Lessons in Salary Negotiation -- Melissa LaFrance

By WomenAdvancing Archives
Cover image for  article: Lessons in Salary Negotiation -- Melissa LaFrance

Last week in Boston, Wayfair was kind enough to host WIMMI at their offices for an event on salary negotiation with special guest speaker Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations. I admit I was a little skeptical that participation would be lower than normal since this was our first breakfast event but once again the ladies of Boston proved me wrong. I love it when you do that, but I should also know by now that you ladies are on it! Nearly 70 of you showed up at the crack of dawn to ask important questions that will help you come out on top during future salary negotiations.

I can honestly say that everything we discussed was informative but there were a few points that were so enlightening they should be shared with our entire network of female leaders.

The first is regarding hire date. If you were lucky enough to get hired in 2008–2009 you are likely underpaid in 2014. This means that the people getting hired today to do the same job as you are getting paid more to do it. If this applies to you, you should speak to your employer about bumping your pay up to meet the current market rate or consider switching employers altogether.

The second point is in regards to employment applications. Most of them require you to post your previous salary and some of them even require you to list benefits such as bonuses. The problem is that doing so immediately puts a cap on what a potential employer will offer you. The better approach is actually to put a zero value in the application or respond that your pay is confidential. This will prevent future employers from bucketing you into an unemployable category prior to speaking with you and it will force them to have a conversation about compensation with you directly which gives you the opportunity to negotiate.

It’s also critically important to understand the market value of the job. You can do this by learning what the salary bell curve is for a given position on sites like salary.com. Know that the median salary includes those on the lower end, which is where female employees typically fall, and those on the higher end, which is where male employees who have the same skillset typically fall. If you do your research you should feel confident asking for a number that appears on the right-hand side of the curve rather than settling somewhere on the left-hand side or middle.

Still the biggest takeaway is thatwomen should always, always, always ask for more moneybecause salary analysts predict it will still be another 35+ years before we achieve equal pay.

Melissa LaFrance oversees market development for PayPal Boost. Prior to PayPal, Melissa was theDirector of Marketing at Digilant, a multi-million dollar programmatic media start-up. She is the co-founder of the Boston chapter of the Women in Media Mentoring Initiative.

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