Employees often don't feel comfortable negotiating for pay at a company where they've yet to prove their value. But research shows that women tend to negotiate pay and benefits less often than men. However, at any new job, your entry-level compensation will set the bar for your future growth within the company, so it's important to start off as high as possible.
Here are some steps to take that should boost your entry-level salary:
1. Do your job position and salary research
Determine how much you can expect to earn for a particular position given your industry, education and experience. What is the market value of jobs similar to yours and are you being offered fair compensation within that range? Use crowdsourced sites such as salary.com, Glassdoor, and similar tools that can give you an idea of how much your job should pay.
2. Always ask for what you want (and know it's OK to ask)
Women, in particular, tend to take an offered salary at face value, which is a mistake. You may be worried that negotiating will make you seem difficult, lower your reputation with your employers before you even start working, or even cause the hiring manager to rescind your job offer. Know that it's OK (and normal) to ask. Employers expect a bit of negotiation. They can always say "No," but if you don't ask, you won't get.
3. Be strategic in your salary negotiations
Prepare for the discussion by negotiating in terms of how you can contribute to the company rather than simply preparing a list of your accomplishments and skills. Be ready with solid examples of how your work contributed to the growth and success of your past employers. Also, if you're asked what you'd like to earn, start negotiating from the higher end of the market range for the position so you have room to negotiate down (if you need to) and still be comfortable.
4. Understand your options for total compensation
If your employer refuses to raise your monetary salary, consider countering by increasing your other benefits, such as bonuses, paid time off, commitment to a future raise, or perhaps 401(k) matching or HSA contribution. You need to look at your entire compensation package, not just your salary. If your employer can't offer what you want right away, ask for a timeline or performance-driven goals and revisit the conversation later on when those performance requirements have been met.
5. Know when to compromise and when to walk away
If the recruiter still refuses to budge on any of your compensation suggestions or comes to the table with an offer below where you believe the compensation should be, know that it's OK to turn down the job. Consider other opportunities or ask for an extension of time to consider the position. If the company really needs you, they may try to entice you with a better offer if they think you're going to walk away. At the end of the day, however, money matters, and if the company isn't going to meet your financial needs, it's unlikely you'll feel fulfilled over the long run.