It’s no secret that underselling yourself has financial consequences — but you may not realize just how high the price can be. Not negotiating your salary could dock hundreds of thousands from your lifetime earnings, according to analysis by Salary.com. And it’s just as easy to undercharge as a freelancer, or set prices too low at your small business.
If you’re underpaid, it’s time to make a change. Read on for savvy tips to move toward a better income, whether you’re a full-time employee, freelance worker, or small-business owner.
If You’re a Full-Time Employee
Do Your Research
For at least six months, keep a record of all your accomplishments as they occur. “People tend to remember the home runs, but forget their daily results, such as a meeting that got the company a new client, improving the cycle time, or finding a way to trim costs,” says Lee E. Mitchell, author of Get More Money on Your Next Job … in Any Economy. This list will not only give you fodder to present to your employer, but it will also boost your confidence going into the negotiation process.
Brag Up Your Achievements
At the same time, it’s important to make sure your boss knows about your hits as they happen. To toot your horn without seeming boastful, couch it as though you simply wanted to keep her in the loop.
Send her a quick email saying something like, “Just to bring you up to date, I met with McKinsey and they’ve agreed to sign on for another year.” Or email all the key people involved in a successful project that you were a part of, and praise them for their fantastic work. “This subtly proves that you also did a great job, and because you’re giving the credit to others, it reflects that you’re a skilled manager,” Mitchell says. Plus, it builds goodwill with the rest of your team — a win-win.
Know Your Worth
Figuring out your market value is critical to negotiating, and that means checking out Salary.com and Glassdoor.com, joining professional organizations, and ratcheting up your networking. Especially critical is having an “active, up-to-date online presence” — like a LinkedIn account — so recruiters can easily contact you, Mitchell says. When they do reach out, meet with them, even if you’re not interested in the job. You’ll get a better sense of your value, and knowing that other people want you is incentive for your boss to step it up.