I originally posted this to a different blog of mine, rather than my more visible one here, because this is such an awkward topic. Honestly, I’m afraid of being shamed (“It’s your own fault you’re not getting paid fairly – you never asked!” sort of thing), but I think that it’s also important to get my own point of view out there – especially for other women just starting out and who, like me, have no professional mentors to guide them.
After hearing an article on NPR about how Reddit was doing away with salary negotiations in an attempt to remove the pay gap, for the first time I asked myself the question, “…Does everybody negotiate their salary, every time?” — I had never negotiated a salary for myself; it hadn’t occurred to me that it was perhaps ubiquitous, something that you just did as part of your professional life.
So, I asked a question on my Facebook wall, regarding being a woman software developer and not knowing how to negotiate. I did receive some good advice from friends and acquaintances, so I’d like to post it for others to benefit from.
I’ve never negotiated a salary when first starting a job. [I’ve been working professionally for 6 years as a software/web developer.] I honestly don’t know what I would negotiate for.
West coast job? $100,000 sounds sufficient, if that is what the company glassdoor page says is the average. Or am I supposed to go “no, I need $X more.” — and is that X = 1k? 5k? 10k? Etc. It is also hard to judge because the Midwest average is so much lower.
Usually I’m just happy enough to get the offer. At the same time, I feel like I’m failing because the stereotype is that women *don’t* negotiate. Do ALL men negotiate their starting salary??
I’ve ASKED for raises at the first two of my jobs and that didn’t go over well, so I haven’t asked any more, but how often are you supposed to ask for one? Yearly?
This is something that really bugs me and I don’t know what to do.
That’s a really good set of questions, Rachel.
First off, do your research, both on Glass Door and every other site you can find. Remember that education, experience, relocation, benefits and other factors play into what you could expect.
As a rule of thumb, I’d advise you to ask for 10-15% more than they offer on principal. Even if they don’t budge on their offer, they’ll know you’re not afraid to ask. And you may be pleasantly shocked when they agree to pay more- perhaps not the full amount you asked for, but negotiating is empowering.
Long ago, someone told me that money is about respect. Get into the good habit of knowing what you’re worth. Another way of looking at this… How much would they offer/pay a man with identical education & experience? And don’t take less. Go get ’em!!
I’ve found that whatever offer I’ve made, the company has countered with slightly less. I usually go with the average for the job, +20% because I have documentation to back up that i’m in the 90th percentile (and I’m lucky to be very good at interviewing, having been a workaholic).
OK, when I’m offered a job, usually it’s over the phone, and I ask for a couple of days to make a decision. At what point, and HOW, do I say, “I want $X more than your offer.” ?
“I’ve had time to reflect upon your offer. I’d like to join XYZ company and I bring a lot to the table. The salary I had in mind for this position is in the X to Y range.” Then give them a chance to think about it.
If they flat-out refuse to negotiate and tell you to take it or leave it, spend a little time thinking about it. Don’t just give them a yes-or-no on the spot. Even if they indicate they can’t go higher, let ’em stew for a bit.
THIS is what generally makes women uncomfortable and why we’re perceived as poor negotiators: our inner feelings of insecurity and that we have to be nice. Guys don’t play that game- and we need to stop undermining ourselves.
I have used getraised.com as a reference point. I like it because it gives you a bell curve based on title, location and your experience.
Oh, and since Abbey brought up getraised, I checked it out, for myself. Here are the results (I’m not squeamish about discussing my salary, btw):
Makes me feel like a shmuck.
I guess the moral of the story is – nobody is going to give you fair pay out of the kindness of their heart; even if you’re not a very assertive person, you really have no choice but to demand fairness. Another good idea is, starting out, really try to find some professional women to associate with, to give you advice. I certainly did not have this.
Now I’m really depressed.