How To Negotiate Salary: What I Learned From Working In 6 Countries

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Meri Rosich is a business advisor, professor, and author. She has held leadership positions in Singapore, Hong Kong, London, New York, Barcelona, and Tokyo, where she is based now. What has she learned about salary negotiations from all this experience? Read on to find out.

Women are paid less than men for the same jobs, and there are sharp differences across industries and countries. That’s a fact.

So how can we women have fulfilling global careers on equal terms? Here are some ideas on how to negotiate salary that worked for me.

1. Create your story

How to negotiate salary boss woman

Once, a recruiter in Japan told me: “Your profile is great, but I wouldn’t know where to place you, in Marketing or in Product?” I was obviously not telling a clear story.

Your story is the result of your education, culture, experiences, industry exposure, choices, work habits, and personal preferences, among others. Some stories are linear and some aren’t, but all are unique and valuable.

It is important that you create your story, or someone else will create it for you. If you use LinkedIn or other similar tools, find somebody you admire and observe how they communicate their story.

2. Know your worth

How to negotiate salary - shocked woman

When I was 25, while working for a small company in Barcelona, I applied to a large multinational. When I was asked for my salary expectations, I didn’t know what to say. Then, they told me their budget, and I nearly choked. I said it was in my range, but it was more than double of my package at the time.  

Before learning the tactical skills on how to negotiate salary, it is your responsibility to know how much you are worth. You can find online reports that assess job types by industry, skill set, and seniority. Find yours, and keep that in mind when asked for your compensation expectations, and justify it with data.

3. Make the most of your interview

In my first job, I was interviewed twice by the owner of the company, so I assumed I would report to him based on his questions and the projects he described, But on my first day, I was surprised to find out that I was three levels down, so I should have clarified that point during the interview process.

4. Understand the culture

how to negotiate salary - social network

I always meet with at least two people before I accept a job offer to ensure the company has a long-term strategy and that the team is good. Connect online and write, “I am interested in your company and I noticed you have been there for a while. Would you have a few minutes for coffee or a call to share your experiences?”

Ask them: Is it a good place to work? Is the health plan clear? Holidays? What about the pay, bonuses, and taxes? Make sure you understand exactly what is on the table, but remember to be polite and respectful of their time.  

5. Don’t be afraid to ask

How to negotiate salary

Once you go through the process and you receive an offer, remember that there is always another candidate waiting as their plan B, so evaluate it quickly. If you need to clarify anything, do so now, because once you sign, you won’t have the opportunity to negotiate further.

The holidays in New York are very different from Europe’s, so when I transferred to the US, I lost ten days. I asked HR if I could keep these vacation days as part of the transfer, and they agreed. So ask—you never know when the answer will be yes.

6. Look for advice

How to negotiate salary - interview

When I joined a global financial services company in London, I had just graduated from my MBA. I noticed that some alumni from my business school were employees too, so I asked them how they negotiated their contracts. They were thrilled to give advice.

One told me there was a new sign-on bonus for MBAs as part of a new global policy. When I asked my new boss about it, he was surprised and delighted to give me a cheque that did not reflect on his budget, and I was glad to have demonstrated my resourcefulness.

Appreciate people who take the time to give you advice. I always send small gifts to thank people for their help, such as a box of chocolates in Hong Kong, or a bottle of wine in the UK. You don’t have to spend much. Make it culturally acceptable and relevant, and you’ll make a lasting impression.

And when you have the opportunity to give advice, always send the elevator down and help others advance their careers.

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