It’s no secret that women face a gender pay gap. But getting the pay you deserve can be even harder in a cooling job market (hint: like the one we’re in now). For expert-backed tips on securing the bag in a tough market, we tapped Cinneah El-Amin. As the founder of the personal finance platform Flynanced and the host of the podcast “9 to Fly,” she helps women land the jobs — and the paychecks — of their dreams. Below, she shares her advice on how you can negotiate your way to everything from better compensation to more PTO (hi, work-life balance) during your next job interview process.
How can I negotiate my salary in this weird job market?
Know your market rate beforehand. A lot of times, we go into negotiations not really knowing what our industry or market is willing to pay for our skills. Also, lean into your network — you don’t want to go into negotiations only having talked to the recruiter or company directly. Try to get at least one person who already works for that company to talk you through what a true, fair, and appropriate rate will be for the role you’re applying for. Remember that negotiation is about leverage — the more information you have, the better your case will be when you ask for more. Additionally, never take the first offer — even if you've had a long search, feel like the market is uncertain, or are worried about potentially not getting the offer. Employers are expecting you to negotiate. Finally, don’t just ask about additional increases in base salary, bonuses, and equity. Make sure that you are asking for flexibility and other benefits that will make your work-life balance work for you.
I want to research the salary for a position. Where do I start?
Go to Salary.com, where you can type in your specific job title and location and get some good directional data. Also, always survey other job descriptions, even if it’s not for a company you’re interviewing for. For example: If you’re applying for a job at American Express, see what MasterCard, Visa, Capital One, and other competitors are paying to get a real sense of what the wider industry offers. Another great tool is your network. Research online is just one step of the puzzle — it's also important for us to talk to people. That's how we start to address the wage gap, by making these conversations less taboo.
What salary negotiation mistakes can I avoid?
A lot of people think the negotiation starts once you get an offer, but the process actually starts as early as that very first phone screen. If you are getting on a call with a recruiter or hiring manager, make sure that you don't leave that call without asking about compensation. I know sometimes it can be awkward, but you don't want to get far along in an interview process and have no visibility into what the role is paying. The second big mistake is stopping at the base salary when negotiating. Maybe when you’re negotiating the numbers are firm or maybe you're already at the upper limit of what they're willing to pay, but I would say don't just leave it at that. Move on to bonuses — is there any way that you can get a sign-on bonus to really sweeten the offer? Also, ask if equity is on the table. Think about negotiating for a childcare stipend if you’re a working mother. There may be many other ways to grow your total comp.
How can I stand out during the interview process?
Know that there are always going to be variables that you can't control. Sometimes it literally just comes down to personality, and sometimes it's more implicit biases that keep certain candidates from moving along in the process. That said, it's important to reflect on what the job is asking for before you go into interviews. Make sure you've taken the time to review the job description and start to match your individual skills and experiences directly to it. Share specific examples and stories about your past roles and current jobs that show the recruiter that you can come on the team and absolutely kill it. I think another great way to stay on as a candidate is engaging in the lost art form of sending a thank you note, when possible. It really does make a difference.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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