According to a study done by Robert Half, 55% of people negotiated pay at their last job offer, a full 16% jump from the same survey done the previous year. That still leaves 45% of people who did not engage in a salary discussion at their last job. While the offer may be good, recruiters usually under-offer on their first offer to give themselves room to negotiate.
If you didn’t negotiate your last job offer, that’s okay, here’s what you can do.
There are a couple of different situations. Think about which one you’re in and we can go from there.
The first situation is that you just recently got a job offer and accepted it without negotiating it and you are about to start the job or you’ve only just recently started the job. Asking to negotiate a job offer that you have recently accepted and signed is one of the fastest ways to get your offer rescinded.
However, this does not mean you cannot “fix” the discrepancy in pay. Our advice to you is to start the job and do a good job; go about your day and your job the way you would normally regardless of whether you negotiated or not. Next, find an advocate within the company. This could be your manager or another more senior individual who is willing to advocate on your behalf. Thirdly, if you can, find out from your colleagues if your pay is on parity with theirs. While this is a very sensitive subject, it is a topic that is becoming more commonplace to discuss.
If you find that you are paid less than comparable employees, the next step would be to engage the company in a productive and collaborative discussion about pay. You could say to your manager at your weekly 1:1 meeting with him/her:
“There’s something I’ve been wanting to bring up for a while but wanted first to prove my worth at the company. When coming into the job, I didn’t think to negotiate my offer and realize in hindsight that may have been a mistake. While I love this job I also care about being paid fairly. I don’t want this to be something nagging at the back of my head as I really enjoy this job and would rather focus on the work instead of wondering if folks are being paid more than me. Is this something we can talk about?”
Your manager may or may not be able to have this discussion with you. At the very least he/she will send you to HR.
The second situation is that you’ve already been at the job a while and perhaps you’ve even gone through some raise and promotion cycles. The question on your mind may be, “Shoot, if I did not negotiate my job offer from the beginning, is my pay a grade below my peers or has the effect compounded by this point?”
These are the next steps we’d advocate. The first step is to find out your market rate. While assessing your market rate is not a science, there are a few things you can do:
- Ask your co-workers.
- Check online resources such as Levels.fyi, Glassdoor, Payscale, Paysa, and Salary.com.
- Talk to other companies. This is a more drastic step and requires interviewing at other companies. There is no better way of finding out your market rate than by interviewing and seeing the types of offers you receive and the compensation numbers recruiters are quoting you.
Assuming you want to stay at the company, the next step is again to engage the company in a friendly conversation.
You can say something along the lines of:
“It’s been an amazing 3 years here. I’ve learned so much and also have done really cool things with [insert company name]. I’m here to discuss something that is hopefully not uncomfortable. I did some research and found that may pay is a bit lower than what my market rate should be. While I love working here I also do not want to feel that I am being underpaid. Can we discuss this together?”
We know these discussions are uncomfortable and tricky. But that being said, engaging in a conversation like this could increase your pay (who would say no to an extra $20K a year) and also reflect well on you by showing the employer you’re willing to engage in uncomfortable and difficult conversations.