When it comes to salary, there is almost always going to be a bias.
Sometimes, the bias might be due to unfair treatment and sometimes it might be due to poor salary negotiation.
I interviewed two college candidates for an engineer position in my company.
Both did well, and my team had gauged them to be at the same level.
Both of them told me what they were looking for in terms of salary, and obviously, one told me a number few thousand dollars lower than the other.
I could have hired them both for what they asked for.
However, it didn’t agree with my moral compass and I hired them both at the same pay.
This is not what every hiring manager would do.
If I had hired them both for what they had asked for, whose mistake do you think it is?
Here is what Linda Babcock, author of Women Don’t Ask has to say:
“Women don’t ask. They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities. They don’t ask for recognition for the work they do. In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want.”
While this might not be true for every woman, it sure does apply to a vast majority of women in the workforce today.
When it comes to career and salary negotiations, you can either play the victim card, or be the captain of your ship.
The choice is totally in your hands.
If you play the victim card, you are not going to get much further.
I have always been the captain of my ship and it has helped me overcome barriers and do well for myself.
In this post, I share things that I have learned that have helped me in my career growth, salary raises, and promotions. While what I share is gender neutral, I would encourage women to consider what has worked for me over the years.
If you’re finding your salary has stagnated because you don’t have enough education, know that you can go back to school. If you’re too crazy busy and can’t figure out how you’re going to have time to get into a classroom, many schools–such as RMIT University–have 100% online curriculum available.
#1 Thou Shalt Ask
The first and foremost thing to do in any job is to let your supervisor know what your career aspirations are. The moment you earn their trust you should let them know your desire for promotion and get their feedback on where your career is headed.
If you get clear guidance, then it is a good sign.
It certainly needs to be followed through both by you and your boss – you meeting your boss’s expectations in terms of work and your boss promoting you to the next level when you meet the expectations for the next level up at the agreed upon time.
If you are perceived to be worthy, then you will get clear guidance. If not, you will get a vague response, which means you are chances of getting promoted are most likely slim.
I have had a lot of people report to me over the years. Only a hand few have come up and asked for a promotion or their desire to go to the next level.
These were the ambitious ones – guess who got promoted?
Of course, whoever got promoted was deserving.
Did I promote people who didn’t ask me? Of course, I did.
What am I trying to say – the likelihood of you being promoted is much higher if you are proactive about it.
What do they say – Crying babies get milk and squeaky wheels get greased. So it is with promotions and raises.
#2 Believe In Yourself and Be Diligent
Sarah (my wife) often asks me – why do you act so confident?
It is not pride or arrogance. People who know me personally would second that.
Here is what I tell Sarah – “If I don’t believe in myself, then nobody else ever will.”
I couldn’t emphasize this truth more.
When I was an engineer, I believed I was the best! I became a manager in four years instead of eight years that it typically took in my company.
I believed I was the best.
You know what – you belief affects your behavior and the quality of work you put out.
You don’t need to outsmart your peers, but you sure can outwork them.
My promotion to the manager position was mainly due to the quality of work and me outworking my peers.
If there was a crisis, the boss man would come to me first – the reason was simple. He believed in the quality of my work and he couldn’t find more diligence.
Many supervisors have told me “You are the best and that is why I am asking for your help.”
#3 Eyes Everywhere
Whether you believe it or not, people above you are always watching what you are doing.
I was hired to be a senior manager in another positon in my company with no interview.
The director of the division had seen my work and hired me.
Honestly, I was shocked.
I didn’t know him though I had seen him a few times in meetings. However, he seemed to know all about me.
If you are good at what you do, you will get noticed.
#4 Know Your Worth
When you go to a store, you see every item has a price tag.
Similarly, we all kind of have an invisible salary tag that we wear so to speak.
This is what we believe we are worth.
Knowing the average salary for your profession is a good starting point and a good frame of reference.
What do you believe you are worth?
I want you to close your eyes, ponder, and then write on a piece of paper what you truly believe your salary ought to be.
You can’t lie to yourself.
If you believe you are getting paid more than what you are worth, then you are at a good place.
If you believe you are underpaid, or grossly underpaid, then what are you waiting for?
Do you need someone to come kick you in the rear and tell you to go look for a better job opportunity?
Go on and look for a better opportunity and prove to yourself that you are worth what you believe to be!
About two and a half years back, I believed I was grossly underpaid.
I was frustrated and asking didn’t work.
My boss’s response was something along the lines of “You are really good at what you do, you are underpaid, and I can’t do anything to fix it given the current circumstances of the company.”
This is typical in a stagnated large corporation. I had heard this for twelve months and had had enough.
I started looking for a better opportunity and landed on a new position with 40% more pay.
From being grossly underpaid, I went to being thankful.
When it comes to salary / promotion, you are 100% in charge of your destiny.
It is not your boss’s responsibility or someone else’s. It truly comes down to you.
#5 Salary Negotiation
Okay, you are attending an interview and it is going well. During the interview, this question is most likely to come up – what are your salary expectations?
The best thing to do is to say that you are “open”. Let the hiring manager or HR come up with the first offer.
Always remember, the person who makes the first offer is at a weaker point of negotiation.
If you speak first, you lose. You will never know what the hiring manager may have offered.
Once you receive the offer, you can always ask for more if you don’t like what is being offered or not take the position if you are low-balled.
This strategy has worked well for me every single time.
What has worked for you to boost your salary? I would love to hear your feedback.
Author Bio: K. Michael Srinivasan, author of personal finance blog Stretch A Dime, where he writes about Personal Finance, Investing, and Frugal Living. He is the author of the book “High School Money Hacks”.