Negotiate Your Pay

September 28, 2016

This is one of my favorite work topics, as friends have come to me for years asking about this. I know everyone approaches this topic differently, and my viewpoint is not the only one. I am a firm advocate of NEVER telling how much you make in your current role. 1) it’s no one’s business and 2) it’s really not relevant. What if you were underpaid in that role? What if there were other perks that justified it (flexibility, remote work, other benefits, etc)? On top of this, if you want to overcome the gender pay gap, it’s probably not wise to admit any existing discrepancies. I also strongly prefer to never be the first to share my salary target. Not everyone agrees on this one, but my preference is to first be told what the range is, and then I can negotiate from there. I’ve found this to be the best way to gain a double-digit increase from your last role.

I was thrilled when it was announced in early August that come 2018, in Massachusetts employers legally are no longer allowed to ask what you’ve earned in the past. Thank goodness! Many people don’t want to play the game, or can’t, and this relieves some of the pressure to do so. So many times I’ve walked through the conversation of potential answers when recruiters ask, but if you’re not comfortable, it can be tough to prepare.

Instead, know what you’re worth. There’s a wealth of information online, so research sites like Glassdoor and to understand compensation of similar positions. Then you’re equipped to negotiate when the topic comes up, and you’re basing it on fact, not just desire.

So until the law goes into effect in July 2018, I urge you, fight the temptation to reveal all your cards. If you own a business or you’re consulting on an hourly basis, you can set and share standard rates, but for everyone else… Next time you’re asked “what are you looking to make?”, say “I’d love to learn more about the responsibilities of this role, and I’m confident we’ll come to an agreement on a fair number.” I know it sounds weird when it’s written, but I promise the right thing will roll off your tongue if you practice!

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