Asking for more money can be intimidating: You may be afraid to offend whomever is offering to pay for your work or even fear having an offer rescinded for seeming ungrateful or greedy. Back up: Requesting compensation for your skills and time, whether that be for math tutoring or leading a corporate team, is neither. And you deserve to earn what you’re worth.
A 2019 study showed that only 39% of workers actually negotiate their salary, meaning they’re accepting the first offer that comes their way before asking for more money or perks. This is especially the case for women, who not only are not as likely as men to apply for jobs but are also more hesitant to negotiate salary once an offer is on the table. Implicit gender discrimination can further discourage women from wanting to negotiate, but keep in mind that a salary or project fee isn’t just a short-term earning situation — it’s essential to your lifetime earning potential. Settling for less should never have to be an option.
Whether you’re saying yes to full-time employment, adding a side gig or a freelancer looking to boost your rates, utilize this advice from finance professionals to ensure you’re earning what your worth.
Research what others are making
Just like you comparison price when you online shop, you should be doing extensive research into your expected and possible salary range.
“If you go into a negotiation for a given job, gig or project having a pretty good idea of what you should shoot for pay-wise, this will boost your confidence when you ask for that higher number,” says Logan Allec, CPA and owner of the personal finance site Money Done Right.
Sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and Salary.com can share pay information for full-time and part-time jobs in your location and field. For project-based work, Allec recommends joining closed Facebook groups for your industry, where people typically speak freely about compensation. “You’d be surprised the kind of details people volunteer in these Facebook groups.” He also recommends Reddit as a source of honesty, but recommends staying anonymous, because you never know who’s looking.
And, of course, you can ask peers, friends and co-workers what they’re making to asses your own value. Contractors and freelancers can also research pricing in their area, or look to forums like Who Pays Writers to get a better sense of specific pay rates. “Figure out what your scale of acceptable compensation is for the role you are pursuing, and commit to not working for peanuts,” Allec says.
Staying realistic is important too. “Provide data points on salary ranges within your job title in your geographic area, which your manager can then use to share as evidence of a needed [increase],” says Addie Swartz, CEO and founder of reacHIRE, a company helping women grow their careers.
Showcase your value
Just like you’d pay more for organic produce or a handmade clothing item, show your future employer why your rates are worth paying. Swartz recommends sharing examples of successful projects you’ve completed — perhaps even ahead of deadlines — and how you help your team or clients achieve their goals. She recommends coming ready with a list of ways you’ve gone above and beyond, as well as numbers and case studies in which you’ve over-delivered.
And, of course, keep your next pay boost in mind once you accept employment or a project. “Consistently overdeliver and dive deeper throughout the year, so that asking for a raise becomes a chance to simply highlight your accomplishments and to show how you’ve been going the extra mile all year long,” Swartz says.
Don’t fear rejection
“Your fear of rejection could be the only thing getting in the way of making hundreds or thousands of dollars more for the job, contract or project you are pursuing,” Allec says. The truth is, if someone is offering to pay you for your work, they want you to do the work, and you should work for what you’re worth. Allec recommends practicing getting rejected in low-risk environments to help alleviate the fear of hearing no, which, at some point, you inevitably will. Allec suggests asking for discounts from your cable company or while shopping to practice. “Before you know it, asking for something you want won’t feel so scary anymore,” he says.
Remember that your future employer or client needs you more than you need them. You are indispensable to their success. “If you come off as desperate for the job, you forfeit any chance you had to negotiate for higher compensation than what your prospective employer is offering,” Allec says. Seeming desperate indicates you don’t have any other offers or options, meaning you’ll accept a lowball offer. Stay calm and don’t speak too quickly. Appear relaxed, don’t fidget and stay in control.
Ask for perks
“When approaching any job negotiation, you don’t only want to focus on the salary, hourly rate or contract amount,” Allec says. “You want to focus on the total economic increase you will obtain as a result of taking this job, gig, or project.”