Are you tired of feeling uncomfortable talking about money? Do you wish you knew exactly what to say to land your next promotion and be recognized as a leader? If you’re ready to catapult your career, this negotiation roadmap is for you.
I believe negotiating for what you want is an act of self-love. Overcoming your fears, self-limiting beliefs, and people-pleasing tendencies to give yourself what you most deserve takes courage. But that’s why you’re here! I created The Activator® and this community to support motivated career women like you negotiate $40,000 raises without the fear of negative consequences.
What I’ve learned from negotiating as a Human Resource Leader, employee, and business owner is there really is no downside to negotiation. Negotiating for more – money, time, or whatever it is you want – is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your future, and your family! This guide will support women and people of color to use negotiation (and money) as the tool to help you build bridges to create your ideal life, career, paycheck, and community.
If you’re uncomfortable negotiating know that it’s a skill that can be built. The reason you may fear negotiation is that many people take action (or avoid it altogether) before they’re ready. So, I’ve got you covered. Let’s start preparing your “big ask” from the inside out. Grab your notebook and pen and get ready to feel good about being recognized as a leader in your industry.
- Why you need to learn the art of negotiation
- How to actually negotiate at work
- When to use your new negotiation skills
NEGOTIATION STARTS WITH YOU
Owning Your Worth
Negotiation starts with owning your worth. What does it mean to own your worth before, during, and after a negotiation? It means being clear about what you want before you start. It means being ready and willing to walk away if you don’t get to a place of “yes” based on your needs and wants. It means saying “no” when you mean it and not settling.
Are you wondering how to get clear about what you want and what your “walk away” point is? Click here to join me at The Anti-Conference. I’ll be helping you navigate what it’s really like to own your worth, especially during negotiations. Do you want the extended version of this guide, which includes prompts, the exact words to start the conversation, and more? Click here to get your copy!
WHY YOU NEED TO NEGOTIATE
There is no rule book for growing an effective career. There’s even less clarity when it comes to talking about money. There is, instead, a lot of vague advice, mystery around “right” and “wrong”, and fear around money. We’re not taught how to negotiate in school. You probably weren’t raised to see negotiation and money as a powerful tool, but instead, something that is impolite, difficult, or “bad.” You weren’t set up for success when entering the workforce, but the good news is that you can do something about it now!
Why is it so important to leverage the power of negotiation for you and your career?
First and foremost, organizations expect you to negotiate job offers, promotions, and raises. When you don’t negotiate or ask for what you need, you risk leaving money, options, power, and potential on the table. Here are some essential reasons why you should always negotiate, no matter what:
- You have the most leverage you’ll ever have in a job offer negotiation before you say “yes” to the job
- It’s an opportunity to learn more about your employer’s pay philosophy and how they’ll treat you on the inside
- You’ll have the chance to own your value and build a relationship with your employer and boss
- If you don’t ask, the answer will inevitably be “No,” and you’ll stay exactly where you are
- Making the ask helps to combat the gender and racial inequalities in pay and opportunity
- You will feel better about yourself when you ask (no matter the outcome) rather than staying silent, wondering “what if”
- You’ll be in the position to co-create your ideal career
- Negotiation is an essential part of business and relationships (it’s not conflict)
Close the Gap
Do you still need motivation? As women and people of color, it’s essential to negotiate, self-advocate, and own your worth. You’re facing gender and racial pay gaps right out of the gate, starting as you enter the workforce. To combat the systematic inequality around pay, opportunity, and recognition, you can take one crucial step to negotiate for what you want! Now is the time to hold your employer accountable for fair pay by asking about their internal pay and promotion practices.
I made mistakes negotiating for the pay, title, and recognition I deserved in my career, despite having access to salary data, HR practices, and internal systems. I was “at the top” and still struggled. It’s important you’re aware of the typical roadblocks you may face as you climb the corporate ladder and fight for fair and competitive pay. I learned the hard way that negotiating for your worth and asking for what you want is not just about money – it’s about self-love. Honestly, that’s one of the main teachings in The Activator® program, which takes high-achieving women who are feeling stuck on a journey within – to truly learn self-care – to then take bold action with confidence and certainty.
HOW TO NEGOTIATE
When in doubt, lead with curiosity. No matter how your negotiation conversations go, use curiosity (Dear Boss, can you tell me why it’s not a good time to ask for a budget to get me a promotion?) and you won’t let yourself down. But, before you grab your notebook and meet with your boss, your first order of business is to prepare, prepare, prepare!
Part of the preparation process of negotiating a new job offer, internal raise, or promotion is to clarify why it’s important to you. Get clear about your WHY.
Getting clear about your ideal outcome will help you withstand the back and forth of negotiation. You’ll need to consider if your “ask” is about money, recognition, more responsibility, an aligned title, validation that you’re doing a great job, meeting an internal or external goal, or maybe something else? Get clear on your intentions – why are you ready to go after what you want, and how would it feel to be recognized and rewarded?
Do you want some more prompts to help you get clear on your why, your ideal outcome, and other questions you need to consider before negotiating? Click here to get the extended version of The HR Insider’s Guide to Negotiation! It includes more details on the step-by-step process of negotiation, the exact words to use to start the conversation, and how to build your case.
What are you really worth in the marketplace?
Before we get into the specific numbers let’s assess your relationship with you. To understand what you’re really worth in the market, you have to be ready and willing to self-advocate. You must know and own your value, contribution, and strengths and be able to clearly articulate it to your boss, internal stakeholders, future employer, or prospective client.
You have to believe in your value first and foremost! Ground yourself in your strengths, contributions, and unique capabilities. Now is the time to get comfortable talking about yourself! This part may be one of the most difficult parts of the process, but I believe if you spend the time needed here, it will allow you to firmly move forward in the direction that best serves you and your financial goals.
Tools to Calculate Your Salary
Use the three tools below to calculate your value in the marketplace and know what you’re worth:
1- Visit online salary calculators: These tools are a great place to start to ground your research in data based on job title, years of experience, and location. These tools will help you identify whether or not a salary of $100,000, for example, is fair market value for someone in your field.
2- Enroll your peers: It’s often considered a “faux pas” to talk about money with our friends, family, and co-workers, but this outdated social norm is costing everyone. It’s time to reach out to your peers (of all genders and backgrounds) and do some digging. What are the people you know in your industry really being paid?
3- Ask HR: Set up a time to meet with your Human Resources business partner. HR has access to the most up-to-date, broad ranges of salary data in the market. HR should also be aware of the internal salary bands per level within your organization. Sit down with your business partner and ask them to help you understand where your current compensation package falls within the approved salary band for your level and position.
Now that you’ve done your market research it’s time to define your ideal salary range.
How to Define Your Ideal Salary Range or Business Rates (shout this from the rooftops!)
When sharing your ideal salary expectations with a potential new employer or sharing your business rates as a business owner, for example, it’s best to share a range. Why? Because sharing a salary range, as opposed to one set number, gives you the wiggle room to actually negotiate! Plus, women are “seen” as more flexible by sharing a range. It opens the door to a conversation. We like conversations.
Using the salary range strategy ensures you end the negotiation with receiving (at the very least) your ideal base pay, or your target salary. Ultimately, your worth in the marketplace is defined by what you and your organization say “yes” to. Start high.
If you’re new to running your business, setting your rates can be stressful. Women often undercut their rates because they feel less confident in their skills in running a business – not in what they deliver to a client. So, as a business owner, it’s crucial to set strong rates based on your expertise and raise your rates every year! It’s also important to have your products, services, and fees or rate structure identified before you get on the phone with a potential client.
When it comes time to pitch a service, create a proposal, or close a sale on the phone, don’t waver! Stick to your fees and persist. Own your numbers. Your business and quality of life depend on you being well taken care of and you don’t want to end up resenting your clients. Choose rates that allow you to show up fully and go the extra mile without stress, frustration, or burnout.
How to build your (business) case
What’s in it for the business to give you what you ask for? You now have a good understanding of what the market is paying someone like you for all of your expertise, education, industry skill set and more. Own the value you deliver and the outcomes you drive because that what makes an effective ask. Your business case will be strongest if you include the tangible deliverables, intangible benefits, and third-party feedback from the results of your work.
Building your case requires you to ask for feedback from your peers, your stakeholders, and your leaders. Let others tell your story. It’s so much easier to advocate for yourself when you know others are advocating in your corner too. What would happen to your team or organization if you quit your job today?
Do you want my full plan on building your case? Click here to get the extended version of this guide, which includes prompts, the exact words to start the conversation, and more!
How to Include Feedback
What positive feedback have you received from colleagues, peers, clients, etc. that corroborate your contribution? Do you know a sponsor willing to speak to your boss on your behalf?
It’s important that you ask around to truly understand the value and contribution you’re making at work and in your clients’ lives. Give yourself permission to ask for feedback. You are often your own worst critic and I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the positive feedback you receive! This will help you clearly articulate your case and negotiate for more.
Once you have some solid feedback from colleagues outlining your contribution, compare your current job description with the role above you, highlighting all of the areas you’re currently working in/on. Then go back and determine if you’re meeting or exceeding expectations at the level of your current job – or the one above you!
Remember, women are often promoted on past performance while men get promotions on potential. Build your case, own your value, and get clear about what you want – a new title with equivalent pay? A bonus? A path to promotion? A 20% pay increase now before the next review cycle? With action comes clarity. With clarity comes confidence. With confidence, you can do/be/believe anything is possible!
Pro Tip: Get Your Boss’ Buy In: Remember, if your boss is not ready or willing to advocate on your behalf, you have more work to do! Take control of your future, career, and life by getting honest with yourself and effectively communicating your needs and desires with your boss.
Don’t worry, I have the exact words to use to start the conversation with your boss so they will help you negotiate your worth. Click here to get the extended version of the guide.
ROADBLOCKS TO NEGOTIATION
Even if you’ve done your research, talked with the right people, and stepped into owning your worth and your money story, you might still run-up to some roadblocks. Here are some potential roadblocks you might see in the process.
Fear of Conflict
The number one thing I see holding people back from negotiating for more money is fear. So what is it about the fear that makes you pump the breaks? When it comes to negotiating for a raise, fear can paralyze you from taking the appropriate action to successfully ask for what you want because you are afraid of the perceived negative consequences.
You worry your boss or your colleagues won’t agree with your reason for asking or, worse yet, won’t like you for asking. Maybe you’re unsure that you are worth more and you’ll be perceived as greedy or not a team player. You fear potential retaliation. You could also be avoiding an answer of “no” because you don’t know where that will leave you at work.
Many fears are associated with asking for a fair and competitive salary, and negotiating can be intimidating. Still, the positive results of successfully negotiating a salary increase far outweigh the potential downside. More money in your pocket tips the scales in your favor, and you are worth it.
“No” Is Not the End in Negotiation
If you haven’t heard the word “no” in a negotiation, you haven’t actually negotiated.
I know, I know – this sounds harsh, right? The biggest fear holding you back from negotiating could very well be hearing the word “no!” But I believe going for “no” is one of the most essential negotiation strategies, especially for women.
One of the main things that held me back from owning my worth and negotiating for more as I grew my career was my fear of hearing “no” from a boss or potential employer. The higher the stakes felt, the more I shied away from asking for what I really wanted, and instead, I said yes to mediocre job offers and opportunities.
If you don’t get to a place of “no” in a negotiation conversation you really can’t tell if you’ve left money or opportunity on the table. “No” doesn’t have to be the end unless you want to walk away. It’s important for organizations to share what they’re willing to do for you, but the same is true on your part. What are you willing to say “yes” to? Is it really a “yes” or are you just afraid to hear a “no” for what you really want?
How to handle potential objections
What I’ve learned about negotiation from building a corporate career and a business is this: when you ask for everything you want/need/would like and hear “no,” you’ll always feel better than if you stay quiet, accept less, and harbor negative feelings. Making the ask is crucially important!
Negotiation is a conversation between two parties attempting to find a mutual agreement. It’s important to show your cards and share what works for you and understand what the other side of the table needs and will offer. If you negotiate and receive everything you ask for, did you really negotiate the best possible deal or a job offer? If you don’t face any resistance, you may be leaving money, benefits, or options on the table.
To get to a place where you feel confident in your ask, you must be prepared to handle potential objections and be emotionally ready to face rejection. “No” may actually mean “not right now” or “I need more information” – but if you avoid asking, you’ll never know.
If you make your ask and you see that your boss is visibly uncomfortable, or they answer no, or not right now, get curious and ask clarifying questions:
- What else would you need from me to advocate on my behalf?
- Can you tell me a good time to propose this to finance/HR before finalizing budgets?
Make Your Decision/Be Willing to Walk Away
No matter what happens when you ask, you have to be clear about your walk-away point. At what point do you decide that it’s in your best interest to walk away? Is it saying no to the highest salary you’ve been offered because the office culture isn’t a good fit? You have to know when you walk away because you’re worthy of more
Deciding when to say “yes” or “no” to a negotiation offer is where your power lives. What you say yes to, you accept! No one can force you into any deal – you have to make a deal with yourself and hold yourself accountable for listening to your truth. If you end up saying yes and change your mind later, that’s okay.
So, make the best decision for you in that moment and trust that if you’re willing to walk away, not settle for less, and own your worth, you will reap the rewards.
Are you wondering how to get clear about what you want and what your “walk away” point is? Click here to get the extended version of this guide, which includes prompts, the exact words to start the conversation, and more!
WHEN CAN YOU NEGOTIATE
Money is a part of our everyday life and yet we rarely talk about it. Negotiation, just like money, happens way more often than we recognize. We navigate turning a no into a yes with friends, family, and coworkers daily. Yet, when money is involved it changes the game thanks to our emotional attachment to what we earn. So before you go negotiating your salary, start to notice how you leverage negotiation in your daily life and you may begin to recognize you have a few tricks up your sleeves already.
For the sake of time, I’m going to focus on two typical times to negotiate in business:
- Negotiating new jobs
- Negotiating a promotion or raise
New Job Offer: Salary Deflection Strategies
We all dread having the money conversation at work. It can be even more difficult if you’re caught off guard or feel unprepared to talk about money with a literal stranger over the phone. You know what I’m talking about, when a recruiter asks you on the very first phone call, “Well, I’d love for you to share your salary expectations with me before we go any further.” In this scenario I recommend either of these two strategies:
1. State your desired, ideal salary range from the get-go to see if this potential employer is willing to cough up the cash for great talent like you. When it comes time to discuss money with HR or a potential new hiring manager, I recommend (and research shows) the technique of anchoring.
By stating your range first, the hiring manager/HR will be more likely to make you an offer you can’t refuse because it will be closer to your desired range (if that number is actually within their budget). If you leave it to chance, the HR team will most likely recommend that they make you a cautious offer on the lower end of their budget, assuming you will negotiate for more.
At that stage, the burden is on you to negotiate their offer up. It’s much easier for you to come down in your desired salary knowing that the final number will still work for you, rather than fighting for a fair salary from the start of your relationship and hoping they will be able to give you more money.
2. Deflect, deflect, deflect. It’s hard to talk about money when you don’t know what you’ll be delivering in terms of value (aka job description/responsibilities). Ask if you can talk about the compensation piece when you have more information about the role and you’ve had time to do market research.
Asking for a Raise or Promotion
Prepare your pitch by scripting out and practicing out loud your case for a raise and/or promotion. Practicing the language out loud before you are in front of your boss will calm your nervous system and allow you to deliver your pitch confidently. Then, prepare a list of potential responses and objections you anticipate from your boss so you’re prepared as possible before you start the meeting. Time the meeting by ensuring your boss has a heads up that you want to discuss your career development. Go in with confidence.
Negotiation is a layered process and you’ve begun to scratch the surface. It’s a leadership skill you have to be willing to practice. It requires you to do the inner work, the research, and involve the right people in the process. Do you want to know the one place I see women like you struggle the most? The inner work. The path to truly owning your worth (feeling worthy vs. knowing you “should” be paid well) takes self-awareness and the courage to undo conditioning and self-limiting beliefs. Owning your worth in a world that wants you to stay small while smiling and saying thank you is not for the faint of heart – but it pays off. You are worthy.