You have rewritten and proofed your resume and cover letter a million times. You run interview questions and answers throughout the day. You are ready to go get your new job. Or are you? Have you thought about the salary and how you will negotiate it? Here are ten things to know before you talk salary. These work for starting salaries and raises.
1. You are underpaid if you accepted the first salary offered to you. Hiring managers expect negotiations so they keep some money aside specifically for that purpose. This money already has been budgeted. Will you be able to get it or will your manager have the opportunity to use it elsewhere? Next time try before you accept the job offer.
2. It is almost impossible for a woman to ask for too much. Research shows that women continually underestimate their value. It’s also shown that men typically ask for 30% more money than women in salary negotiations. Even when you think you are pricing yourself out by asking for too much, chances are very high that you have not.
3. The market value of the job for men is different than the salary ranges shown on career web sites. The salary ranges consider salaries earned by men and women. Acknowledging the fact that women are earning 77% of what men earn means we want to aim for what the men earn in a given job – not the amount that men and women are earning on average. This means a little math. Divide the target salary by 0.885 and you will get the salary men earn assuming a 50/50 split of men and women in the industry.
4. The financial strength of the company is important to women when we negotiate. We ladies are an empathetic bunch and we wouldn’t want to ask for something that would be hard for our managers to do. Really we think that way even when we know the job should pay more. To help you feel more than comfortable do some extra research before you talk salary with your current manager or hiring manager. Public companies report their finances with the SEC. Private companies have many hints at their success through the press releases, company meetings, and sales growth. Sales representatives can give great insight on this topic.
5. The company’s future strategies are more important than today’s tactics. Sure you are doing a specific job today but you need to understand how the company will change. Oh, did I forget to tell you that your company would change? If it doesn’t it will most likely die so be ready for change. Ask about the future of the company. Do you have skill sets and experiences that will continue to be an asset with future strategies? Do you have skill sets and experiences that have not been used yet at this company but will be critical with new strategies? Can you learn new skills that will make you more valuable with the company’s future? Make sure management understands how you are ready to grow with the company and welcome the changes.
6. The network you bring to the company can be invaluable. Harvard people are worth so much more than we mere mortals not because of their brains. It’s their connections that truly are above and beyond the norm. You have a network of friends, family, classmates, colleagues, and others who may become clients, employees, partners, vendors, advisors, or investors of your company. Let your company be aware of how you are developing your network and using it with the company’s needs in mind. When possible use specific examples of people you have brought into your company’s world.
7. Awards and accolades your have earned are objective and subjective proof of your abilities. Current and former employers, industry organizations, and educational institutes often give various accolades. Make sure your superiors are aware of all that you have earned. Don’t be shocked if you have to remind your manager of an award granted from him/her. Don’t be shocked if you forget what you earned. Keep a “Atta Girl” file with emails and notes from superiors, clients, and others that praise you for work well done. Even save digital copies of voice mail that praise you. Of course, don’t forget any actual awards. Now the most important part, share this information freely with management.
8. Your contribution to increase revenues is important. If you are not in sales this one may seem hard but the more you can put a dollar figure to your contribution the better you will be able to negotiate. Did you help sales representatives pull information for a new client? Did you come up with a product idea? Did you come up with a new market to target? Do you think of a new advertising channel? Did your introduce a new client to your company? Once you can pinpoint a direct impact on revenue than put a dollar figure on it. It’s amazing how easy it becomes to ask for $10,000 more in salary when you can demonstrate that you impacted $50,000 coming into a company.
9. Your contribution to decrease costs is important. Chances are high that if you do not impact revenue than you probably impact costs. Did you negotiate a better contract with a vendor? Did you develop a shorter production method? Did you improve customer service best practices so that fewer customers need additional assistance? If it saved time, it saved money. If it lowered the number of times people needed to interact, it saved money. If it lowered the amount of inventory needed, it saved money. Again putting a dollar figure on this and sharing with managment is the ultimate goal.
10. Your options if you cannot negotiate the salary you want. Too often we feel like we need to take what is given us especially during bad economic times. Understand how well you can survive and thrive elsewhere prior to having a salary discussion with your current manager or a hiring manager. It’s amazing how this knowledge gives you confidence. If you talk to your current manager, the worse that could happen is that you are still employed with the same salary. You may decide that you will begin to look for a new job if you cannot negotiate a better salary but that doesn’t mean you need to say “I’m quitting.” If you are talking to a hiring manager and are currently employed, again you can stay with your current job at the current salary and continue your job search until the right job at the right salary happens. If you are unemployed and talking with a hiring manager the best alternative is harder to come by. Sometimes, knowing that you are taking a job for the short term to keep a roof over your head is the needed step. Just knowing this can give you the freedom to then continue job searching even after accepting a job offer.
Good luck with your next salary negotiation. You should find it easier if you consider the 10 items above.