The Power of Y.O.U. and Getting Paid What You’re Worth

The dreaded salary question: it’s a request many tend to feel pressure to answer early on in the game of negotiation. The result? Career Confucius says, “he who speaks about money first loses!” Compensation negotiation is a learned skill and when artfully handled from a position of knowledge and strength, it can help you earn your competitive fair market value.

In fact, many states in the U.S. have made it illegal to ask for a salary history upon interviewing candidates. This will have a vast impact for the better, especially for women and minorities who have been hit the hardest and may be under-earning their market value—as long as these individuals know how to leverage this new law.

For example, a fine of $250,000 is the penalty for disobedience for businesses in New York, such misdemeanors can also affect international business across the globe.

I believe it’s safe to say, that the salary question has been quite controversial for some time now. And for the past 24 years, Career Leverage has coached hundreds of clients to earn between a 10-20% higher salary when changing companies or gaining a promotion. Knowing what your preferred salary range is, and sticking with it during the salary negotiation process, can help you find a job position that is well matched to your abilities and provides pleasure and growth.

Here are 5 key steps to help you get the pay that you deserve upon entering a new line of work.

1. Know Your Market Value

Don’t go into the interview without doing your research—knowing where you stand relative to the market and your peers will help you better estimate your salary range and know when you’re getting a low-ball offer.

A few great salary sites to browse are,, and You can also call the professional association for your industry to request annual salary survey information. If you prefer direct human communication, you can connect with a headhunter—the “broker” of the salary market and the ultimate source for competitive rates.

Once your research has revealed the established range for your role, you can then gather feedback from a business advisor, career coach, or mentor. He or she can recommend where you set your targeted salary within that range based on your qualifications and skills, years of experience, and advanced degrees.

2. Focus On The Hiring Manager’s Needs & Avoid The Question

Let’s think outside NYC for a moment—if you’re asked the salary question in an interview, it’s best to avoid answering the question directly. Instead, offer other sources of data.

For instance, you can say, “I believe what’s more relevant for you to know regarding my compensation goals is not my salary history. Rather, the salary ranges for the positions I am currently interviewing for, which according to my market value is between $125,000-$150,000 annually, but of course, this varies based on industry and company size.”

This remark offers the right amount of hedging, as you never stated what you currently earn or what you want to earn next. To add, finish strong by saying, “I’m sure salary won’t be an issue. Right now I really want to focus on your needs and the problems I can help solve for your organization.” This confirms your perceived value and priorities and keeps the salary subject non-controversial.

3. Own Your Power & Don’t Cower Under Pressure

Try and attract others from a position of strength—that inner confidence will shine and help you present your pitch in a more effective, impactful manner. Being clear about your values and unique talents, as well as what you can offer over your competitors, will set you apart from the crowd of candidates.

Once you’ve established your USP (unique selling proposition), you can find your best fit and have the audacity to walk away from those positions that don’t measure up. You can even practice turning down offers, so you’ll be prepared when the time comes.

4. Keep Interviewing & Secure Multiple Offers

It’s empowering to play the field, where you’re juggling multiple job opportunities. If you go into one interview, thinking that “it’s this job or nothing”, you might be tempted to accept an offer that isn’t aligned with your worth. Plus, potential job opportunities might fall through, so it’s advantageous to secure a few opportunities to keep your edge.

Once you’ve obtained an offer, ask to have it in writing. Share your enthusiasm with the employer, but request time to think it over. After doing so, you can then phone the other employers with whom you’re interviewing and tell them about your recent offers, but reassure them that you’re still interested in the open position. Inquire about timing and request an interview that week if they are considering you as a final candidate.

5. Negotiate The Offer

After determining the value of the offer, be clear about your deal-breakers. Also, think about other possible perks you may want to negotiate, like extra vacation time, working from home on Friday’s, professional membership dues, a preferred job title, or a re-evaluation in 6-12 months after you’ve proven yourself.

Consider the compensation package as a whole, not just the base salary. For instance, a generous benefits package might be 25-30% of your base salary at a large organization. Prioritize your needs on a checklist, and buy time from each employer—if they see you’re in a position to be selective, you’ll increase your chances of hitting the numbers you deserve. Working with a career coach can help you stay on track.

After negotiating and settling on a number you’re happy with, you can accept the position and reject those you don’t accept, all in writing. With a professional and gracious demeanor to all employers you’ve interacted with, you can put the pen down with a confident, satisfied grin.

Please share your interest, thoughts, or reactions on this topic in the comments section below. As always, I love hearing your success stories when you have them to share.

Your 30 day Power Challenge

1. What steps will you take in the next 30 days to confirm your competitive fair market value? You must know what you’re worth for any successful negotiation.

2. Which resources will you access to do your due diligence?

3. Based on your actions and research are you getting paid what you’re worth? If not, set a goal to overcome underearning and stick to it.

Power Resources and Tools

Podcast Series: The 10 Commandments of Salary Negotiation.

Book of the Month: Earn What You’re Really Worth by Brian Tracy

I want to hear from you. Send me an email and please let me know how you did with this month’s challenge and the power resources and tools. You can also connect with me via my email: to learn how my services can benefit you and set up a complimentary discovery call with me.

Are you ready to take action and be accountable for your desired results?

Do you want challenge yourself to grow professionally and personally? If your answer is YES to both for creating sustainable change, then contact Nancy to learn more about the steps for getting there.

Nancy Friedberg

Nancy Friedberg, M.A.

Master Coach and President, Career Leverage, Inc.
Marshall Goldsmith Certified Stakeholder Centered Coach
Certified Now What? Facilitator

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