Past salary plays a significant role in determining future pay. Maybe you’ve taken time off to raise kids, and you’re negotiating from a past salary of $0. You’re switching careers. Or you’ve been underpaid and want to move up to market value. Here are three strategies for navigating the move from zero:
1. Master salary negotiation basics
Use market data from competitors, and focus on the measurable results you will achieve. In other words, change the anchor for your new salary from you to another determinant – the market, the new company’s desired results. Your lack of salary history becomes irrelevant because you’ve shifted the focus to the here and now. This strategy also works for the underpaid and career changers who need to make a salary shift.
See also: How To Get a $26,000 Raise
2. Go ahead, take the job as a temp
If your salary is zero, your key strategy is to close the deal quickly. If this means starting as a consultant or temporary staff, rather than drawing out negotiations for a permanent role, go for it. (A short-term contract is often faster to close because there is a defined commitment and no benefits or other extras to work out.) Congratulations! You are back in the paid workforce. You are someone an employer values enough to pay. You have salary history, and the chance to establish results and measurable value in a professional, paid context. All of this adds to your ability to negotiate, whether with your current employer or elsewhere.
3. Blend in first, then stand out
If you haven’t worked in a while, your employer is taking a chance on you; you’re new to the workplace, not just to the role. The best way to show your new bosses that their risk will be rewarded is by blending in – See, I am ready and able to work! This doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions, but be sure you understand the basics of the company, its industry and your job so your questions are thoughtful and nuanced. Blending in doesn’t mean you don’t want to be noticed. But become known for the right things — your work product and results — not for neediness or difficulty assimilating into the work environment.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert with SixFigureStart®. She is a former recruiter in management consulting, financial services, media, technology, and pharma/ biotech.
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