What would you ask a salary negotiation expert, if you had the chance? Earlier today, PayScale’s salary data wizards stopped by Reddit to answer tough questions about the gender pay gap, negotiating starting salary, and what to do when the company says there’s no room to negotiate. Here are a few of the highlights from the discussion.
1. Big employer to early-career employee: “We’re capping ALL raises this year, so this is the number you get.”
Employees of big corporations are often riding a wave or subject to forces beyond their control when it comes to salary. For example, you might sit down at a review and be told “we’re capping ALL raises this year, so this is the number you get.” Or you might be told “due to market forces, we’re freezing promotions for the next 6 months minimum.”
My question to you is how would you counsel an early career professional in this situation? Most big companies tell their employees not to share salary information or cite market forces to make it seem like nothing is negotiable. Should we be calling their bluff? What is an appropriate, data-driven way to tell a manager “I know that we’ve been told no one is getting more than 2% this year, but here’s a compelling case for why I should.”
Thanks in advance!
PayScale’s Comp Evangelist Mykahh Herner replies:
Great question. Yes, this is a tough economy still and companies are making some hard choices around whether and how much and to whom to provide increases. I would say your argument comes down to performance and results. If you can demonstrate your value and contribution to business success, you’re already a leg up. Price your value, and together with your list of accomplishments ask your manager to have a conversation about your compensation. Get creative. Think about ways you can be compensated that cost the company less: PTO, incentive pay, etc. Maybe you really just want access to work on a particular project – that’s free and probably pretty fun. Make yourself an in-demand worker and they’ll find a way to compensate you to keep you.
… Last thought on this as it has been nagging at me: I’m seeing that more smaller companies are being quick, adaptable, and flexible. They’re building, paying, and keeping high performers. Sometimes larger corporations can’t be that nimble – that said, the starting pay is often higher. A friend of mine used to apply for a new job every 6 months just to see what’s out there and what seems interesting (her average tenure was 3-5 years). Not a bad idea to add another data point to the mix.
2. The gender pay gap: is it true that women don’t ask?
Women statistically earn less than men, and a recent NY Times article eluded that one reason is because women don’t ask for more salary upon hiring. How do you know how much to ask for and when to settle so you don’t sell yourself short?
Senior Director of Marketing & Editorial Lydia Frank replies:
It is true that women statistically initiate negotiations less often than their male counterparts and ask for about 30% less, according to “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. However, both men and women leave money on the table — especially younger generations who may not feel they have leverage to negotiate. The key is to do your research on the salary range and feel confident you know how much to ask for before you walk into the interview. PayScale, the site we work for, provides a free salary report if you fill out a survey about the position you’re researching. There are other sources out there as well. Additionally, people are more often reaching out to ask peers about their salary range. Talking about salary isn’t nearly as taboo as it used to be.
3. Are new graduates just lucky to get a job offer, or should they negotiate pay?
What advice would you give to people who are starting their very first job out of college? New graduates (at least IMO) have the frame of mind that ‘you are lucky if you get a job offer’, so it’s intimidating to even think about negotiating.
Senior Managing Editor Aubrey Bach replies:
Negotiating early in your career is very important – it increases your lifetime earning potential enormously. Essentially, salary negotiation comes down to two things – what you are worth and what they are willing to pay you. The same rules apply – do your research to find out what you should be earning in the labor market for that job, and use that data to back up your request. You should be happy to just get a job offer, but you should also be paid fairly, and asking to be paid what you’re worth, if done politely and backed up with data, shouldn’t be a taboo thing. Remember, most hiring managers and recruiters EXPECT you to negotiate!
For more salary negotiation questions and answers, see PayScale’s AMA.
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