A few years ago, Tracy Keogh noticed that more and more of her female friends were coming to her for advice on negotiating their salaries. These women were not at the start of their careers—they were in senior positions. Keogh, the chief human resources officer of HP Inc., saw a niche that needed to be filled. She has now become a negotiation whisperer for women at all stages of their careers.
The long-time tech executive led a salary negotiation “masterclass” at this week’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Women in the audience peppered Keogh with a range of questions, and her message and takeaways were all simple and actionable.
Here is a condensed version of the keys to salary and career negotiation, according to Keogh.
1. Start by doing your homework
Knowledge is power. Go online and search for the pay range for whatever your role is. Talk to headhunters. When they call, ask them about what your role pays. You can even go to your company’s HR department and ask, “Hey, what’s the range for my role?”
2. When new opportunities come up, say yes
And if you can’t, then say, “Not now, but maybe later.”
3. Get it in writing
Whatever your offer is, get it at least in email. Things could change. Your boss could leave his/her position.
4. Don’t talk about compensation upfront, but start negotiating from the beginning
For example, Keogh once made a point of letting a potential employer know that she was the only breadwinner in her family before they started talking about numbers. (Some employers, especially in more traditional, older companies, might be prone to underpaying women partly because they assume they are not the only breadwinner in the family.)
5. Use humor
For example, if someone asks you how much you made at your last job, say something like, “Oh, you’re still doing that?” (Asking a prospective candidate for their salary history is now illegal in several states.)
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—Ready to jump at that great job offer? Read this first
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