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How to Negotiate for More Money at Work

And how to get it

BY Rufaro Samanga

Feb 01, 2021, 02:53 PM

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Speaking about money, particularly in the workplace, remains an almost hush-hush topic and more so for women. 

There is no adage as cliché as “money makes the world go around.” Whether we like it or not, we live in a capitalist world where having money makes life so much easier and not having money, not so much. Despite this reality, speaking about money, particularly in the workplace, remains hush hush. 

Salaries are kept under wraps, the gender-wap gap continues to exist because of this secrecy and all over the world, Black people still earn considerably less than their white counterparts. However, negotiating salaries or rates and asking for promotions at work is still one of the major challenges facing women, particularly younger women. And so, as a young millennial woman who’s been working as a professional writer and journalist for four years, here are a few things I’ve learnt about ensuring I’m paid what I deserve. Hopefully these pointers will help you, in whatever industry you may be, to be paid your dues.

When I started working full-time as a writer, I soon discovered that although my male colleague and I had similar work experience, and I had been freelancing for the company for two years prior, I was being paid less than him. After he received a salary increase, the gap between our respective salaries was significant. His new salary was now almost double my own. As my end-of-year performance review approached, I was conflicted as to what to ask for exactly. I worried that I would ask for too much or too little given the work I was already doing. I ended up asking for the same amount as my male colleague and told them I deserved it because we were effectively doing the same work. They finally agreed. 

It’s all about confidence

Have the courage and the confidence to ask for what you feel is fair before considering what your employer may think is fair. This is where men often have the upper hand. Their societal dominance across spaces allows them to exhibit much more confidence to ask for what they want (even if they don’t necessarily deserve it). 

Always ask for more than you actually want 

Companies will often tell you about market related-salaries but never be afraid to push the boundaries. Which brings me to my next pointer: always ask for more than you actually want. Adopting this approach means that you have room to negotiate while ensuring you actually obtain your desired salary. For freelancers, aside from having a standard rate, it’s also useful to ask a potential client, especially corporates, what budget they have set aside. It makes it easier to then gauge whether you are happy with the proposed budget or want to push for more (which you should do more often than not). 

Make a convincing case for yourself

Women tend to adopt a forced sense of “humility” in the workplace and understandably so. Confident and assertive women are often labelled as aggressive, bitchy, bossy and entitled. The gag is, men get to be all these things and are applauded for it. Difficult as it may be, push past these stereotypes. Preparation is key and in a negotiation, you want to make a convincing case for yourself. Whatever figures, case studies, feedback, press coverage and anything else that will showcase your value proposition; make sure it’s part of your arsenal. 

Don’t feel rushed to accept an offer

Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re undecided about whether to accept an offer made to you. This could be for a number of reasons. However, never feel pressured to accept an offer right then and there. Ask for more time, even if it’s just a day, to think about it thoroughly and then make an informed decision that will not prove to be a disservice to you and your work. 

Sometimes you have to walk away

This is the last resort but nonetheless important if a negotiation reaches a stalemate and you’re still not satisfied with a proposed offer. Of course, this can be difficult especially during a pandemic when many people are grateful for any sort of income, however little. It honestly becomes a balancing act where you need to figure out whether the amount of work you’re doing, be it freelance or full-time, is truly worth the money in the long run. And if it’s not, and you’re able to walk away, do so. Most times, you’re walking towards opportunities that will better serve you.