Think back to your last interview when the hiring manager asked you the common interview question you knew was coming but were still dreading: "What are your salary expectations?" 

If you’re not ready to answer this question, you risk losing a ton of money — not just today, but over the course of your career.

I didn’t negotiate my first salary because I didn’t know that I could negotiate. Only 32% of women negotiate their salary, with a whopping 68% accepting the salary they were offered. This is especially interesting when you compare it to the 48% of men who do negotiate. So don’t feel bad if you accepted what you were offered. You’re so not alone! 

If you choose to accept what you’re offered, that's OK, as long as it's a deliberate choice that you're making — and not because you’re afraid to ask for something else or didn’t know that you could ask (like me!).

Most employers expect you to negotiate and are surprised when you don’t.

Like many women I work with, Kelly told me that when she interviewed for a job in the financial sector, the hiring manager advised her not to negotiate. She trusted him and accepted the salary she was offered, only to find out later that they had budgeted additional money for her salary assuming that she would negotiate.

This is very common! You are the only person truly looking out for you.

Dollars and sense:

Imagine you’re offered $50k for a job. You know that the range for that job is $50-75k. What if, instead of just accepting the $50k that you were offered, you said that you’d expect to get $65k based on your experience? And you got $60k. That’s $10k/year, or $833/month more. What would your life look like with an extra $833 every month? You didn’t have to work any harder for that money. All you had to do was muster up your courage and ask for what you know you deserve…based on your research and confidence in your skills.  

Here’s how I recovered from that initial fail and how you can, too:

Although I didn’t negotiate my salary when I started my first real job, I soon learned that I could, and in fact had to, do it. No one is looking out for you except you. As much as your manager loves you and thinks your work is top notch, he/she is responsible for keeping costs down. If you’re waiting for your manager to say, “You are amazing! Let me give you a gigantic raise!” it’s very unlikely to happen.

You have to ask. Here are some tips on how to do it:

WHAT YOU THINK: You have to believe that you deserve it. 

- Do research about the salary. Be prepared to share your research in the meeting.

- Really understand what other people think of you. We are our own worst critics and tend to focus on  our failures or flaws. To overcome this very human tendency, ask the people you work with to tell you what you do well. Once you have a list of what you’re good at, put all the compliments about how awesome you are onto one page and carry it around with you. Remind yourself about how great other people say you are whenever you start to doubt yourself.


- Be nice and friendly. If you really are excited about the opportunity, be sure to say so! “I’m excited about this job and know I can add a ton of value to the company and the job because of my experience (such as x, y and z.” 

- Share the high end of the range only. Instead of, “I’ve found that this position in our area is paid between $ and $$,” you’ll say, "I’ve found that this position in our area is paid up to $$.”

This sets a higher number up as a starting point, which influences what the other person is considering offering you. When you give that higher number as a starting place, they may recalculate what to offer you in order to come closer to your number.

Same for when you get any of those dreaded questions about your past salary, like, "What were you making in your last job?” You can say, “Based on my research, I was underpaid by up to 20%, which is one of the reasons I am leaving that company.”


- Planning and practice are the best way to get what you want. I seriously cannot stress this enough…say what you want out loud, many many many times before you say it to the person you’re asking. Say it to your spouse, your cat, your friends. Record yourself saying it into a recording app on your phone. Say it to yourself in the mirror until you are as calm and confident as you’d be when you ask for another piece of cake at your own birthday party.

- If you get a no, ask how you can get up to that higher range: “What would I need to do to get to the next pay level?”


What do you do when the unexpected happens? That moment when the other person interrupts you or says something you weren't prepared for? Melissa Hereford will teach you how to Negotiate With Confidence at