Salary negotiation might cause you to have a mini panic attack, but, fear not, there’s a way to broach the topic appropriately — as long as you know what you’re doing. Are you being paid fairly for your career level? Will your request be rejected? What’s your skill set worth? On top of figuring out a game plan for this conversation, if you’re a woman with a career, it’s that much harder. In fact, a study done by Harvard found that “The gender gap in job applications was much more pronounced for jobs that left the negotiation of wage ambiguous.” No matter your industry, it’s a daunting chat to have. So when it comes to getting what you deserve, we’re here to help.
Whether you’re still in college, on the verge of graduating (congrats!) or have already started your career, salary negotiation plays a gigantic role in the position you accept, the work you’re given and the potential opportunities you can have in the future. Unfortunately, we’re not always given lessons in how to ask for money when younger, which, no surprise, is a hindrance when it comes to post-grad life. There’s a lot of gray area surrounding tactics and formalities when negotiating your salary. Everything from the right timing to the correct wording comes into play — and when it comes to money, you don’t want to mess it up.
Knowing this, we reached out to an expert in the field; Claire Wasserman, the kickass founder behind Ladies Get Paid, a platform that provides resources and support to help women advance in their career. Speaking at multiple conferences and companies such as The New York Times and United Women in Business, Claire definitely knows a thing or two about salary negotiation, making sure it’s where you want it to be.
While Claire Wasserman’s platform fills a much needed gap in the career world for women, it was recently faced with a lawsuit claiming they were practicing gender discrimination. The group started a crowdfunding campaign in order to keep the group alive and running, so women and non-binary folks have a safe place to discuss things like salary negotiation and other relatable struggles in the workplace. With all of her successes and the obstacles she’s conquered, Claire is, no doubt, a brilliant mind to pick when it comes to negotiating your salary.
There are a variety of factors that might make it tough to figure out what you’re worth. A lack of self-confidence can easily contribute to a person underestimating their salary. You also might not have any idea what someone in your position makes on average. Instead of running yourself in circles, Claire suggests going back to what you did best in school: investigating.
“Do your market research! Those who do the most research, are the strongest negotiators. Be sure to look beyond Glassdoor and Payscale; other sources include your college alumni office and career resource center, your sorority or fraternity if you were in the Greek system, recruiters, and Linkedin,” she says.
“You have to root your research in your context; for example, the size of the company, location, your years of experience and skills. Give yourself the challenge of asking six people how much they make. If you don’t know anyone in your industry who can help, ask your friends to email their network. Because money can be an uncomfortable subject, you can phrase your ask in two ways: First, ‘This is the ballpark salary I found. Am I off-base?’ or second, ‘What’s the ballpark salary you make?’ So, while many people often stress the importance of connections for finding jobs, they’re also useful for deciphering your starting pay and what you can work up to. So send that LinkedIn InMail — it’ll be worth your time.
Being told “no” sucks. After all the anxiety to even ask your boss about negotiating a pay raise, you may never again think about going outside of your comfort zone again on such a topic. As tempting and safe as that sounds, letting the fear of rejection put a damper on your ambition will only hurt you in the end.
So how do you overcome it? Wasserman says, “Negotiating is an expected part of having a job — everyone does it (or should…). This is an opportunity for you to appear professional by presenting a well-researched, thoughtful case. It’s also a chance for you to talk about your accomplishments which will remind your manager how great you are.” Even if the thought of asking is scary, it’s a far cry from a random conversation — it’s not like you’re asking about adding skydiving to your job description. Your manager is prepared, and should be ready for this conversation to come up at some point during the duration of your employment.
“Your fear of rejection may never go away, but, remember, you miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. Given how bad the wage gap is (Hispanic women make 55 cents to the dollar in the United States), it’s your responsibility to ask for what you’re worth because if we all do that, we’ll collectively move the needle to achieving pay equality,” she says.
At some point in your career, salary negotiation will become an essential conversation, but there are some guidelines to follow that make a successful outcome more likely. “Never spring it on them,” suggests Wasserman. “The best thing you can do is find out when your company is deciding next year’s budget, then ask your manager for a time to discuss your growth at the company. Get as much intel as possible from them on what you need to do to demonstrate that your a top performer who is worthy of a higher compensation. Use what they told you when you eventually make your case.”
Says Claire Wasserman: “Information is your friend. Do your research, get comfortable talking about money with your friends, ask your manager how your work impacts the company, and learn how to talk about your accomplishments in a way that makes you proud.”
“Everything is a learning experience, so if you don’t get that raise this time, you’ll probably get it next time. Additionally, never base your salary on what you made before. If you’re asked, you can be vague (‘I made in the high five figures’), and then quickly pivot to what you want, based on the market research you did. That way, you won’t be making incremental raises which over time, can hold you back.”
Interested in becoming part of Ladies Get Paid? Join here. You’ll be invited to classes and events, and receive access to their online network. The raise you deserve is probably a lot closer than you think. Make a game plan, hold tight to your confidence, and go make it happen.
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