Remember that this behavior is detrimental to women seeking to move up in the workplace, plain and simple. Be prepared to be a little uncomfortable, and you’re halfway there.
So what does it actually look like to negotiate benefits? Here are important tips to keep in mind to ensure that you stick to your guns and convince others of your worth.
Prepare and research
If you’ve already discussed a salary range in the interview process, when an offer comes you likely won’t be too surprised about the numbers. This is why it’s a good idea to ask for at least a salary range in the interview, in addition to asking about the benefits a company offers in these early stages. This way you can think through exactly how you’re going to ask them to make up for a lack in salary or to match the benefits you had at your last position.
If benefits and salary don’t come up during the interview, research what people in similar roles earn in your area by visiting Glassdoor or the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, and compare your findings to what you’re currently making. Read reviews of the company you’re interviewing with on InHerSight to see if employees are satisfied with their salaries, were happy with the work-life balance, and other benefits.
Keep in mind that some companies may not be able to budge on certain fixed benefits. For instance, public sector jobs that are funded by tax dollars may have less flexibility in adjusting financial or insurance benefits. Researching your industry, company, and position title is a crucial first step.
Write everything down
Refer to part 1 of this series to see a list of benefits that may be part of your new compensation package. Make a list of your must-haves and the benefits you can be flexible with. Perhaps it’s more important to you to be able to work from home at least once a week than getting a company credit card or additional vacation days. I personally prefer working from home and could give up a little bit of salary for that included benefit. But remember that you must then be prepared to discuss why working from home is crucial for you to manage your work-life balance.
Northwestern Mutual created a helpful guide to comparing numbers for insurance plans, retirement savings plans, and other perks your new company may provide. Think of this stage as putting together your priority and worth package; make this package part of your identity. This self-assurance will give you more confidence and will be immediately evident to whoever is evaluating you for a position.
Leverage the gaps
After researching the company and similar roles and writing down the specifics of what you need to succeed, it’s time to write a convincing email or phone transcript. If you’re able to reply to an offer over email, which is what I prefer, doing so may give you more time and space to craft a thoughtful response that presents a compelling argument.
Start by politely pointing out the discrepancy in salary between what you expected and what they offered. Stay positive by saying that you’re interested in making up this gap in other ways, like a better title for your position or five additional vacation days. Show them that you’re willing to accept the lower salary if they’re able to work with you on better benefits, and they’ll likely be willing to come up with a solution that works for both of you.
Don’t rush your response
It’s perfectly acceptable to take your time responding to an offer, whether in person, over the phone, or via email. I’ve often felt that I have to say something right away, especially when talking in real time. But the truth is, pausing for a minute can allow you to collect your thoughts and compare an offer to your priority and worth package, instead of nodding along with any offer they put down. Hesitating may even cause the people on the other end of the table to worry, thus increasing your chances that they’ll be willing to listen and negotiate.
Once you have researched and are fully prepared to present yourself as a complete package to your next potential employer, remember to stay firm on your priorities and worth, exude confidence, leverage any gap in salary, and take your time responding. A well-thought-out approach to negotiating benefits will ensure that you get the right position and the things you need to be happy in it.