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Negotiation Tactics to Close the Salary Gap

December 8th is Latina Equal Pay Day. As one of the lowest-paid demographics, I make it a point to focus on negotiation tactics this time of year. However, you will lose out on higher salaries during the hiring process if you don’t use adequate negotiation. Let’s look at what you should do before applying, before your interview, and after you’ve received an offer.

Steps to Take Before Applying

Negotiation tactics need to start long before you even apply for a job. It’s easy to get swept up in the possibilities of a new opportunity and not even think about negotiation tactics at this stage. Yet these steps are so important.

#1 Own Your Worth

Reframe your mindset. Understandably, a myriad of fears start manifesting as you apply for jobs. However, having the right mindset in place is key. Internalize that you will bring value wherever you go and should be compensated appropriately. Examine your experience, knowledge, skills, and accreditations. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies and tend to underestimate all the tremendous value we bring to the table, aka ALL our experiences, diverse perspective, and cultural richness. Therefore, we tend to play it safe or lowball ourselves and thus lose even before entering a negotiation.

#2 Do Your Market Research

There is nothing more damaging than not doing your homework regarding salary negotiation. Knowledge is power, and doing market research can make or break your negotiation. There are many tools online that can help you understand the typical pay for the position. Use sites like, Glassdoor salary calculator, and Payscale to research the salary range for the role you’re negotiating for. When you do your research, make sure to include:

  • Geographic location

  • Years of industry experience

  • Education level

  • Career level (entry, mid, senior)

  • Licenses and certifications

  • Specialized skills

What I usually recommend is to include all relevant numbers in Excel and then come up with an average and midrange. I also like having at least five data sources to ensure we look at the complete picture.

Steps to Take Before Negotiations

Once you’ve applied for a role, start prepping for negotiations early. Remember that employers are looking for a highly qualified candidate and a good fit for the team but also will be looking at saving money in their budgets, so they will aim to get a new hire below market. To that end, one thing is clear; you must be prepared to negotiate.

#3 Think Beyond Salary

Now is an excellent time to understand what else the company offers to set your negotiation targets. Get a sense of their compensation packages, including 401k, insurance, education, and paid time off. As you start to weigh the pros and cons of the role, knowing the additional benefits will help you decide the lowest salary you are willing to accept.

#4 Know Your Walkaway Point

Before you enter a salary negotiation, you need to know what your “salary sweet spot” is and what is your “walkaway point.” For the first, hopefully, you have the research handy and also have done some financial calculations at home. For the walkaway point, the main question that you need to answer is, what is the minimum that you will accept? Anything below that is your walkaway point.

Here is something that I learned in all my years of experience both as a coach and a senior HR professional: no deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to salary, unless you are in dire need. I find that no matter the situation, slowly but surely, bitterness and unhappiness creep in, because there is nothing worse than feeling cheated or devalued in terms of salary. Therefore, again, if you are in a dire situation, take it with the full knowledge that this is temporary but otherwise, if you can, walk away and fast.

Negotiation Tactics After an Offer

When you receive an offer, the real work begins. You know their range, have done the market research, and set your targets (when to accept/when to walk). It’s easy to feel the need to accept right away. Yet, it’s extremely important that you pause and ask for time to consider the offer.

#5 Hold Your Horses

Resist the urge to break any silence that follows the offer. Whether the offer is perfect or coming in too low, it is entirely acceptable to ask for at least a week to consider. You are their first choice for a reason, and it is rare for employers to have an issue with this request.

#6 Always Counter

It is normal to counter with 10-20%, depending on where you are in the market. Refer to your market research and your sweet spot number. When you’re ready to respond, send a message to the recruiter asking for a quick 15-minute phone call to discuss. An e-mail with your requests will also work, but a call elicits more empathy in my experience.

You can start by saying:

“The base salary for the offer states $____, which is a good starting point. However, based on my research and the demonstrated experience I’ll bring to this role, I was looking more for $_____."

It’s super important that you do not over-explain yourself here. Listen carefully. Often the recruiter will say something like, “this is the budget for the role” or say they have to run it by finance. Just say thank you and clarify when you can expect an answer.

Preparation for salary negotiations the right way

Prepare for negotiations in the same way you do for an interview. Negotiation during the hiring process is key to being paid what you deserve and closing the pay gap.

To help you with this process, try my free Salary and Promotion Negotiation Guide or book a time with me here.


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