In our seriesSalary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
Age: 28 Current Location: Minneapolis, MN Current Industry & Title: Financial Industry, Digital Accessibility Consultant Starting Salary: $37,440 in 2012 Current Salary: $98,000 + 10% bonus Number Of Years Employed: 7 Biggest Salary Jump: $70,000 to $124,800 Biggest Salary Drop: $54,080 to $31,200
Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: “My biggest regret was being intimidated by the idea of negotiation. The people on the other side of the table are most likely not offering you the most they can. They do not care that you’re negotiating and expect it. As long as you do it in an informed, professional manner, chances are good that they are going to come back with the ability to at least offer you more, if not exactly what you asked for. Worst-case scenario, they say they can’t and you’re no worse for the wear.”
Best Salary-Related Advice: “Do not be afraid to talk to your coworkers about your salary. Going into my most recent round of negotiations, I knew what to expect as an offer ahead of time, which meant I could prepare for what to ask for. I was also able to (kindly) let a coworker know she was being underpaid. She is up for a promotion soon and therefore will be in a better position to get what she’s worth.”
Thoughts on Equal Pay Day: “I’ve had to deal with the experience of being paid less than a male colleague. We’ve all heard the stats on how women, particularly WOC, are paid less than their male counterparts, but it’s hard to actually notice that in everyday life. My experience of sexism and pay disparity reads so textbook that it’s almost cliché. That’s not at all how it felt at the time. I was utterly convinced it was all in my head and if I just worked harder, did a better job, I would finally be treated with respect. Even right now I’m uncomfortable saying out loud that it was sexism. We’re taught that these concepts only exist in the abstract, but the truth is that it’s the lived reality for enough of us that Equal Pay Day exists.
“So celebrate Equal Pay Day by trusting yourself in a way that took me too long to figure out. If your gut is telling you that your work is not being reflected in your paycheck, advocate for yourself. A lot of people, particularly now, are not in a position to leave their jobs. What you can do is keep your eyes peeled. Maybe another department is hiring and a change in manager is the chance you need to negotiate your paycheck. Maybe it comes up in December during your yearly review. Maybe you hear about an opportunity in two years, which the experience you’ve been building up makes you the perfect candidate for. Or maybe it means taking a risk and leaving a job anyway. I can’t say what’s right for you. Just don’t stop vocally advocating for yourself, because there is no one in this world more invested in your future than yourself.”
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