Generally, women are paid less than men for the same work across the world and in almost every industry. Yet some businesses--especially startups--are reducing the gap and are having some remarkable success with Millennial women. This recent study by the jobs site Hired showed that Millennial women are getting higher salaries--about 7 percent more on average--than their male counterparts. Now, pointing out pay inequities for women is not meant, of course, to flip the trend. However, this increase is an interesting and encouraging data point.

Why are Millennial women successfully negotiating higher salaries?

The exact reasons aren't known but we can speculate that younger women have benefited from cultural and attitudinal changes about the role and abilities of women at work over the past 20 years. Because of this, they're more comfortable and confident in asking for a higher salary.

There's a lesson in there for the more than 60 percent of us who don't typically negotiate on compensation. Here are some pointers about that time when you're between killer interview and formal job offer (which is the optimal time to negotiate). 

  • Let your enthusiasm for the position, the company, and the team show. You're really excited about the opportunity and explaining why will help.
  • Don't feel pressure to accept right away. Make sure your research backs up a figure that is aligned with the industry and your years of experience. Having a thorough understanding of the company's business model--how it makes money--is important in level-setting your expectations. But don't leave those in your prospective employer hanging either. Remember that you want this job and they want you to work there. The relationship with your company's leadership team, your boss, and your future co-workers has already started. Respond in a way that is going to strengthen their positive impression of your skills, persistence, and fit, and avoid any communications that may come off as entitled or arrogant.
  • Look at the big picture. From my experience, most recent college graduates are focused solely on salary. I understand that take-home pay is important but it's only part of the package. When preparing to negotiate, make sure you're considering all components of the offer, including paid time off, signing bonuses, flexible work arrangements, and other benefits.

So, what exactly should you say? 

Here's one possibility:

"I'm thrilled with the opportunity and appreciate the offer of $70,000. During my interviews, I was impressed with your mission and approach and know that I'll bring value to the organization. Based on my background, years of experience, and drive to perform, I was looking for $80,000. Is that a possibility?"

How firmly you stick to your number and how many times you're willing to go back and forth in the negotiation will depend somewhat on your interest in the position. A similar approach can be used during your annual review, when most companies also look at salaries and raises. After a year of strong performance and a number of opportunities on the horizon, you should use the opportunity to open the conversation with your manager. Again, enthusiasm is important but so is demonstrating your commitment. Avoid veiled threats to leave unless you're indeed seeking out greener pastures.

Published on: May 11, 2016