When trying to understand (and let’s be honest – increase!) my pay, I’ve found it really useful to first understand the processes around compensation at the company I work for. Here are some questions you can ask. Your manager can probably answer many of these, but your colleagues might know too!

Questions you can ask about compensation – Julia Evans

Two questions I like to ask in interviews are very similar to these:

Who makes decisions about raises? (is it at the discretion of the manager? Does the manager have a fixed budget they can give out? Is there a formula based on past performance evaluations?)

When do we adjust salaries? (on the employee’s work anniversary? Right after a performance review?)

I like to ask something like, “In a year if I’m hired and I excel in the position and bring a ton of value to the company, what does the review process look like? How is performance reviewed and what is the outcome from those reviews?”

Now, in the world of government contracting, often times the “performance review” is a performance in itself. There’s no actual review. There’s no outcome other than checking the box for received performance review.

But in the private sector, there should be a review of your performance. And it should mean something. If the interviewer(s) can’t answer these questions, then there may not be a plan in place and it could be a warning sign.

If that’s the case, negotiate strong up front. Push for as much money, time off, other benefits the company offers as you can. This may be your one and only chance.

All of the questions Julia lists are great and depending on your situation may or may not apply to your situation. But they’re good things to think about. Especially if the money isn’t where you want it to be, ask for more vacation time or some other benefit that can often be considered.

And when it comes to salary, always, always, always, always ask for more money.

The worst that can happen is you’re told no.

But there’s often a couple thousand more dollars per year you’re leaving on the table if you don’t ask. If you’re offered $30k, ask for $35k. Even if they only offer $32k, that’s an extra $2,000 per year you wouldn’t have gotten.

Never take the first offer. Always ask for more. There’s more to be given, all you need to do is ask.