By Jim Wong, CPA | April 7, 2014

Did you know that not having a game plan for your salary negotiations over the course of your career can cost you more than $1 million in lost earnings?

That’s a startling figure, and definitely an eye opener. And women lose out in this regard more than men do.

According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, women are still avoiding the admittedly difficult task of salary negotiations. Interestingly, they found that when there was no mention of ‘salary negotiations’, male job applicants will still attempt to negotiate wages, while women generally won’t.

However, they state, “When we explicitly mention the possibility that wages are negotiable, this difference disappears, and even tends to reverse. In terms of sorting, we find that men in contrast to women prefer job environments where the ‘rules of wage determination’ are ambiguous. This leads to the gender gap being much more pronounced in jobs that leave negotiation of wage ambiguous.”

Why are women so adverse to hard negotiating? Author of the book “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation — and Positive Strategies for Change”, Linda Babcock says that women have good reason to be wary of negotiating — that while men are ‘expected’ to negotiate, women who argue their worth often get labeled a ‘nag’ — or worse. She’s quick to point out, however, that once women step up to the plate and start negotiating, they’re every bit as good at it as men. And that’s hardly a surprise.

In a recent article for, career coach Lisa Quast lays out her eight tips for successful negotiating — and make no mistake — these pointers work for everyone.

Fully understand the job. Responsibilities, requirements, and expectations for the position.

Educate yourself on the company. Learn about performance, pay raises and promotions.

Arm yourself with salary information. Do some research, and know what the average salary ranges for similar jobs are, in your neck of the woods.

Know your strengths and differentiators. In other words, why are you so great? Be prepared to sell yourself.

Determine how much you’d like to make. Know your target salary in advance, and what perks you might consider (in lieu of salary) in your negotiations.

Decide on an appropriate salary range. Know the ‘range’ you’ll be prepared to consider, and be sure your target salary falls within it.

Define your “walk-away” point. Just like in all negotiating, know when to walk. And stick to that figure.

Practice your negotiation skills. Practice, practice, practice — especially if you are the type who avoids confrontation, or who finds it hard to ‘sell yourself’. Get a friend to coach you, and record yourself, to see where you can improve.

Most organizations don’t set out to rip people off when it comes to salary. But, like everything else in life, you won’t get what you want handed

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