You did it! You started by polishing your resume until it gleamed. You networked online and on your social networks and connected with interesting people interested in your professional talents. You even made it through the job hunt or headhunting chaos and found yourself with what you thought was an incredible job offer and eagerly accepted. And you were thrilled! Until you found out that you’re not being paid what you’re worth and that people in similar careers are earning a lot more.
So, what happens now? Is there room to renegotiate a salary after you’ve accepted it, or are you stuck being underpaid and undervalued for the duration of your tenure?
We asked Brandi Britton district president in Los Angeles of staffing and recruiting agency Robert Half, offered tips on what to do next.
“If you’ve already accepted a job offer and found yourself feeling your salary could have been higher, take a few things into consideration,” Britton said.
Before your start date
Britton says if you haven’t started your new job yet, there’s still time to “reach out to your recruiter or the HR contact and explain the circumstances.”
The reason being that “a recruiter is there to advocate for you and the HR contact is a helpful intermediary for these situations.” When you do reconnect with the recruiter, “Explain that you’ve had some time to re-evaluate, share your supporting information and ask if there’s anything that can be done before you get started.”
It’s about more than salary
Before you decide whether or not you’re going to reach out, Britton says “You’ll want to consider more than simply salary, you’ll want to think about how many of the required skills you meet or exceed, where you may need some training or upskilling to perfect the role, and what past projects or experiences will increase the value you will bring to the role.”
In other words, sometimes it’s about more than just the bottom line. You might be worth even more than you thought or the flip side- the benefits and ability to expand your set significantly might be worth a lot more than some extra take-home pay.
Consider a check-in instead
If you’ve already begun the new job, Britton said: “You may want to request a three- or six-month check-in or initial review with your manager, where you can try and discuss or re-negotiate salary at that point.” She also says to “Make sure it’s a scheduled meeting on both of your calendars where you’re both prepared for a conversation about your progress and performance.”
And don’t panic if you think you’ve lost any momentum. “While time passing may not be your ideal situation, there may actually be some benefit to having had time to prove yourself in your new role. And while you’ll still want to use the data you have to support the conversation, don’t forget to use this opportunity to share any quick wins or achievements you’ve made in the short time you’ve been on board with the company.
Seeing the value, you’ve been able to add may make a manager more amenable to a salary conversation, even with a short tenure.”
Is it even an option?
If you’re working for a boutique size firm, you might not have much leverage. Britton suggests that you “take stock of whether your company is in a position to offer you a raise. Despite your personal needs, if your company has undergone recent budget cuts or layoffs, it’s probably not the best time to ask for a raise.
“While the three-to-six-month range is a good starting point for the conversation, you’ll want to choose a positive time for your manager and the company when scheduling a meeting.”
Consider other perks
If your pay isn’t up for negotiation, Britton said you should consider other things “you may be able to negotiate, that may make you just as happy or may help things like work-life balance or your career development opportunities.”
Meanwhile, it’s important to keep in mind the fact that there are things that can be more meaningful than a salary.
Some of the other factors that might help you decide if you’ve got the best deal possible include:
- A shorter workweek or flexible schedule
- Additional vacation time
- Remote work arrangement – like working from home once a week
- Stock options
- Professional development opportunities
The most important thing to realize is that you said yes for a reason. You felt that you were being fairly or appropriately compensated. Now it’s just a matter of deciding if you want to negotiate for better terms or a slightly higher salary if possible.