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Salary Negotiation is Scary, But It Doesn’t Have to Be

salary negotiation

Negotiating a salary is an intimidating process for most people. But because society conditions women to avoid being perceived as “difficult,” negotiating can be especially stressful. To avoid seeming “pushy,” or – god forbid – “high maintenance,” women often sell themselves short when it comes to salary negotiation. Fortunately, there are strategies and resources available to help empower and educate yourself, so that salary negotiation isn’t as scary.

Salary Negotiation is Expected

It took me several years of work experience and learning the hard way that companies expect candidates to negotiate. Keep that in mind the next time you feel unsure about whether or not you should make a counter offer. It’s entirely appropriate and expected. Very rarely will companies rescind an offer because of a negotiation attempt. And, any company that would, is probably not a well-run company anyway.

How to Make a Counter Offer

Many women struggle with the language to use when making a counteroffer. For example, let’s say a company extends an offer of $50,000. Send an email with language such as:

“Thank you for the offer. I am definitely interested in the position and believe I would be a valuable addition to your organization. However, based on my professional experience and education, as well as current industry research data, I believe a salary of around $60,000 is more realistic. Is there any way we can come to a mutually agreeable figure?”

Even if the Initial Offer is Good, Negotiate Anyway

A company may pleasantly surprise you with their initial offer. But remember, they are expecting you to negotiate. Always assume they have more available in their budget than they are letting on.

If They Can’t Match Your Counter Offer, Ask About Other Benefits

Compensation can come in many forms. If there truly is no wiggle room with their salary offer, inquire about benefits. Other benefits you might ask about include:

  • Does the company provide healthcare or a Health Savings Account?
  • How much vacation and sick leave do they give employees?
  • Do they match 401K contributions?
  • Do they reimburse commute/transit expenses?
  • Will they subsidize a gym membership or childcare?
  • Do they offer tuition reimbursement?

There are a multitude of potential ways for employers to contribute to their employees’ quality of life that don’t come in the form of a paycheck. Make a ranked list, from most important to least important, of the benefits you value as an alternative form of compensation, and compare it to the employer’s offer.

Do Your Research

Knowledge is power. See what other people in your field are making. Consult websites like Glassdoor,, Payscale, and CareerBliss. Fairygodboss is a similar website that is geared specifically toward women, and has other helpful information like career advice and companies’ maternity leave policies.

By educating yourself and knowing your worth, you can enter negotiations with confidence. You may eliminate all your stress and anxiety, but if you research and keep an open mind, you’ll be able to achieve the quality of life you deserve.

Do you have other tips for salary negotiation? Share with us in the comments below!

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  • I found it intimidating to negotiate for a higher position and salary but definitely worthwhile. As you say, preparing a list of items in order of importance is very empowering. It helps to ground you in your expectations.

    I approached my boss with a detailed list of reasons why I should be promoted to a higher level and had to be adamant about my accomplishments and their value to the team. He was reluctant at first, saying it wasn’t a good time, but didn’t want to hear excuses when I saw others having success.

    Apppreciate the advice and it definitely helps to stick up for yourself. You’re the only CEO of you. Only you will fight the hardest for yourself.

    • Preparing a list of accomplishments when approaching your boss for a raise or promotion is a great strategy – it’s hard for them to argue when you have the facts right there in front of you! I had a former boss tell me that you’re your own best advocate and she was completely right. She wasn’t a great boss for a lot of reasons, but I’ll never forget that advice!

  • Great article! I’ll keep this in mind moving forward. I’ll have to remind myself of the first point – they expect you to negotiate. For some reason that’s just hard to take in!

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