How to negotiate your salary like a (literal) boss

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Meet Wellness Collective, our new, immersive curriculum with Athleta that hooks you up with actionable advice from the smartest experts and brand founders in wellness right now. Get the goods at our monthly event series in New York City, plus our online one-month wellness plans. Here, Ladies Get Paid founder and CEO Claire Wasserman breaks down the basics on how to negotiate a salary. 

The emotional stages of heading into a salary negotiation can feel similar to firing off a text to someone in potential-significant-other category: Excitement, terror, and utter relief once its over.

But being able to take on this crucial conversation is an aspect of your career you can’t avoid, and one you’ll likely have do several (if not many) times in your lifetime. And according to Claire Wasserman, founder and CEO of Ladies Get Paid—a network that provides tools and resources for women in the workplace—in order to be recognized, “you have to find ways throughout the year to make sure your manager is aware of what you’ve done and the impact it’s had on the business.”

That means not waiting around for someone to give you five gold stars for beating deadlines, leading meetings, and generally crushing it—but stepping up, pointing out what you bring to the table, and asking for what you deserve. So, prepare yourself: You will be inspired to ask for a raise after this.

Keep scrolling for Wasserman’s four steps on how to negotiate a salary, organized into a one-month career-boosting boot-camp.

It’s not totally your fault that you associate salary negotiations with something negative. Uncertainty can make you assume the worst, which explains that nauseous feeling you get when you think about approaching your boss for a pay bump. But in reality, you’re taking a leap to reach a new level in your career—and that’s something to celebrate (or at least have a positive outlook on).

“I think people assume that a salary negotiation has to be adversarial; an ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” Wasserman says. “You’re on the same page: Both of you want to stay at the company, you’re just trying to find a creative solution where everyone is happy.” Don’t forget that your manager hired you for a reason, and they want you to succeed in your role.

You can’t walk into any negotiation blindly—so do some in-depth research on the average pay across the industry and the type of responsibilities others at your level hold. Doing this type of research, according to Wasserman, takes the emotion out of the negotiation.

“You need to make this conversation as objective as possible,” she says. “It’s simply evidence that you’re presenting and the company is aware that in order to be competitive for talent, they need to base their salary on the market.” A few research resources Wasserman suggests are Payscale, recruiters on LinkedIn, and other people in your industry. Bonus: You’ll become an all-star at coffee dates.

how to negotiate a salary

By conversation, Wasserman doesn’t mean the one when you pop the question (re: ask for more money), but the ongoing dialogue you keep open with your boss. “You should be having regular meetings with your manager to confirm you’re on the same page in regards to priorities and how they define success,” she says. During those meetings, you’ll have the opportunity to bring up recent wins you had at work—which you should be tracking weekly.

Plus, when you’re consistently checking in with your manager, it shows you’re not just waiting around for them to give you recognition, but that you want to be there and that you’re ready for responsibilities in step with a higher (and well-deserved) salary. “[Your manger] is most likely overworked, so anything you can do to show initiative and make their lives easier, they’ll be enormously grateful to you.” Don’t be shy, start blocking off times on their calendar ASAP.

how to negotiate a salary

In an ideal world, you’d just put your head down and work hard until you’re automatically rewarded with mounds of money, but that’s not reality. This final step is about learning how to perfect the art of not-so-humble-bragging on yourself, or in Wasserman’s terms, simply showing your boss all the ways you’re an asset to the team. And if feel a little iffy about this, Wasserman suggests to “put yourself in the mindset of a mediocre white man—do you think he’d be doubting himself?” (Enough said.)

Sure, it can still feel awkward—but by being candid with your boss, shifting your mindset, and doing the leg work, your salary’s future is looking promising. But don’t stop there: “Share your story with other women,” Wasserman says. “We often feel alone in our workplace struggles, so talking openly and being vulnerable with one another is an amazing gift to someone—plus, you’ll feel better, too.”

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