CEE Standard: Earning Income
No matter what field your students go into they are going to need to learn how to negotiate their salary. Learning this skill now will set them up for success in the future.
We millennials are known to change jobs and companies frequently — more so than previous generations. The truth is that 50 percent of millennials would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20 percent or less. Compensation is important to us.
Fear of not having a job stops many millennials from negotiating or asking for a raise. But as my parents always said, let the company be the one to say no. If I wasn’t going to be satisfied with my compensation and benefits, then I wouldn’t be happy in the job, anyway.
Feeling uncomfortable with negotiating is another matter. Not negotiating an initial salary, for whatever reason, may cost you over the course of your lifetime. If you are offered $45,000 and a 2 percent raise every other year, but your co-worker negotiated $50,000 with the same 2 percent raise every other year, then you will essentially be missing out on more than $25,000 across just the first five years. Negotiating can be nerve-racking, but it won’t induce panic if you prepare effectively.
How to Negotiate
Doing your research will help immensely. Before taking a job, Diana* used Glassdoor and Payscale to see what jobs with similar titles paid. She showed her potential employer what she had to bring to the company, and while she asked for more than she received, she felt good about her effort and accepted the offer, especially since it was the first time she had negotiated, and the company offered her other benefits — like working from home part-time — that were worth it for her.
Some companies will ask for your salary history or your previous salary. They use this to determine your potential “worth,” or what they can expect to pay you based upon your previous earnings. You may feel that you have to disclose, but you don’t have to, believe it or not!
Instead, you can say, “I’m looking for a range of $45,000 to $50,000.” If the interviewer insists, you can say: “My current salary is personal and confidential, just as your employees’ are.” It may feel gutsy saying that, so practice it with friends and family to become familiar with it. When you’re already at a job, asking for a raise is not the same as negotiating for a new position. Will you want to leave if the company refuses?
How to Strategize
Jenna* has been at her company for more than three years, with the one-year anniversary in her current role coming up. She wanted to make sure that her name was included in the running for a raise in October — one of two times during the year when raises are given.
Jenna strategized by approaching her manager, with whom she has a good relationship, and checking in on her position. It has changed since she was hired, and she now manages more people and has implemented a system to help meet target deadlines effectively.
Her boss was vague about the possibility of a raise, and because the company is going through budget cuts, it’s difficult to know if she will get one. They did offer her a change in title, but she was adamant that she is more interested in addressing her salary, rather than her title.
While Jenna isn’t sure what she will do if the company refuses to grant her a raise, she frequently checks job postings simply to see what else is out there in her field. She may consider negotiating other benefits, but the way her job is structured now makes it hard to take the vacation time that she already has or to telecommute.
Lila* was offered a job recently. And though she got almost everything she asked for, she decided to turn down the offer after realizing that she wouldn’t be happy in her new position. Being able to turn down an offer after having considered it is also part of your confidence-building process.
Negotiating is a skill that doesn’t always come naturally. Do your research, practice with friends and family, and know that sometimes you have to be creative. Set your absolute minimum and never compromise any offer below that. And yes — always ask. Unless you ask, your employer can turn around and say, “But you never asked!”
*Names changed to protect privacy.