If you caught my last post on being single and independent at 34, a natural question to ask may be around my financial situation.
While I don’t advocate basing one's life goals purely on financial success, being able to navigate life with financial freedom allows one to enjoy hobbies and make decisions without asking mom or dad (or a partner) for extra cash.
Many women I came across in New York City attended regular Soul Cycle classes at $34 a session and had no savings. Meanwhile, some of their employers offered 401(k) matching! There are basic financial goals every person should set for themselves. More to come on this topic.
Then there's the gender pay gap. Women currently earn roughly 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. The discrepancy is partially due to the jobs women hold, which brings up issues around women's career advancement generally. But it also means women can do more to maximize the earning potential of their current role.
Let’s talk about actionable steps you can take to earn more:
Know your value
- Don’t feel bad talking to friends, colleagues, and mentors to understand what you should be making in your role. There are websites like Glassdoor that offer additional visibility.
- Talk to recruiters. It’s never a bad idea to have a pulse on the job market and know what other employers are paying. And depending on how hard you want to negotiate, having a second job lined up allows for the ultimate negotiation tactic: the option to walk away if they won’t meet your ask. Having another job lined up will also instill confidence in your value, so I highly recommend this approach when you're asking for a big increase.
- Know that you are likely undervaluing yourself in an application process versus your male counterparts. Women tend to apply to jobs they are overqualified for whereas men often apply to roles they are only partially qualified for. An HBR article points out that this isn’t likely due to lack of confidence but more perception around the hiring process and that women follow socialized rules more closely.
Prepare for the conversation
- Preparation is everything. Especially when walking into an uncomfortable setting such as letting someone go for the first time, giving a large presentation, or asking for a raise.
- Know what you want to say, and how you want to deliver it. Know your talking points and asks, and practice in advance if this is newer for you.
Show me the money
- Negotiate new offers before you accept. There is typically wiggle room. It might be a signing or relocation bonus, a higher base, or a higher bonus structure or equity ownership.
- Ask for that raise once you’ve demonstrated competence and feel it’s deserved. Know examples that added real ROI to the bottom line.
- Apply for the promotion. Be proactive in having conversations around growing your career to the next level.
Don’t let fear of rejection stop you
- This is a tough one. But know that if you don’t push boundaries, you aren’t putting yourself in a position to grow or be as successful as you could be otherwise.
- Think of it this way: if you never hear no, you’re not at your boundary. You can grow and learn from no. You just have to want to try.
It’s not all about maximizing earnings
- In some ways, women seem better equipped to make decisions for longevity than men, such as in seeing a doctor more regularly. Maybe it’s the nurturer in us. A short term gain in earnings may not be worth it when you look at the larger picture.
- Part of that bigger picture: while we want to close the pay gap, we don’t want to overlook critical factors in our work environment. Company culture. The people you work with. Your manager. The role. These things have value as well.
Keep in mind your employer invests substantial resources into hiring, onboarding, and retaining talent. I don’t bring this up to propose that you leverage this against them, but to make you feel more confident in the conversation and ask. You are valuable and should not feel bad negotiating for yourself.
I have spoken to employers and recruiters who have told me that they reserve funds in anticipation of a negotiation for new hires. If you don’t ask, they will just pay you less.
As we discussed above, money isn’t everything. Over the course of my career I have moved into lower paying roles upon realizing I wanted a change of environment and/or function. I often ended up making more and growing my skills through these transitions and eagerly await my next negotiation.
Find out what you want to do. And then get paid for it.
Natalie holds a BSE of Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan. She is passionate about health and female empowerment in addition to rescue pups and enjoying life.
She has successfully negotiated offer packages with the majority of companies she worked with. She also negotiated equity increases and pay raises at various points in her career. She has a sales background and has experience closing multi-hundred thousand dollar deals as an enterprise salesperson.
You can access our salary negotiation webinar here.