Get your money girl: How to negotiate for a salary bump

Experts share their advice as women mark Equal Pay Day.

April 2, 2019, 4:17 AM

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Today, more than three months into 2019, is Equal Pay Day -- representing the number of extra days a woman had to work to in order to earn what her male colleagues made last year.

The day calls to attention the continuing gender pay gap -- women make about 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn, according to the non-profit American Association of University Women (AAUW), which advocates for equality.

Even later in the year will mark Equal Pay Day for more specific groups like Latinas, African-American women and Native American women, marking the day they have to work to in 2019 to earn what men earned in 2018.

Moms' Equal Pay Day, how far into the year the average working mom has to work to earn what dads earned in 2018, falls on June 10 this year, according to the AAUW.

Over the course of a career, the gender pay gap can mean around $1.2 million less in earnings on average for a woman who is a college graduate compared to her male peers.

Women can help counter the systemic pay gap on an individual level by asking for the salary they deserve, experts say.

"Good Morning America" tapped two experts -- "Work Party" author Jaclyn Johnson and Gloria Blackwell, who leads salary negotiation workshops for women around the country -- to share their tips for women.

The first tip is to recognize that, in the words of an infamous break-up line, it's not you, it's them. In this case, it's true.

"It’s not about fixing women or blaming women. It’s about providing the skills and tools and resources to be educated and informed," said Blackwell, senior vice president of fellowships and programs for AAUW. "We know the problem is systemic and it’s bigger than any one woman and any one negotiation."

Read below for Johnson and Blackwell's top six tips.

1. Negotiate after a first offer

Women who say yes to the first salary offer they hear from a prospective employer are missing a big chance to score more money, the experts say.

Johnson, also the founder of Create + Cultivate, recommends going back to the employer and saying, "I’ve done my research and the going rate for this position is this and the reason I think I deserve more is because of x,y and z."

If the employer is firm on their offer, regain control by telling them you'd like to re-negotiate your salary after your first three months on the job. Then, spend those three months proving your worth.

"After three months, if you prove you’re invaluable they’re going to want you to stay," Johnson said.

2. Do your research to know your worth

Thanks to the Internet, it is a lot easier know for women to know how much others in comparable positions are making and what a reasonable salary is for their city or region.

Johnson cited websites like and as two great online resources. She also recommends women tap their networks to ask about salary expectations, especially with other women.

"Women need to come together and understand it’s not competitive," she said. "You want to be making the same range if you’re doing the same job. You have to be able to have those conversations and have an open dialogue to be able to figure it out."

3. Bring receipts to the negotiating table

Don't go to your boss's office to ask for a raise without having solid examples of your work to back up your request, both Johnson and Blackwell say.

Work examples include what Johnson refers to as both soft and hard data, i.e. you grew the company's social community by 20 percent and you also jumped in and worked on another account and went above and beyond, or you helped two coworkers grow in their positions.

Bringing specific examples to the negotiation shows you are not shying away from your success. Also, don't think any task you did well is too small to be mentioned, Johnson advises.

"Anything that is over and above the call of duty is important," she said. "Showing up [to work] doesn’t seem important but if you’re the first one in and the last one out every day that’s something to include."

4. Keep a 'congrats' file for yourself

Know the feeling when you have to file your taxes and you kick yourself for not keeping better track of everything throughout the year? Don't do that when it comes time to prepare for a salary request.

Blackwell recommends creating a specific file or folder and filling it up throughout the year with your accomplishments, whether it's an email chain, your notes from a conversation with a client or coworker, a conference you spoke at, a development course you took -- anything that shows your value to your employer goes into that file.

"When you have a consolidated picture of what it is you brought to the table, it’s a very powerful means of expression," Blackwell said. "I’ve heard people say, 'When I see at the end everything that I had accomplished, it was really amazing to me and gave me the confidence to move forward.'"

5. Know how to deflect certain questions

Nearly everyone has had the moment of freezing or stumbling when an employer asks in the interview process about your salary history or salary expectations. In fact, asking about salary history is illegal in some locations, like New York City.

Still, the chances are high that some versions of those questions will come up in an interview, so Blackwell says to practice your answers ahead of time so you're not caught off guard.

Here are some examples of replies she recommends using:

  • "I’d like to know more about the position and potential benefits before we start discussing a salary."
  • "My current job is much different and I’d just really love to learn more about the position."
  • "It’s really tough for me to give a number right now because there are so many things that go into this role."
  • "This is a different position than I had before and based on my research ..."
  • 6. Take into account more than your paycheck

    While the big figure of your salary often seems like the end-all and be-all, it shouldn't be, according to both experts.

    If your salary offer is lower than what you want, think about what Johnson calls the entire compensation package, pieces like health care, matching 401(k), flex time and the ability to work from home.

    In the same way, when asking for a salary increase, if your employer is not able to give you a bump, they may be able to offer you a bigger vacation package, the ability to telecommute or bonuses.

    At the very least, you can use the conversation with your boss to let them know where you want your salary to be in the next six months or year and agree on how you can get there.

    "Don’t think that as employers we're thinking about the bottom line and not thinking about rewarding [employees]," Johnson said. She recalled one employee who came to the negotiating table at a year-end review with a presentation on what they’d done and also what they wanted to do in the future.

    "I wasn't able to give the full [salary] request, so what I said was, 'If you’re going to keep performing and meeting these revenue goals, I’ll give you a bonus for these revenue goals ,'" Johnson recalled. "Tie your bonus to it and that’s on you, that’s your hard work playing out."