How to Negotiate Salary: 4 Expert Tips For Women (Video)

If you’re like me, then you were never taught how to negotiate salary by your teachers or parents. Negotiating or asking for a raise evokes a host of emotions. For months, it made me cringe. 

But I read an awesome book (get your copy here), talked to other teachers and got the nerve to ask for a raise from a private tutoring client. 

I’m learning so much from this process. You probably could, too.

I asked Dorianne St. Fleur of to grade my approach and give tips on how us, ladies, can negotiate salaries. Dorianne is an executive coach for ambitious women of color ready to become powerhouse leaders and experts in their industries without losing themselves in the process. She is a wife, mom and veteran HR professional who’s been regularly making six figures.

Dorianne has helped herself and dozens of clients land their dream jobs and increase their salaries by tens of thousands of dollars. In 2017, she helped me decide between three teaching positions here in China. The position I chose boosted my income and quality of life, and accelerated my debt payoff.

Get into the video to catch these gems! 

How to Negotiate Your Salary or Pay Raise

Negotiation Tip No. 1: Get your mind right. 

“There’s this mindset shift that needs to happen even before the conversation about negotiation,” Dorianne says.

There are certainly issues with pay inequality that stem from large, systematic problems, she says. A white woman gets paid 77 cents to every white man’s dollar, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Black women earn 61 cents and Latinas just 53 cents. But women can also perpetuate the wage gap by doubting themselves and failing to negotiate their salaries, Dorianne says. 

“Get your mind in the right spot,” the career coach suggests. “If you don’t own your value, if you don’t truly believe that you’re worth the money, why would your employer believe it?

Here’s my story: I tutor a pair of sisters from a well-off family to help improve their written English skills. When a friend left China to return to the States in Summer 2018, she set me up with the family. I didn’t negotiate the hourly rate, I just took what they offered…FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. It’s about half the market rate for native-speaking teachers with my credentials and experience, which is about $60 per hour excluding travel fees.

Why didn’t I negotiate the salary sooner? My mindset wasn’t right.

In April, I read Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth. Ironically, the tutoring client ordered it for me because I couldn’t find it in the local bookstores in China.

In Badass, Jen lays out how she went from chronic underearner to profitable coach and best-selling author by transforming her mindset and acting on her new beliefs. The exercises, mantras and client testimonies in the book have been searing in my soul, pushing me to go for it—entrepreneurship and higher rates.  

Fast forward to July. I’m in the business section of a used bookstore in my home state of North Carolina. Secrets of Six-Figure Women jumps out at me. It’s $1. I buy it and start reading it on my flight from California to China. Bells and whistles go off! 

“Our state of mind, more than anything “out there,” determines our level of success,” writes Barbara Stanny. 

“Stop settling for less and start opting for more,” she preaches.

Barbara talked to dozens of high-earning women and underearners to see what can make or break us. One thing’s for sure, high earners don’t accept low pay. I won’t either.

Jen Sincero planted the bomb. Then Barbara Stanny lit the fuse.

“Saying “I can’t” is just another way of saying “I’m afraid.” Much of the six-figure game is played in our heads. We can only go as far as our beliefs will allow.”

—Barbara Stanny

On July 31, I sent a notice to my tutoring client saying my rate had increased. Then the client countered, asking for a lower rate. As of August 9, we haven’t come to an agreement. 

Books like You Are A Badass At Making Money and Secrets of Six-Figure Women could give you the confidence to start asking for what you’re worth.

It also a good idea to a career coach like Dorianne to teach you how to negotiate salary or ask for a raise. It’s an investment that can pay huge dividends.

Negotiation Tip 2: Work your plan.

Start doing market research and talking to peers to see how much others are making in your area, Dorianne suggests. Gather evidence of how your work has helped improve the company’s revenue or systems. Then list ways that you will provide more value with the salary increase. 

“Yes you should be maximizing your income and getting paid what you’re worth,” says Dorianne, “but the company’s bottom line, their goal is to save money as much as possible. So they’re not just going to be throwing money at you. … You’re going to have to justify and support your claim to making this additional money.”

Negotiation Step 3: Ask for what you’re worth. 

Go and ask for it,” Dorianne says. “Put together your talking points and think about how you want to package and position yourself.”

She likes the way I asked for the pay raise from my tutoring client. I first expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work for them. I gave the new rate and reasons for the increase. The offer ended with ways I’d be adding more value to the tutoring sessions. 

Negotiation Tip 4: Be prepared to have the negotiation conversation. 

Expect some back and forth action, Dorianne says. That’s the nature of negotiation. 

You might face several choices:

  • Accept the first offer from the company or client immediately. 
  • Stick to your guns and walk away if the company doesn’t accept your initial request.
  • Exchange counteroffers until an agreement is reached.
  • Exchange counteroffers until you decide to walk away. 

“You should be playing out each of those scenarios and thinking about which one is going to get you closer to your goal,” Dorianne says. 

In a corporate setting, the company may not be able to meet your demands because of budget constraints. For example, if they can’t give you a $15,000 raise, then they might be able to offer $7,500, extra PTO or the ability to work from home on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Don’t just look at the salary, Dorianne suggests. Negotiate all aspects of your compensation package, such as stock options, equity in the company, vacation, benefits or working from home.

The career coach prompts: “What are your most important things? And how are you prioritizing things and making a decision there? Not from ego. ‘Well, I asked for this and they better give me this or that’s going to be a problem?’ But really thinking about what makes sense. But sometimes, what makes sense is to decline their offer or ‘OK, great we’ll meet you there and now I feel good about the offer.’”

Key takeaways on how to negotiate salary

“The bottom line with negotiation is it’s not as daunting as people think it is,” Dorianne says. “The process is you do your research, understand what it is you’re trying to get to—what your objectives are—, you ask for that and then you negotiate back and forth. You give a little, they give a little. You take a little, they take a little. And then you have your outcome.” 

Tell us about your experience negotiating your salary or asking for a raise. Did you follow any of these steps?

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