What You Need To Consider To Know Your Worth & Get The Salary You Want

After endless hours studying, perfecting your resume, writing cover letter after cover letter, and surviving the interview, you got the job. Now it’s time to get paid. Salary negotiation is possibly the scariest two words you can put together. Asking for money, especially at a new job, can be nerve-wracking. But, you’ve worked hard getting the job and you deserve to be compensated adequately for the hours of work you’ll be putting in. Approaching the topic doesn’t come naturally to everyone, especially for women just coming out of college who are thrilled to even have a position. No matter who you are you have to know your worth — you are an asset to the company. And asking for a reasonable salary for your position and your skills/qualifications is more than OK.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) researched the gender pay gap, finding women make 79 percent of what male counterparts make — and the gap is even greater for women of color. This gap hasn’t changed in over a decade, and at this rate, it will take over 100 years for women to earn 100 percent of what their male co-workers earn.

Asking for the salary you want and deserve serves not only you, but it’s helping close the wage gap. As long as a gap still exists, salary negotiation and knowing your worth can go a long way. “Young women and men just graduating have the advantage of being open and not yet jaded," Life Coach and career expert Nina Rubin tells Bustle. "If they've had internships, they can negotiate. Many companies try to pay a pittance so it's important that grads request a living wage."

So here are five things experts want you to know about your value and how get the paycheck you want.

1. Know Your Worth

Research is important. Knowing what other people at your company make and what other companies pay for the same or similar position will give you an idea of what you can reasonably expect. Research can also help you find the salary range, which can help you negotiate higher pay for your skills and experience.

“If the offer is a new role for an existing company, research what other similar positions make at similar companies — job boards are a great way to do that. Compare yourself to the minimum qualifications and add or subtract according to skills you do or don’t have,” kununu's millennial career expert Caroline Beaton tells Bustle. “Never negotiate right when an employer gives you a number. Instead, thank them for their offer and tell them you need time to think on it. Then research and come back to the table fully prepared."

2. You Have Potential

“The best negotiators know exactly what they’re offering. For recent college grads, it’s almost never technical skills. It’s potential,” says Beaton. You might not be an expert at Excel just yet, but only you know your work-ethic and potential. Make sure you’ve shown your employer just how much you have to offer — and make sure you’re compensated fairly.

“If you have educated or learned something new from this position (or experience) that you're currently in and can apply it to the next position, then you are worth more than you are currently making,” says Rubin.

3. Know — And Stick To — Your Baseline

You have needs and you deserve a salary that will cover the basics — food, clothes, rent, etc. While it might be tempting to take a position that will give you great experience but has a low salary, you need to prioritize your needs. Draw up a budget and figure out what baseline salary will cover those needs.

“Continuously refer back to why you are negotiating this salary,”account executive at Blonde 2.0 Sharon Kaslassi tells Bustle. Once you’ve got a baseline, you can start negotiating. “If you feel that your needs are being met and you feel confident in the decision then you should stop negotiating and accept the offer. If you feel that it is completely out of range and you're on two different pages, you can politely decline the offer,” says Kaslassi.

4. Be Empowered

“You can choose to accept or decline the offer, and you’ll might feel rushed by your employer to choose. At its core, this is a marketing strategy,” says Beaton. Under pressure, you might just accept a salary without considering negotiating.

“Regain your power by first negotiating time to decide on the offer. This has two advantages: One, employers will realize you’re not dispensable or manipulatable. Two, you gain a larger window to research whether the offer’s fair and/or shop around for a better offer.” says Beaton.

5. Don’t Let Fear Win

When it comes to negotiating your salary, you might not want to ‘trust your gut,’ says Beaton. “We sometimes confuse fear and discomfort with ‘this is wrong, don’t push it.’ This is one reason men get paid more: men are more likely to push back when their employer gives a number; women are more likely to accept it. So instead of capitulating to some instinctive notion of when to stop pushing, stop the conversation. Ask for more time to consider their number and then run through what you’re worth on your own once your head’s on straight. Come back to the conversation with a definitive number you won’t go below. It could be the original number. In this case, you’ll know that regardless you’re accepting the offer, but it doesn’t hurt to try—once, with conviction.”

Negotiating your salary doesn’t have to be terrifying — use it as an opportunity to show that you are an asset to your employer and that you are savvy enough to know how you should be compensated. Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.

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