that to truly break free from the limitations imposed upon her, both by the system and herself, she needed a fresh start. So, she embarked on a journey of reinvention—seeking out a new role that would better align with her redefined professional image. She didn't just stop at updating her resume; Sarah committed to deep professional and personal development.

She invested in negotiation training, refining her skills to an elite level. She also focused on her mental resilience, shedding the self-limiting beliefs that had so long weighed her down. Daily affirmations became her ritual, each morning beginning with reminders of her skills, her value, and her significant career milestones.

Beyond that, Naina armed herself with an arsenal of data-driven tools for the job offer negotiation. She scoured industry benchmarks, collated meaningful statistics, and developed compelling arguments that would leave no room for subjective biases. She went into the job market not as a hopeful applicant but as a dream candidate, one who knew her worth and had the data to back it up.

When she finally landed a job offer that intrigued her, Naina deployed her expertly crafted negotiation strategy. Gone were the days of accepting whatever was offered; she countered their initial proposal with a well-reasoned, data-backed financial package that truly reflected her skills and market value. And it worked. The company met her terms, validating not just her professional worth but also her newfound negotiating prowess.

However, Naina was fully aware that this was merely one battle in an ongoing war. She had surmounted a significant barrier, but there would be others.

Nevertheless, Naina's victory had empowered her more than ever. She was ready to fight for her worth - and win the many battles to come.

When you are ready to negotiate more money for yourself, get this training (it's free!), "Know Your Worth and Fight for It: 7 Simple Steps to Negotiating the Job Offer of Your Dreams," This course offers practical strategies to help you discover your leverage, navigate challenging questions, and be prepared for unexpected obstacles.

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