Key tips to confidently negotiate for the compensation you deserveFeatured

Are you feeling undervalued or undercompensated for the value you’re delivering at work? Have you never negotiated before, or don’t know where to start?

Women add so much value to their employers but are often not appropriately compensated. Women still make 84 cents to every $1 that a man makes, and women ask for and expect lower compensation than men do - a term titled the “ask gap”.

I’ve spent my career in compensation, most recently leading the executive compensation and equity compensation teams at Lululemon.

I now support women in negotiating for the compensation they deserve – because most times if you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it.

Here are three key tips on negotiating:

1. Getting even a little more can have a big impact.

We can find a hundred different reasons to talk ourselves out of negotiating (and I’ve heard them all!) – however, this is your reminder that there is some urgency to it.

Compensation typically works in percentage increases, meaning if you receive a new job offer or promotion, a compensation team thinks about it in percentages, not dollars. For example, they will recommend a 15% increase over your current salary, not a $20,000 increase.

This means that every dollar you give up now has a multiplying impact in the future – studies have found that a difference in your starting salary of $1,000 could mean a cumulative loss of more than $500,000 over your full career. And I’m sure that number is much higher in tech!

So, even if you negotiate for just a little bit more now, it creates a meaningful knock-on effect for you over your career. And it will also show you that negotiating isn’t so bad – practice makes perfect.

2. Think about the full compensation package.

I see many women focus the vast majority of their negotiation on base salary, which is important as it meaningfully impacts your life – but there are so many other pieces to think about. In tech especially, please don’t forget about your bonus and equity compensation. Take the time to understand the programs (leverage resources, mentors, advisors if you need) and ask questions.

Most equity and bonus programs are not well explained, so don’t feel nervous to ask about them – you can’t negotiate something you don’t understand. Equity and bonuses (including sign-on awards) are often much more flexible than base salary, so they can be easier to push on. And they can meaningfully impact your wealth over the long term - higher risk, but higher potential for reward.

Beyond bonuses and equity, think about all the other elements of an offer that can help make your job really work for your life – sabbaticals, long-term savings programs, PTO, professional development/courses, parental leave support, employee share purchase programs, role scope, health & dental benefits, well-being allowances, non-competes, flexible work schedules, severance, team structure, and more. Everything is on the table in a negotiation!

3. Do the pre-work to know exactly what you want to ask for, and be clear and concise in that ask.

We work so hard for our companies, but we do not spend a lot of time working hard to make sure we’re getting the best offer possible for ourselves. Invest in yourself. Take the time and utilize the resources you need to feel 100% confident about what you’re asking for before you go into the negotiation.

This can include taking a day off from work to prepare so you know exactly what you will say in the negotiation, or working with an advisor to help you feel confident in the number you’re asking for, or reaching out to friends to help you practice and role-play different situations. The time is worth it –when else are you so directly impacting your future wealth?

And once you determine what you want to ask for, clearly and concisely articulate exactly that. Stay away from ranges if possible (they show that you don’t know exactly what you want), and prepare your negotiation “speech” in advance.

As women, we need to empower each other to feel confident in asking for the compensation we deserve. I’d love to hear any questions you have around negotiating compensation or any stories of negotiations that may have gone well or not well for you – the more we share, the more we know!

This is so important. I was just involved in a rather long interview process. I let them know that I was still interested in the position, however I had gotten another offer that they would now have to compete with. They came in 20K over our initial review of the position and an advanced title.
Amazing! I love hearing these stories. So important to be bringing these things up.
Amazing! Thanks for sharing. Is asking for a 15% raise in salary after a year a good place to start? What are other people asking for?
It can be so dependent on the situation (e.g., what salary you came in with, what role you're in, what other components of compensation you have, etc), but a 15% raise is definitely a great starting place, especially if that's what feels right to you.
As a hiring manager, our SOP pre-pandemic was to make the initial offer at about 85%. We had a figure we could not go over, but there was always wiggle room. It was fascinating to see who simply accepted it and who countered. In one negotiation, I was itching to tell the person, β€œYou can get $5,000 more,” but I also knew the organization had uses for the money if the new hire did not ask for it. As for β€œbenefits are worth money, too,” they are, but get it up front when you can. You may not stay long enough to use the benefits, and your up front salary is eventually used in calculating social security.
This is excellent advice!! The advance preparation is key. I see you pointed out how equity isn't often well explained. So true. There is an Elpha Members Chat on the basics of equity tomorrow for anyone who is interested (shameless plug as I'm leading the conversation!)
This looks great!
Are there any best practices or tips for negotiating severance? I hadn't really thought about it prior to this year, and am wondering how to go about it as I job search/interview
Yes, as you start to get more senior in your career, its important to think about severance. How much you should negotiate for depends on level and role, but you can look to your non-compete and/or non-solicit as a reference point. For example, if they've put in a 12-24 month non-compete (meaning you can't go to any competitors for 12-24 months), think about negotiating for a 6-12 month severance. This is completely appropriate as it will likely take you longer to find a new job when you can't go to a competitor. If you need any support around these types of clauses in your job search, let me know :)
Ahh, that makes sense! Thanks so much, Jillian!! 😊
Use data to support your salary or promotion negotiations to make it easier! I rounded up all the top reputable salary data sources and calculators to create the Salary Toolkit for our community of professionals pivoting into tech. I'm always adding to it, so please share it out and use it!
Everything is on the table in a negotiation! - Thank you for mentioning that! I really needed to hear it.
Remember: it's NOT about your worth. It's about what the RESULTS are worth. People hire you to solve their problems. Listen to their problems and offer multiple solutions.