Should I discount myself?
I recently got this question from a woman I was working with in my group coaching course. She was thinking about what she would name as her compensation requirements in an interview. She knew what her (quite impressive) skills and experience were worth on the job market, but as a woman restarting her career after a break to raise kids, she thought “Should I discount myself”?
Common question – let’s break it down:
Doing compensation research is critical to getting paid fairly. Here’s how to do that:
- Find 4-5 sources that provide compensation information for the role you are considering. I like salary.com, payscale.com, comparably, the Robert Half Salary Report, and also Glassdoor for company-specific data.
- Calibrate these for your geographic area and/or the region where this company is based if it’s a remote role. If it’s a big company operating in multiple geographic regions, then do a Google search to find out if they vary their compensation based on geographic region or if they are location-agnostic with their offers.
You’ll want 5 data points so you can make sure you aren’t relying on one outlier statistic. You might notice that one of these sources gives you a number that is much higher or lower than the others – that’s your outlier.
3. Put your 5 numbers in a table and then come up with a range that hits the high middle of the numbers.
- For example, you might consult 5 sources and collect the following numbers for the same job: $75,000, $65,000, $80,000, $50,000 and $75,000
- Let’s assume $50K is an outlier, since the others are all close to each other.
- Based on these data points, a reasonable range for this role might be: $70-$80K
4. Aim high! Adjust your range slightly higher and ask for $75-$85K. This is the compensation range you will name when asked “When are your compensation requirements or expectations?”
5. Next step: Don’t apply a discount to yourself! In fact, we just worked out a range for the role, and then adjusted it slightly higher!
6. Now practice this. You’ll need to get comfortable asking for that compensation range. Say out loud, multiple times:
“Based on my research of the job market, my expectation is for a salary in the range of $75-$85,000.”
Talking about money (especially asking for it) can feel hard, so the practicing out loud step is really important.
- Don’t lower your voice when you say it and take the “ums” out of your speech. Only practicing out loud will help you do that.
7. The Last Step – Don’t Skip This! Tell them what your expectations are and then stop talking. Don’t apologize for asking for what you are worth and what the job market is paying. Simply stop talking!
Someone I know recently answered the compensation question before consulting me (can you imagine that?!). When asked about her compensation expectations during a phone screen, she said: “I believe $75-$80K would be reasonable for this role…But I know you’re a start-up and might not have the budget for that, so I could also do a lower salary, like $60K.”
Yikes! She just bargained herself down about $15,000 because she couldn’t stop talking. Please don’t do that to yourself! This is why it’s so important to do your research, state your expectations and then stop talking.
You Can Ask About Salary
If the question doesn’t come up during your interview and you’re curious what the compensation range is for a role, you can ask a question like “Can you share the compensation range for this position, so we can make sure that we’re aligned on our expectations?”
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