Talking about money - it can be an awkward topic for many, but in the world of recruitment, we’re used to discussing money all the time. It’s quite literally part of our daily lives.
Salaries, bonuses, and commissions shouldn’t be a taboo topic - no matter what industry you’re in. So, when it comes to talking about salary, particularly negotiation, you need to get comfortable going into the specifics and ensuring that you’re compensated correctly.
Let’s start off with the gender pay gap
It’s very clear that we are experiencing a gender pay gap across all industries - it’s generally known (but thankfully not accepted) that women are paid less than men. Although this is changing, it’s still something that women must be mindful of when negotiating their salary or accepting a role.
For example, in the USA: “Women in the United States earn 17% less than men, costing them $407,760 over the course of a 40-year career.
The gender pay gap varies by occupation and industry. For example, women in the legal profession earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by men, and women in the Finance and Insurance industry earn 77 cents to the dollar.” [source]
Women are statistically less likely to ask for a pay increase or question their salary over their male counterparts. So, some food for thought if you’re a woman considering asking for a pay rise - or you’re an employer who (we would hope) has both men and women in their organisation. Is everybody being compensated fairly? Make sure you check!
So, what are the steps to negotiating your salary?
#1 Speak to HR about how the company grades salaries (where applicable)
Depending on your industry and company size - check with HR and see how the company currently grades salaries.
Not only will this give you a great idea of your earning trajectory, but it also ensures that you aren’t underestimating or overestimating what your salary should be.
Although external research is crucial to find out your market value - there isn’t a one size fits all approach to salary banding which is why you must figure out internally how you are remunerated and what options you have.
#2 Do external research
You can research many ways: LinkedIn and good old-fashioned Google are great sources for salary insights - they can give you a benchmark to work from and see what peers in the industry are getting paid.
Another great research method is by speaking to peers who are within other organisations.
This may not be accessible to everybody - particularly if you’re a junior or mid-level candidate, but if you do have this opportunity - take it with both hands. And finally, speak to a specialist recruiter. Good agencies will release salary surveys and individual consultants will have comprehensive, up-to-date market information inclusive of salary bandings.
Understanding where you sit externally as well as internally will enable you to build a great case for requesting a salary increase.
#3 Build a case
Don’t assume or take it personally why you haven’t received a salary increase yet. Ultimately, your manager or wider business isn’t going to know about everything you do on a day-to-day basis which shows you’re going above and beyond your pay grade - so build a case ready to present.
What have you achieved? What have you exceeded? And, how did you do it? Being able to demonstrate what you’ve done will make the decision-making process much easier. Saying “I’d like a pay increase” without much context or evidence to back it up may not yield the results that you’d wish.
#4 Pick the right time
Reviews, quarterly meetings, and half-year meetings are excellent times to bring this up. Not only is your manager/employer most likely more prepared to have these conversations, but it also ensures that you’re able to gather enough evidence in that period to showcase what you’ve achieved.
Book in enough time - set the scene via email and present your case confidently. Timing is crucial as you’ll also save yourself time by putting yourself in front of the right people at the appropriate moment!
Reviews are particularly good for this over any other time of the year as across the company all of these conversations will be happening - not just in your role or department.
#5 Don’t expect an answer straight away
If you go into a review meeting with the view that you’ll immediately get a salary increase - you may be slightly disappointed. These things can often take time, which can feel frustrating, but ultimately, your employer wants to ensure that they’re making the right decision for you and the business. Stay patient, but also don’t be afraid to ask for a timescale in which you’ll get an answer to settle any anxieties that you may have meanwhile!
#6 Know when it’s time to walk away
We don’t want to end this on a negative note - instead, we want to be realistic.
There are going to be times when you won’t get a salary increase, which can be incredibly disheartening if you have done all of the things necessary to get one. In some instances, this isn’t your fault - and you have to set a boundary with yourself to know when it’s time to walk away from an organisation if you don’t feel valued. Especially if you’re a mid to senior-level candidate, you will already have a great understanding of your worth in the market.