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Tips From a Recruiter: Salary Negotiation for Women

Hey there.

I’m Nichole, BAM’s Talent Acquisition Manager (or a recruiter with a snazzier title). I identify as many things: a Sagittarius, a dog mom, a Latina, a woman, and so on. Of that list, Latina and woman are probably highest on the rank of self-identity. That’s why, as a recruiter, I find it my duty to emphasize the following statistic:

Women in the U.S. make only 82 cents for every dollar made by a man (*white, non-Latino). And the gap is even wider for most women of color. 

  • Asian women: 90 cents (Many Asian women make FAR less) 
  • White women: 79 cents 
  • Black women: 62 cents 
  • Native or Indigenous women: 57 cents
  • Latina or Latinx women: 54 cents 

Read that again. It’s disheartening.

Before my internal role at BAM, I recruited for clients in the financial services and life sciences industries. I saw the same pattern over and over. Women negotiate far less than men. Why? That’s a loaded topic, but let’s narrow it down to the effects of inequity, prejudice, and racism. Furthermore, interviewing can be complicated enough, even before the headache of salary negotiation. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’d like to offer the following salary negotiation tips for women, in hopes that it might make the process just a tad easier. 

Know what is most valuable to you 

Salary is more than a base number. Are you looking for work-life balance or remote flexibility? Are titles and promotion pathways important to you? Maybe you want to learn a new skill from a specific work team? There’s medical benefits, PTO, bonuses, annual raises, and/or equity to consider. Know what’s important to you and consider the overall package.

Do your research 

There are resources out there. Use them to do your research: 

Know the cost of living in your area, the average salary for someone with your years of experience, background, and job title. Research the specific industry you’re in. Research PTO and benefits packages that are standard. Know the standard for your market.

Ask about salary upfront 

I hear it from candidates all the time, “I hate to talk numbers on the first call, but …”. There is no but. Salary is important and you should bring it up on the first call. Companies will have a budget in place when there is a vacancy. If they’re still trying to figure out that number, they will admit it. If you’re hesitant, just practice the following, “I really enjoyed our initial call today, and look forward to learning more about the company and role. What salary range do you have listed for this position?” There is nothing wrong with chatting numbers or benefits early on.

Know the cost of not negotiating 

If you don’t negotiate, you could be leaving money on the table. This is especially true if the initial offer is not parallel to what the market dictates. *Unless the company has predetermined salary ranges per position, you should always consider negotiation.  

(*Some companies, BAM included, have visible salary ranges for each role in the company, which are listed for all employees to see. This ensures that everyone is paid fairly and equally.)

Prepare a strong pitch 

If negotiating feels scary or uncomfortable, practice! Show confidence. You can gracefully navigate this conversation. Don’t apologize and lose the filler words; avoid saying “I’m sorry” or “I think.” Instead, say, “Thank you for this initial offer. Upon doing research, I found the market average for this position and industry in the ____ range, instead. This is more aligned with my expectations, so I propose a base salary of ____.” An employer won’t withdraw an offer simply because you negotiated. Don’t doubt yourself or be fearful.

Be realistic

Not every salary negotiation will result in your desired outcome. That’s okay! Practice for the future. Practice for the eventual promotion or salary raise request. You’ll have to have this conversation again someday. Stay realistic. There is a difference between being underpaid and aiming for a very generous raise. If you stay on top of the market trends annually, you’ll know when it’s time to negotiate, again.

Ultimately, negotiation is an art. It can induce fear, anxiety, or an overall feeling of discomfort. Negotiation is give-and-take. Often, both parties will have to meet halfway. For strong negotiation, you’ll need to do your research and come prepared. By considering these salary negotiation tips, you’ll be in a better position to reach your salary goals and, more importantly, ensure you are not being underpaid or undervalued.

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