Updated: Sep 25
I remember the day I broke the $100K ceiling. I was almost 30 years old -- 29 turning 30. I had jumped from $45/hr which equates to about $90K/yr to $60/hr which is about $120K/yr. I was so excited when this happened.
I remember looking at the clock -- thinking, "I'm making a $1 a minute." This is so cool.
It was so much money to me, and do you know when this happened? During the real estate "recession" in 2008. If you do the math, since it's 2020 and I'm turning 42 this year... definitely, it was before my 30th birthday.
I made $120K before the age of 30. Pretty good, but does this impress you? Maybe not. Because you're so used to hearing stories about people making millions before the age of 30. You can't help but be impressed with these people, but let's be real here -- #realtalk. These people were not working for anyone else -- they were entrepreneurs. Are all of us going to be entrepreneurs and millionaires, especially before 30? Probably not, but that's okay. Because you don't need to be a 30 year old millionaire to be livin' the dream. :)
But can you break the $100K ceiling by age 30? ABSO-FORKING-LUTELY. :)
Side Note: I don't curse because of my toddler; I replace all those f-bombs with "fork" 😂.
It just takes a little bit of a calculated risk and fortitude. Emphasis on the word CALCULATED.
How Do You Negotiate a Higher Starting Salary?
#1 Always ask for MORE TIME to think about the offer.
Never accept the first offer, right away. Ask for 48 hours, sometimes they will give you only 24 hours, but just try to get as much time as possible. It took them how long to decide on you. Well, you should be allowed at least 24 hours to accept the job offer. You need time to weigh your options. Believe me, you need A LOT of time.
Entry level doesn't mean you can't negotiate. If you can't get more money, ask for more PTO or paid training.
You just have to phrase it right. For me, these exact words below have always worked well.
"I want to start on Day 1 thinking only about saving and making money for you. To do so, I want to make sure that my salary and benefits are something I won't regret. I want to ensure that we start off on the right foot because I really want to exceed your expectations. So would you mind working with me on the following?"
#2 Figure out what is MOST important to YOU. What is your goal with the next job?
Whenever I consider jobs, I think about what's most important to me. As crazy as it sounds, money is not always the biggest factor in accepting a job offer. It might get the ball rolling, but I've turned down plenty of high dollar offers because of location, too much travel, or not a good culture fit. You should ask yourself these questions often, even during the job search, well before the job offer.
Ask yourself these 3 questions:
1) MONEY: If you had a title you didn't like and you were doing work you didn't enjoy, but you made a ton of money, would that make you happy? Let's say you were Tupperware Sales Agent who made $130K, at a company you didn't really like.
2) POWER: If you made little money and the work was meh, but your title was something you loved, would you be super stoked? Maybe a VP of a small startup where you sold paper and you made $20K.
3) TYPE OF WORK: If your title was bleh and you made little moola, but the work you did was very interesting, would you love it? Let's say you were Apprentice Frisbee Maker at a Plastic Factory that paid you like $8/hr, but you were learning all sorts of cool stuff and everyone there was super nice.
Where are you in Life? Is it Money that matters most? Or is it Power? Or does the Type of Work matter?
Once you figure out where you are, that will dictate what kind of job offer you want. Maybe you're willing to take less money for something more fulfilling? Or maybe you want to make more money so you're willing to sacrifice quality of life? Maybe you're willing to sacrifice money to get that title change and learn leadership skills? It can be a combination and that's ok, but know that the more complex a reason, the more you'll have to negotiate. :)
If you want it all, just know that you'll have to work even harder. Nothing in life worth having is easy, simple, or free.
#3 Do the Math to determine, if the job offer is worth it.
Don't let a high dollar offer fool you. Before you move for a job (or your entire family), do the math and consider everything.
In a more likely scenario, I knew of a guy who accepted a job offer in another city, thinking he would make more. Only to realize months later that he was only breaking even because the cost of living was higher and the local tax took more out of his paycheck! He ate out for lunch every day and he filled up his fuel near work, and didn't realize that because the city was more expensive than his previous job, everything was adding up. He had unknowingly left a perfectly good job where he had a shorter commute, only to drive farther and now he was losing time and he ended up leaving because he didn't like the people there.
In salary negotiation, EVERYTHING has a price e.g., PTO, benefits, retirement, commute, your time, quality of life at work.
So I have been trying to figure out how to get publish my personal calculator online without confusing everyone. Well, after thinking about it and consulting with my buddies, it will require a lot of engineering to make it user-friendly and fool-proof because no offense to you guys (all of you are super geniuses), but I have to consider the lowest common denominator. So until I get my Super Awesome Ultimate Salary & Benefits Negotiation Calculator up, I decided to at least give you guys a checklist below.
So here goes nothing. :)
How Do You Negotiate Salary for a New Job?
1) Local Tax - Calculate that the % net pay is actually worth it, ESPECIALLY if you are relocating. But even if you aren't, some cities charge local tax, did you know that?!?! Let's say you accept a job in the next city over that pays just a little bit more, but when you get your first paycheck, you're like... WHAT THE?!? So what does this mean? Well, you'll have to somehow factor that into your negotiations. See if you can get a little bit more to offset that tax, or just be ok with it. But don't go into it blind. :) Because that local tax affects every purchase you make in your new work location e.g., lunch, shopping errand, etc.
Why am I making the same or less?!? It might be that the city charges a local tax.
Check for local tax here: https://smartasset.com/taxes/paycheck-calculator#AGSizF6TBL
2) Cost of Living - Even if you aren't relocating, doesn't mean you don't check the cost of living. If you eat out at lunch often, then check the dining out costs if it's in a different city that charges a lot. Not even kidding. That sounds nuts, but honestly, it all adds up. Sales taxes are different in each city.
Check for cost of living here: https://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/moving-cost-of-living-calculator.aspx
Ask yourself, "How far will my dollar go?"
2a) Relocation - If you are relocating though, will your new employer pay for your relocation costs, if not, maybe that's something to negotiate?
-Estimate the cost of moving across states e.g., moving truck rental.
-Estimate the cost of living differences using the calculator from above between the two cities.
This calculator shows you the difference between the costs of even hamburgers! LOL See below.
3) Bonuses - Sign On, Year End, Quarterly. Bonuses are taxed, so you'll only get like maybe 75% of it, at best. Personally, the only bonus I like are sign-on that don't have hitches. Otherwise, I don’t like them, unless you're in Sales. If you agree to one, make sure your salary is still livable. Don't accept a salary you can't live on for a higher bonus, because you might never see it. Also, sometimes, bonuses are tied to company performance. If the company does poorly, guess who won't get a bonus? You. Imagine that scenario. You bust your butt all quarter or year long and for whatever reason, the company does poorly, you don't see a bonus. :( It's not their fault -- it's yours for agreeing to this deal.
4) Profit Sharing - My feelings are a little better on profit sharing than bonuses.
-Check out their performance on NASDAQ, NYSE, etc. Although right now, everyone is doing errrr not so great. -Do a rough estimate of how much that might be for you.
-Or if they aren't public, check out their MANTA to see if how much they pull in annual revenue to get a ball park. At least it's something you can guestimate.
-Or just ask them nicely how much their average profit sharing pay outs look like (bundle all your questions though -- you can use my email template if you want).
How often is it performed?
How is it executed?
Is it tied to performance reviews?
Is it a percentage of your salary? Or is it evenly distributed regardless of salary?
5) Vacation Leave, Sick Leave, Paid Time Off (PTO), Additional Time Off, Any Floating Holidays?
Did you know that you can negotiate Vacation, Sick, PTO, Additional Time Off, and Floating Holidays? Absolutely, you can. This is much easier than salary at times to negotiate. If they can't negotiate money, the next thing to negotiate is time off. Because time is money. But first you have to calculate the cost of this time off to see if it's even worth it.
So here's something interesting that you might not think about. Time off is deceiving. Consider this scenario.
Let's say you worked at Company A and you are thinking of jumping ship to Company B.
Year 1: 10 Days Off
Year 3: 15 Days Off
Year 5: 17 Days Off
Year 1: 12 Days Off
Year 3: 13 Days Off
Year 5: 14 Days Off
Company B seems awesome with their PTO policy, right?? Right off the bat, you get more PTO.
So if you never used any vacation and let's say it rolled over each year, by Year 2, you would have accrued 20 days at Company A and 24 at Company B; Year 3, it would be 35 days at A and 37 at B, but then at Year 4, it's the same and then, in Year 5, it changes -- you start accruing more at Company A! You end up with 67 days of vacation accrued by Year 5 at Company A vs. 64 at Company B.
Company A Company B
Year 1: 10 12
Year 2: 10 12
Year 3: 15 13
Year 4: 15 13 (by this year, you would have accrued 50 days at both companies)
Year 5: 17 14 (by this year, you would have accrued more at Company A)
BUT here's where it gets a little trickier.
-How much more do you make at Company B vs A? Maybe you make more at Company B? Do the math. :)
-Do you plan on leaving this company before Year 5 anyhow? So it'd be better for you to choose Company B. If you've got little experience, I recommend that you never work longer than 2-3 years at a company to keep your skills fresh.
6) Company Holidays - You can't really negotiate company holidays, but if you are currently employed, you can compare the new company holidays to your current employer's list of holidays to see if it measures up. Not all companies adhere to federal holidays and they may honor different holidays, giving you more or less.
7) Commute - Calculating your commute is super important, especially if you live somewhere like Los Angeles where commuting is a huge cost factor. Fuel cost is only part of it, maintenance cost of your car is another factor e.g., oil change, etc. But that's on you to factor because each car is different. Or you can use a generic cost per mile by using the IRS standard mileage rates that factors both fuel and maintenance into one lump commuting cost per mile.
-For accurate commute cost, calculate your new commute from your home to your new job. https://www.google.com/maps. Let's say it's 20 miles round trip and the current job is 14 miles round trip.
-Then, grab the average fuel cost per gallon. I go to https://gasprices.aaa.com/ to grab the average fuel prices. Let's say it's $1.52 in your city and $1.64 in the next city over.
-Then, google your vehicle's combined miles per gallon (mpg). I went to https://www.edmunds.com/ to get my car's specs. Like mine is 22 combined miles per gallon and it takes about 16 gallons to fill. I know, my car is old. LOL :)
Ok, so now plug in your numbers into a fuel cost calculator like the one here: https://www.calculator.net/fuel-cost-calculator.html
Compare this cost to your old commute. Which one is more or less?
8) Health Benefits
Again, you can't really negotiate health benefits, per se. But you can compare the plans from your current to your new employer's plans. It's perfectly acceptable to ask how much they deduct from your paycheck -- some companies pay more into their health benefits than others.
Flexible Savings Account (FSA) / Health Savings Account (HSA)
- Do you or a family member have a certain medical condition that requires good health insurance premium coverage? Make sure it's comprehensively covered in your next job. Some insurance carriers will not cover or charge a lot more for certain conditions. Or your new employer may pay a lesser premium than your previous employer. Or they opted for plans that don't cover as many benefits that you require.
If you or a family member has a medical condition, is your new salary enough to offset the medical cost difference?
If so, go for it. If not, really think more on it. Look at other ways to offset the cost, before accepting the offer.
There's so much that goes into this area that I can't even imagine. Just make sure you do a lot of homework here before you jump into a new job. This doesn't mean that you can't accept the job offer if they don't offer it, it just means you need to negotiate a higher salary, if you want to work there. :)
-If you have dependents, look into the cost of adding more people. Sometimes it may appear more expensive as an individual but then when you add dependents, it's actually cheaper. You have to do a lot of digging. :) Nothing is as it appears.
-Do they offer Telemedicine? Where you can FaceTime a doctor? That's a great benefit!
Are mental health benefits important to you? Again, none of these factors should preclude you from accepting the job offer, but they do give you a reason to pause.
8) Retirement - Do they have a retirement plan? Is it a 401(k)? 403(b)? Pension?
How does their retirement plan compare with your current plan? Sometimes you can negotiate retirement packages. You can sometimes negotiate the following:
Vesting Schedules -Did you know that even though you own the money that you invest into your 401(k), you don't actually own your employer's matching contribution right away? It's called a vesting schedule. Most companies require at least a 3 month or so vesting schedule, meaning you have to work there at least 3 months, before you can walk away with their portion of the 401(k) that they invested into your account. But you can perhaps change that in your negotiation. You can ask for that to be eliminated, especially, if it's a longer vesting schedule.
Employer Matching Contribution - If you can, ask for a higher matching contribution. It would behoove you to do so since it's pre-tax as well! :)
9) Performance Reviews - I include performance reviews as something to consider in negotiation because it can be tied to how you get raises and promotions, and anything that has to do with money or benefits, you should be able to negotiate, IMHO.
-How many are there? Monthly? Quarterly? Semi-Annually? Annually?
-How are they measured? Performance, Attendance, Behavior? SMART goals?
-Who performs them? How many people perform them? If more than 1, how exactly would this happen for you?
-What's the end outcome? Is it monetary? Meaning, are they tied to Profit Sharing? Raises? Promotions? Bonuses? What's the average Raise look like? Is it your standard 0-5%? What about promotions?
Maybe you can negotiate higher raises or promotions?
10) Education - Tuition Reimbursement or some kind of Paid Training is my favorite benefit that a company
can provide, but that's because I LOVE education. I have taken advantage of this perk at almost every company I've worked at. I have collected certifications left and right -- I have my Project Management Professional (PMP), ScrumMaster, Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), and my Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) certifications... and who knows what else. Not bragging -- I just love education that much! I hope you enjoy learning as much as I do. :) If an employer wants to pay for it, why the heck not???
If you can't get more money from a company, always ask for education reimbursement. Tell them that you would love to gain a new skill or certification for their benefit. Oftentimes, they have separate budgets for education.
Asking for a certification like AWS instead of more money is way more valuable on your resume, than an extra $10k. Because that would get you an easy $50K more on the next job.
See how that works out??? I would much rather get a certification than anything because that will give me new opportunities. 🤗💯💖
11) Other Perks
Does this new company have other perks to offer, such as a discounts for fitness facilities, AAA, or Costco memberships? Is it better or worse than your existing? Does this matter to you? These new company perks may not be points of negotiation, but they are something to compare with your current employer. :)
Other Things to Consider or Negotiate
NOTE: Not everything below is for negotiation, but definitely things to consider in your job offer! :)
12) Your Title - You can negotiate your title, did you know that?!?? :) Yes, you can. You just have to word it a certain way and give justification for it. If there is a job purpose for why it would make more sense to change your title, then definitely go for it. Titles are arbitrary. If your new title makes no sense for the job you are doing, then ask for a different title to make your job more effective. Even more so, if it's an unpaid internship, definitely ask for a title change! Why the heck not? You're not getting paid. Ask for a title change. I would definitely give an intern a better title in exchange for free labor. Are you kidding me??? 😉💯💪✨
13) Your Start Date - You can definitely negotiate your start date. There's no rule that says you have to start in 2 weeks. You can start tomorrow or a month from now. The new start date is whatever you guys agree to.
14) Work Hours - For me, I have never really cared about work hours. I have always been a big believer in treating people as adults. Just show up to meetings and make sure you're available during core hours. Like if I SLACK'd (instant message) you at 10am, you better answer me toot sweet! LOL But some places require a set work schedule (circa 1952). No biggie.
Now, again, if they have not been able to meet your salary demands, maybe they'll work with you on your work schedule? If you're a late riser, be honest. Just ask for a later time. "Bill, since the company can't budge on the salary, would you guys be able to work with me on the hours then? Maybe 9am instead of 8am?
15) Flex Time Schedule - Flex time is like a 9/80 schedule. Where you work 9 hours a day for 2 weeks and then you take a Friday off every other week. Maybe you can negotiate something like that?
16) Telecommuting - Well, work from home is kind of a strange point right now since pretty much everyone is work from home right now. But when some people start working back in an office, maybe this is the time to start negotiating WFH?
17) The Work Culture - Is it a Good Fit for You? Maybe you can't tell because you don't know yet, but
sometimes, you can get a feel for things. Think it might be stressful? Fun? Exciting? Boring? Not Sure? If it ends up being a poor fit, can you go with the flow (GWTF) until you find a new job?
18) The Work - Think you can do it for 50 hrs/wk? If not, can you do it until you find a new job?
19) Your Direct Supervisor(s) and Manager(s) - Will they be a Good Fit for You? Can you be around them 50 hrs/wk? If not, can you hang on until you find a new job? How many supervisors or managers do you have? This means you have X number of weekly, monthly reports to deliver and meetings to attend; emails to answer; calls to respond, etc. If you have multiple supervisors or if they have a high turnover, who is in charge of doing your performance review so that you get a raise? Maybe you can bargain this?
20) Your New Coworkers - Will they be a Good Fit for You? Can you be around them 50 hrs/wk? If not, can you stand them until you find a new job? How many counterparts do you have? For co-workers, you may have to rely on them for data that you need for these reports and such. But having more counterparts means you have to wait that much longer. Or does your team rely on to do work? Maybe you can bargain this if it impacts your work?
21) Direct Report(s) - Do you have any direct report(s)? If so, how many direct reports do you have? The more you have, your responsibilities and communication efforts multiply, performance reviews, conflicts increase, etc. Are they differently skilled? Or do they all do the same things? That would make it harder for you, if they did completely different things. Training challenges, etc.
Rule of Thumb: You cannot effectively manage more people than you have fingers in one hand -- this means 5.
After 5, you must delegate leaders, even if they are figurehead titles. Think about The Brady Bunch. It's too chaotic after 5. Maybe you can bargain this ahead of time, to mitigate the crazy? :)
22) Decision-Making - Can you make any decisions? I know managers who can't even buy a stapler. Maybe you can bargain this if you think it will impact your performance?
23) Level of Authority - How much authority do you have over your work? Over anyone who impacts your work? Again, this could be a negotiating point.
24) Your Growth Potential - Do you think you can advance at this company? It's ok if you don't think you can. Most jobs are stepping stones. I rarely stayed at a job for more than 2-3 years, but that's because of my industry. Tech is very fast-paced and agile.
25) Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) - NDA aka Confidentiality agreement is usually a mutual agreement, but not always. You both agree to not publicly discuss whatever's stated in the agreement, usually trade secrets. Make sure you're ok with what you're signing. Some companies are a little nuts with what they put, and they don’t even realize it. Not their fault. They sometimes get cookie cutter legal documents and don't think about the impact.
Why does that matter to you? How strict is this NDA? If it's crazy strict, it might not allow you to put the awesome stuff you did while working there. So where are your bragging rights? Your bargaining chips for the next job??? :/ In this case, definitely negotiate (in writing) to allow exceptions for you to be able to reference the work you did in your resume -- for reference only. They should allow it.
NOTE: Be careful with this NDA request. I'm going to say that most people don't need to ask for exceptions to brag about their job duties in their resume, but I left this here for those who might not be able to brag. :)
26) Non-Compete Agreement - Non-Competes are one-sided; they favor the employer in that when you leave, you are not allowed to work for their competitors in the same field, or start a business that competes with their own product or service in a similar fashion for X number of years. I've seen some as long as 5-10 years -- what is that? A jail sentence? LOL I mean come on!
28) Moonlighting Policy - Moonlighting is when you are self-employed but you also want to work for them, or when you have a side hustle, want to work part time, freelance, get a gig, maybe uber drive, etc. Depending on the Moonlighting policy, you might have to get prior approval -- this is a bargaining chip that can be in or out of your favor. Be careful with this one -- a lot of companies view this as conflict of interest if you are working more than your own job.
#1 If you're in a bad way and you need money, accept the first job offer you get.
BUT once you're comfortable, don't stop looking for work. Take your time to find the job you really want -- the job you can actually negotiate everything you want.
Never negotiate unless you are in a position of power.
#2 When you are doing your homework, be creative in your negotiation tactics. Maybe you'll get less money on the next job, but you can negotiate flex time, so you can watch your kid and thereby, reduce daycare costs -- saving you a TON!
Negotiating is a game of chess -- sometimes you have to sacrifice the queen to win. In other words, accepting a lower paying job isn't always a bad deal. :)
Or maybe you want to learn a new skill that your boss has and you want to add to your resume, which would make you more attractive to your next job! If you're in a position of power, you can always negotiate something. Heck, get a darn instant pot, if you can. Get something out of it.
#3 You don't need to negotiate every time you get a job offer.
It's ok to just accept a great offer. Or if you are just not the negotiating type, that's fine, too.
#4 Finally, you don't need to consider everything I've listed here.
You can use some, none, or all -- just use your best judgment and go with what's comfortable for you. At the end of the day, you know what's best for you. :)
I had an ex-boyfriend who taught me a lot. He was an aerospace software engineer and he was the first person who told me about the "making a $1 a minute" thing. He would always say, "The quickest way to a raise or promotion is to quit." He's 100% right. You sometimes have to take risks in your career to make more and get ahead. You can't complain about your salary or your job, if you don't do anything. No one is going to just hand you a stack of cash, just because you work hard or you think you deserve it. That's just not how it works.
Most people never break the $100K ceiling in their lifetime. You have to take a little risk to make it happen.
Take for example, this guy I remember working with, when I first broke the six figure ceiling. I remember him saying, "What does it take to just make six figures?!?" I can't recall all the details about him, but I think he was a 40 year old Supervisor at the time, and he'd been working at this huge defense company FOREVER. He took extra classes to get certifications and worked so hard.
And here I was, a fresh face off the street, making almost TWICE what he made. The difference was that he was a permanent, direct employee who had worked at the same place since he was out of high school or so. We were both technically Government Contractors, but I was a Subcontractor on a W2 hourly rate, and I jumped from one place to another (increasing my rate each time). I was comfortable with moving from job to job because I knew I could land another job. That's how confident I was and still am with my job searching and interview skills.
BTW, notice the background in the photo above. I was constantly living out of boxes because I was okay with moving around if I had to. I worked very high paying government contract jobs that took me from one city to another. But nowadays, with way more remote jobs in the world, you can stay put! See how lucky you are!😉
Just because you sign a job contract with a company doesn't mean that they won't lay you off for any reason. Most states are "At Will" employment states, which means they can sever ties with you whenever (and vice versa), so it's almost like being an hourly contractor.
He was one of the biggest influences in my career and life. He taught me a different way of thinking and living. Now, I am teaching you how to think like this.
I am teaching you how to break free of the 100K glass ceiling and those "women make 50 cents on the male dollar" gender issues out there.
I am teaching you how to be creative in your negotiation and in your approach with jobs. YOU ARE SMART. Always watch out for yourself and don't get pushed into a corner. At the end of the day, you have to live with your job choice, so whatever you do, listen to your gut.
I know I'm just a stranger for now, but I do believe in you. :) Stay strong and keep going. I can't wait to hear about your success one day.
For more valuable tips, don't forget to check out the rest of them here and the videos. Stay connected with me for more career advice and more job alerts -- subscribe to my newsletter below, YouTube,LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I want to see you succeed!!! 😎🤗💪🏆👍😉