Updated: Apr 26
I am not sure I have the best relationship with getting paid. I have not been the best at negotiating the best salary for myself. In my first job many years ago, when I suggested a [now I'm aware] meagre salary, I knew I had made a mistake when the person interviewing me quickly wrote the number down and didn't negotiate with me about it.
Since then – it has been crucial to me that I tried to push for the most for myself. If I don't – who will?
Even though I have not always known my worth – something I am intensely working on right now – I have always thought it was important that I was earning well for my hard work.
Talking About Salary
This brings me to the very unusual [to me anyway] phenomenon where no one talks about their salary. I – somewhat naively, would ask anyone what their salary was – and I get a look of "Anu, why are you asking me that?". It is seen as a rude and invasive question. It is only a few close friends with whom I have that open discussion where we talk about our salaries. I don't get it, and I'm not too fond of it. Negotiation power comes from knowledge.
During my career, I have dealt with many recruiters – some of whom will keep so close to the chest what salary is being offered. That always got under my skin – and I have had a few phone altercations with recruiters who were keen on first knowing my previous salary. Doesn't that sound like someone trying to get you the least possible and not the most?
This lack of transparency is frustrating, and I know I'm not alone in feeling this way because to date – on my LinkedIn profile where I share a lot about my thoughts and opinion, my most viewed/liked post to date was:
"Dear very well-meaning writers of job descriptions -
I would take absolute transparency of the salary of the job over:
free Friday drinks
subsidised gym membership
and your long list of "amazing perks."
If the salary you are paying me sufficiently funds my lifestyle & allows me to buy breakfast, lunch, and drinks without having heart palpitations when I look at my bank balance - I don't need you to fund those perks for me.”
Just treat me with respect and consistently show support of my career growth. That's the main perk we need!"
Companies feel that they can put in the perks of being an employee, and that should be enough. It so should not, in my opinion. What I have done isn't blame a company - they are trying to make a profit after all – but to ensure I do my research, I negotiate, and I don't budge when I know they can afford it.
I am also currently navigating finding income outside the bread and butter work I do. I podcast, I speak at events, I am a guest on webinars and other podcasts. At some point, putting a package together is going to be important – side hustles are meant to bring in an income after all – right?
As a recent request to do work for free suggested – yes, I know I will need to do work for free for the benefit of boosting my personal brand. But we also have to know when to say no. Much like when an ex-classmate/professor asks for you to talk to her class of a well-funded and renowned university for free, saying that I could pitch my work to the students.
Negotiation is a battlefield and a very much needed skill. One last tip I would give you is – negotiate for your brain/skill, not your time, because if like me, you do like getting things done quickly and automating tasks – you may shoot yourself in the foot.
These are all my ponderings about getting paid in the digital industry - for now. Do you agree with them or not? I would love to hear. I may not always get paid what I truly deserve, but it will never be because of my lack of research and pushing for the most of what I deserve. I hope you do the same.