“Every dollar counts” is a phrase that’s commonly bandied about, but this expression takes is especially meaningful for the nearly 10.3 million single mothers in America today. Most single moms are all too familiar with the pressure that providing for a family puts on a solo income, so many are looking to boost their cash flow by negotiating for a higher salary. Whether you’re interested in asking your current employer for a raise or you’ve just scored a new job and are gearing up to talk money with your future boss, check out the tips below for some ideas to nail down the salary you deserve:
Make negotiating a priority
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that most employers expect to haggle over their employees’ salaries. In other words, by engaging in a negotiation you’re not being pushy or rude. Many women avoid salary negotiations they’re afraid of being perceived as demanding, but this is a huge mistake to avoid. Don’t be shy about going back and forth a bit with your employer about your pay; it could mean coming away with several thousand extra dollars in your pocket, and that can go a long way towards paying school fees and grocery bills.
Have a high-ball and a low-ball figure in mind
Now that you’ve decided to negotiate, do some research about what a fair salary is for your field; be sure to take your geographic location and level of experience into account. A good resource to check out to provide some baseline salary information is Salary.com. When you feel confident that you have a sense of what you should be making, go into the negotiation with a salary range in mind, being especially cognizant of the lowest figure you’re willing to accept. Having both a high-ball and low-ball figure to call on easily will keep you from getting flustered if the conversation starts to move quickly. Ideally, you’ll snag your dream salary, but at the very least you know your pay will fall within a range you’re comfortable with.
Emphasize your value
Many single moms forget that they bring a special set of qualities to the table: strength, resilience, resourcefulness, and patience. While these traits are priceless, you should definitely emphasize them during the negotiation process to make it clear to your current or future employer that you’re worth the salary you’re asking for. Your position as a single mom is an asset, not a liability; don’t be afraid to express that you’ve acquired a special set of skills when you’re making your case for a higher salary.
Be comfortable with silence
Negotiations can sometimes put people on edge, so if you’re not sure what to say next, it’s ok to not say anything at all. If, for example, you lay out the reasons you feel you deserve a raise and your employer appears to be mulling your ideas over, let her do so. Don’t feel the need to fill the lull with chatter, because often this leads to back-pedaling on your request. As most moms know, silence is often read by others as strength. This is true with kids and bosses alike, so let your parenting skills translate to your professional environment.
Rehearse a script
Some of us are more comfortable with negotiating than others, so if you’re really anxious about advocating for yourself, consider writing out a script of what you’d like to say and rehearsing it until you feel confident. (If you’re not sure where to start, personal finance expert Ramit Sethi is famous for his salary negotiation templates, so definitely check them out!) Don’t feel embarrassed or sheepish about rehearsing a script – by negotiating your salary, you’re doing yourself and your family a great service, however it gets accomplished.
It’s important to keep in mind that negotiating your salary is an important step in providing for the financial future of yourself and your children, and should therefore be at the top of your long to-do list – be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to land the income you deserve!
Written by Angie Picardo
Angie Picardo is a writer at NerdWallet, a financial literacy website where you can find advice on topics from salary negotiation to college tuition planning.