Career Negotiation Myth #2 – You only lose out on a little bit of money if you don’t negotiate your salary

Featured in Annabelle Magazine

Ladies, how do you feel about negotiating your worth? Have you changed your mind about negotiating your career as a result of last week’s explanation that negotiating your career will improve the relationship with your boss (?

I hope it has, because it’s REALLY important that you negotiate your worth in your career!

“Really?” you say, “Sure, it wouldn’t hurt to earn a couple of hundred francs a month more. I could buy a new bag every month or a new pair of shoes, but that’s not going to change my life. And it’s definitely not worth the stress of having to ask my boss to pay me more!”

I hear you and I understand you feel that way. As women, we have not been raised to speak up for ourselves, so going out of our comfort zones like this can feel intimidating to say the least. But let me tell you: not negotiating your salary means you’re missing out on A LOT more than just a couple of hundred francs a month.

First of all: those couple of hundred francs add up very quickly, especially when you take compound interest into account.

Let’s take the example of Bob and Bella, two fictional characters. Let’s pretend they are both 30 years old and both get offered an identical job at the same company for CHF 100K / year.

Bella is happy with the offer (or doesn’t dare to ask for more) and accepts it without negotiating. Bob on the other hand, knows that with job offers, you can almost always get at least 5% more than the initial offer (and that HR people expect you to negotiate). So he asks for 5% more and gets it: that’s a 5-minute conversation, no big deal.

Now let’s imagine both Bella and Bob continue to work at that company for the next 30 years, receiving identical annual increases of 4%. At the end of the 30 years, there will be an almost 300K difference in their respective life time earnings! Only due to one 5 minute conversation…

Now let’s take a much more realistic scenario; one in which Bob and Bella don’t work in the same role in the same company for 30 years straight, but they switch every 5 years. All of those times, Bob negotiates: due to his initial success, he loves it and gets better results every time. Bella is still reluctant: she never tried, never tasted success and therefore remains uncomfortable asking her worth. She only gets the routine 5% increases she is offered to make the jump to a new company / role.

In this scenario, the picture becomes even more skewed: now the difference in lifetime earnings is more than CHF 3 MILLION…

And that’s all down to how Bob and Bella feel about negotiation: Bob is a fan, Bella would rather not. Because she doesn’t think it matters. Because she doesn’t think it’s worth the stress.

But what is more: our beloved Bella will also miss out on the respect that comes from knowing your worth and knowing how to effectively communicate it; if you do it for yourself, your future boss will know you’ll do the same for the company, too.

And this is connected to something else you’re missing out on if you never raise your hand and have a meaningful conversation with your manager regarding your career: stretch projects, promotions and other fun career opportunities. They are not handed out to those most deserving, but to those asking for them.

So please, lovely ladies: ask for your worth at work. Prepare your ask, practice with a trusted friend and go for it! You can do it!

Wies Bratby.

Negotiation Coach, former top Lawyer and HR Director, and unapologetic advocate for women in my tribe getting what they want and what they are worth.

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