As I experienced personally as a hiring manager, women tend to ask for lower starting salaries than men if applying for the same positions. But why are we doing that?
My personal observation with my clients as well as many women around me is that most women don’t want to appear demanding or unreasonable with their salary expectations. The most frequent argument I hear from my clients is: “I don’t think the company can afford the salary you suggest.”
So basically we’re already worrying about the company’s financial situation and how we can help them before we even started there. How considerate of us…
Or, even worse: “My female friends told me that this is what I can expect for this position in this industry.”
Really? Do we want to hold each other back by telling each other to ask for the same amount we’re currently earning and not for more? I recently discussed this with a client and challenged this point heavily. Why should you earn the same as your friend in the same position? Do you know if her performance and knowledge equal yours? Can you really compare yourself with her?
Know Your Worth!
The most important thing is to know your worth. You are worth a high salary. Not your friend’s, your sister’s, your colleague’s – but you. You don’t have the same background and the same skill set, even if you have the same education or are working in a similar position. You have different strengths, different skills and probably a very different way of working.
I love my friends but I don’t know enough about how they work and what their job actually implies to compare myself and my salary with them. I don’t compare my salary with my colleagues either because I only really know my own strengths and my own performance.
Of course, it’s also important to have a realistic picture of your worth. As a team manager, I saw many employees, both men and women, vastly overestimating their worth. Some seemed to think that the simple fact of having a bachelor’s degree made them masters of the universe and they wanted to get paid accordingly in their first or second job, with hardly any work experience.
To determine your worth, you also need to be able to self reflect honestly and identify what your worth is in this position. If the position has nothing to do with your studies and doesn’t require a university degree, having one won’t increase your worth. It will come down to the value you can provide to the company in your specific role. Otherwise, you should ask yourself if this is the right job for you to accomplish your goals.
Rather than comparing yourself with the rest of the world, focus on your experience, your skill set, your strengths.
Now ask yourself:
- How will the company benefit from you?
- Will they gain in efficiency because you’re extremely focused and efficient?
- Will their revenue increase because you’re a great salesperson?
- Will you improve the quality thanks to your attention to detail?
- Will you bring new clients from your existing job?
- Will you help them make new connections thanks to your great network?
- Will they save time and money for trainings if they get your many years of experience instead of having to bring someone more junior up to speed?
A High Salary is Not a Charity!
The next step is to understand that you’re not asking them for a favor or for charity. A work contract is a business deal. They get all your knowledge, skills, drive, enthusiasm and experience in exchange for money.
If you sell your car, you also want to get the amount it is really worth and not less. So why undersell yourself? Be prepared to negotiate on a level playing field. You’re entitled to be remunerated appropriately for all that you bring to the table.
In order to get a realistic idea of your worth, it helps to do a little research. Check in again for my tips on how to figure out if your salary expectations are realistic and appropriate.