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Ask a Recruiter: What’s One Way I Can Secure Fairer Pay?

How to make your network work for you

Hand sliding money across the counter
Photo courtesy of Karolina Grabowska

This article is part of InHerSight's Ask a Recruiter series. We ask recruiters from companies big and small to answer questions about job hunting, company culture, and more.

The gender pay gap isn’t set to close any time this century, but fair and equitable pay is something all women can aim to achieve. InHerSight asked a recruiter to share one way women can secure fairer pay. Here, she explains the value of our networks in driving our knowledge of salary. 

Meet Andrea 

I’m Andrea Yacub Macek, the founder, CEO, and career coach for my business, AYM (aim) Consulting. I’m a career coach and workshop facilitator who works with individuals and teams to create fulfilling career changes. Individually, I work with young professionals and mid-career women to successfully navigate career transitions and find meaningful work. I show women how to step into a career that doesn’t feel like a job so that they can create income and impact. 

Before coaching, I spent 10-plus years working across various industries and roles including career development, human resources, and change management. I leverage expertise in coaching skills, several career transitions, and a corporate and entrepreneurial background to create uncompromised change for my clients. My mission is to teach women they can have what they want without compromise. 

The various factors that contribute to the gender pay gap continue to keep women from capitalizing on their full earning potential. Let’s talk about how our networks can move the needle in this arena. What kind of power does a woman’s network have in helping her understand and improve her pay? 

Your network holds an immense amount of power in helping you understand what your pay can look like. Talking openly about money is still seen as somewhat “taboo,” but that is shifting, which is for the best. When we are transparent and open about the earning potential of a role, we open up possibilities for each other. 

Networking allows you to tap into information that isn’t always readily available on job boards or the company site. When you tap into and ask the right questions to your network, you will be able to better position yourself for fair pay.

What kinds of connections should you have in your network to get the best idea of how your pay stacks up and where it’s headed? 

First, I want to offer that there are a number of factors that are considered when creating a salary range and offering pay: 

  • Location

  • Industry

  • Experience

  • Skills

  • Supply/demand

  • Other

These are evolving quickly as the landscape changes in a post-pandemic market. While you may not be able to account for all of those factors in your network, you want to try to account for as many of those factors as you can by having a robust network. 

This will offer a well-rounded perspective on the questions, decisions, considerations, and conversations that surround pay. 

Keep in mind that the types of connections you want to have in your network will vary based on your goals. For example, who you’re connecting with will look different if your goal is to secure a promotion than if you’re trying to change careers. 

In general, you want three types of connections. Each connection will give you a different perspective of pay based on the career path that you’re on or want to pursue. This will provide examples of how you can create your career path and give you critical insight about pay along the way: 

  1. Those who have a similar professional/personal background to you and have the same/similar position that you want. 

  2. Those who are 2–5 years ahead of where you want to be. 

  3. Those who are 5–10 years ahead of where you want to be. 

For each “group” ideally, you’ll have connections who are currently in the role and those who are decision-makers for the role.  You also want to add connections to your network who were promoted internally as well as hired into that role. Companies sometimes view “outside” experiences differently than being promoted from within. 

Talking about pay can be awkward, even if you’re talking to someone you consider a close friend. Share how you might open up that conversation with both a more personal connection and with a more professional one. 

We need to dismantle the notion that talking about pay is “wrong.” How many times have you gone to drinks or dinner with friends and bragged about the deal you snagged on a new pair of jeans or complained about the insane amount you pay in rent? We talk about money all the time, what we don’t talk about is salary. If we want to keep moving the needle on equal pay, we have to change the way we talk about money and start including salary in that conversation. 

Here are a couple of ways you can open up a conversation about pay to either a personal or professional connection. It’s going to feel awkward at first. But like anything, once you practice it, it will become more comfortable.

Talking to a personal connection about pay:

Be the example of the conversation you want to have. You don’t have to dive headfirst into something like “How much are you making?”, but you can introduce the topic by saying, “My boss approved the raise I asked for and I’m going to be making $X now.” Others are more likely to share and be open to similar conversations once you get the ball rolling. 

Talking to a professional connection about pay: 

On the flip side, if someone in your network shares that they are asking for a promotion, raise, or salary adjustment, ask about it without prying. You can ask something like: “Congrats on asking for X. Would you be open to sharing how you went about that process?” People are often very willing to share about what they are doing and how they are going about the process. 

If you find out you’re paid less than you deserve or you’re unsatisfied with your pay in general, what questions can you ask your network to inform how you move forward?

Before you ask questions, first and foremost make sure you’re going off of facts and not assumptions. Do what you research you can to find out what fair pay looks like for your position and at your company. 

Depending on where you live, some states and cities now require that the company disclose salary ranges during the hiring process

You can also get information from Linkedin Salary Insights.

When moving forward, you’ll ideally want as much information as possible from both inside and outside of the company. 

If you’re at a company, make sure you are clear on expectations or any policies that may be a factor in the pay discrepancy. For example, some companies require a certain time period in the role before asking for a promotion or raise. Or, if you know that you’re overdelivering on a project, make sure you and your boss are on the same page about what that work effort looks like. 

If you’re looking to get hired, you can get information about what’s happening inside of the company by tapping into your network. 

Use your network to get support and advice about how you can ask for a change in pay. You can ask questions like: 

  • What are your go-to sites for salary information when asking for a raise?

  • In your experience/company/industry, how have pay adjustments been handled?

  • What information should I prepare when having that conversation?

  • What considerations should I think about when asking for a pay adjustment?

Beyond networking and discussing salary, what else can you do to ensure you’re paid fairly for the responsibilities you take on at work?

You want to have clarity and information in three key areas:

  • What your skills are/value you offer.

  • Clarity on what the job is, what they are asking for and the expectations once you’re hired.

  • Market data about pay. You want to consider the factors that I shared in this article as well as the resources.

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