Know Your Worth – How to Negotiate Your Next Pay Rise

Most recruiters will encourage you to “know your worth.” But do you know how to figure that out?

We’ve all seen the advice to “know your worth” or “research” to determine what you should ask for in a salary negotiation, but how many truly understand what that means?

Salary has always been one of those Taboo Topics. As someone who has worked in recruitment most of my career, I can tell you that the salary discussion was always saved for the offer conversation. Rarely did we, as the recruiter, bring it up earlier. It just wasn’t done. 

And yes, we got burned. A lot. We wasted a lot of time. 

Things are changing, which is good. More and more companies are sharing either their starting salary or range in the job posting. But even with that information, it can be hard for you to know where you may fall within that range. Companies need to keep their salaries equitable, so just because you may want the top of the range, it doesn’t mean that’s where you may fall. So, how do you know what to ask for? How do you know what you are “worth”?

A lot of folks will give you advice such as “do your research” or “know your worth” but they don’t go into more details than that. Which can leave you wondering, how do I know what I should ask?

1. Know what you need 

Do you have a budget? If not, figure that out. Does your current salary meet your needs and wants? You need to know what your minimum threshold is. You aren’t always going to go into a new job looking for more money. But you do need to be sure your new wage meets your needs.

2. Know your worth 

You know better than anyone else what you bring to the table. Keep track of your projects, your big ideas, your successes to be able to share with that potential new employer. You need to be able to help them understand your career statistics and be able to quantify your contributions.

But here’s the big secret: no one can truly pay you what you are worth. They are paying you based on how they value the position and how you fit into that value. You just need to be able to help them see how you bring value to the position to get them what they need.

3. Know the value of the role 

Do some research to figure out how the job is valued in the industry. Websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Payscale can show you how organizations value a position. As you look at the positions, be sure you are looking for similar job titles and duties as there is very little consistency in job titles. If you see consistency in salary, this can give you a good idea of what to expect.

4. Talk to the recruiter 

Unfortunately, most companies still aren’t sharing salary information in the job posting – though that is changing. There are now states in the United States that have written laws requiring salary & benefit information to be shared in the job posting. While you might not want to eliminate jobs without this information from your search, you don’t have to wait for the recruiter to bring it up. Reach out to the organisation to see if they will share prior to application. If they don’t, ask in your very first communication with the recruiter.

Most recruiters will give you some information about either the minimum or the range. And ask if they can give you an estimate of where you might fall, especially if it’s a wide range. 

Do not share your current wage. Your current pay is none of their business. You need to be paid based on where the new organisation values this role, not your current one.

5. Time to negotiate 

This can be the most uncomfortable part. But the biggest thing to understand is most recruiters want you to succeed. They really are on your side. Approach the process looking for a win-win. You have knowledge, skills and abilities you are bringing to them. Think beyond salary. Think about other parts of the job that they might be able to offer you beyond pay. Ask for more vacation time, a better title (such as Senior or leveling), educational opportunities or certifications. There’s more to compensation than dollars.

Practice negotiating. Get friends to help you or find a recruiter in your network to help. “Practice negotiations when the states are low so you can push past the discomfort when the states are high.” Tiffany Waddell, Career Coach & Talent Development Consultant.

Negotiating pay is one of the most uncomfortable parts of the hiring process for most people. A lot of us still choose to avoid it and take what is offered. No matter how excited you are about a role, take a breath after the offer to consider it and think about what you want. A good company will give you time to think about it and will not hold it against you for asking for more. They know this is likely your only opportunity to ask!

And if someone does withdraw an offer because you negotiated? Well, you just dodged a bullet and can look for a better opportunity.