Around the beginning of the year, I was on the verge of accepting a job offer for a position that paid significantly more than what I was making at the time. Money was not the only reason I was leaving but finding out that little fact made it more appealing. Ultimately, I decided to stay in my current position for an even higher counteroffer. In this transaction, I fully learned the important lesson that one has to really manage the brand/commodity that is one’s labor and that anything is negotiable given the right circumstances.
Even though we’re told to negotiate salary, sometimes it can be intimidating (especially in this job market). I’m pretty sure this is a prime reason there is still a male vs. female pay gap. Shouldn’t one be happy just to have an offer? Won’t they just pick someone else if you ask for “too much?” No. It’s business, not a favor. They evaluate the relative costs and benefits of their decisions and so should you. It will always be in their interest to try to undervalue what you bring to the table and it’s incumbent upon you, assuming you don’t want to settle, to be sound in your own assessment of the situation. What does this mean? Research, know what else is out there in your field, and sell what makes you unique (to sell it convincingly means you actually have to believe in it, by the by).
Flash forward six months. Those who know me in real life know I am currently in the process of changing jobs. The first thing I noticed when I read the advertisement for my new position (beyond the fact that it was exactly what I wanted and I had to have it) was that the salary was lower than my goal. Not letting a small detail like that stop me, I applied anyway. When I went in for my initial interview, salary requirement was one of the questions on the application paperwork. I put my number, which was outside of the high end of theirs. The HR person noticed this and pointed it out to me. I demurred and said we would see how the process unfolded. Long story short, four rounds of interviews later, I accepted the position at my original request.
Unfortunately, all of us normal worker bees don’t have agents to handle these delicate details for us. In the hiring process, you are the only one looking out for you. If you don’t ask for what you want/need you probably aren’t going to get it. The moral of my little story: Don’t miss out because you didn’t ask. Yes, even in this market.