In my practice, I see people for a number of reasons – a job search, a personal goal, a team issue, leadership development, etc. It is normally a pretty good spread of topics and projects. But, interestingly enough, over the past two weeks, one topic has come up 10x more than usual – salary.
Mind the (Pay) GAP
Quick History Lesson – Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.
While I believe there are many factors behind the pay gap, one place where you can help manage the gap is when negotiating your salary.
A lot of people have never negotiated their salary and can feel pretty scary. So given this is Equal Pay Day, I thought this would be a good time to share a few tips about setting yourself up for success when it comes to salary negotiation during a job search.
Not prepared to answer “the question” during the phone screen
People are always caught off-guard when they get this question so early in the hiring process. As such, they rarely have an answer that they are ready to articulate.
Remember that at this stage the recruiter is generally trying to make sure that you are in the range of the salary budget. They don’t want to send you in front of the hiring manager, have them love you, and then find out you are too expensive. So the best way to set yourself up for success is to make sure you have done your research ahead of the phone call.
Using sites like salaryexpert.com or payscale.com can help you research the going rate for a role. That allows you to say “Based on my research, it looks like the average salary for a person with my education and years of experience doing X (role) in our city is $??K. I would be looking for a salary near that average.
Using (or sharing!) your previous salary
Your previous salary rarely has anything to do with the going rate for the role your are applying to. Simply put, it is like comparing apples to oranges. Once again, if you do your research for the going rate the role you are applying to, you can anchor on the what the market is paying and not what you are currently making.
When you get your “what is your current salary?” Redirect with – My previous work, while related, is not the same. I did research to find out that with my education and years of experience, the going salary for this role in our city is $XX. I would be looking for a salary near the average (see the pattern?!?!).
A lot of people would rather just avoid the salary negotiation conversation entirely. I get it.
This is where I could pull out all the stats about how not negotiating your salary has life-long financial implications! Or how men are more likely to negotiate than women by a HUGE margin. Rather than go down that path, I am simply going to say – just do it.
Yes, the answer may be no. But at least you asked. If you don’t ask, then you certainly will not get more. At least by asking, you have advocated for yourself and made the attempt (yay you!)
Making it an emotional conversation and not a fact-based conversation
While at the end of the day, your salary is, of course, a very personal matter. However, the less you make it emotional, the better off you are. Again, sticking to your research and basing the conversation in facts, is your best play.
If you get an offer lower than expected, your first response should be a question – “Can you tell me how you arrived at this number?” Allow the HR person or hiring manager to explain the criteria they used to determine the offer and then continue the conversation in the most transparent, neutral way you can using the research you have done. Try to imagine it not as a win/lose situation but as a neutral conversation where you’re on the same side and both are trying to resolve the issue.
The equal pay gap is a real thing and it is going to take a lot of people doing a lot of things to help reach parity. In the meantime, I hope these tips have helped shine a light on where you can mind (and manage) your own gap.