I’m interviewing for a job. How do I bring money up?

Just wait: Universally, our experts recommend waiting until you have an offer on the table before you name a number.

“You’re going to have much more power in the situation because they are now invested in you, versus you are just one of many people they’re interviewing,” says Linda Babcock, author of “Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.”

Learn more about the job first: Use the interview process as an opportunity to learn more about what the job entails. Be honest with yourself about the pros and cons of the position. Then ask yourself what it would take for you to be really excited about the job, Chance suggests.

Hannah Moss

28, senior editor and project manager, Washington, D.C.

“I wouldn’t say that I am 100 percent comfortable with [talking about money]. It’s like going to the gym, you know. I don’t want to do it, but I know I have to force myself to do it. But a lot of it is everything you read in every blog or article: Men do it. So you have to do it. Or else you aren’t going to get anything.”

Jenny Kay Pollock

26, client success manager, San Francisco

“I needed a job so bad, and I had been looking for a job for a year since I graduated in December 2011. It was for $30,000 and, boy, did I think that was a lot of money. After rent and moving expenses, it was not. And I just was happy to have a job, and I didn’t negotiate. I was on the company intranet looking at some files, and the guy before me — and he was a guy — made $38,000. And ever since I saw that, I decided I would never accept a position without negotiating.”

Brooke Hunter

39, nonprofit chief of staff, Washington, D.C.

“The thing that is the most heartbreaking to me is that the men who come in the door almost always negotiate for more. As much as has been published about the need to negotiate, women feel more vulnerable. And my friends who are people of color say the same thing. I’ve tried to coach them through asking for more money, and they just feel incredibly vulnerable. They say, ‘I have this steady job for five years. Why do I need to make more all of a sudden?’ Because you deserve to make more. Because you’ve been doing a great job for five years at that place.”

They say, ‘I have this steady job for five years. Why do I need to make more all of a sudden?’ Because you deserve to make more.

What do I say?

Say thank you — but don’t accept immediately: Give yourself a day or two to form a strategy for how you’re going to handle the negotiation.

Here’s a sample script that Babcock suggested:

“This is a really exciting opportunity. I want some time to think about it, and can we discuss the specifics of the offer in a couple of days once I've had some time to reflect upon it?”

Here’s another one, from Chance:

“Can we have a conversation at X time about the specifics, including the salary and responsibilities?”

The Conversation: do it in person or on the phone, if possible. You can start like this:

“I’m really excited about the job. I think I’m a great fit [for all those reasons that you have]”

Know your bargaining position: What you say next, according to Babcock, depends on it.

  • So if you’re in a weaker bargaining position (you would take the salary offered), you want to use a little bit softer language.

    “Say something like: ‘I’m really excited about this offer. Is it possible for you to increase the salary to Y?’ It’s a bit of a softer approach because, of course, if they say, ‘No, we can’t do that,’ you're going to go ahead and accept the offer as it is.

  • If you’re in a stronger position, you can say:

    ‘Based on the other offers that I have/my current position, I’m going to need you to increase that salary to Z in order to accept the job. Is that possible?’ ”

Don’t forget: “Anything that they give you doesn't come out of their pocket,” Chance says, referring to the hiring managers. “So there's no cost to them of improving your offer.”

Jenn Topper

32, communications director, Washington, D.C.

“[A career coach] said, ‘Physically pull up on your shoulders and pull the gremlins off and leave them on the door. They can ride with you on the Metro, but they have to stay on the train. Leave them at the door. Go in as you are.’ It was so silly and I felt kind of dumb, but it worked. It’s just a mental thing, but you have to walk in there with confidence and know that you are there for a reason and you can’t let those little things kind of distract you.”

Jenny Kay Pollock

26, client success manager, San Francisco

“I had a job say, ‘We don’t negotiate; this is the starting salary.’ And that’s the worst-case scenario, right? And it was a good fit at the time. I took the role. It was a salary bump and some perks. There’s all this fear like ‘If I negotiate, are they going to take the offer away from me?’ But what I had happen is the worst-case scenario. The worst thing is they’ll say no.”

Alisha Miranda

31, project manager, Philadelphia

“I did my own research and leaned on a combination of scripts I found online — which I found online and still use to this day … What has worked for me is practicing those scripts in my own words. Even just typing it out as an email to myself, in a draft … Literally the act of typing things or writing things down has made me more comfortable.”

“But what I had happen is the worst-case scenario. The worst thing is they’ll say no.”

Okay, I got the job. Is there more I can be asking for?

It doesn’t end with salary: Our experts encouraged introducing multiple variables to the negotiating table, taking into account what is most important to you.

Other things you can consider negotiating for:

  • Title
  • Responsibilities
  • Stock options
  • Moving expenses
  • More vacation days
  • Start date
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Location of your workbase, or ability to work remote

Tip: Some companies will offer you a bonus (at signing or the end of your first year) in lieu of a salary increase. Babcock’s advice: always take the salary. A bonus is a one-time thing; a salary increase provides you with more money over time.

Jenn Topper

32, communications director, Washington, D.C.

“You should put your No. 1 thing right up front. And then put your next thing, something you’re willing to take a ‘no’ on. Give them something to say ‘no’ to. And then alternate everything that way. So they feel like they’re getting something, and you feel like you’re getting something.”

Jenny Kay Pollock

26, client success manager, San Francisco

“I do salary first, and then we align on that and then I hit them up for what else. So they’ll call me and say, ‘We have an offer for you!’ and I say, ‘Oh, great news! Please send me over an offer letter so I can review it.’ And then you have a couple days to review that letter, and you can refine what you want to ask … I say, ‘I want this to be a long-term fit. I would feel more comfortable if I could have X more dollars. If I could have more learning opportunities. If I could have more time off.”

Alisha Miranda

31, project manager, Philadelphia

“The last negotiation I just did was my severance package a month ago, where I was suddenly laid off and was offered a severance package with a one-day vacation. And then I went back and asked for a full month’s paycheck, plus that 401(k) cash-out. And through that process and talking with other women who had experienced sudden job loss or companies shutting down, so many people didn’t know what their rights were with severance packages and unemployment.

Our experts encouraged us to introduce multiple variables to the negotiating table.

How could I be making more?

Always ask: Rather than asking if you’re making enough, ask yourself how you could be making more, Chance suggests.

“The question of ‘how can I make even more?’ often has to do with adding more value. And it’s not just asking for more, but it’s adding more value,” Chance says.

Know what your peers make: Every promotion, milestone and even annual review is an opportunity to re-evaluate your compensation. Talk to your peers or mentors about their salaries (tough but useful conversations) or check sites like PayScale or Glassdoor that publicly list salaries.

Tricia Cervenan

36, product manager, Seattle

“I would do cost-of-living research. When those expectations are like ‘expected salary,’ I’d put in an amount that’s $15,000 more to give room for negotiation. Now that I’m in one city and staying in one city for a while, I use those sites like Glassdoor and PayScale.”

I’m a year in and I’m kicking ass. What do I do now?

Keep track of your accomplishments: To make your case for a raise, demonstrate that you’ve added value to the company as a whole.

Tip: Keep a folder in your inbox specifically for documenting successes, progress and contributions.

Hannah Moss

28, senior editor and project manager, Washington, D.C.

“One of my managers early on in my career — who was at the time completely happy in her job, too — she said, ‘You always need to know what’s out there.’ And she encouraged me. She said, ‘Constantly look at what other jobs around your title are being posted. See how often they’re being posted. See what benefits, what responsibilities, what they’re asking for.’ And so I subscribe to a number of job listings I check every day, even though I’m not currently looking for a new job. And I don’t think you should wait until you think you might need to move to do any of that research. You should have a pulse on those at all times.”

Tricia Cervenan

36, product manager, Seattle

“The thing I tell young people is you’re going to get a job and you’re going to have a job, and there’s going to be a point in time when you’re going to wonder if you should leave. And that’s the point you should start interviewing, not necessarily to leave but to start researching and understanding what’s out there, and to give yourself the freedom so that when you are prepared when you get really bad, you’re not taking the first job that comes to you. That’s hurt me. When you’re ready to leave and someone offers you a position and you’re like, ‘This isn’t awesome, but it’s better than this other thing.’ But the No.1 rule of negotiation is you have to be willing to walk away. So you’re not willing to walk away. So whether it’s starting to interview or starting to network and talking to other people or whatever, putting yourself outside of your normal bubble is the important thing.”

In one study, a mere 26 percent of women asked for more money in a job negotiation — compared with 42 percent of men.

I didn’t get the raise. What’s next?

Ask your manager the right question: Ask your manager the “influence the magic” question: “What would it take to do X?” This frames the question in a less adversarial way, and it also opens the door for you to create a road map in collaboration with your supervisor, Chance says.

Hannah Moss

28, senior editor and project manager, Washington, D.C.

“Something I say a lot with women I work with now is, you know, don’t leave it without something. Even if you can’t get a raise right now, set a timeline and action steps to get that raise or promotion before you leave that meeting. I think that’s the most important thing. And if that’s completely not possible, I think it’s time to reevaluate why you’re at that company or position.”

Jenny Kay Pollock

26, client success manager, San Francisco

“You have to take into account what you asked them for before. If things have changed for your situation, don’t be afraid to have that conversation about things that have changed since the beginning of the process. ‘Can we meet in the middle?’ I always try and show flexibility when I’m negotiating. It’s about how you word it. It’s about how you’re perceived. You want to get the end goal.”

Emily Fisher

30, UX researcher, New York

“So about six months into [a job] we had had this evaluation. And [my boss] said, ‘You’re great, here’s what I want you to improve, and I’m giving you a 5 percent raise.’ Which isn’t what I was hoping for. It was pretty trivial considering what I was thinking of.

So I went back and talked to people in my life that I turn to guidance for in this stuff. So with the help of those people, I came up with a proposal to ask for an adjustment — an adjustment to market value. I don’t know if that’s a word, but it was my phrase. I wasn’t asking for a 40 percent raise — I know that doesn’t work. But I’m asking for a 40 percent adjustment to be brought up to market.

So I came to this boss and proposed the adjustment. I said, ‘I want an additional $15,000.’ And he didn’t react well to the surprise. I kind of expected he would balk at it. So he said, ‘Let me think about it, and we can talk about it.’ So he came back to me in a few days and said, ‘Okay, what you’re asking for is reasonable. But let’s set up a framework. At our one-year review in six months’ time, let’s see if you’ve reached the goals I’ve wanted you to reach. I’ll set in place this adjustment.’ And so that’s what I did. When it was time for this review, we didn’t even meet. He just called me and said, ‘Okay, I’m giving you your $15,000.’ It was a huge victory.”

Jenn Topper

32, communications director, Washington, D.C.

“In my last role, I got a promotion. They brought in outside candidates for it, and they published a range for the salary. So I was like, ‘Oh okay, I match all the job descriptions.’ And I had been in the deputy role to this position and the salary was commensurate with the increase in responsibility. So when they offered me the promotion, I always heard you’re supposed to negotiate for jobs and promotions. They offered me on the low end of the range. So I was super disappointed, but I was just grateful to get the promotion. So I said, ‘Okay, I accept, I’m ready to go.’ My boss five minutes later sent me a gchat and was like ‘Pro tip: Never take the first offer.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I know. You made the offer and I was really excited and I didn’t know how to have that conversation. And that sucks for me.’ And he goes, ‘Well, I assumed you were going to counter me with X number and I was going to meet you in the middle, so what do you say we do that?’ And I said, ‘Really? Oh my God.’ So he gave me another shot, so I could correct my mistake and I could get the better salary.”

At this rate, experts predict, American women won’t see equal pay until 2058.

Is it time to start looking for another job?

If your company can’t meet your requests and that’s deal-breaker, it might be time to start looking for other opportunities.

“If it is a place that you go and be unhappy, then it’s time to leave regardless of how much money they’re paying you,” Chance says.

Emily Fisher

30, UX researcher, New York

“The biggest thing [my dad taught me]: When I was considering leaving that job, my boss had invested so much in me and it was so small, so I wanted to be very open with him. To say ‘I’m looking at other options, but I’ll stay six months.’ To be very honest about my intentions. And my dad was so against that, and he felt so seriously that as soon as I would reveal my intentions like that, this boss would be trying to replace me even before I would leave, to beat me to the punch. That idea is that, no matter how great and mentor-like the relationship feels, you do have to protect yourself.

I got an offer. What can I do with it?

Sometimes the most effective negotiation tool is a competing job offer. All our experts were clear here: Only proceed here if you are truly interested in taking the competing offer.

Frame it as an opportunity: Once you have an offer in hand, try not use it as a threat to leave, Hackley says. “It’s saying, ‘I think I’m very valuable to our organization, and I want to show you that I’m really valuable. And here are the things I’ve done.”

Consider talking to your manager: Chance says depending on the culture at your current company, you may even talk to your boss, explaining the situation and why this other offer appeals to you.

Emily Fisher

30, UX researcher, New York

I had another offer. That was my major benchmark for me. That was the only certainty I had about what I was worth. It was much higher, and it was more of a corporation, and I was glad to at least have that to have any benchmark. … I think getting another offer is super important for that reason.”

“Get that data point even though you’re not interested.”

I’m a manager. How can I effect change from here?

Becoming a manager comes with a big question: How do you help the other side?

Management is an opportunity for many women to change hiring practices for the better — not just by inviting more women into the conversation but by looking out for the same questions above, Chance says.

To effect real change for women, experts say, managers have to take pay equity seriously — in their own workplaces and beyond.

“Having pay inequity in an organization has cost to the organization,” Hackley says. “People who don't feel like they're fairly compensated may not work as hard. They may grumble about the company when they’re outside the workplace or inside the workplace.

Brooke Hunter

39, nonprofit chief of staff, Washington, D.C.

“I was working at a place when we had two people come in for the same job title. The man negotiated for more and the woman didn’t even try to negotiate at all. And when it came time to set the levels for the next year, I said to my boss, ‘Look, this person did not advocate for herself, but she’s doing the same really good work. We need to equalize these salaries.’ And my boss agreed with me and we fixed it. And I think what you see there is really dangerous — I’m incredibly aware of this phenomenon and it’s only one instance, and I had a boss who is receptive to this message … and that’s how you get women who work for 20 years and their net worth is much lower than a man’s. And there’s no way to fix that.”

Hannah Moss

28, senior editor and project manager, Washington, D.C.

“In a lot of those situations, unfortunately, us as middle managers are still often managed by men. And sometimes it’s not a conversation that they really want to have. And it doesn’t have to be a serious, brow-beating conversation. But sometimes you have to impress ‘This isn’t a joke; this is important. Here’s why.’ And again, it’s the same as salary negotiations — it’s not always fun, and they’re often uncomfortable, but you have to do them.”

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