This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write.
This is a hard post to write..the social-vomit I've seen after the election is all the more reason I'm just now finding the courage to discuss an important topic that keeps slapping me in the face. I am sharing my story in hopes you’ll get something out of it — either courage to stand up for yourself, or the understanding that this !@#$ is happening and YOU can help combat it. It’s not a gender problem. It’s a people problem. I want to be clear - this is not a conversation of qualifications. If I was not qualified, I would have never been hired.
My first job was the best possible position I could have hoped for. Great company, great benefits, great team, annnd I was completely floored with how much they were offering. I did a lot of research around entry level developer salary, and this seemed above average (the type of technology was new at the time, is actually why). They were also very clear about every new hire getting the same package, which is how it should be right? Over the next year and a half, all of the mid-level and senior developers ahead of me left. I was on my own and plowing through enough work for, well, 3 people. I was doing work wayyy beyond my skillset, and I stepped up to the challenge and totally crushed it. I had team members messaging me words of admiration about how great I was doing. I was on cloud nine.
By this time, it had been just shy of two years without a review, without a raise. But reviews were coming up shortly and I was so ready for that raise. I more than deserved it.. I was killing myself every night, most weekends to ensure everything on my end was done. I became good friends with a few people who were also new hires. One guy got a 5 grand raise. One guy got a 10 grand raise. One guy got a promotion, along with a healthy raise I’m sure. This just pumped me up more knowing they were not put under the stress I was with their seniors leaving the company. My manager slides the paper across the table.. 2k. After taxes, thats $30 a week. Really. An extra dinner is all I was worth. I was absolutely crushed.. and in fact left that meeting room, went to my cube and cried for over an hour. The next day, I collected my emails of praise, a list of all the extra responsibility I had taken on, and marched back in that meeting room and demanded more. I told him what people who were doing my less than job were making..and he was persistent. So I again, took a deep breathe, said “Ok.. I completely understand”.. and went back to my cubical this time, emailing recruiters.
My next job, I was able to secure that 10k raise my peers had been able to secure. I was happy for a while. It was only 2 months into the job where I realized I was working for a managerial chain of sexist, bitter men. That’s a rabbit hole within it’s self, so I’ll save that for another day, but I will say I was not valued. At all. After this realization.. part of me felt regret over leaving, part of me was ready to jump ship again.. but the truth was, with this raise, I was more financially secure. I could actually pay my bills, I could also afford to buy a car which was desperately needed. I continued to look around and finally found a position I thought “Was it”, so after a few years I left.
Being in a desperate situation to leave, both individually and professionally, I didn’t negotiate very hard over my next role. I was confident in the company, I was sure they’d treat me right, I was certain this was it, that I could find peace and refuge and love my job at this place. During the interview, their offer came in lower than what I requested. But I was terrified if I pushed back that they’d walk away - so I took it. I was able to pay my bills.. and at the end of the day I thought that’d be enough. I worked there for a couple more years - never once got a raise, I did get a small bonus, but after taxes, it was a laughable amount. Then, came an email from a recruiter. (Usually I don’t even read these and just delete them.. because after all I was happy with the work I was doing and completely ignorant to, well, life.) But something about the subject line intrigued me.. and not having a raise for a few years, with increasing cost of benefits, I thought why not read. I swore out loud with the 6 figure salary they were offering for my skillset. A 6 figure salary.. for the work I was doing, skill set for skill set. A 6 figure salary that I was about making half of.
Why is salary so hush-hush? So you don’t get things like this — people realizing they’re making way less than market value, but probably most importantly, they don’t realize what their co-workers are making for the same exact work. I did everything I was supposed to do during each job search, research market value, ask for more, but accept what I thought was fair. So why did this keep happening to me? I was so focused on being mistreated that making what I thought I should have been making for the past year seemed good enough. The job titles I was looking up though was wrong - I didn’t understand the “levels” of developer were different for each company. So if my skillset was at a 2 at company a, they may have been a 3 at company b, or a 1 at company c. This information isn’t available on Glassdoor, only what those positions pay.
I don’t want your pity, I want you to learn from my mistakes, and boy do I have a lot of lessons out of this experience.
1. First, and most important. DO NOT DISCLOSE YOUR SALARY. In some states, it’s illegal for them to even ask, but ultimately this is used to sabotage your offer against offering market value.
2. During your initial conversation, ask the range of salary that this position pays (after asking about the position of course). Your primary concern should be the position, the team, and the company, salary and benefits second.. but it should be apart of that initial conversation. Generally there is a range available, and your experience will determine where in that range you fit, but at least from that you have a number you can ask for. Also ask about the career path - make sure the position you’re interviewing for is on par with your skillset and that you’re not interviewing for a level 1 when you’re a level 2, or etc.
3. When a number is thrown out, take a deep breathe, count to 5. Negotiating is difficult, your brain is going a million miles an hour, but this will help calm you, and also put the pressure of awkwardness on the other end of the call. I’ve heard of women getting a 5k-10k boost by just waiting to answer.
Always have a number in mind. Try to aim it with the position range you were able to find out, but do have a number in mind that is the absolute lowest you would happily accept and be comfortable with.
Research. There’s a lot of resources out there to help you in negotiation, use them. Also.. get more practice with it while buying and selling things. Perhaps some stuff you have sitting around the house. And double win, a cleaner house will give you a cleaner mind.
Men, we need you. Not to be our knights in shining armor, but to stand with us and support us in the fight.
You don’t need to disclose your salary to your peers. But at the very least, please put in your information on Glassdoor and other salary reporting sites. These sites are anonymous and ensure people are getting what they deserve based on job title and qualifications. If you do feel comfortable disclosing your salary, then even better. I feel the more comfortable we are with money, the more companies will be demanded to pay everyone equally. You may be getting the short straw too and you may not know it!
If you are a manager.. for everything good in the world fight for equal pay for people under you. DOOO the right thing. If you are a recruiter.. you know what the position pays and what others in the same position are making.. stop short changing people. It costs more to replace someone than it does to pay them fairly.
If you are apart of the interview process, do what you can to ensure they are 1) interviewing for the right position and 2) being paid fairly based on their peers salary.