Do you make too much money for what you do? If you do, please let me know. Because most people -- including myself -- don't think they make too much money. In fact, I should be making more, which is why I was so interested in interviewing an expert in the art of negotiation. Let me know your thoughts on this story I did for my Gannett/USAToday.com column....
If you're a mid-career woman wanting to make the same amount of money as — or more than — a male counterpart, you may have only one avenue open to you: Quit your job.
"Women will get further by just getting another job if there isn't an event such a promotion coming along," says Bill Grimm, Rollins MBA professor in entrepreneurship and negotiation at the college in Winter Park, Fla.
According to a recent federal government report, women still average only about 75 cents for every dollar a man earns, a gap that President Barack Obama has called a huge discrepancy. This wage difference exists even though women now are more likely than men to graduate from college.
Grimm says part of the problem with the continuing wage gap is that women often don't receive the same starting salaries as their male colleagues at the beginning of their careers because they aren't as likely to negotiate for more money. That's a practice that follows them throughout their careers.
Men have been found to be about four times as likely to negotiate as women while women are more than twice as likely to report they are greatly apprehensive about negotiating, research shows.
"What I've observed in my classes and in the corporate world is that women are much more likely to go for the win-win. They're focusing on the relationship more," Grimm says.
In other words, a woman may worry about angering a hiring manager or boss, so she won't ask for more money.
While some men are equally tentative about negotiating, Grimm says both men and women need to understand that hiring managers report they're not offended by someone making a counteroffer "although it can't be outrageous."
Clearly, making a counteroffer carries some risk these days when one job often has 100 applicants. Grimm says he advises his college graduates to accept the offer made because they have no bargaining power.
"I tell them to get the job then talk about salary again in a year," he says.
A survey by Negotiating Women Inc. of more than 500 women found that 60% take the outcome of their negotiations personally and may believe they are not given what they ask for because they're not valuable enough to their organizations. This survey, along with others, has shown that women believe their hard work will earn them rewards and recognition and may use that as the reason they don't negotiate.
That kind of thinking needs to change, experts say. Women who want to become better negotiators should:
• Keep track of accomplishments. E-mails from satisfied customers, notes of recognition from a team leader and even a hand-scribbled note of appreciation from the boss all should be used to demonstrate your worth in your yearly performance review. Don't be shy about asking a client to put complimentary words into a note for you to put on file, as most people are happy to sing the praises of high-quality work.
• Do your homework. Know what you're worth. Use online research and information from industry publications or professional contacts to determine if you're getting paid a salary in line with your abilities and not one just reflective of your gender.
• Practice. Have a friend or family member help you practice your negotiation tactics. Grimm says several former female students who are now in the workplace have come to him for advice on developing their negotiating muscle.
• Think about your message. Many employers will believe you are threatening to leave if you don't get the salary you request even though that may be the furthest thought from your mind. Ask the boss for specifics about what is necessary for you to receive a bigger paycheck. Then keep him or her updated on your progress. Your commitment will help relieve any doubts he or she might have that you're thinking of jumping ship.