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Negotiate a great salary (the article you need to read before you talk to your boss about money)

Negotiate a great salary (the article you need to read before you talk to your boss about money)

This is the article that I wish I read when I was younger. Interviewing for a job can be nerve racking and intimidating. Getting an offer, and then deciding to work for a company is both exciting and a full of pressure! Being brave enough to have a conversation about money paves the path for your wealthier future. For those of us in a traditional work environment (as in you show up, do your job and you have a consistent salary or hourly wage) let’s talk about when and how to negotiate your compensation.

I am passionate about fair compensation, specifically women being paid at the same level as their male counterparts. It’s our responsibility to step up to the plate and have the conversation about money with your boss. We are not in the business of working really hard, adding value, representing the company with integrity and professionalism to be paid less, or at an unfair rate. Whatever the conversation looks like (and it’s just a conversation) you need to know your strengths, weigh your values and be sure of your ideal outcome.

Here are some strategies for pay negotiation at 3 points in your career:

When you’re offered a job

This is your best opportunity to position yourself for success right out of the gate. You’ve applied for the job and the company is interested in you. Taking into consideration what comparable positions pay elsewhere, you need to a) know your number, b) understand the offer and c) be ready to have the conversation.

Be prepared

Do some research to know what similar positions exist and how your particular skill set is in demand. Take into account your years of experience and what you can bring to the table that’s over and above the job description. Excellent work ethic is a very sellable skill. Proving that you understand the early bird gets the worm, and are willing to go the extra mile is very compelling for hiring managers in any industry. You prove this with examples of your previous success.


Part of understanding the offer is knowing the details of the benefits and pension package. Even if you think you know what’s on the table, you’ll probably be speaking with someone from HR and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for details. Pay, benefits and pension contributions are all parts of your compensation.

The number game

When you’re asked to name your salary, it’s time to be thoughtful and strategic. When they ask for salary expectations in a cover letter or in the conversation right off the bat, I make sure to say something along the lines of “I am more than happy to discuss salary in person, once I learn a little bit more about the role”. In a cover letter, I don’t address the question.

My personal preference is to a) receive an offer before talking about compensation and b) respond to the employer’s salary range. When the employer names a range, you must be prepared to justify a higher number. Have you been in the industry for a few years and had a few significant accomplishments that will enhance your ability to work for this company? How so? What can you contribute that’s above and beyond the job requirements? You can write out a few solid reasons why you’re above and beyond the ordinary and have those ready to go, with you when you’re negotiating.

If the employer presses me to name a number first, I give a ballpark. Make sure it’s on the higher end of your number because now you’re about to negotiate down.

My goal is always to get to a win-win solution, where both I and my new employer are happy with the agreement. if you want to learn more about negotiating tactics, my brother sent me a link to this article on Medium and it’s fantastic.

When you’ve been there for a short period of time but you don’t get paid enough

Either you were desperate when you took the job or you didn’t do your research. Now you’re in a bit of a pickle. Don’t worry too much though, time marches on regardless of your goals! This is an opportunity to do a great job in your current position and set bigger goals for the next step in your career. Whether it’s within current company or externally, use this position as a bridge or a launch pad to make your next step.

Reflect on the compensation conversation you had when you got your current job. Did you have one? What could it be like for your next role? Are you willing to practice negotiating so that you gain the confidence to articulate your value?

When you’ve been there for a while and you've made significant contributions

Every company should review goals and performance every few months, although I’ve worked places that only review these annually. Knowing that you’re on the right path and working toward the company’s goals is so very important.

Regardless of the performance evaluation structure that you’re working under, it’s absolutely your responsibility to track your work and tell your own success stories. If you don’t have metrics that prove your performance, take some time to seriously think about your work and how you can quantify your success.

When you’ve done your homework around a) quantifying the revenue you’re bringing into the company and b) competitive salaries in your industry, it’s time to have a conversation with your boss around compensation.

Either you’ll have a chance to discuss money during a formal performance evaluation or you’ll need to book a meeting with your boss. It’s your responsibility to be brave and talk about your compensation. Just think, every time you give up a chance to discuss your salary you fall behind. Avoiding the conversation means you accumulate less money over time and your next negotiation starts at a disadvantage. If you wait for someone who is responsible for keeping budgets low (your boss) to bring up paying you more, it likely won’t happen.

The very important money conversation is your initiative to take!

Growing your career

Everyone knows when they’re starting to grow out of their current role. Maybe it feels like your day-to-day is a bit boring and you easily exceed expectations. Maybe you spend your time counting the minutes on the clock and wishing for vacation. Well, good. It’s time to celebrate! This is your chance to grow!

Where can you stretch yourself to achieve more, take more responsibility and learn something new? How can you justify your employer funding professional development or designations so that you can boost your skills and your career? Is it time to explore other opportunities?

I want to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts on this article. Do you have tips and tricks for salary negotiations - comment below!

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