"The tricks I used to negotiate my salary and earn over $100,000 before I was 30."


This is a story about a dear friend of mine, and for anonymity’s sake, let’s call her Jill Smith.

Jill was a mother of two beautiful kids who rarely slept and enjoyed collecting daycare bugs like they were Bratz dolls (are they still a thing?). This introduction has nothing to do with the story, but I think it’s worth setting the scene with her fragile patience. Gotta keep it dramatic.

Now, we insert job. In the 10 years I’ve known Jill, she has worked in a couple of different roles in the public healthcare sector and for a while there she really enjoyed it. I’m not entirely sure of where the tipping point was, and Jill may not either, but I distinctly remember her pouring me a G&T at her apartment in Sydney about a year ago and saying, “My job is awful. I’m miserable.”

Having just come from a similar situation, we shared our emotional battle wounds and laughed at how horribly depressing life becomes when you don’t enjoy what you’re doing between the hours of 9 to 5. After leaving her apartment, probably a little jollier then I had planned, I realised how sad it is to be in a job you loathe. We shouldn’t have been laughing at our sadness, it wasn’t funny at all.

I stayed in a job for 18 months more than I should have, and it almost destroyed me. Mentally, emotionally – heck I even put my poor GP through the wringer. In the end she said, “it’s your job, my prescription is a career change”.

tips for negotiating salary for women
Image supplied.

For 40 hours every week (let’s be honest it was probably more like 60 hours), I would drive to work with a pit in my stomach. Work made me physically ill and to some degree, Jill was having similar symptoms. She knew she had to get out but wasn’t sure how.

Fast forward 12 months and Jill has been offered a dream role in a dream department. A role that will excite her, challenge her and revive her career mojo that she was sadly missing. [Proud friend vibes right here]. And so have I – we’re both happy little beans right now! But like any decent Hollywood Drama, Jill quickly found herself back in despair. You see, Jill had received her official position offer and the salary, whilst an increase on her current income, was not what she had expected or hoped for. The messages and emails ensued, “how do I negotiate my salary?”

I had negotiated my salary three times; the first occasion was traumatic (and completely confidence-crushing) and the second two were successful. Here I was at 30, earning over $100,000 and I had my own friends questioning how the hell that was even possible. The thing is, negotiating your salary takes more than declaring you want more money and plucking a number out of the air - although I’m sure we wish it was really that easy - earning more, requires asking for more; it requires reflection, research and fearlessness.

Entrepreneur Janine Allis speaks to us about how best to impress your boss, and the right way to go about getting a payrise. Post continues after audio. 

Just remember, there will always be another opportunity for you to pack a punch in the negotiating ring, you just need to know how and when...

Applying for a new role or thinking about negotiating your salary is the easy bit, actually asking for it is the hard part, and here’s how I did it -

  1. Reflection: asking for more money without tangible examples of your awesomeness at work is a beginner’s mistake. Every business uses some form of salary ranges and these are usually (I use that word loosely) based on industry standards etc. If you’re planning to negotiate above this, you need to be clear about the moments you have gone above and beyond to improve the company. This might be the implementation of a new process, a mentor-mentee relationship, a positive client outcome which has resulted in return business or perhaps those pesky metrics we all love to hate. Heck, maybe you kept the ship afloat while your boss gallivanted around Europe and you think you can do a better job! Whatever the case, be clear, succinct and use at least 3 examples.
  2. Research: Understanding the value of your role in your industry and the market is very important. You may have heard the term ‘benchmarking’. Put simply, it’s the process of evaluating your skills against those of industry standards. Good old Google is a great resource for finding industry reports on skills versus salaries and remuneration for almost any role in any industry. If you’re going in for $100,000 but the market is only offering $60,000, you may find it quite difficult to negotiate! Glassdoor and PayScale have also become the new Go-To for salary comparison but don’t hold credibility on the negotiating table quite like a published industry report! If you need help finding yours, let me know!
  3. Fearlessness: Nothing is more convincing than a woman with confidence. But this isn’t to be confused with screaming at your boss Jerry Maguire style, “SHOW ME THE MONEYYYY”! Having the confidence in your ability, in your experience and in your willingness to grow is an incredibly powerful card when playing at the negotiating table, and one all women should learn how to use.