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Traditional Salary Negotiations Set You Up to Fail: Don’t Get Got. Here Is How People of Color Should Approach Negotiations.

16 days ago

5 min read

How people of color should approach salary negotiations
How people of color should approach salary negotiations

If you’ve ever questioned your accomplishments or talent, it can be difficult to find the confidence to ask for a raise. Knowing your worth is key to being fairly compensated for your work. But for so many people of color who struggle with whether they belong, whether they are good enough, that confidence can be elusive. 

What you earn is critical to your ability to build wealth, so it’s important to be strategic about your pay at every stage of your career. For many of us from working-class families, landing a job with benefits that pays more than our parents ever made is a huge win. But it’s only the beginning. And that good job can create a path to a great career by learning to advocate for yourself. 

How much should your boss really be paying you? 

Many variables affect what someone may earn, from their experience levels and qualifications to the cost of living in the employer’s location. To figure out what a fair wage for you should be, start by finding out how much people with the same job and years of experience earn. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has hourly wage and annual salary statistics for all sorts of jobs. Websites such as Glassdoor and PayScale also post average salaries by occupation and let you compare your current pay to your peers. 

Some larger employers provide internal compensation reviews through human resources. Having data that shows you are underpaid for someone with your responsibilities and experience is a good foundation on which to build your case for more money.

Get familiar with the compensation structure at your company. Is there a salary range for someone in your role? And if so, where do you fall within it? Check with either your supervisor, human resources or union.

Build a case for getting more

Once you’re armed with information, make a list of all of your accomplishments. That could include projects you’ve successfully completed or promotions you’ve received in the past. Think back on every time a supervisor or customer has complimented your work and weave that into a narrative that shows your value. You are ultimately telling the story of your value to the company and why it warrants a raise. 

Be sure to frame your accomplishments as what you did for the company and how those efforts made the company look good.

If your company conducts annual performance reviews, pull information from the last few years to sell yourself. This can be especially helpful if your supervisor has noted an improvement in your performance from one year to the next.  

Throughout the year, you should seek constructive feedback from your supervisor. Not only does that show you are invested in improving your performance, but it can provide concrete steps for you to take to get there. And your growth as an employee further builds the case for your raise.

Negotiation: Request and get the raise 

Figuring out the right time to ask for a raise can be tricky. One of the best times is around your annual performance review when management is already thinking about compensation and has likely budgeted for salary increases. But you can certainly broach the topic after the successful completion of a project or if you have another job offer. 

You’ve done your research, prepared your notes. Now, it’s time to ask your supervisor for a meeting. You don’t have to have a Power Point presentation, but jot down a few key points to guide the conversation. Be clear. Be concise. Be gracious. Let all of the legwork you did before the meeting give you confidence.  

If the meeting fails to yield your desired results, weigh your options. If you believe there is still room to grow at the company and you want to stay, ask your supervisor for specific goals you can meet to boost your pay. If there are no paths forward, start looking elsewhere. Getting a new job is one of the best ways to increase your income. While you don’t want to bounce from one job to the next every few months, you do want to be valued for your contributions. If you’ve ever questioned your accomplishments or talent, it can be difficult to find the confidence to ask for a raise. Knowing your worth is key to being fairly compensated for your work. But for so many people of color who struggle with whether they belong, whether they are good enough, that confidence can be elusive. 

What you earn is critical to your ability to build wealth, so it’s important to be strategic about your pay at every stage of your career. For many of us from working-class families, landing a job with benefits that pays more than our parents ever made is a huge win. But it’s only the beginning. And that good job can create a path to a great career by learning to advocate for yourself. 

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