April is Financial Literacy Month and the University of Anchorage's Office of Financial Aid is planning a week of literacy-related workshops and special events the first week of April.

One of the workshops featured how to negotiate your salary. UAA Professor of Management Frank Jeffries says there are a lot of stereotypes about salaries that are completely false.

"In negotiation, there is an expectation that there is going to be a give and take," Jeffries said. "When an employer makes an initial offer, they are expecting a counter most of the time. So, if you don't counter, you are accepting the lowest that they can reasonably get by offering you."

Much like negotiating for a house or a car, there is a custom where it is expected there be concessions and counter moves.

"To fail to take advantage of that is leaving money on the table," Jeffries said. "Also, men typically do make more than women, but it's not a gender issue. Women just don't negotiate salary as frequently as men do."

According to Jeffries, in one study featuring Ivy League MBAs and their first jobs, the study found that men were making 7.5 percent more than the women.

"I said, 'ha! Gender effect-- we've got it,'" Jeffries said. "When they took a deeper look at the data, what they found was 60 percent of the men negotiated their salary and the rest of them didn't."

The study also concluded that a smaller percentage of women, only 12 percent of them negotiated their contracts. The finding found that the people who negotiated their contracts made 7.5 percent more than the people who did not negotiate.

"It wasn't a gender effect as much as it was a negotiation or not negotiation effect," Jeffries said. "I encourage everybody to take negotiations seminars, stay up on it, get coaching on it and for crying out loud, don't accept the first offer. Think about what you want and be willing to counter."

The minimum the employee is willing to accept and the maximum the employer is willing to pay is usually not the same number. Asking for more than the initial offer is usually productive in getting a better package of compensation. If you can't get them to move on the salary, you can negotiate your benefits, time off or early raise. If you don't get what you ask for, be sure to negotiate for something that allows you to increase your compensation once you demonstrate your performance.

"When you get lower on the food chain-- like your minimum wage jobs where employees are basically a commodity, turnover is like six times a year; you're not going to negotiate salary much," Jeffries said. "When you get into jobs where skills and education are important and go through a screening process, at that point, there probably is going to be a range of acceptable outcomes for the employer."

Jeffries suggests when you leave one job for the next, always negotiate a salary 20 percent higher than the previous and always research the employer and the area.

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