Written by Sydney Piggott
We often hear that women don’t negotiate their salary or that we are “less confident” than men in doing so. According to Forbes, women are 16% less likely than men to negotiate their salary, which might be lower than you expected. In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter what men are doing. As young women, we should be getting paid based on our value, experience, and skills, and we need to be prepared to fight for it. Salary negotiations can be awkward and uncomfortable, but negotiating compensation is a normal part of your career journey and most employers know that. Whether you’re applying for a new job, up for a promotion, or preparing to ask for a raise, here are five tips for negotiating your salary.
1. Do your research
Your salary expectations should be based on fact. If a potential employer asks why you should be getting paid your proposed salary, you need to be prepared to answer the question without hesitation. Your first step is to determine what the market value is for the position you are seeking. Websites like Glassdoor, Workopolis, and Charity Village, will give you the average or median salaries in a variety of sectors across Canada. Knowing this information and being able to communicate it to a potential employer is essential to your negotiation. Second, determine what the value of your particular skill set is and factor that into your salary expectations. If you have a master’s degree or a professional certification; if you exceed the range of experience asked for in the job posting; if you have language competencies that will be useful for the role; these are all things that contribute to your worth and should be used to support your negotiation.
2. Don’t disclose your current salary
Nothing requires you to tell your new employer what you are getting paid in your current job and, the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Your salary negotiation should be based on your worth – your experience, education, and skills that make you a great candidate for the job – not what you were making before. Moving on to a new job should come with a pay bump or some other form of compensation that makes the move worth it, so if your potential employer is offering the same or less than what you’re being compensated currently, it’s a bad sign. Consider whether it’s the right move for you, make sure that you know the minimum amount you will accept for the role, and don’t settle for less.
3. Focus on total compensation
Money isn’t everything! I know it’s hard to believe as the “debt generation”, but a job offer or a promotion is about more than just salary. Think about the things that you value most in a job and build those into your negotiation. Ask for an extra week of vacation or flexible work hours if work-life balance is important to you. If you’re early in your career, you may want to negotiate your job title or professional development opportunities to make you more competitive in the job market later. Some organizations and companies are genuinely limited in how much they can pay you based on their HR policies or their annual budget, so asking for compensation other than salary is a way to bypass those constraints to get the offer that you want.
4. Make a second counter offer
Don’t give up! There is no need to settle for the first response from your employer. If you are not satisfied with the revised offer, make a second counter offer and drive home the reasons for why you are asking for a higher compensation package. Go back to your research. If you have other job offers, use those to leverage your negotiations. Be firm and know your worth, but don’t be rude or suggest that you deserve a higher salary without having a concrete reason behind it. It’s a delicate balance, but the reward will be worth it!
5. Know your rights
Whether you are starting a new job, getting a promotion, or working in the same role, you have rights as an employee. If, at any point, you feel that you are being unfairly compensated, inform yourself on the legal framework that protects you both at the federal and provincial levels. Federally, the Canada Labour Code determines the minimum employment standards that each province must abide by. Then, the provincial Ministry of Labour has a duty to design and enforce employment standards. At both levels, there are pay equity requirements and you can’t be fired for holding your employer accountable to them. Women in Canada are, on average, paid 30% less than men and Indigenous women, women of colour, women with disabilities, and young women experience an even larger wage gap. Wage discrimination is real and, if you feel that you’re being undercompensated compared to your peers, speak up! You have the right to equal pay for equal work of value.C