Dear Matt: I'm a successful female professional, but when it's time to negotiate my pay, I feel as if I don't put my best foot forward to get the salary I want. What do I need to do to stand up for myself and get what I deserve?
Matt says: Margaret Morford, an author and speaker in the area of career advancement (thehredge.net), said there are specific things women do that hurt themselves in their careers. "The fact is a lot of professional women hold themselves back," said Morford. "If you want to make more money then you must set emotions aside and become a better negotiator.
"Unfortunately, women tend to underplay what they've done. The problem with this is that people will start to believe you. Too often, women are uncomfortable promoting themselves."
Joan Runnheim Olson, a Certified Career and Leadership Coach (www.pathwayscareer.com) who helps professionals advance in their career, agrees.
"Men typically negotiate salary when accepting a job offer while women rarely do, which leaves them behind at the starting gate," said Runnheim Olson. "Because each raise is normally determined as a percentage of your salary, women often continue to earn less than men throughout their entire career."
Runnheim Olson says researching your market value will help boost your confidence during negotiations. Ask a friend or significant other to role play with you, which can help raise your confidence level and perfect your sales pitch. Don't approach your boss as an adversary; seek a collaborative approach.
Before you negotiate a raise, determine your fair market value -- i.e., what your position is worth in the marketplace based on your skills, experience, education and location. You can research web sites such as salary.com or payscale.com or the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Consider conducting an informational interview or two with others who are in your same type of position.
Next, review your job description. Are you going over and above your outlined duties? List your accomplishments. It's important to keep a file to document successes such as letters or e-mails from satisfied customers, company achievement awards, or documented proof that you exceeded your goals.
"If your boss is unable or unwilling to give you a salary bump," said Runnheim Olson, "consider negotiating perks in lieu of a raise, such as extra vacation days, telecommuting one day a week, or a bonus."