Mika Brzezinski

Salary Negotiation Tips—Courtesy of Mika Brzezinski

If you’re a woman who would rather do almost anything than ask for a raise at work, know that you are far from alone. In a survey* of SoFi members, women responded that they are twice as likely than men to stay at their job indefinitely, rather than have an uncomfortable money conversation with their boss.

This is a big problem, since not negotiating can cost you dearly over the course of your career, both in terms of earning potential and self esteem.

As a negotiation and career coach, I’ve worked with many women—and men—who found asking for more to be an overwhelming task. Many women in particular have shared with me that they suspected they were underpaid but didn’t know how to confirm, and even if they did, how would they convey this to their manager?

Since we know this is a hot topic for our members, we’ve partnered with Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and author of Know Your Value, for a fireside chat to ask her to share her best salary negotiation tips for women.

Here are three highlights from Mika’s recent conversation with Libby Leffler, VP of SoFi Membership, at our recent #GetThatRaise member event:

1. Be Your Own Advocate

As Mika says, “We expect people to notice our hard work. You have got to put it into words. You have got to learn to say it for yourself, and if you think someone’s going to say it for you, you’re wrong. No one is going to do this for you.

“And what you’re doing is not just for you, it’s for your future. It’s for your kids. It’s for your parents. It’s for the people you love, and I know that you care about them. So do it for them. Do it for yourself.”

When it comes to women and negotiating, often we aren’t sure how to talk about our strengths without feeling like we’re bragging.

As a career coach, here are some reasons professionals give me for not wanting to negotiate:

•  Not knowing how to fill out the required salary expectations field on a job application
•  Concern that they don’t know how much to ask for
•  Worry that they will be judged negatively for asking for a raise

What do these issues all have in common? They are different ways of waiting for permission from someone else to go after the things you want.

But here’s the thing about advocating for yourself: no one’s looking out for your best interests except for you. If you’re waiting for your boss to say, ‘Hey, I think you could really use a raise,” you could be waiting awhile. Why not take matters into your own hands? What’s the worst that could happen?

I know, you’re probably secretly worried that you’ll get fired for asking. Which brings us Mika’s second piece of advice:

2. Give Yourself Permission to Ask for a Raise

Mika knows how awful asking for a raise can feel. “We’re like, oh my god, I’ll never do that again, that was horrifying. I’d rather not make more money than have to go through that again,” she says. “We seriously think that way, right? Like, ugh, we gotta get over that. It shouldn’t be that hard to ask.”

When it comes to women asking for a raise, we’re concerned about how it will look to other people. Even the language we use can get in our way.

For example, how often have you written in an email, “If you would be open to…”

Next time, try, “I would like…” instead. It’s straightforward without pleading or pushing.

There’s a difference between coming across as confident—knowing that you have something valuable to contribute—and (mostly worrying about) coming across as obnoxious.

Here’s the big secret that all the negotiation research, advice, and strategies boil down to:

3. Believe You’re Worth it—and Others Will, Too

There’s no substitute for confidence. If you need a boost of confidence, however, Mika encourages women to seek professional career advice. “If you can get career coaching anywhere from your personal finance company, that’s perfect,” she says.

“If they’re offering it to you, take it, get it. You need it all the time. If you’re a woman, you need it every single day. You need to think about these tenets and these philosophies because they don’t come to us naturally.”

Mika adds, “Because obviously, it’s not just about saving your way to the top, but it’s how you can bring more value back. For women, you have to practice how you communicate it effectively. I think it’s something a lot of men struggle with, but I think women, especially so, feel uncomfortable talking about money as it pertains to themselves.”

So let’s say you’re ambitious and your goal is to make more money. Whether that means asking for a raise in your current job, or going out there to negotiate a new offer, you’ll have to face your fears of talking about money—and believe you’re worth what you’re asking for (Both men and women in our survey said they worried most about appearing greedy and ungrateful when negotiating with their boss.)

Let’s say you want to ask for more but can’t quite figure out how to approach it. Here’s how you can start overcoming your fear: ask yourself for evidence.

“Is there any evidence that what I’m fearing will happen? What will happen if I don’t do it? How much am I willing to pay to avoid an awkward conversation?” Mika asks.

4. Do Your Research

Next, you have to do the right research. Your goal should be to make it easy for your manager to say “yes” to your request. Good research often starts online, but should ideally finish in person. Salary comparison websites are a great place to start.

SoFi has even created a free tool, available at getthatraise.sofi.com, to help you get salary benchmark data and create a personalized presentation about your accomplishments in preparation for the raise convo.

Next, prioritize speaking to other people who would know how much someone in your role typically makes. This could be someone who has recently been promoted, a counterpart at a similar company in your industry, or even a leader or mentor who hires people at your level. Be sure to speak to both men and women as part of your research.

Here’s what you can say: “I’m doing research because I’m preparing for my upcoming performance review. Would you be willing to share your ballpark salary with me?”

Or, for leadership folks where it’s not appropriate to ask them to share their salaries, you can change up the last sentence to something like, “I’m thinking of asking for X. Does that sound reasonable to you?”

Make sure to practice your request out loud a few times if you’re nervous. Getting data points from real people in your network will help give you great motivation to go for it and get that raise!

Did you know that all SoFi members get access to complimentary career coaching? We have coaches who advise members on everything from polishing up their resume to getting that raise to landing a new dream job.

Not a SoFi member yet? Sign up today!

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*Based on a “Get That Raise” survey of 1,138 SoFi members from 8/7/18 to 8/9/18.

All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily held by SoFi—and are for purely educational purposes only. Nothing herein is intended to provide financial or legal advice. The advice provided for this article is of a general nature and does not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs.
No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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