Asking for an adequate wage may feel awkward, but you are owed an income proportional to your education, skills, experience, and the area you live in. Being prepared for your interview — or follow-up interview — can make a gigantic difference in your compensation.
What is compensation?
- Essentially, it’s a salary or hourly wage. The word “compensation” makes very clear that the payment is in return for your effort.
Before you ask for compensation, prepare:
- On your first interview, focus on showing the interviewer you’re a good fit. Most professional jobs will hold second or third interviews, during which a negotiation about compensation is appropriate. For entry-level positions, you can usually negotiate during the first interview, as there will likely be only one.
- Have a range you’d like to earn, rather than a specific number, and don’t ask about the position’s pay as soon as you walk into your interview. Once you’ve shown your aptitude for the job, ask about benefits and compensation. Don’t be nervous! Now that they see you’re a good fit, they’ll want to pay you accordingly.
- If you’re anxious about flat-out asking for cash, job board Mac’s List recommends using this question to signal a discussion about payment:
- “How does the compensation for this position compare with the market rate for similar roles?”
- Make sure you know the range of salary for the position you’re shooting for — this makes sure you’re paid fairly. If your job is more specialized, the interviewer might not even know what a fair amount is, so it’s important you do.
- If the amount offered is too low to cover your needs, personal finance site The Balance suggests this response:
- “I would be thrilled with this position, but is there any leeway in the compensation package?”
- The interviewer(s) might say no. But if you aced your interview, they might get human resources or management to give you a higher pay.
Women, in many cases, feel as though they’re crossing a line when asking about/for money. Here are some specialized tips to get around this:
- Know how much you need to earn. Look at your budget and see how much money you need to make to live comfortably. Ask for enough money to fully cover any areas you feel tight in, but also understand the range for your salary and ask within it.
- Know that it’s acceptable to ask. Part of being a professional is knowing your needs and accommodating for them. Your boss will understand this — the worst that will happen is you’ll be denied, but your asking is accepted, and even expected, for someone ambitious.
- Be aware of gender differences. Don’t be afraid to bring up money with co-workers, especially male ones. Often, women are paid less than their male counterparts solely because they don’t know they’re being paid less, and this unawareness stems from the perceived “rudeness” in asking about money. You should be paid equally for equal work.
Timing and knowledge are everything when you are seeking fair compensation. Be tactful when asking about money, but don’t let yourself be intimidated into a too-low number. Know what you need — and what you and your work deserve.
By Emma Strick