For many, there's nothing more intimidating than to try to argue salary with a potential or current boss. It takes a lot of confidence to go up to the person with power to hire or fire you and say you deserve more than you were offered. But all too often, people with shy or reserved personalities accept first offers without even trying to negotiate.
While it speaks well of your character if you are inclined to be content with what life hands you, negotiation is a part of business. Managers expect it and will not hold it against you if you ask for more. In fact, it's because they expect it that it's so important to negotiate.
For one, managers will respect you for asking for more, because it shows business savvy -- this reflects well on how you can help the company. But also, managers will usually make a low first offer in anticipation of negotiation. Don't fall into the trap of taking less than your company is willing to pay you. Just ask.
In fact, what's called the gender gap -- men being paid more than women for the same jobs -- partly has to do with the fact that women don't negotiate enough. Authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever explored this phenomenon in their book, "Women Don't Ask." According to the authors, men are more likely to negotiate their first salary -- a staggering four times more likely in fact. And someone who fails to negotiate first salary alone can lose about $500,000 in wages by the age of 60 [source: Babcock].
So what can you do? Well, as Shakespeare put it, "screw your courage to the sticking place" and work on your confidence before you step into negotiations. And merely knowing the unspoken rules of salary negotiations will help you develop that confidence. We'll arm you the best tips from negotiation experts in the next few pages.