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Negotiating Your Next (or First!) Salary

Estimated reading time ~ 3 min
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Whether you’re a new or experienced negotiator, the topic of salary negotiation is always relevant. For professionals of color especially, salary negotiations provide opportunities to narrow the persistent pay gap and receive equitable compensation for our work. Here’s a bit of guidance to prepare you for your next salary negotiation!

Learn what’s new in the job market

The current state of the job market is indeed a bit daunting, but a recent silver lining are the latest pay transparency laws, specifically those in Colorado, New York, and California. These laws require employers to disclose information about employee compensation, either to the employees themselves or to the public. Even in their nascence, these laws have provided candidates across the country (and the globe) with more information and leverage than ever before in salary conversations, in some cases, before negotiations are required.

As you prepare for your next negotiations, use these ranges to inform your personal target ranges and numbers. Remember: it’s not simply about seeing the provided range and being prepared to accept any number within it. It is recommended to research the broader job market to determine what you can command with your skills and years of experience. In addition, consider the amount you want/need to earn in order to create a lifestyle that’s fulfilling to you.

Do your research

Along with Glassdoor and LinkedIn – job seekers' go-to tools for information regarding compensation and benefits, Comparably and Payscale are two other useful tools to help you develop a target salary range for your next role or promotion.

Similar to Glassdoor, Comparably gives you more opportunities to learn about companies and their internal compensation and benefits. Two things that are great about Comparably…

  1. You can search from an alphabetized list of roles
  2. You can search for roles based on their salary range.

Both of these features allow you to really dig into exactly the roles and salary ranges that you’re interested in -- no weeding through all the info that’s not relevant to you!

With Payscale, you can review salary ranges for your roles of interest by industry, skills, degrees, companies -- all of the options! Another cool feature? They provide you with info whether you’re looking into your current role OR mulling over a potential job offer, which means that you can use their resources at any point during your career, not just when you’re planning for a salary negotiation because of an upcoming switch in roles. Being able to price the salary that you should currently be receiving given your skills is incredibly valuable.

Remember it’s a conversation

Every negotiation is meant to be a two-way conversation where both sides are hoping to come to a consensus and hear a “yes”, so keep your ask simple and straightforward.

For a job offer, you’re negotiating after you receive an offer, or if you are absolutely certain that you’re moving into the offer process, because that’s when you have the most leverage! You know that the company or organization wants you, and it’s time to share what you want/need in order to say yes to the offer in hand.

First, express your enthusiasm about the offer and the role. Next, share the specific number (or range) that you’d like to receive and why you’d like the increase. Finally, ask about when you can expect to hear a response. That’s it!

It’s best to conduct negotiations over the phone or via video call, as it’s difficult to determine tone via written communication. You don’t need to provide a lengthy defense in written form or in person, as the goal is to express your excitement about the opportunity, and get an answer to your question, which will hopefully lead to you saying yes to the opportunity.

Don’t forget the other pieces of the compensation package!

While salary is of course the KEY piece of the compensation & benefits package, it is by no means the only piece that can be negotiated. You can request a sign-on bonus, further clarity on a discretionary bonus, ask questions about paid time off, as well as health insurance benefits, and more! The advice for these pieces of a package is exactly the same as it is for salary — determine what you want before you ask for it and then ask for it clearly and succinctly.

Practice, practice, practice

Negotiation is an invaluable life and career skill, and similar to interviewing, the only way to get more comfortable with it is practice! Especially for professionals of color and early careers candidates — take every opportunity to ask for what you want, and use every bit of leverage you get to request what you need to say yes to the opportunities you’re looking for for your next step – whether it’s a brand new role or a promotion. While practice doesn’t necessarily rid you of all of your nerves, you will learn to get more comfortable in the negotiation seat with more experience in the seat.

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