Professional Development
February 21, 2024

How To Ask For What You Want

Asking for what you want in a work setting usually implies that you’ll have to negotiate. The most important rule of negotiating for yourself is that everything is negotiable. That applies to salary and benefits, work schedules, professional development, and much more. In fact, employers expect you to negotiate.

As a woman in the male-dominated sales industry, I've learned that asking for what you want comes easier when you know your self-worth and are always your authentic self. It can be awkward and difficult, but don't let that stop you. I can assure you it gets easier with time.

Here are the best pieces of advice that I’ve collected in my career journey for asking for what you want.

Be your own cheerleader.

When you are in a position to negotiate, think about how you would coach a friend or colleague. Negotiating conversations can be intimidating, so many people jump to accept the first offer instead of countering with what they truly deserve. Instead of devaluing yourself, try being your own cheerleader through positive self-talk.

The best way to feel confident in these situations is to prepare in advance. Whether you are going into a performance review, applying for your next opportunity, or just preparing for the future, it's important to define what it is that you want.

Start by identifying what matters most to you. That will help you to prioritize what you should focus your negotiations on.

Here are a few prompts to get you started:

  • What is your minimum vs. aspirational salary number?
  • What benefits do you need vs. would be nice to have?
  • What type of flexibility in work location or schedule do you need vs. want?
  • What kind of vacation and sick day policy are you looking for?

It doesn't hurt to ask.

Yes, negotiating can be awkward. But as I mentioned before, it's expected. So unless the first offer you receive checks every one of your boxes, you shouldn’t immediately accept. If the company has decided that you are the person for the role, you won’t lose the offer just because you asked them to revisit said offer.

The best way to ask is to be specific about the change you want to see. Let's say you offered a salary that doesn't meet your expectations. You could ask, "I was hoping to be at x. What can we do to get there?" Employers will respect you more for knowing exactly what your goals are and being actionable about reaching them.

Pay transparency is gaining popularity, which can also help you to better understand the salary that you can expect. New pay transparency laws have gone into effect in certain cities already. If this information isn't readily available to you, remember to start by asking about the role’s compensation range.

Arm yourself with knowledge.

There is so much noise around us and that can be very distracting for staying true to ourselves and our goals. We are constantly comparing ourselves or being compared to others. Sometimes, we may even take on someone else's ambitions or priorities as our own. Remember, you are entitled to have your own opinion. Whether it's talking through your professional development with an accountability buddy, or sitting down to regularly track your progress toward your goals, find a way to cut through the noise.

Here's the deal. Your male counterparts are negotiating for themselves. They are asking for raises and promotions, applying for jobs that they don't meet every qualification for, and are reaping the benefits. So arm yourself with the necessary information and do the same - go after what you want!

For more insights on Negotiating For Yourself, stream our recent panel event here.