The pandemic has scared job hunters into accepting the salary as offered. Savvy candidates negotiate their new compensation obtaining thousands of dollars more.



“Help me land my dream job,” said Ellen, 55, who called for Interview coaching. An IT Project Manager, she said, “A couple of weeks ago, I met with a VP online for a different interview. I blew it. They hired someone else. I must be making some mistakes when I talk to them. This new opportunity is ideal for me. Great company – it really is a dream job. How can I improve?”

That conversation lead us to work together, roleplay, and perfect her answers. She was underselling herself, so we worked on boosting her confidence. Ellen struggled a few times with some of her answers to potential questions. Salary questions, the weakness question and identifying her strengths all need some finessing. After our session, she went to the interview and wrote to say, “I heard back that I did very well in the interview, and I was offered the position. Please help me negotiate to secure a higher salary.”

The fact is women are not good at salary negotiations. Most women will never even try. According to PayScale.com’s 2020 Gender Pay Gap report , women make only $0.81 for every dollar a man makes. New to the gender pay gap report for 2020 is an analysis of the impact of lost wages on lifetime earnings. By calculating presumptive raises given over a 40-year career, PayScale reported that women stand to lose $900,000 on average over a lifetime.

There are multiple reasons why women still earn less. One key reason is that men are more inclined to ask employers to pay them more, and women accept the first offer. Even during COVID, I’m seeing clients reject the first offer, which is almost always a low-ball one to see if you will take it. Instead, clients ask to be compensated higher based on the experience and skills they bring to the job.

Ellen’s Real Life Case Study

Ellen followed my advice and never revealed her salary to the recruiter or anyone else on the hiring team. This got her an initial six-figure offer. She then went in and stated that she thought the offer would have been higher. She mentioned the necessary experience and skills she would bring to the job. The employer came back and offered $20,000 more.

The signing bonus was $5,000. I thought that was too low for her field and was confident she could get more. The question was, how much? I advised Ellen to probe the recruiter, who stated they might have room to go up on the signing bonus. I directed Ellen to then talk to the hiring manager. She told the manager she wanted to accept the job if they could work out one thing. When asked what that was, Ellen stated that she thought the signing bonus was too low. The manager said, “let me see what we can do.”  The employer came back and increased the signing offer to $20,000. Ellen accepted the job and secured a total of $40,000 more in income by making this career move.

Strategies to use to raise your salary offer

Know What Your Skills are Worth

Do some research to learn what you should expect to be paid for your years of experience, education, certifications, and any specialized training you possess. Try Payscale.com, which offers free salary surveys that provide detailed information to help you get an estimate on what you should be earning.

Focus on the Employer’s Needs

Begin your conversation with the hiring manager by reselling yourself. Reaffirm the reasons they want you, the skills you’ll bring, and how you’ll solve their problems. Mention your key strengths and experience plus stress how quickly you will be productive. In other words, give them reasons to pay you more. After you restate your interest, start the negotiation by saying, “I’m interested in the position. I was a little disappointed that the offer was lower than I expected, especially since I have this experience or these skills (note something specific) and will come up to speed quickly.”

Be Specific When It Counts

The employer may ask you what figure you have in mind. Know what you want and state it. Be willing to wait. The hiring manager may say they need to go back and ask their boss to get the additional dollars. If they want you, they’ll be your advocate and almost always come back with more than they originally offered. Patience here pays off.

Get an Employment Letter in writing

This letter should outline all the terms of your employment, covering salary, signing bonuses, stock options, starting date, benefits, and particularly noting anything different from the organization’s standard policies. Too many promises are made and quickly forgotten once you begin the job. Get the details in writing, so there are no misunderstandings later. People who have failed to do so have suffered when the promised extra week of vacation was “forgotten” once they started. A written agreement protects what you have negotiated for. I always advise my clients that it’s wise – and necessary – to obtain one.

By Robin Ryan, Contributor

© 2020 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved

This Forbes article was legally licensed through AdvisorStream.

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Robert A Anderson III, CLTC®, LUTCF®, ChFC®
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