You need to learn the art of salary negotiation. There’s no way to avoid it in today’s working world. As a former human resources professional and current salary coach, I hear a lot of protests from people, especially women, about having the salary and benefits conversation. It’s natural to wonder if asking for more money, flexible workplace arrangements and/or promotions will attract unwanted attention. Even if we’re confident in our working abilities, it can be tough to sell yourself. Indeed, one of the hardest things to advocate for is ourselves.
I hear from a lot of women and young people that worry that asking for increased salary means you’ll be trouble. That the employers and management will start to view you as a difficult person. You may even change your standing from a great employee with potential to a risk. Or the assumption is if you try and fail, you won’t be able to try again later.
It can be difficult to shake off these feelings. We have our own personal modesty and potential cringe at attracting attention to consider. It’s about job security. It’s about concern with blowing that one chance.
What if I told you that the risk of not learning or trying salary negotiation techniques would have a greater impact on your future career and happiness? Here’s why
Consider your window for earning potential
The Australian job market is highly competitive. We know that people are required to have greater education levels. Masters and PhDs are also joining certificate VI style training to create careers. Once you have completed enough study, you then may need to navigate the internships. Paid or unpaid, this also eats away at the time you must earn as you learn. These are not typically high paying roles. It can be tough enough keeping your head above water in Sydney and Melbourne with rent and the cost of living to consider.
From here, you have the optimum career progression years. We all know that it becomes increasingly difficult to change careers as you get older. The aim is to be at a certain level before 45 so that you can maintain a good standard of living as well as plan for retirement.
In between that though, you may wish to travel. Children are often a consideration. With children comes medical costs, mortgages, increased living costs, school fees and more. Then there is maternity leave, paternity leave, childcare and managing family needs in relation to work.
Realistically, if you enter the workforce with your first paying job at 25, you have a 20-year window to consolidate your career. Yet you won’t work all that time if you have a family, travel, take on extra study or follow side dreams.
Consider health and life impacts can occur without warning. Even the best worker can be made redundant. Even the fittest person can receive a life changing diagnosis or be in an accident. Most people don’t start at a workplace and naturally move up without interruption. Whether that is personally motivated or something you face due to issues beyond your control, you need to be prepared against the impact.
By maximising each year within your window, you create greater stability overall. You can save, purchase property, invest and keep up with costs such as health insurance and general living expenses better if you’re financially stable. Salary negotiation is the best way to ensure you maximise this potential.
You must protect you and make the most of the opportunity.
Challenging the gender pay-gap and other pre-conceptions
You see it with Hollywood movie stars backing their counterparts and asking for fair pay. Think of Lisa Kudrow years ago banding together with her Friends stars to receive equal pay for all cast members and a raise for all through banding together for a cast-based salary negotiation. Emma Stone’s male co-stars famously took a pay cut on the 2017 film “Battle of the Sexes” so she could receive parity. Even with that level of work to close the gap, Emma is still only the 15th highest paid actor in Hollywood.
It is terrible this situation still exists. Yet we’re not completely powerless.
Australian company Energy Australia made headlines this year by stating they were actively removing the gap between male and female employers and paying the same amount for the same job. What was also telling within the announcement is they have also committed to a 5-year review of salaries to ensure the men have not negotiated themselves away from their female counterparts.
What we often don’t recognise as employees is that good negotiation helps change the gender disparity. It’s not the entire solution, but it goes a long way to ensuring that the gap decreases and/or is non-existent.
Imagine if you had the confidence to negotiate yourself a better salary as a woman. Or as a person with a disability or with other considering such as race influencing decision making. In a way, it’s standing up to those exhausting preconceptions to benefit your own career. And it is paving the way for your daughter, your children and people in your community by the same token.
While it might seem like a tough issue to tackle, the risk of not speaking up and asking for equality in pay in the workplace means that the institutionalised sexism, ableism and racism remains.
Retirement is not cheap
One of the things I hear a lot from couples is that they plan to make one partner’s super the focal point of retirement. This sort of solution seems short-sighted and incredibly risky.
There are a couple of reasons why you can’t bank on one person’s super alone:
- There’s increased pressure on Baby Boomers and Gen X parents to aid their children with higher education costs and first home ownership
- Gen Y and Millennials may miss out on creating additional wealth streams such as additional super contributions, investment properties, shares and other forms of investment due to increased cost of living
- Supporting two people on $500K for 20 years (from retirement at 67 to 87) is near impossible, even if you are free of home loans and other debts
- Beyond using super to support you both, aged care costs are incredibly expensive. To be able to receive the best kind of care, it’s estimated you will need several million dollars each
- If you can’t pay for your aged care and/or retirement costs, your children will probably not be able to help you due to the rising costs facing younger generations and increased work insecurity
Use salary negotiation to power your future forward and lower the risk factor. By planning better for your future with stronger super and better investments, you create a solid foundation for your retirement and end of life care. Plus, you will be able to help your kids without concerns instead of it being the other way around.
What you’re risking by failing to negotiate your salary is better super deposits from your employer, extra super contributions off your own bat, the ability to increase your wealth through property and investments and more.
Right now, a salary negotiation conversation may seem tough to have with your employer. Imagine how much tougher the conversation is when you must sit your children down and say no to helping them with their first house. Or organising your partner to go to an aged care facility with only limited options. Will you want to sell the home you saw your family grow in simply to ensure you can make ends meet?
By choosing to safeguard your future now by asking for what you’re worth, you avoid many of these uncomfortable conversations.
Towing the line versus garnering respect
When you stand up for yourself, you are saying you are confident. You are sharing your belief in yourself with others. It’s risky standing up for yourself and asking for respect. Yet it’s riskier still to be in the position where you are left behind.
Don’t cost yourself freedom to live the life you want now and enjoy the future you’ve always dreamed of.
Let the Salary Coach teach you to negotiate with confidence, humility and on your own terms for the things that matter.
Let me show you how to access the art of salary negotiation. Start the journey with a 20 minute discovery call now.