Negotiating your salary

Negotiating your salary 101

When my husband and I returned from our honeymoon long ago I was a novice writer accepting rookie wages.

“When I kick this jet lag I’m calling my top five editors and demanding A-lister rates,” I announced while unpacking hotel shampoo vials.

I convinced four of them to give me raises based on our relationship and my track record delivering work on time, even though I didn’t have a formal negotiating plan. Nowadays I have a more sophisticated negotiating style after learning more about it along the way.

Try these tips to seal your next deal and get paid what you are worth:

Ask for 25% more (women should especially do this). Women are much more likely to undervalue themselves than men.  Ask a mentor to vouch for you, then request a raise that’s 25% more than expected. Dollars to doughnuts, that’s what male cohorts are getting on average. And while you are at it, read a book about confidence to help you negotiate better in the long-term. This one is written for women especially.

Practice your elevator pitch. In front of the mirror or with a friend is best. You should be able to communicate what you do and why someone should hire you to do in under a minute. Pepper your pitch with a brief success story or two. These affirm your value. What have you done to show leadership? What project did you help your team excel at? What process have you improved? Record and critique your speech before negotiating over the phone.

Research your industry’s pay rates before you sell yourself.  The Canada Salary Payscale Index is a super resource for gauging “what you’re worth”.

I still wince today recalling my most cringe-worthy career move. I once contacted my favourite local radio host and offered to write advertising copy for her show. She laughed riotously after I proposed my hourly rate.

“I get paid half that!” she exclaimed in between chuckles.

Lesson painfully learned.

During an interview try to avoid talking about salary expectations.  If you are underpaid at your first or current job, it is likely you are being underpaid in your next based on that first salary. At what point do you get yourself out unfair compensation land? If put on the spot, try to avoid the topic by saying you need to think about it after learning more about the responsibilities of the position. And if there is silence don’t let it make you uncomfortable. You simply need time to think about it.

Ask peers to endorse you on your professional social media sites. Testimonials are a great way to prove your track record, especially when it comes to negotiating a salary. And always reciprocate the review.

Study the art of persuasion: Many post-secondary schools offer negotiating courses.

Good luck! And remember that sometimes people will never know what you need unless you tell them and that you never want to enter into a working relationship feeling undervalued.

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