How do I negotiate my salary?

"I would love to hear any and all advice the LFC ladies and community could offer about salary negotiation - i.e. What does the process look like? How can I be assertive without over-demanding, especially considering female stereotypes? (I hope to leave uni ready to get that kick-ass job, with the deserved kick-ass salary to match!) Thank you in advance for your help!"-Jane

To answer Jane's question, we went to Johanna Murphy, an active member in the LFCommunity who has even shared her own story before, which you can read here.

Johanna: GREAT QUESTION. And awesome that you're starting before you graduate - very smart and forward thinking of you! You are wise beyond your years, young Jedi.

Baby You're Worth It

Since you're smart enough to ask this question prior to graduating, take that smarts and apply it to salary negotiations. Because yup - before you even get the job, you should start figuring out how much you're worth. Sidebar: you are a beautiful, precious snowflake and worth so much more than just a dollar figure. However for our purposes here, we're gonna need to put a number on your education and experience.

Have you done internships? Did you graduate Summa Cum Laude (or for the Brits, with a First Class)? If it's not your first position, what roles have you held before? What are you going to bring to this position?

A good first step is to look at your resume in comparison to the job listing and see how you can highlight your experience in relation to what your future employer is looking for.

They're Worth It Too

Okay, so now that we've figured out what we're worth, let's take a look and see what others are worth. Check out sites like LinkedIn or GlassDoor.com. GlassDoor is great because you can search based on a specific company, location, position, or all three. It can give you the national average of a position as well as city specific and will sometimes have the exact role you may be applying to. One caveat: GlassDoor does ask for you to provide information on your own salary to fully access more information but you can still get a pretty good idea by looking at popular companies as well as the reviews that are added to the site.

Many positions now do not list a salary range but instead say 'salary commensurate with experience'. Having an idea of the range they usually pay + what you think you're worth gives you a great baseline for what you should be asking for.

Aim Small, Miss Small

Salary negotiation is tricky: if you start out too high, you run the risk of being rejected because a company can find someone else for less but if you go too low, you can pigeonhole yourself. As you progress in your career, recruiters will ask what your salary was at your previous job. If they see you trying to make a $30,000 jump between positions, they will likely shred your resume (or, in this wild electronic world we live in, delete it). Doing that prior research before you start negotiating will help you feel confident in your asking price and help you three, five, and seven years down the line because you started out with a healthy baseline. It's important to keep in mind your salary isn't just your biweekly paycheck - your bonuses and raises are usually a percentage of your base so if you accept a lower salary, you're accepting a lower bonus and lower raise potential. It's the circle of freakin' life, Simba.

Cool Story, Now What?

Awesome - I just told you to read a bunch of crap! Helpful, right? Well, it was. Don't sass your elders.

But now you've been offered the job and they've thrown out an offer you just might not be pleased with. Some companies (I don't want to generalize so I'll say 'some') will start low in the hopes that you'll just accept it. In fact, they are likely expecting a counteroffer. Don't make the mistake I made right out of college by accepting the first job that was offered and not pushing for more money.

Now we have to do the scary part: ask for what we deserve *insert horrified gasp here*!

Yes, it is terrifying but lucky we're prepared with all that boring research crap we did before! Here's where you shine: be gracious for the offer but not overeager, thank them but say something along the lines of 'Based on my education and experience, I'm worth X amount. What can we do to get to that amount?'. Keep your language firm. Women tend to be more passive saying things like 'I think I'm worth...' or 'I was really hoping to get...' instead of being direct and firm. I know it's hard, it may even be terrifying but if you it script out or even force a friend to act out the conversation first, you'll be all the better for it.

It Was Never Personal

One closing thought: don't take it personal.

As a badass woman, you may still be a sensitive flower - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But sometimes throwing yourself out there means having a difficult conversation or being a little pushier than you might usually be. Remember, it's just business. As a company they are looking at their bottomline and you should be looking at yours without worrying about hurting anyone's feelings or being seen as a 'bitch'. Just remember what Tina Fey taught us: bitches get stuff done.


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