Why You Should Adjust Your Salary Expectations

There have been countless attempts to uncover the root cause of wage inequality. The usual suspects - experience, occupation, and location - play a minor role in explaining the pay gap. The bigger culprit: Expectations.

The current wage gap between male and female tech talent is 3%, down from 4% in the previous two years. But it’s important to look deeper at the expectation gap, or the difference between what men and women think their skills are worth (which is often based on salary history).

According to our data, women tech workers asked for an average of 4% less than their male counterparts, an improvement from 6% in 2018. In 2019, women asked for less money 61% of the time, compared to 66% in the year prior. These numbers indicate progress, but ultimately indicate that women are still undervaluing their skills.  

Regardless of your gender, it’s important to accurately determine your market value in order to advocate for a fair compensation package in line with market standards. This article will help you calibrate your salary expectations and arm you with the tools you need to get the salary you deserve.

Do your market research

Fortunately, there is really solid salary data available (for free!) online, which makes it easy to get a general idea of what sort of salary you can expect. Our salary calculator, for example, uses real salary data from interviews and offers made on the Hired platform, and breaks things down by location, role, and experience level. Combining this level of granularity with data on general market trends is a quick way to arrive at a starting benchmark.  

Next, layer on some qualitative research by speaking with friends, colleagues, and mentors, who may be able to add nuance beyond the numbers. These contacts will be able to account for their own knowledge about your experience and background, which will impact where you fall within the general salary range for a given role.

Adjust for the company and role

Beyond the general job function, do your research to understand how your particular niche and location might impact your earning potential. Software engineers, for example, can earn wildly different salaries depending on their speciality—and this can also differ significantly by city.

In addition, you may need to calibrate your expectations based on the company in question. Startups may offer a lower salary with higher equity, and the company’s funding status might also have an impact. A startup looking to raise funding, for example, might be willing to negotiate a post-funding round raise.

Ask for your worth

It’s important to not be timid about negotiating for a higher salary or alternative compensation structure. Recruiters and managers are used to this back-and-forth with candidates and employees, so rest assured that it’s not an unprecedented conversation. The quicker you can accept that salary negotiations are commonplace, the better. 

The data shows that women tend to ask for and receive less than men, but that doesn’t mean that individuals can’t break the mold—and, indeed, that’s how the gap will close over time. While it’s up to companies to enforce unbiased hiring practices and promote a culture of equity and inclusion, it’s your responsibility to know your value and hold companies accountable to deliver what you deserve.

About the Author

Napala Pratini

Napala is a consultant to early-stage technology companies. Prior to going independent, Napala led marketing initiatives across both consumer and B2B fintech for employers including NerdWallet and Earnest. In past lives she was a ballet dancer and a cancer researcher.