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3 Reasons Your Salary is Lower Than it Could Be

1.) You don’t realize your worth in the workplace.

Fair compensation is typically determined by two factors: the market rate for your position and the value that an employer assigns to you and your role. Having a clear picture of both lets you enter salary negotiations with an informed perspective. How do you determine these figures? That’s where things can get tricky.

The market rate for a role can be highly variable, and in niche sectors or for individuals with extensive specialized experience, there’s even more nuance. While a graduating MBA student entering an associate-level management consulting role may have a fairly straightforward compensation range, the same may not be true for someone joining the same firm from the client side with 10+ years of deep industry knowledge.

The way a company values your role also is highly variable, and is based on the company’s priorities, as well as their assessment of your skills. For instance, the startup that just secured funding but is hindered by a lack of engineering resources would likely exceed market value for a well-qualified engineer, while a Fortune 500 with an established team of developers may be less inclined to offer top dollar to a candidate.

2.) Negotiations feel uncomfortable.

Most people hate asking for things. The sudden shift from enthusiastic job candidate to tough negotiator can be jarring, but if you’re willing to briefly step outside of your comfort zone, it could pay off in a big way. Don’t buy into the misconception that negotiating an offer will negatively impact your prospects. In fact, many employers actually leave room for candidate negotiations and respect it when they do.

As long as you maintain your professionalism and thoughtfully articulate your asks, you have nothing to fear. Adopt a negotiator’s mindset and minimize anxiety during your next salary conversation by doing the following:

Approach the negotiation as a collaborative effort. Remember, you and the recruiter have the same end goal: you getting the job. Keeping your shared objectives in mind can help alleviate the oppositional dynamic that can make the process feel intimidating.

Pre-plan and take your time. Avoid the temptation to immediately negotiate (or accept!) the moment you receive an offer. Remember, it’s common practice to ask for time to consider. This makes you look thoughtful, not uninterested! Shift the conversation to a written response, which allows you to craft a well-prepared reply. By coming up with your negotiation goals and responses to potential requests and objections ahead of time, you can feel more in control of this uncertain process.

3.) You’re happy with your current salary or initial offer.

Congratulations! Your offer is at, or above, what you initially hoped for. However, every great offer still leaves the possibility for more. Use this strong starting point to pursue an even better outcome by following your negotiation plan (remember the one you came up with…) to maximize your earnings. It’s a low-risk way to ensure you’re leaving nothing on the table.


Need help creating your plan? Peak Negotiations offers personalized coaching that combines public and private compensation data with firsthand experience and one-on-one support to help you reach your highest earning potential. Schedule an introductory meeting here, and take the stress out of your next salary conversation.

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