Make it clear that the pay package is not something you will settle for.
Because you're worth more and they need you more than you need them, says Nega Bagaria, founder, CEO, JobsForHer.
Photograph: Kind courtesy rawpixel/Pixabay
When looking for a job after a career break -- whether it's a few years or a decade -- how do you know what you should be paid?
Should you negotiate and run the risk of loosing out on the job offer, or settle for much less and ruin your future earnings?
Your career break does not genuinely make you less valuable than your peers, and being paid less than your market value is discriminatory.
Of course, you need to take into consideration any getting back 'up to speed' a new employer would have to invest in you that could affect your market value.
Often women coming off a break feel grateful to have been offered any job, but accepting a low salary can have future repercussions.
Whenever you seek a raise or a new job, your existing salary will act as an extremely strong 'anchor' that will keep your wages low for the remainder of your career.
What you think of as a temporary compromise may turn into a long-term setback, which will, in turn, affect your financial security for years to follow.
The first step is to realise that you are not a less valuable worker simply because you temporarily left the workplace.
So be prepared to support your request by providing some researched information for your market value compensation.
You can then negotiate by asking for the salary you're looking for-make sure you have a range in mind when an employer asks for your expectation.
There can be many reasons that your prospective employer might be diminishing your market value due to various unconscious biases but here's what you can do:
Raise your expectations
If you feel you are worth more, you will ask for more for yourself. Be prepared to illustrate well why you are worth more.
Find out what you should be earning in the current market.
Online resources like Levo, Glassdoor, Salary.com, and Payscale.com are treasure troves of data that can help you figure this out.
Invoke the communal
Research has proven over and over again that when women negotiate “like men”, their reputations get sullied, whether the assessing boss is male or female.
What does work is when a woman calls to attention her work with relation to “what it will do for the communal/company good.”
E.g.: 'What can I do for the company's growth in green marketing this year. What can I do to help the marketing team solve the problem they have with reaching the 25-35 age group?'
This communal orientation -- it's not about me, but it's about what I can do for you -- mitigates the negative reputational affects for women.
Use the mirror
Research has shown that communication is '55 per cent nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc).'
Which means that what you're saying with your voice isn't always coinciding with what is happening on your face or with your arm gestures or other body language.
A good way to fix this is to prep with common interview questions in front of a mirror and adjust what needs adjusting!
Get those vacation days
The best time to negotiate for vacation days is before starting a new job.
If your employer can't give you the salary you want, ask for something other than money, like more time off.
Employers may have more wiggle room with perks like vacation, flex scheduling, since these perks are often less costly to them.
It's often a lot easier to get an extra week of vacation than it is to raise the base salary.
Get comfortable with silence
People in sales are taught the power of silence when closing a deal -- getting comfortable with an awkward, sometimes drawn out pause, in the middle of a negotiation that forces the other side to capitulate or respond to your offer.
What often happens when you keep talking is that you start to sell against yourself.
When they make you an offer that you aren't happy with, stop talking, and wait.
If they ask you what your previous salary was, you don't have to tell them!
Your salary has to do with your experience, your performance, and what the market rate for your job is.
What you can do is express excitement and enthusiasm for the job-role.
Make it clear that the pay package is not something you will settle for, because you're worth more and they need you more than you need them.
While negotiating, you need to be reasonable as sometimes the company might be offering you whatever they can afford.
If they cannot meet your requirement, you can ask for a salary review sooner than the expected yearly appraisal.
Lastly, your first job back as a restarter is about trade-offs, especially if you've been off the job market for a while.
If you don't get the expected pay, make use of the opportunity to kick-start your career again.
Sometimes just getting back into the game and working for a couple years before landing your dream job is indeed a great strategy.
Ultimately, you have to strike the right balance between not getting underpaid and seizing a great opportunity to restart even if the pay is lower than you expected.
Lead image published only for representational purposes only.