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Seven ways for women to negotiate better pay and conditions at work

Want to negotiate better pay and conditions, but not sure where to start?

economic Security4Women, an alliance of women’s groups, recently launched a comprehensive career checklist to help women confidently negotiate workplace matters such as pay, conditions, promotions, and learning and development opportunities.

The online checklist, called Know Your Value, is an extensive resource for women who are looking for work, or who may want to negotiate for better pay or conditions in their current role.

While the gender pay gap is at an all time record – meaning it’s certainly not just the responsibility of women to improve working conditions – Know Your Value is a fantastic compilation of resources and tools for women to negotiate effectively in the workplace.

So, if you want to make sure you’re getting what you’re worth, follow these seven tips from Know Your Value:

1. Understand the job you’re applying for

To negotiate effectively when applying for your dream job, you need to understand the role inside and out by getting a thorough position description.

A good position description should include the:

  • required skills;
  • responsibilities; and
  • job demands, including work arrangements.

If the position description doesn’t include everything you need, don’t be afraid to ask questions over the phone before applying.

2. Understand your non-negotiable legal rights

Australia has National Employment Standards that include a host of workplace rights – no matter what the type of organisation or job. The standards cover things like overtime, leave entitlements, termination and redundancy.

The Know Your Value website includes links to a range of resources, including information on what an employment contract should look like, pay calculators, information about unions and other legal issues you may come up against.

3. Check the market

To know if the pay you’re being offered is fair, it’s powerful to know what people in comparable roles are being paid.

The Know Your Value website suggests four things you can do to get this information:

  1. Find out, if you can, pay for similar roles in the organisation you’re applying for and the previous employee’s salary;
  2. Check the pay and conditions of similar roles in other organisations;
  3. Do some research on salary surveys for the NFP sector; and
  4. Contact industry unions that may be able to give you information on the type of role you’re applying for to see if the pay and conditions are fair.

Of course, not all organisations are the same so you need to take into account the organisation’s size and resources, as well as which sector the role is in – pay in the NFP sector often lags behind similar government and private sector roles.

4. Consider the whole package

While not-for-profits often can’t compete with corporate salaries, they will often offer other benefits to make up for it.

So even if the pay in your dream ethical job is a little lower than you’re hoping for, make sure you take into account what else you’re being offered – or what you can negotiate.

Salary packaging/sacrificing can add literally thousands of dollars in additional value onto the stated salary for a role through reducing your tax bill, so check if the employer offers this service, and if it’s not clear how much difference it will make, don’t hesitate to ask the employer.

Fewer hours, flexible work arrangements and professional development opportunities are also common and attainable in the not-for-profit sector.

Calculate the cash value of what’s on offer to see if it lines up with your expectations of a fair package for the role.

5. Develop your proposal

Once you’ve worked out what’s on offer, consider making a counter offer or a proposal of your own.

Know Your Value recommends working out first what your own financial plan is for the short and long term – everything from covering your costs to saving for a major purchase. Once you’ve done that you can start to figure out what your parameters are for accepting or staying in a job.

Check out this great checklist for what your proposal should include.

Be aware though that for some roles in the NFP sector, the pay is set at an award rate or by a funding body, so the organisation may not always be able to negotiate the salary

6. Practise negotiation

Just like practising for a job interview, practising for pay negotiation will improve your performance.

Good negotiation is all about preparation. Start by identifying what your strengths are and use them as the foundation for your negotiations.

Then, try to work out what counter arguments the employer might have and come up with solutions to any problems they might put forward.

If you can, find a mentor or friend who you can practise negotiating with.

There are heaps of online resources on how to improve your salary negotiation skills – if you want somewhere to start, check out www.leanin.org.

7. Review your offer

If you’ve successfully negotiated and received an offer, you’ll need to review it carefully to make sure it meets your needs.

Make sure that you have the offer in writing, and if you do accept it, hold on to a signed copy – usually in the form of a letter of engagement or a contract.

Just as important is making sure that your employer follows through on what was agreed upon, so regularly come back to the offer and ensure that they’re implementing what was promised.

For the full set up of tools, resources and tips head over to the Know Your Value website, and make sure you take a look before your next performance review or job interview!

Have you ever successfully negotiated for better pay or working conditions? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.