Top tips for negotiating your salary

Woman and pay riseAsking for a payrise is never easy – so much so that many of us avoid it. To add to this, research shows that when it comes to interviews, performance reviews, and promotions, women are often treated unfairly. 

Unfortunately, these challenges have only been exacerbated due to the pandemic as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women are disproportionately feeling the brunt of COVID’s financial impact. It’s an unsettling and uncertain time for many, but it can also  be viewed as an opportunity for female professionals to change the narrative for the long term.

Despite the workplace discrimination women often face, including harmful stereotypes and the likeability penality, women are an extremely valuable asset in the workplace. Companies with greater gender diversity outperform by as much as 15%, while employees at women-led companies are happier, more productive, and easier to retain.

With this in mind, it is now more important than ever for women to know their worth and to be equipped with the professional negotiation skills to gain the salary they deserve. Here are a few top tips to remember when approaching these conversations with your managers.

Sow the seeds

As much as you want to be prepared, you also don’t want to catch your employer off-guard. Ask them in advance if you can arrange a time to discuss your salary and your future at the company. If possible, mention a few months ahead of when you plan to ask for a pay rise and say that you hope that you’ll soon be able to discuss the possibility of a promotion. This way they won’t feel like it’s an out of the blue request and it will have given them some time to review your work, and flag your request to folks higher up in the organisation.


A salary negotiation is nerve-wracking, so the more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be. If possible rehearse the scenario with a friend a couple of times so you can think about how you might respond to different possible objections.

Show evidence

It is a good idea to have a list of examples of your biggest achievements in your role and times you have worked on projects and tasks beyond your expected job role to demonstrate that you are ready to take on more responsibility.

Research the market rate

The best argument for a pay rise is an informed one. Make sure you are knowledgeable about the market rate. Sites such Payscale, Glassdoor and Indeed can give you an insight into salary brackets for similar roles in your area and industry.

Be optimistic

While it is important to be realistic, women tend to underestimate themselves in the workplace, so always aim for the upper end of the brackets you find when looking at ads of similar jobs. It is a negotiation after all.

Have gender bias data to hand

If you have concerns about unfair treatment and your employer invalidates your concerns or denies your pay evaluation request, it is important to have relevant gender bias data, (or race bias data) to hand to back up your request for fair compensation.

Imagine the worst case scenario

Visualising a rejection can actually be a powerful way to build your confidence around the upcoming conversation. Confronting one of the things you are most afraid of helps you turn it from the unknown into a knowable possibility that you can conquer. If your employer does say no, it doesn’t need to be over for good. You have the option of revisiting the conversation in future or exploring other options.

Abadesi OsunsadeAbout the author

Abadesi Osunsade is Brandwatch’s VP of Global Community & Belonging, co-host of Techish podcast and the founder of Hustle Crew, a career advancement community on a mission to make tech more inclusive through talks, training and mentorship. She is also the lead educator on the Hustle Crew’s recently launched online course called Salary Negotiation for Women in the Workplace, available now on


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