Here at Bravely, we believe that there are money lessons to be learned from pop songs. Or hip hop songs. Really, people are dropping money lessons all over the music scene, if you care to look.
Negotiation is a powerful tool in your financial life. It can literally bring you more money, which is dope. But it can also be used to snag more work perks, like more paid time off, a longer maternity leave, or a signing bonus. It’s all around beneficial on it’s face.
Negotiating Both Hurts and Helps Women
But of course, because of the world we live in, there’s a catch to negotiating for women. Which is that when women negotiate we face harsher social penalties. Women who negotiate for raises are more likely to receive performance feedback afterwards that they are ‘aggressive’ or ‘bossy,’ two very negative traits.
Women are also taught from a young age to be people pleasers. As adults we don’t want to upset anyone, and it matters to us that people like us. This sets us up for a disadvantage when we negotiate, because we feel like asking for more is selfish, or will cause people to like us less.
As a result of all of this, negotiating often feels intimidating to women; where do we start? What’s the right move? Can we even do it ‘correctly’?
A Negotiation Game Plan For Women, From a Power Girl Group
Thank GOD, the Spice girls dropped an entire song that gives us all a negotiation game plan in 1996. I was eight years old, so I wasn’t putting these lessons to use just yet. But now that I am of age, this song is a guiding light in the dark swamp that is negotiating with your employers.
‘Wannabe’ is so much more than a catchy tune. Let’s dive into these lyrics and see how the Spice Girl were teaching us all to ask for more from day one.
Step One: Know What You Want (What You Really, Really Want)
The Spice Girls open their song with these wise words:
“Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.
So, tell me what you want, what you really really want.
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.
So, tell me what you want, what you really really want.”
I mean, that’s negotiating right there. One party tells the other what they want, and the second party has a counter offer. Each party gets to say what they want (what they really, really want.)
Successful negotiating requires that you come prepared. You actually do need to know what you want from this position. Some questions to think about:
What is your salary requirement, or a range you’re comfortable with?
What kind of workplace benefits do you need to take this job? (healthcare, maternal leave, flexible work hours, remote options, etc)
How much vacation time do you want?
Do you want to negotiate things like parking reimbursement, or a relocation fee?
Consider everything that you want from this job, and practice asking for it. Understand what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not willing to move on. This is the framework of your negotiation, and will shape how the entire conversation goes.
Step Two: Don’t Disclose Past Salary
The wisdom of these women knows no boundaries. Their next guidance is truly powerful, especially for women. They sing:
“If you want my future forget my past.
If you wanna get with me better make it fast.”
WHENEVER POSSIBLE, DO NOT DISCLOSE YOUR PAST SALARY. I’m not yelling, I’m just trying to get your attention because this ish is SO IMPORTANT.
Women are chronically underpaid in just about every industry. If you start your career at $20,000 less than the position is worth, and you tell possible future employers where you’re at, you’ll continue to be underpaid. If you’re underpaid by even just a few thousand dollars a year over the course of decades, that adds up! A study has shown that being underpaid by $5,000 at the beginning of a career can lead to a loss of $600,000 over the course of a career.
Employers are not going to say ‘Oh, she’s been underpaid, let’s bring her up to industry average AND then pay her more to come to this role specifically.’
They’re going to say ‘oh, she’s a cheap get and we can continue to low ball her.’
So if you’re asked what your previous salary was, channel your Spice Girls and tell them to forget about your past. But just do it in a more professional manner.
Here are two replies to add to your negotiation game plan if this comes up when negotiating for a new job.
‘My current salary is within the average pay range for my position’ if you’re asked for your current salary. If they press for a specific number, you can tell them that that question is actually illegal in some states, and that current salary doesn’t reflect what you can do for them in this new role. Emphasize that you’re looking forward to bringing your skills to them and that you’re ready to begin a new role with new responsibilities, and that you prefer not to focus on your old job.
‘Do you have a range that you’re offering for this position?’ if you’re asked for your salary requirements for this job. This throws the ball back into their court and shows them this ain’t your first rodeo.
Step 3: Argue Your Case, But Know When to Walk Away
Now this lesson may seem a little counterintuitive at first, but it’s also genius. The Spice Girls encourage us to know what we want, and to know when to walk away. It’s a critical part of any negotiation game plan.
“You have got to give.
Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is.
What do you think about that? Now you know how I feel.
I won’t be hasty, I’ll give you a try.
If you really bug me then I’ll say goodbye.”
What are they willing to give you? Does it line up with your priorities from step one? Can you get them to agree to re-visit some things after six months on the job?
Employers have got to give. You shouldn’t accept a job where they don’t meet any of your negotiation options. Being clear and upfront about your expectations and needs in the role is good for both of you.
And there’s nothing wrong with coming to an agreement where some things you want can’t be met right away. ‘I won’t be hasty, I’ll give you a try’ is a great negotiation tactic. Perhaps a company is hiring you at the end of the fiscal year, and when it renews you can re-visit the amount of paid time off you get. Keeping the door open to future negotiation is a power move.
However, you have to know what your limits are. You have the know when to walk away. If they ‘really bug you’ aka, they won’t compromise on anything, or you have a terrible experience interviewing and talking with them, walk away. Don’t put up with people’s bull shit. A shitty negotiation experience probably means future ones won’t be pleasant, and this company probably isn’t going to do a 180 in a year and suddenly be super open to your needs and wants.
There’s your negotiation game plan from the Space Girls! What have you pushed for in your negotiations in the past?