How to negotiate your worth like a pro

How to negotiate your worth like a pro

Our resident career coach on the five things you need to know

BY Bella Zanesco, 7 min READ

For the majority of us, salary review time comes with a mix of dread and anxiety. If you feel like this, you’re not alone. According to the Executive Womens Wellbeing Report, five in 10 women are petrified to negotiate our worth at work. In my job as a career coach, I work with many women to help them build confidence and leverage in advance of a career pivot and the impending negotiation that goes along with it.

Read on for five steps to help you negotiate like a pro…

Step 1: Know (and believe) your market rate

You can easily find this out by picking up the phone and calling a specialist recruiter in your industry. Other ways including looking at a benchmarking study for your job type / level (many recruiters publish these), or simply ask your friends in similar roles in a similar industry to spill the beans. If you’re in a current role I recommend you do this 6-12 months in advance before any negotiation. If you’re looking for a new role do this before you tell any recruiter or HR what your salary expectations are because most women tend to low ball themselves and leave tens of thousands on the table.  Why do we low ball? Typically because we’ve got a limiting belief around our worth. This is fairly normal (that said not ideal), and the only way we can change it is by taking action to change it.

Step 2: Deliver with excellence

If you’re in a current role bring your Smart Girl a-game for a good 6-12 months before you ask for a raise. For those of you that are going into your annual review process, ask your manager what you need to do to develop your skills to help you reach the next level. Then set up a development plan and execute like a MOFO.  You may consider hiring a career coach or taking courses. Many companies subsidise both, if not the ATO does.  It’s also good practice to get a minimum of five public LinkedIn recommendations publicly stating that you deliver at a high standard. Know that organisations want to keep good people and will pay you your market rate (if pushed). Anyone who has quit and been counter-offered knows this situation all so well.

Step 3: Anchor to your negotiation outcomes

Write down the outcomes you’re looking for, this could include salary, flexible working conditions, job description, accountability etc. Also write down your deal breakers / break point.  For those in salaried employment this might mean that if your conditions are not met (or not on the path to be met) you begin looking elsewhere.  For those of you securing a role you may turn it down if your conditions are not met or use these to  renegotiate.

Step 4: Set up the conditions for the negotiation 

Set it up for a clear hour at the beginning of the day ideally in a relaxed neutral environment. Set up the conversation by focussing on the results of your development plan or your previous track record versus the dollar value per-se. This will demonstrate you’re willing to make the negotiation collaborative.  Typically the first person that names a number loses leverage in a negotiation so your role is to elicit what their dollar value is and if it’s off the mark then you can present your market data / previous results.   If you’ve got a new offer, the first offer is typically 10-15% less than what they have in the tank to offer you.

Step 5: Be patient

Aka practice a lot of yoga / meditation to keep you calm during the back and forth. A lawyer I coached was able to elicit a 20% jump on the first offer she was presented by her new employer by following the strategies above and sticking to her guns. Over one year this funded a house deposit.  It’s important to hold the belief that if you’re wanted and needed by an organisation regardless of whether you’re a new hire or a loyal employee you will get paid what you’re worth or at the very least have a path to being paid what you’re worth.

Bella Zanesco is Business Chicks resident career coach and Australia’s leading Career Acceleration Coach. In 2018, she delivered $500k in negotiation upside outcomes for her ten clients. She is also the Entrepreneur In Residence for Slingshot, Australia’s leading corporate startup accelerator, a keynote speaker and Author of ‘Smart Girls Screw Up Too, the no-nonsense guide to creating the life you want’. Bella’s vision is to support one million women to love Mondays, be magnetic and get paid what they’re worth. Bella will be joining us at 9 to Thrive Summit in Sydney on Friday. Don’t miss her How to Love Mondays Again session on the workshop stage. 

Join Bella’s free Career Acceleration Masterclass here to learn the top five skills you must get to find purpose and get paid what you’re worth.

Read next: 3 women talk career pivots, ambition, and dream jobs


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