Diane S., a seasoned accountant, accepted a job with a large company without doing any pay research. When they made her an offer, she was so excited, researching the salary never entered her mind.
After a conservative counter, she accepted the job.
Two months in, one of the interviewers told her that they were willing to go above the salary max due to her experience. In fact, they were surprised when she didn’t ask for more. It was then she realized, she had “sold herself cheap”.
Why hadn’t Diane asked for more?
Answer: simple, she didn’t know her worth.
Have you heard of this story before? The fact that women still earn only $.77 for every dollar a male earns tells me the we are not only underpaid, we are not equipped to negotiate effectively. Our inexperience in negotiations plays a role in this discrepancy.
When it comes to talking money, many women feel inadequate, unprepared and uncomfortable. Knowing how, when or what to ask for is critical if you seek to get paid what you are worth.
To prevent selling yourself cheap, consider taking the following recommended steps:
Step 1. Research the company and industry. Find out the common pay practices for someone with your education, experience and expertise for the company in which you are interviewing. This will help you understand the best way to negotiate and what other types of compensation you may be entitled. There are many horror stories where women have missed out on perks because they didn’t know that they were available.
Step 2. Know what you want. Don’t go into negotiations until you determine what you are willing to take. Write out your minimum salary, your ideal salary and your dream salary ( for me this would be at least 2x my ideal). Knowing this in advance will help you know when you are being paid according to your worth or to jump for joy when you get your dream offer.
Step 3. Know what you are worth based on your qualifications, skills and experience and what the company/industry pays for your credentials. Each company or industry pays differently, so don’t generalize. Look into your network for individuals whom may know more about pay practices and salary ranges for someone with your experience and qualifications.
Step 4. Don’t allow the employer to base your new salary on your past or previous position. This is a common practice not just for employers but for us as well. Your past should not have any bearing on your future role. The new role will require a new set of competencies, scope and expectations and you should be paid for it.
Step 5. Ask for it. Most employers expect to negotiate salaries. Therefore, many leave room for 5-15% above the offer. If they can’t give you straight salary, ask for other perks like time off, car allowance, flexible scheduling, relocation, etc. So, don’t be bashful, ask for it and you may get it.
Don’t sell yourself cheap. Do your homework, know your worth and get paid.
Check out these resources for researching salaries and compensation
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov.
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook
- The Almanac of American Employers: The Only Guide to America’s Hottest, Fastest-Growing Corporate Employers (Plunkett Research Ltd.)
- National Business Employment Weekly for their salary surveys
- Society of Human Resources (SHRM) salary surveys
- American Society of Employers salary surveys
- Consult with professional trade journals and online sites for your field of work.