The Secret Guide to Getting More
The first step toward asking for what you deserve? Educating yourself.
When my old boss offered me a job at Dow Jones, I worried because he knew my salary history. I looked through old SEC filings to find out what others had been paid for the role. This is good for job-seekers to do when applying for senior roles at publicly-listed companies.
Georgene Huang, CEO of Fairygodboss
In my first sales job, I had to negotiate not just with my boss, but his boss, and his boss’s boss (all men). Knowing how much I could get paid elsewhere was key. It was intimidating, but also exhilarating.
Ally, 34, Financial Advisor
Prepare for year-end by asking up front: What does exceptional performance look like? How does your firm compensate exceptional performers? Note it for later.
Big firms don’t often negotiate base salaries because they hire so many junior employees. Consider asking for other benefits, like reimbursement for professional development or a training course, instead.
Ask to skip the waiting period before 401k matching kicks in and start saving for retirement (with help!) now.
Doctors aren’t trained to handle the business end of their professions, so you have to remember you’ve trained hard and expensively. You have value; it’s okay to ask for that. At the same time, helping those in need is also part of the work, so find a balance you’re comfortable with.
Gail Saltz, MD, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius
I was recruited to an office that needed a PT with my speciality; it was a lateral move, so I said no. They kept asking, and my boss suggested I propose they pay me a monthly bonus to work there part-time until they found a replacement. To my surprise, they accepted!
Jessa, Physical Therapist
Always remember to look at the full package! Hospitals often have predetermined salaries for certain positions but can offer benefits not always offered in other industries.
A good rule of thumb in health care (and other fields): Let your employer share the number first and wait to counter. Research says you’ll come out ahead.
Companies generally expect you to negotiate, which means they'll lowball you on the initial offer. When I was hired by an early-stage startup, they couldn't go up on salary, but they offered me a signing bonus and an agreement to reassess after our next fundraising round.
Elizabeth, Software Developer
I was nervous asking for a raise the first time. I gathered emails praising my work. A coworker helped me role-play the negotiation, so the meeting wasn’t my first time saying the words out loud. It was less awkward than I imagined, and I walked away with a raise!
Negotiate for the best and broadest exposure to the best and brightest people. They could become mentors, friends, cofounders, or even investors down the line.
Use online calculators to compare equity versus salary trade-offs for startups at different stages in their development.
Prioritize equity over salary. Consider how you’ll be able to “own” a domain of the company as it and you mature.
When I was offered a job, my friend helped me draft an email asking if there was room to negotiate. My new boss explained how she had advocated to fund the new role, but she also went back to HR and managed to get me an additional $1,000 per year.
Lila, Non-Profit Manager
I accepted my first job out of college without question — I was 22, and it was money. After three years, I received another offer with more money and better benefits. When I put in my two weeks’ notice, my boss asked me about the job offer and why I was leaving. They offered to match the pay and benefits, and I got more responsibility. The whole process was terrifying, but it definitely paid off.
Jen, Operations Manager
Ask for staffing on projects in your desired area. You’ll become an expert faster.
If you’re going to be traveling, compare what different firms offer for expense reimbursement. These costs add up!
Management consulting values training and will sponsor graduate school for top employees. Get yourself on track early.
A suburban firm told me to "name my price." The career development office said to expect a smaller salary than I’d get at a city firm. My legal friends suggested a higher range. I made my case, and the firm accepted. The salary was 25% more than what the career development office said I should ask for.
Erin, In-House Lawyer
After your initial conversations, send yourself an email outlining what was said. Then send an email to the employer confirming everything from salary and benefits to your vision for the role. This will help prevent any conflict that might arise later.
Leah, Nonprofit Lawyer
If you’ve done a clerkship before joining a big firm, many firms will offer a bonus.
Base salaries are typically not negotiable, so think more broadly. Ask to join a specific practice area, work with a certain partner, or serve a favored client.
Pro bono policies vary between firms, so find out ahead of time how many hours count as billable and ask for the chance to do more good work at your firm.
At my first job, I had a fantastic mentor who pushed me to ask for more from my boss. I’d put in my request at least a month before the budget was finalized, which helped me get more than just the normal 1-2% raise. I also got a promotion every single year.
Jill, Web Editor
I (embarrassingly) went the sympathy route when asking for my first raise: student loan payments, rent in NYC, etc. My manager had to explain that I would have better luck if I could show my value to the company. I knew that, but I didn't know that I had to lay it all out for my boss.
Julie, Social Media Editor
Study your peers and their job titles. You should expect to have a new, more senior title every two years or so, even if that means moving to a new company.
Freelancers (and anyone!) shouldn’t begin with a close-ended question like, “Is this negotiable?” Rather, start with an open-ended question that assumes it is: “How negotiable is this?”
Always expect to be paid for creative work from major media companies and outlets — even a nominal sum, and even when you’re just starting out.
Sales & Marketing
It was 6 months between salary discussions and getting an offer. The salary was lower than expected, but I was excited and accepted. Then I thought about how I always encourage people to negotiate. I fucked up. But I went back and negotiated a better salary!
Angela, Client Success Strategist
At my first job, I knew quickly I wanted more responsibility and money. Initially, I was a bit of a brat: I made demands based on how much time I spent in the office. I soon learned the key is to speak to your value to the team. It isn't easy, but it’s a skill that I have used ever since.
Jamie Johns, Senior Merchant at Birchbox
Understand your unique value: What connections and deals do you bring to the table that no one else does? This is your negotiating power.
Performance is key, so ask for a higher commission versus a higher base salary. Sales organizations want aligned incentives.
The only time to negotiate is when you have numbers to back it up. If you’ve reached your quota, this is the moment to ask for more money.
The school where I was subbing offered me a full-time job and asked me to name a salary. My dad, a retired principal, found the top amount they were willing to pay, and I asked for that. They accepted. It was easier to negotiate because I was focused on getting into grad school.
Michelle, PhD Candidate
I work in a predominately female industry where we’re paid based on experience, so I assumed I was immune from negotiating. Then I realized the only man on my team received 2 extra prep periods a week. Negotiating isn’t just about salary; it’s about perks that make work better.
Kim, Public School Teacher
Many schools will invest in improving their educators, so ask for professional development and tuition reimbursement.
When considering educational technology roles, don’t expect the same transparent pay or tenure track common in traditional education.
Public schools tend to pay a little higher than charter schools because of the automatic pay bumps from tenure and degrees earned.
Make sure you deserve what you’re asking for. Take an honest look at your performance and push for what you think is fair. It’s often said to ask for more so you have some room to barter, but I’ve never felt comfortable doing this. I've always asked Joe Bastianich for what I think is fair, and he’s always said yes. You have to consider your employer’s position, too, and make it relatively easy for them to say yes. A good boss will appreciate this and be more likely to consider your future requests.
Kim Reed, Communications Director for Joe Bastianich & Founder of The Abettor
Timing and seasonality (weekdays versus weekends, holidays versus off-season) are critical when negotiating in hospitality. Use timing to your advantage where you can offer flexibility.
Recognize it can be slow as you build customer and client relationships. Don’t be unwilling to give up-front to get more later.
Ask to trail or shadow all the positions at a hotel in the first month, showing your interest in understanding the big picture.
I think electrical is a phenomenal trade, and it’s very versatile. I love being part of the service industry, and I love helping people. It can be a physically draining, but it’s a challenging job. And you’re constantly creating new goals and building your skill level. I’m lucky, because the men I’ve worked with have been very supportive. Often times they’ll say, “You’re the first girl I’ve worked with. I was worried at first, but I’d work with you any day on any site.
Union jobs require paying dues, but they typically come with higher pay and better benefits than non-union ones. Weigh the tradeoffs.
Freelance jobs typically mean bringing in your own tools and equipment, which can mean less money earned. Do the math ahead of time.
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