Recently, I was talking to my husband about my upcoming promotion and I asked for his advice on salary negotiations. I told him my predecessor made significantly more money than they were going to offer me and that I was embarrassed to ask for the same compensation. He looked at me with a very straight face and asked, “Why would you be embarrassed? If you’re doing the same work, shouldn’t you expect the same compensation?” I am beyond embarrassed to admit this, but my response was, “Well he’s significantly older than me, he has a few more years of experience, I mean he has this certification that I’m still working on. He was just more respected.”
In case you haven’t noticed the pronoun I used is “he” and the real reason I felt I couldn’t ask for the same compensation was because he was an older man with several years of experience and I am this young woman with some experience. I felt like I didn’t deserve it, as if I was some imposter that shouldn’t be receiving this promotion with that salary. How did I get into this mindset? I have always been extremely confident, and a bit outspoken. I am a strong woman that never second-guesses herself, I hold a Masters Degree in the field and several years of experience, but when it came to comparing myself to the man who held the same job before me, I felt unworthy.
No one ever teaches you how to negotiate your salary (though I wish they did), so when my time came to actually fight for compensation that I knew I rightfully deserved, I had no idea how to do it. To begin, the first thing I thought was if I ask for more money, they are going to retract the promotion. My next thought was, do I even deserve this promotion? Followed by, well I can’t make that much because my predecessor was better. All of these thoughts flooded through my mind and I felt paralyzed. My husband literally had to grab me by my shoulders and shake me. His advice, “what value do you place on your work? That’s the salary you need to negotiate.” I had to take myself out of the equation, take my gender and age out and focus on my product. Work has no gender, no age, productivity, degrees, certifications, and results are concrete proof of who you are as an employee. You are an asset to the organization not because you are young and cute, but because you produce excellent work. If you are up for a promotion and have no idea how to negotiate your salary take yourself out of the equation and ask yourself what value do you place on the work you have done and the work you will do in the position, all other factors are irrelevant.
Below are 5 tips that helped me negotiate my salary and overcome my fear.
As a young professional, especially a young woman professional, negotiating your salary can be one of the scariest things you will ever have to face, but there is no need to fear it. You deserve it, you work hard, and you own it. Don’t let anything stop you from fighting for what you believe is fair. Sure your hands might shake and your voice might crack, but this life lesson will help you grow in your professional career and help you build a voice and confidence you never knew you had.