I started my career the moment I left college, in 2010. As a food scientist, I felt like I was off to a great start in my industry…it was not that simple, however. The first issue was when the company went through a financial crisis – I was asked to make a lateral move, with no pay increase but a significant amount more in the way of responsibility. ‘That’s ok’, I thought, ‘I’m here for the experience’.
Later, I was asked to move again – same level, new function. In 6 years I’d moved roles 3 times and only received a $12,000 pay increase (you’d be within your rights to expect a 10% pay increase per move). When I did the math, I was sitting on 2 Masters degrees and a pay deficit of $45,000 below the industry standard. I did what any discerning employee would do – I went to see my hiring manager. Now, it’s worth saying that I did enjoy my job and my hiring manager was supportive. She acknowledged that I was ready to progress and had a role in mind. When I asked her how long it would take to get paid my market worth, she regretfully said, ‘there is no way you’ll ever get paid that in this company’. I valued her honesty, at least.
“I was deflated… but I had gained the clarity that I needed in order to search for something else.”
I knew my worth… I knew I was worth at least $25,000 more than what I was making, therefore, I was upfront with recruiters and employers about my salary expectations.
Because I was savvy and didn’t hesitate, I found a role that was $45,000 more than the role I’d just left. Don’t get me wrong, the imposter syndrome certainly reared its ugly head, but I stood firm.
It was such a rewarding feeling. Finally I had traded all of my experience for the money I felt I’d earned. I’d stayed patient and I was elated that it had all paid off – I was making my worth.
What I learned…
It’s worth remembering that compensation comes in many different formats – it’s not just about salary… it’s about the package. What are your priorities?
If you want a pay increase, the solution is not always within the company… it might be in yourself. Remember, you chose to do that job for that money, companies have set budgets for specific roles. You can simply ask for their support and see what they say.
Next up… negotiation…
Negotiation sounds like something horrible, right? Most people dive headfirst into picturing someone talking down a bank robber or orchestrating the release of hostages… but don’t worry! This is not that. Let’s break it down into some easy to follow steps…
- Identify the person you’re talking to and what their pain points are. What do they want from an employee that you know you can give them? That’s your leverage.
- Negotiate with grit and confidence. This becomes paramount if you’ve spent the first part of your career gaining experience – rather than climbing the ladder. Potentially, it will feel like a huge leap when you move into a role that’s actually paying your worth; so be ready to prove your salt!
- That being said, you do need experience early on in your career – just be prepared for that big leap or you’ll be behind for the rest of your career. Take no prisoners when explaining that your years of experience are worth the market rate.
Regardless of how much experience you have, taking the jump from base salary to market rate is going to bring up some feelings of imposter syndrome – there’s nothing wrong with you if you feel that way. You might be concerned that your new role doesn’t actually feel that hard, so why is it worth the huge (in your mind) salary? That’s all down to the level of responsibility you now have. Don’t talk yourself out of a room you’ve earned the right to be in…
To quash some of these feelings, show up as the salary you’ve negotiated. We’re talking about personal branding here – how you dress, how you interact with seniors, how you run a meeting. Be consistent in the image you put out there, as a competent and capable individual who’s worth every penny! The biggest mistake you could make is thinking that this is all too good to be true.
If the job feels too easy, ask for more responsibility. Don’t stop trying to grow and progress in your career.
Negotiating a pay-rise is hard, but so are so many other elements of sky-rocketing your career. The Females In Food community is a hub of trainings, support and membership perks that will not only help support your rise to success, but will provide you with actionable resources to get you there.
Negotiating your new salary is just one of them. To dive in and start negotiating your worth – check out our membership options.
And check out @theeverydayreal for daily career tips!