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[video] Effective negotiation skills: Discussing salary and benefits Part 2

Libby Rothberg AvatarLibby Rothberg
July 19, 2017


Learning effective negotiation skills is not difficult, but you have to know what to ask for and when to ask. College Recruiter spoke with Marky Stein, a well recognized expert in career counseling, who gives her advice here for entry level job seekers about negotiating salary and benefits. 

Stein is a member of College Recruiter’s  Panel of Experts, who consults Fortune 500 companies, presents at colleges and universities about career development, and is a bestselling author of career planning books.  This is Part 2 of 2 of our conversation with Stein. Here she addresses the gender pay gap and advises when to ask for a pay raise. In part 1 of our conversation, Stein provided tips for what to expect, how to prepare for negotiating and ideas for what to negotiate

When it’s realistic to ask for a pay increase: know the 4 kinds of raises

  • Subjective proficiency based

This is when you go from trainee to competent to proficient. Every position has a “ramp up time”. This is a period in which you’re being trained and introduced to the policies and procedures of the company. This can last for 3 days, 3 months or even up to a year. During this time, you are basically being paid for being trained, which is good. You are working on becoming “competent”, when you will be able to do your job basically unsupervised. You should not ask for a salary increase until you have attained this “competent” level. A raise may be more likely when you have become proficient, meaning that you can perform your job at an advanced level and even teach someone else how to perform the job. (This might take at least 6 months.)

  • Objective performance based

For example, if you are in a sales position and you perform over your sales quota for several months–and you can prove that with numbers and statistics–it may be time to ask for a raise. If you’re a software engineer and you were hired with the software languages Java, C++ and SQL, and you take the time on your own to study more languages like Python, R or principles of Cloud Computing or Big Data, you would become more valuable to your company. At this point you could consider asking for a raise based on your objective and provable heightened abilities. If you can quantify your accomplishments, that’s a good thing. You can approach your supervisor to show how you are exceeding expectations by saying, ‘hey this is exactly how I’m saving you time, making you money, and getting more customers for you.’

  • Time based

Even when you can prove you’ve become proficient or you have exceeded expectations, you should wait at least six months to ask for a raise. It’s also quite possible that you will automatically get a small raise (such as $1 per hour) after a trial period of ninety days and some companies automatically offer a small raise every year. One thing you could do in the interview however, is ask what the chances for promotions or regular raises are.

  • Career ladder (promotion) based

In an interview, you can ask about the growth potential of the job. Is there room for advancement? With advancement, you can almost always be sure that there is an increase in pay.  For example, at one community counseling center, the path for advancement is from a receptionist role to orientation coordinator, to training specialist, to case manager, to senior case manager, to unit supervisor, to program manager. Each promotion brings an increase in salary.

Also read The Entry-Level Job Seeker’s Guide to Salary Negotiation

How young women can fight the pay gap and get paid what they deserve

Women can fight the gender pay gap by negotiatingStein recalls one grad who had a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. “She went through a phone interview before a face to face interview. Often a phone interview is just to confirm what’s on your resume, to describe the job to you and to see if you will accept their salary range. This student was being interviewed for a one year contract at Google at $35/hour. She was tempted to turn down the potential offer because it was significantly lower than market rate.”

I advised her to say these exact words: “I would consider that.” Notice she didn’t say “no”, nor did she say “yes”.

In other words, she would think about it. Remember, the purpose of the phone interview is not to hire you. It is to screen you into a face to face interview. A chance to negotiate may not come until the second or even third face to face interview. If she had said “no” to $35/hour, she never would have had the chance to advance to the face to face interview. Had she said “yes”, she may have committed to a low wage that she would later resent. Don’t screen yourself out at the phone interview by refusing the dollar amount of the potential offer. Luckily, this particular job seeker got to a face to face interview and negotiated for a $50/hr. wage. It was not until she proved herself to be of great value to the company that they would respect her statement, “I would like something closer to $50.”

On average, women make 79 cents to every dollar a man makes. The same tips for negotiating salary for a young woman is the same as I would advocate for a male job applicant. First, you’re not going to get a higher salary unless you ask for it, and female applicants are less likely to ask than are male applicants. So you have to be willing to enter into that negotiation, even if it is out of your comfort zone. Same goes for discussing benefits.

A 5-step formula for successful negotiation

1. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it. Open the conversation with a hearty and enthusiastic “thank you”. Then you can start a conversation by using one of the following phrases:

  • My research shows that…
  • I’d be more likely to accept the offer if…
  • I was thinking of something closer to…
  • Can you describe the benefits that go along with the total compensation package?
  • What would be the higher range of the salary for this position?
  • Since I exceed the requirements of the job description…
  • That sounds reasonable if we could add…

2. Know yourself. Have at least 6 action statements (Marky calls them Q statements in her book “Fearless Interviewing”) out of your brain at any moment. A Q-Statement means an action word plus a situation and finally a result. “The most universal complaint that I hear from corporate recruiters,” says Stein, “ is that students expect their degrees to ‘speak’ for them. Your degree only tells half the story. The recruiter wants to know how your education and past experiences add up to real-life stories, specific accomplishments and detailed knowledge that will enable you to make a real contribution to their company.”

3. Show how your past accomplishments could help the company.

For example, you could use Prove your accomplishments from collegea specific accomplishment, project or even a paper that you wrote in school to make a Q Statement such as:

  • When I planned the school orientation I had a budget of $2,000 and by negotiating with the caterer I saved over $400. That’s the kind of savings I’d like to bring to your company.  That’s really making a case for yourself.
  • “When I was captain of the soccer team, I encouraged my players to use mental affirmations like “We will win” that they repeated to themselves before every game and our team went from #7 in the league to number one in one year. That’s the kind of leadership I’d eventually like to bring to your company.
  • When I gave a 30 slide PowerPoint presentation with music and narration of a hypothetical marketing plan to the class of 24 participants, I received a standing ovation. Those are the kinds of presentation skills I’d like to bring to your company.
  • When I took a class in Computer Sciences I built my own Local Area Network with routers, switches and Ethernet cables and it became a network that my whole family of five could use at home. It’s this kind of technical and mechanical competency I’d like to bring to your company.
  • When I did an accounting assignment, I received an “A +” grade because there were no errors in an assignment with over 900 data points. It’s this kind of detail orientation I’d like to bring to your company.
  • When I did a graphic arts assignment using Adobe illustrator in class my professor used it to improve the art department’s website. The hit rate on the web page went from 30 per month to 60 per month. I’d like to bring that kind of designing and Search Engine Optimization competency I’d like to bring to your company.

4. Research the company website and job description thoroughly. Find out what the employer wants. Most companies want to increase profits, save money, save time, gain customers or clients, have a good reputation, decrease waste and accidents, get organized and speed up production or streamline processes. They also want you to be able to work independently as well as part of a team. When you can convince them that you can help them achieve their goals, they will see you bringing more value and may be more willing to negotiate.

5. Don’t fall prey to the “imposter syndrome”. Many psychologists and researchers believe that women are more susceptible than men to the imposter syndrome. The imposter syndrome is when you, despite real and objectively validated evidence, believe that somehow your accomplishments and excellence are vaguely fraudulent. For example, you may feel that you were admitted to a top graduate school by mistake, or somehow that you just got lucky. You may worry that somehow, someone will find out that you don’t really know what you’re doing after all–that you’re an imposter. Marky says she has coached many male and female high achieving executives who are battling with the imposter syndrome.

The best way to avoid imposter syndrome is awareness. If you feel like you can’t negotiate for a higher salary because you don’t feel you deserve or merit it think again – put your accomplishments in writing, state the facts to yourself and evaluate yourself with what you write on paper – in black and white rather than the nagging little voice in the back of your head that says, “oh no, they ‘ll hire me and find out that I’m a fraud”. Don’t let that voice take over. You earned your own success. Tell yourself, (as do almost all star athletes). I am smart, capable and deserving of the best. Cognitive psychologists tell us that this kind of “self-talk” can change your attitude and even behavior.

Some states have recently prohibited employers from asking about salary history, and more will likely follow.

Emlpoyment law now prohibits asking previous salaryMassachusetts was the first state to adopt this law and other states are following suit. California and New York also have recently passed similar laws.

This is some good news for gender equity and employment. Low pay for women can compound itself from job to job. For example, if you were being paid less than a man at your last job and a prospective employer asks you about your salary history and bases their new offer upon your former low paid salary, your salary could continue, job after job to be lower than desired. This would prevent that.

However, if somehow the employer does find out how much you made at your last job, it is smart to say that you expect the pay at the new prospective job to be more equitable, at the middle or high end of market rate and back it up with life stories and accomplishments that illustrates evidence of your experience and know-how.

Overall, candidates need to be aware. If an interviewer, or anyone at any point during the interview process, asks you about your salary, this might not be legal. Negotiating salary at the job offer point at the point of a job offer is the best leverage  you’ll ever have. Once you take the job, you’re never going to have as much to bargain with. You’re there in the interview to take advantage of that moment.

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