19. How to Negotiate with Confidence

May 19, 2022

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn't cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don't personally use or believe in.

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.

Time to become a pro-negotiator and get paid your worth

Want to know a not-so-secret, secret?

If you want to substantially change your financial situation, there are two ways to do it.

  1. Make more money

  2. Spend less money

Now, there are plenty of ways to cut back on your spending, but at some point, you can only cancel so many subscription services, and who wants to feel guilty about their oat milk lattes? #lattes4eva

So where does that leave you after you’ve pruned your budget?


Negotiating your salary, negotiating a higher payout from your freelance clients, negotiating your car payments, negotiating your rent…

You get where we’re going with this.

If you’re already sweating, don’t panic! Your favorite money and career coach, Tori is here to guide you through the negotiation process so you can advocate for what you’re worth. This episode is packed with goodies to give you the confidence to kick negotiation’s ass.

P.s. if you’re looking for a deeper dive into negotiation than we can get into in a 25-minute episode, check out our course, Navigating the Negotiation before it goes up in price on June 1st!


Our HYSA recommendation

Navigating the Negotiation

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Tori Dunlap:

Hello, Financial Feminist. Welcome back. So excited to see you back here yet again. It’s always so funny when I start these episodes because I feel like we’re a little listening family and it’s so great to invite you back, but of course, I’m talking into the void. I’m just talking at Kristen, our podcast producer when we record these. So I know I’m in your ear. Maybe you’re on a walk, maybe you’re driving your car, maybe you’re in the bathtub. That’s what I do a lot as I listen to my podcast in the bathtub. So it’s lovely to feel like we’re hanging out, but at the same time, I’m just shouting into the void, hoping that somebody can hear me. So if you can hear me, tweet at me, let me know. As always, thank you for your support. We’re so excited to have you back. A couple of the best ways to support us as always are rating, reviewing, subscribing to the show to make sure you don’t miss an episode.

To recap again, we’re bringing you six episodes a month of Financial Feminists. We’re bringing you an interview episode every week and then every other week, twice a month, these solo episodes with me that are much more like deep dive, actionable resources. So if you want to make sure you never miss an episode, go ahead and hit that subscribe button. So today we’re going to be talking about key tips for negotiating your salary or your role, both for a new job, right? You’re applying, you’re going through the process of getting hired at a new company, or for an existing workplace or an existing job, getting a raise. It’s also great if you’re a 9:00 to 5:00 worker, if you’re a small business owner, if you’re a freelancer, even if you’re your own boss, right? You’re going to come up to a time where you have to negotiate something in your business, whether it’s with a client or a sponsor, or even just for your utilities or your expenses as a business owner.

So having these negotiation tips in your back pocket will help you get more compensation for your work regardless of how you work. Before we launch into the episode, I mean, you hit play or you hit download. So I’m assuming you’re here and you’re going to be here for the entire episode, but in case you’ve hit play and you’re a little scared or intimidated, please know that negotiations, they’re not as scary as everybody thinks they are. It’s a really exciting conversation today in order for you to get paid what you’re worth, to advocate for what you’re worth in a really smart, respectful way.

So if you heard the word negotiate and you’re curling up into yourself and you’re like, “Dear God, why?” It’s okay. We’re going to guide you along step by step. We’re going to give you some really great tools today. So I promise you it’s not as scary as you might think. And perfect segue, I didn’t mean to do that, we have a really exciting win to share with you all about a incredible community member who is able to launch herself into a new role, and we’re excited to share that voicemail with you. So here you go.


Hi, Tori and team. I have been working in mental healthcare for 12 years, the last five of which I’ve been a trauma therapist in an outpatient clinic where most people assume that people like me make a ton, if at least not a thrivable amount of money, but in reality, we don’t. Despite my experience level two, degrees and a license, you’re incredibly lucky if you make 50K a year, never mind having decent benefits, which used to be okay before as the work is so fulfilling and we can manage it. But now after years of the worsening exploitation of the working classes, plus the trauma of this pandemic, inflation, all of it, I just got so incredibly weary the past two years and seriously feared that I could no longer afford to keep going in my chosen field.

I got into a really dark place, but somehow I kept my eyes open, and then a couple weeks ago there was a job posting that looked too good to be true, but I went for it, and after years of following your content, and even for this job using your cover letter template, and I hate writing cover letters, I got it. I got a job offer that gives me twice the money for the same hours I was earning before. I’m more financially secure and I can literally afford to keep seeing my clients and take care of my communities as best I can. I start the new role in June. I’m feeling so much relief and I just need to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It’s invaluable. Thank you.

Tori Dunlap:

That was such a great win from one of our community members. Thank you so much for sending it in. We shared that one with our whole team on Slack. We were just so excited. If you have a win to share, if you have a question, again, if you have a time with you, show my spotting, you can leave us a voicemail. It is linked down below the show notes as always. So we would love to hear y
our questions. We would love to hear what kind of episodes you want to see, what kind of questions you have. It always just makes our day, especially when we get voicemails in your own voice. It just makes us really happy. Today’s episode is a very timely one. The great resignation is still going strong. For those of you who haven’t heard, the great resignation is this thing that’s been happening over the past couple years where people are just up and leaving their jobs.

They’re like, “Fuck this shit. I’m out.” Both as somebody who was trying to get hired for a really long time and as someone who’s a career coach, and as somebody now who hires people, it’s been a very interesting transition to see what sort of power now candidates have as opposed to companies and what sort of power they have coming in and asking for what they’re worth in this great resignation. So more than ever, we’re really seeing women especially ask for what they’re worth in their current workplaces and as they’re getting and moving into these new jobs. Now is the best time. If you are a job seeker, you’re probably in hot demand right now. I’ve said this before. I’ll say this again as a quick caveat. We are talking about negotiation today. We’re giving some actionable resources, again, about how you can negotiate your salary, about how you can approach these negotiations, but we need to mention and we need to acknowledge 80 to 90% of things are outside of our control financially, right?

So when we think about what success is in a negotiation, I put success in quotes, it’s not getting what you ask for because you can put together all of your negotiation materials, you can present yourself very well and still hear the word, “No.” Right? This is why, in addition to these resources around learning how to ask for more money, learning how to advocate for yourself in a smart, respectful way, we also have to change a society that unfortunately stigmatizes women who ask for more money, especially women of color. So please know that we need to define success, quote, unquote, success in a negotiation as you stepped up to the plate to negotiate. Perhaps your negotiation materials, you thoughtfully asked for more money. That is a successful negotiation, regardless of the answer. There are so many things, unfortunately, outside of our personal control when it comes to actually negotiating your salary.

So although we will give you those actionable resources to present yourself well, I’m acknowledging and hopefully comforting you a little bit in telling you that there’s so much that is outside of your control that has nothing to do with you, and instead, we’re going to try to give you examples and resources for the things you can control. So many people view negotiations as fights or arguments, right? That negotiations are like unsheathing your sword and fighting to the death to get what you want. You have to put on your boxing gloves and go into the ring and that’s the only way this is going to happen. Is a fight or an argument, and I think as women in particular, we are told to just be grateful for our opportunities, right? We’re supposed to just play small and just raises will come when they’re supposed to, and worry that if we negotiate, we will be seen as a bitch or ungrateful or pushy or aggressive.

The truth is negotiations are not fights. They’re not arguments. Negotiations are collaborations, not conflicts. You are collaborating with the party you’re negotiating with. You’re actually on the same team as your boss or potential boss. You’re not on opposing teams. You’re not on the opposite side of the table. You’re on the same team. All you’re doing together is trying to solve a problem. You solve problems every fucking day. That’s what makes you great at your job. This is just another problem that you’re solving, and the problem is you not being compensated fairly. You are working in collaboration with this other person or with this other organization. When you think about it, that way it becomes potentially like a team building exercise. You are simply together working to solve a problem of you not being compensated fairly.

This sort of collaboration, compromise language and mindset is one of the ways that we help not only foster a environment where a negotiation has a positive outcome, but also helps avoid that stigma or that stereotype of, “Oh, she’s being ungrateful,” because all you’re doing right is showing up with a positive attitude, and again, trying to solve this problem. You’re working with this organization rather than feeling an opposition with them.

A couple of the reasons why it’s so important for women to negotiate. The first one is one of the most compelling. We know from statistics that women who do negotiate are earning on average, over a million dollars more in their lifetime than women who are not. To put that a different way, women who are not negotiating are losing more than a million dollars over the course of their lifetime, a million dollars. Because when we negotiate, we’re not just negotiating for our current salary, right? We’re not just negotiating and hoping we get maybe 2,000, 5,000, even 10, $20,000 more, that’s pretty sick, right? That happens right up front, getting that extra money, but it’s not just that. It’s about your earning potential for your entire life. Because then when you switch jobs in, let’s say three, five years, you’re then going to most likely be earning more money at that next job because your salary increases over time. Right?

Think of it as a chart. Your chart will go up as your salary keeps going up. But if you haven’t negotiated, at that next job, you hopefully will be earning more money than you were before, but less because you didn’t negotiate. So it’s not just about the amount of money that you’re getting immediately, right? The amount of money that you’re receiving with a higher salary in the present moment, we have to think about our earning potential for our entire lives. We also of course have the wage gap, right? 0.78 to a man’s dollar, depending on the statistics you read, and of course, these stats are even worse for women of color. One of the best ways we have that’s in our control to lessen this wage gap is by advocating for what we’re worth. So in addition to losing a million dollars by not negotiating, we are limiting the impact that we could have in lessening that wage gap.

In addition, the more money that you receive by negotiating, the more benefits you have, gives you a larger ability to be able to save, to be able to invest, to be able to pay off debt, and just to be able to plan financially, right? More money means more options. We’ve said this before. We’ll say this again. Money means options. Money means choices. And of course, if you get more money, you have more flexibility. You can afford a slightly bigger apartment that feels more comfortable. You can afford to pay off your debt faster. You can afford to fund your emergency fund. You can afford that kick ass vacation to Italy that you’ve always wanted to go on, right? You have more options when you have more money and you’re able to accelerate yourself, put yourself on a rocket ship to achieve your financial goals sooner.

There’s three times that are probably the most common for you to negotiate. The first is when you’re starting a new job, when you’re applying for a new job, right? Companies actually expect you to negotiate. I feel like this blows people’s minds. Companies expect to have a conversation about compensation, especially when you’re first getting hired. You actually have more power when you first start a new job and you negotiate then, than unfortunately you’ll have during your entire tenure of employment. It’s so important for y
ou to negotiate always, but especially when you’re getting into a new job. So that’s the first situation you’ll, you’ll likely negotiate.

The second is during some sort of like annual review or performance review time. We’re hoping you’ll receive some sort of raise without you having to ask for it, right? But we’re either negotiating for higher compensation or we’re negotiating a raise if nothing was presented to us. The third situation you might be negotiating in is when you discover you’re being undercompensated. Either you’ve started to do some market research, which we’ll talk about in a second and you’ve realized, “Oh, shit. I’m not getting paid what I’m worth,” or you find out that somebody internally at your organization is making more money than you, but you have more experience than they do. So again, we always want to negotiate during these three times: when we’re applying for a new job, when we’re on the job hunt, at our annual review or some kind of performance review time, and then third, if we unfortunately find out that we’re being undercompensated.

The two biggest components of a negotiation, the two things you need to think about above all else are your data and your value add. So when I say data, I’m referring to the market research that tells you what you should be getting paid. This is relative to other people in your industry with your experience level, with similar skills. We’re looking for what they call the market rate. So you can start by finding this data on third-party platforms online like Glassdoor or Payscale. Payscale is one of my favorites. They’re a Seattle-based company. I like to rep them. Employees at companies are anonymously listing their salary information by their particular role, right? But please only use these platforms as a jumping off point. The aggregates, they’re very two dimensional, right? They maybe are only looking at the jobs title and the location, right? And you’re a multidimensional person. You’re a multi hyphenate, right?

They’re not seeing the full three-dimensional you with your unique skillset and your certifications and your background, right? They also tend to give this huge salary range because that specificity isn’t there. So please just make sure that this is your jumping off point. This is a helpful start, but this is not deep enough data. We can also go online to like dozens of Google Sheets. These Google Sheets are created by a variety of different sources with anonymous salary data. We’ll link some of our favorites below. But typically, again, this is a lot of women, people of color, members of marginalized groups in workplaces who are trying to get other people compensated fairly and trying to talk about money in an anonymous way, in a more comfortable way. Again, talk about money, everybody. Let’s talk about money, right?

And this is one of the great ways to do that is seeing this anonymous salary data that are all across the internet at different levels, different industries. They’re also typically more accurate because they’re anonymous, and again, they’re really powerful because these spreadsheets are put together and organized often by women and people of color who are really committed to helping others earn more money. We’ll link some down below, but you can literally Google salary data spreadsheets, and you’ll find a couple good resources. Okay. Beyond these online resources, to get the most accurate data, the kind you can bring into a negotiation, we really want to talk to people. We really want to talk to our colleagues to get this data. So these are people that are in your network who could share their thoughts. For example, this is previous bosses, friends who work in the industry, recruiters who hire for your industry, random people you’ve met at networking events, right?

So if I’m a marketer, I’m going to other marketers that I know. I’m going to LinkedIn connections who are also marketers. I’m going to friends who are recruiters who hire marketers, right? I may be going to a boss at a previous company and I’m asking them. Here’s what you say. You go, “Hey, based on the job description and the skills and experience you know I have, what should I be getting paid?” If you have the job description, give them the job description, right? Literally present them the job description for either your current role or the role you’re going for and say, “Hey, based on what you know about me and my experience and skillset, what would you price this role at?” This conversation is going to be a lot more specific to you and to your unique situation than a random entry on Glassdoor, right?

So Glassdoor, Payscale, these are great resources for jumping off points. We can go to those salary data spreadsheets online, but we really want to have conversations because we’re trying to get the most accurate data possible. The reason we’re presenting data is we can’t just waltz into a negotiation and be like, “I deserve a million dollars and I want a million dollars. Pay me a million dollars, right?” That doesn’t work. We all want a million dollars. Right? But unless the data is telling us we should be able to ask for a million dollars, unless your market rate is actually a million dollars, that doesn’t look too great. You can’t just pull a number out of the air. I see this a lot in negotiations is people tally up what their expenses are every month and let’s say those are like $4,000. So they go, “Okay, I need to be making at least $4,000 a month. So that’s what I’m going to ask for.”

You probably are deserving of more money than that, A, and B, we should not be using our monthly expenses as the amount of money we should be making. We should be using instead the market data and the market rate to figure out what we should be asking for. We’re also most likely talking to very data-driven people. I can’t tell you the amount of times in a negotiation with my boss or with a potential boss where they literally said, “Okay, where’d you get that number?” Then I get to pull out all of the data, right? That I’ve done, all of that research I’ve done and show them, “Hey, I got it from this source and this source and from these conversations with these kind of people.” You’re talking to data driven, very analytical people, right? Therefore, you need to speak their language.

You actually need to take a lot of the personal out of this and make it very , again, analytical, very numbers based. You’re asking for more money based on this data. By presenting this data to them, again, you’re more likely to succeed in a negotiation because you’re showing them data that actually has nothing to do with you. It’s completely impartial. It’s third-party data. So again, we’re turning at the beginning to online resources, but in order to get the most accurate data possible, we’re turning to colleagues, right? We’re turning to people who can analyze what we should be getting paid on a more three-dimensional level. The second part that helps us figure out our market rate is your value add. I hope this goes without saying that this is not to be taken as your value as a person, right? Your value add is more about creating specific metrics out of what you and uniquely you are able to bring to your work. I’m thinking about questions like, “How much money did you save your company over the past year?

What sort of projects did you implement? Who are you managing? What additional benefit are you offering to this organization where you’re going above and beyond your job description or your contract’s description? In what way can they really not afford to lose you? How did you contribute very distinctly to the company culture?” If you’re applying for a new job, you can reflect on these questions, both in the benefit you ad
ded to a previous workplaces, as well as how you’re bringing that same energy, that same value add to this new job or to this new freelance contract. When it comes to you asking to make more money, you want to equate it to how much money have you brought in or how much money have you saved? Or again, how much would they lose if you were to leave and go seek a better opportunity? Again, we’re making this impartial, right? We’re showcasing just what is the value that I’m bringing to this organization? When you ask for a raise, when you get compensated at all, it’s all about what value are you adding to the company?

This is not about you, right? It is about you getting more money, of course, but the way we frame it is how can you provide more value to this organization by getting compensated fairly? So these are the two biggest things to focus on in a negotiation: the data that you’re finding from your research, as well as all of the ways you’re adding value. As you reflect on the questions I just presented, right? Who are you managing? What projects did you implement? How did you save the company money? How did you earn the company money? Write all of these out. That’s a great piece of homework for today, is in addition to your data and your research, write out all of the ways you’ve added value for previous companies or previous organizations, or the way you’re adding value at your current organization, and if you’re a freelancer or a self-employed person, all of the ways you’re adding value to clients or to people who you work with. These are your two biggest keys.

The thing you have to keep in mind as well, that I think a lot of people forget, when you’re presenting your data or presenting your value to your boss or potential boss, one, if you’re presenting it to your potential boss, they don’t know you very well. Right? They don’t know what you’ve done at previous organizations. Outline it, brag about yourself. This is your time to talk about how amazing you are. This is not a time to downplay your accomplishments. In addition, I think when we’re talking to current bosses, we think like, “Oh, they know about the project I did. They know about that.” They don’t. Or they know part of it, right? They didn’t know that you saved Susan’s at the last minute because Susan forgot to, I don’t know.

I don’t know why I’m picking on Susan, but they don’t know everything, right? They don’t know the full extent of the project. They don’t know your full contribution. They got their own life. They got their own problems that they’re worrying about. So if you feel like you’re being redundant or you feel like, “Oh, I’m presenting something they already know,” A, present it again, regardless, and B, they probably don’t know. This is why it’s so important to outline your value. One of my favorite tips and tricks for making all the negotiations easier is keeping a wins document on your computer or on your phone, on the notes app of your phone, because one, we’re not negotiating all the time. We’re probably negotiating, of course, when we get a new job, hopefully we’re negotiating when an annual review comes up, right? Or maybe when we find out Chad is making 20% more than us, but we have been here three years longer than Chad, right?

So we don’t remember what happened six months ago. We don’t remember that project we implemented or that fire we put out or the money we saved the company. I barely remember what happened last week, yet alone the thing I did four months ago. So keep a wins doc on your laptop, in your email, someplace that you can go, and every time you get an attaboy from your boss, every time you accomplish something big, put that in your wins doc. We do this of course, to make our negotiations easier to remind ourselves of how badass we are, but also when you’re having a really shit day, it’s really beautiful to go back and be like, “Actually, I am amazing.” Okay, great. It’s a dual purpose tool.

Ultimately, a negotiation is way more data compiling, right? Figuring out what to say, specific scripts, what to do if they say no, all of those particular things. So this episode has just scratched the surface on all of that. We have both free and paid resources on our website for you to be an even better negotiator, for you to prep for this negotiation. Again, I think a lot of the hangups are like, “What do I say when I actually ask for more money?” So we have all of those scripts in our amazing course called Navigating the Negotiation. I have been a negotiation coach now for four years, three years, four years, and I have been able to get women more salary and benefits year over year. I think we’re up to the point now where I’ve gotten them like 2 million, $3 million over the course of these past couple years in more salary and benefits.

So in addition, again, to our free resources about negotiating your salary, about prepping for job interviews, we also have our bestselling course called Navigating the Negotiation, which gives you exact scripts about how to negotiate your salary, about how to prep your materials about particular situations and how to prep for those, again, what to do if they say no, we have all of that linked in our show notes. As always, Financial Feminists, if you enjoyed the show, please rate, please share. Especially share this episode with someone in your life who’s about to start negotiating. I think that, again, this feels potentially really scary or really intimidating, and we don’t do scary or intimidating ever here at Financial Feminist. So I would love for you to share this episode with somebody in your life who needs it. And as always, we will see you back here next week, Financial Feminists. Thanks for being here. Talk to you soon.


Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

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