What I Didn't Know Then

What I Didn't Know Then

Everything is negotiable. Read it again: everything is negotiable.

When I was younger, I hadn’t learned that very common phrase yet. I previously wrote about my pattern of going with the flow, almost to a fault. “Going with the flow” also applied to my salary and my job responsibilities.

I was letting my career run me instead of me running my career.

When I got my first promotion at the tech company I worked for, I was so excited to be offered the job. I knew it was a good opportunity, and I trusted that I was being offered a fair salary. I accepted the offer immediately, no questions asked. That action would forever follow me during my time at that company.

What I didn’t know then is that getting a raise in the future would be difficult.

What I didn’t know then is that you should always research what comparable roles are paid in similar cities before accepting an offer.

What I didn’t know then is that it’s okay to negotiate your salary during the offer process. In fact, most (if not all) executives expect you to try to negotiate your pay. It won’t always work out in a higher wage, but sometimes it will.

By not trying to negotiate a higher salary, I ended up at a below-market rate for years. Once your salary is set, yes, you can earn raises, but it’s a percentage. On paper, a percentage could look large, but if you apply that percentage to a below-market wage, you will still end up below-market. If you fight for a larger percentage, it will require multiple layers of approval and could be hard to secure.

Shout out to my last boss who was able to make things right for me in terms of my pay.

Note: not all roles have pay that is negotiable, espescially roles where a heavy percentage of your pay comes from commission/bonuses. That doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t try to negotiate your base pay, but please be realistic in what you are requesting, and understanding if the base pay doesn’t increase. Sales people are often told, “If you want to make more money, close more sales.” A good sales person is never held back by their base pay, and will make the income they want to make by improving their sales skills. To any sales reps reading this: do yourself a favor and maximize your comp plan each and every month.

There are other things to negotiate for yourself – what about the hours you are in the office vs. working from home? Is there a time each week you’d like to volunteer in your child’s classroom, or an activity you’d like to be able to take them to? If it’s during office hours, why not try to negotiate the ability to be present for those things?

The word “negotiation” can be intimidating. It can make you think you have to be skilled in it in order to do it. Negotiating doesn’t have to equal conflict. It can also be speaking up for yourself.

Think of negotiating as communicating what you want.

I wish I could go back in time, to that moment when I was accepting my job offer and tell my younger self to stop; to think about the scope of the role and how it compared to the pay; to take a few minutes and do a Google search of “sales manager salary” and see what came up. If only I could tell myself that I wasn’t lucky to get offered the position – I was the most qualified person for the role and had earned it fair and square.

But that’s the thing about life experiences…we don’t know everything. We must experience things and learn as we go.

Maybe reading this will help you communicate more of what you want the next time you are offered a position - you’re worth it.

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