Everything Is Still So Stupid Expensive, So Here Are 18 Tips For Asking For Better Pay In 2023

If "make more money" is on your to-do list for 2023, you're not alone. Inflation is allegedly slowing down, but most of us aren't really seeing relief in the still-high prices for basic necessities like groceries and rent. So negotiating for a raise or a higher salary at a new job could make a big difference in your bottom line in the new year.

woman holding hundred dollar bills fanned out
Khosrork / Getty Images/iStockphoto

To get some salary negotiation pro-tips, I talked with one of my favorite finance creators Tori Dunlap. She's the host of the Financial Feminist podcast and the author of the new book Financial Feminist: Overcome the Patriarchy's Bullsh*t to Master Your Money and Build a Life You Love.

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Whether you're planning to look for a new job or ask for a raise in your current role, she's got tons of solid advice. Here's what we talked about:

1.Whether you're looking for a new job or asking for a raise, Tori says your first step should be doing market research so you know how to price your labor. And the best data will come from talking to people in your network.

we need and deserve a raise
we need and deserve a raise

Hulu / Via giphy.com

She says that many of us do a little research online, and it's a start but it's not the total picture. "A lot of people just go to like, Glassdoor or Payscale and then they're like, 'cool, I'm done.' And that's a good starting point to do some research." But it won't necessarily give you the full picture.

Instead, Tori says actually talking to people in your industry about salaries is a game-changer. "If I'm a social media manager in Seattle, I'm going to have conversations with other social media managers. I've had conversations with people I met at a networking event, maybe previous bosses, people I met on LinkedIn. Maybe I have a recruiter friend who hires people with similar skill sets."

Not sure what to say? Tori suggests sending an email that says something like, "Hey, I hope you're doing well. I'm seeking out a new job and here's the job description. Here's a quick summary of my skills and expertise. Based on your knowledge, what would you price this role at?"

2.Tori says one reason many people get nervous about negotiations is that we think about them as conflicts and feel powerless, but it can be really helpful to reframe them as collaborations.

people shaking hands across a desk

Tori explains, "People view negotiations as fights or conflicts, right? You think you have to unsheath your sword and put on your boxing gloves and fights to the death to get get what you want. But in reality, a negotiation is a collaboration, not a conflict." So if you can approach a negotiation with the goal of finding a solution together, it can help you overcome nerves and approach the conversation as an opportunity rather than an ordeal.

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3.Let's say you're interviewing for a new job, but the salary range isn't in the listing (rude!). The most important thing you should remember is never, ever, ever give the company a number first.

now hiring sign in a window

"First of all," Tori says, "if you're a company and you're not [listing the salary] you look sketchy as fuck, and like, what are you doing?" Agreed!

"But if they don't list it, or if your state has not made it a requirement, the biggest thing is to not give a number first. You don't want to end up undercutting yourself or underpricing yourself."

When you're asked about your salary expectations, Tori suggests giving a response like, "'It is too early in the process for me to accurately price myself. However, I would love to know your budget.' This puts the ball back in their court and nine times out of 10, they'll just give you their budget."

Catherine Mcqueen / Getty Images

4.But what about those annoying job applications that require you to enter an expected salary? Tori says you don't have to fill in an actual number here.

job application on a laptop screen

Tori explains, "If you're doing an online application where they require a number, you're putting 00 comma 000, because we don't have time for that question." If there's space for comment, you can add that it's early in the process to price yourself, but you're open to negotiating a salary that's in line with your skills, experience, and the market rate in your area.

Khanchit Khirisutchalual / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5.And absolutely don't tell a recruiter how much you're currently making.

businessman with his finger over his mouth saying shhhh

Tori says if you're pushed to talk about a salary number, avoid giving your current wage and instead offer a number based on market research. "We want to give a number based on your salary market research, meaning what are other people in your industry with your level of experience at your location making and what is that range? So you don't want to just say $55,000. You want to say $55 to $65,000, but again, please avoid giving a number if you can. And if the company pushes you, that's a red flag."

Khosrork / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6.If an employer makes you an offer that you feel is too low, Tori suggests countering with what she calls a gratitude sandwich.

I need more
I need more

Comedy Central / Via giphy.com

If the first number you hear isn't so hot, you can always counter it. Tori recommends saying something like, "I can't wait to start work. I see a future here and I just so appreciated your transparency. Based on my my skill sets, my expertise, as well as the market rate, to be fairly compensated I'm looking for a range of X to Y. Let me know if you have any questions. I'm looking forward to talking with you. And I'm looking forward to finding a number we can collaboratively agree on."

This kind of messaging sandwiches the request for more money between statements of gratitude and excitement and also emphasizes collaboration as opposed to a "my way or buh-bye" kind of approach. It shows that you're really interested in the role and just want to iron out the details together.

7.If they get weird when you want to talk about money, that shows how they would treat you down the road if you accepted a job with them.

two people talking in an office

If a company absolutely won't open up about money, Tori says this can be a red flag. "If they get squirmy or if they get weird, and they don't want to talk to you about compensation, that tells you everything you need to know. If they're not willing to have that conversation now, they're definitely not going to be willing to think about your value through your entire tenure of employment with them."

After all, you're also interviewing the company, and if management won't discuss compensation (aka the number one reason most of us have jobs in the first place), they probably won't magically this stance if you accept the role.

Fg Trade / Getty Images

8.Don't forget you can negotiate for more benefits too.

person with a calculator and a piggy bank

Tori says that it's important to remember that you can negotiate your total compensation, which includes things like benefits. "You're negotiating your total compensation package, which is not just the number that's on your check, but 401(k), 401(k) match, PTO, how much of it? Do you have a flexible schedule? Is there an education stipend?" Depending on your situation, negotiating certain benefits could make up for a salary that's a little bit lower than what you'd hoped.

Tori says that she always recommends pushing for an education stipend. "It's a way of bolstering your résumé while also making you a better employee."

Andreypopov / Getty Images/iStockphoto

9.You can also negotiate for a title that will set you up for higher earning roles in the future.

women talking in an office

Tori gave an example of how this might work IRL. "I was a social media manager, and I was the only social media manager [at the company]. So I could negotiate a head of social title. My pay might not change and my responsibilities don't change. But when I'm progressing in my career, on my résumé, head of social looks a lot sexier than like social media manager." To get a better idea of the kinds of titles you can negotiate for, chat with people in your network and look at similar job descriptions on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed.

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10.Keep track of your successes all year round so it's easier to ask for your next raise or write your next résumé.

brag folder

As someone who can't remember what I ate for breakfast, this tip has consistently helped me write self-reviews, ask for more money, or just remember that I'm not ~always~ an incompetent fool. Tori suggests, "Keep track of your wins in like a note app on your phone or a Google Doc, because you will forget. One, it's great to look at when you're just having a rough day, but two, it makes it really, really easy to have that raise conversation."

Megan Liscomb

11.Let's say you're building a case that you deserve a raise. Tori has a method for laying out your achievements that only takes two sheets of paper.

I honestly deserve to be paid more
I honestly deserve to be paid more

ABC / Via giphy.com

If you plan to ask for a raise, you'll have a much better shot if you can come to the conversation prepared to show exactly why you deserve the big bucks. To lay this out, Tori recommends grabbing two sheets of paper.

On the first sheet, you'll have your original job description. "You're going to go bullet point by bullet point and tell a story with statistics, some sort of narrative that shows you have not only done your job but done it well," Tori explains. So if a bullet point on your job description says, "Answer incoming support tickets in a timely fashion," you might jot down, "Answered an average of 50 support tickets per day with a 99.8% satisfaction rate."

Then, on the next sheet, you'll write down everything you've done on top of your job description. This means any problems you solved, projects you led, and anything else you've done that's above and beyond the basics of your role. Between these two pieces of paper, you should have all the info you need to make your case.

12.The three best times to negotiate your salary are before starting a new job, during your annual review, and if you discover you're being underpaid.

piggy banks on increasingly tall stacks of cash

I've definitely made the mistake at old jobs of asking for a raise when budgets are already set and nothing can be done. And it really sucks to go through all the work and stress of getting ready for this conversation and get told to wait. So timing is key.

Tori says, "If you're coming in, you have more negotiating power when you first start and you actually ever will again at that job. So make sure that you're negotiating." Additionally, many companies do their annual reviews before setting budgets, so that can be a great time to ask. As for being underpaid...

Pm Images / Getty Images

13.Let's say you find out you're making waaay less than your colleagues and you're simmering with rage. Tori says take some time to cool off before you have a conversation with your boss.

colleagues talking in an office

"You have every right to be upset. But you can't bring that anger into the negotiation," Tori explains. "So how I counsel people go about it is sending a email to your boss that's like, 'Hey, hope you're doing well. It has come to my attention that I am currently not being compensated fairly for the work that I'm doing, especially related to various team member salaries.' (Do not share the team member. Do not say how you found out this information.) 'I would love to have a conversation with you about my work performance as well as my compensation. When would be a good time to do that?'"

And when the conversation comes around, keep it focused on your amazing work and don't bring other coworkers up. Coming into the discussion with a clear head and a collaborative mindset will go a long way.

Courtneyk / Getty Images

14.With everything being so dang expensive, you might be wondering how inflation fits into salary negotiations in 2023. It can definitely be a piece of the puzzle, but it shouldn't be your main argument.

inflation arrow piercing a cart of groceries

Tori says you should focus most of your energy on talking about why the work you do is worth more money. She says you might touch on inflation with a comment like, "With inflation on the rise, it's really important to me that I'm compensated fairly at my workplace." But unfortunately, only talking about inflation won't set you apart as literally everyone is feeling the pinch. So while it can be part of the conversation, it shouldn't be your focus.

Sorbetto / Getty Images

15.If you do a lot of "invisible work" (think: party planning, taking notes, etc.), don't be afraid to bring it into the conversation..

would you like to join the party planning committee
would you like to join the party planning committee

NBC / Via giphy.com

Tori says that women often take on extra "unpaid, un-promotable tasks," like office housekeeping and culture. "All of the things that are necessary to keep a company going, but they're non compensated and typically not in the promotion conversation. Bring those into the conversation. Especially if somebody's like, 'well, I don't see the work that you're doing.' It's like, 'yeah, because I do it well, and I do it almost invisibly.'" Treat these tasks as things you do above and beyond your job description that contribute to the company's culture.

16.If a raise isn't on the table right now, you can ask what it would take for you to get there.

colleagues writing on a whiteboard

Let's say you make your case, you have a long conversation with your manager, but they don't think you're ready. Tori says, "You say, 'Okay, what do I need to do? What sort of metrics or goals do I need to hit in six months in order to make this amount of money?'" Then after that meeting, send a follow-up email documenting their answer, so that later when you hit these goals you can have another conversation.

Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

17.But if it's clear that there's just no way you're going to get paid what you're worth, it may be time to start looking for a new job.

woman writing her resume

Unfortunately, at some companies you can truly be the best at what you do and work your buns off doing it, but your compensation just won't line up with what it should be. If that's the case, Tori says, "I would say if an employer is not compensating you well and doesn't have any plan to compensate you well, I need you to get out. Especially with women, we think loyalty will be rewarded. It's one of the narratives I discussed in my book that keeps us underpaid and overworked is we think our loyalty will be compensated."

Instead of falling into this loyalty trap, Tori says employees need to look out for themselves first. "They will lay you off. They will cut your hours and it's not personal, but they have company to run. You need to view it the same way. If you're not being compensated fairly, it's time to move on."

Grinvalds / Getty Images/iStockphoto

18.Finally, remember that negotiation is a skill that gets better and more comfortable with practice. So practice it!

friends having coffee together

Before you head into that meeting, practice what you're going to say with a friend, a partner, or someone else you trust. And continue practicing. Tori says, "Negotiation is never comfortable. You just get more comfortable doing it. When I work out, it's still hard but I know the moves now. It's not going to be easy. It's just gonna get easier."

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What's helped you negotiate for better pay? Share your tips in the comments!