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​When Should You Bring Up a Salary Discussion?

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When Should You Bring Up a Salary Discussion?

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No one likes discussing money: a conversation concerning salary with your employer can therefore be an intimidating prospect. However, a successful wage negotiation can be beneficial for both parties. In the first instalment of our Women’s Mentorship Session in partnership with HerCapital, Rutherford explores some tips and strategies for initiating a successful salary discussion. These ideas stem from a virtual roundtable held on the 17th March 2021 with Joy Rhoades, a successful author and ex-Managing Director at renowned financial services firm JPMorgan. ​

Whether you are starting a new role in a different company or looking for a raise as an existing member of staff, we will explore when you should bring up a salary discussion, how to successfully negotiate and what to do in the unlikely circumstance that you’re unsuccessful in your negotiation.

When to Bring Up a Salary Discussion at Work

It is one of the most dreaded conversations to have with an employer, but having a salary discussion can be beneficial in the short-term and long-term for both parties. A study completed by Linda Babcock for her seminal book Women Don’t Ask disclosed that only 7% of women attempted to negotiate their first salary, while 57% of men did. Of those people that negotiated, they were able to increase their salary by over 7%.​

This lack of knowledge on how and when to discuss a salary with either a prospective or current employer quickly becomes problematic, as it prevents women getting the pay they deserve right from the beginning of their professional journey. Compensation being a major factor in accepting a job offer or continuing in a position, it is crucial that women are properly equipped with tips and tools on successfully negotiating their wages.

​Knowing when to bring up a salary discussion is key, as there are several pitfalls you should try to avoid. Importantly, if you feel you deserve financial recognition for your contribution to the firm, you should avoid waiting too long to bring it up with your employer.

Negative thoughts concerning self-worth and compensation can lead to a frustrated working environment and eventually anger, which will be damaging in a salary conversation with your employer. ​

If you’re already in a role and feel you deserve a raise, you should initiate a discussion after completing a particularly good project. As Joy Rhoades states, ‘you want to be in your very best light when you’re asking for something that you deserve’. At this time, your manager should be aware that you have recently exceeded in a project and will be potentially more flexible in rewarding you for your achievements within the company. ​

In terms of environment, a good time to bring up the subject of salary is during a performance review. Rhoades suggests that ‘if a firm is switched on, they will be considering salary in your annual performance review because they should be keeping pace with inflation’. In these circumstances, managers are more likely to be open to the idea and not be shocked if you do bring it up. Again, if your performance review comes after a particularly good project or if you have been excelling yourself within the company for a while, a salary discussion should be natural and easy.

In the case they offer you a new role within the company – an uplift – based on your expanding skills base and success in your current role, the following applies. If comfortable to do so, you should agree to the new position and express your enthusiasm for pursuing this new opportunity before turning towards the subject of salary. In a secondary meeting, where your employer will outline the new role to you and what it will entail, you should bring up concerns about compensation or benefits.

​If you are starting a new position within a different company or firm, the following should be useful. A good time to bring up salary expectations is after the second interview with the hiring manager or prospective employer. This is when you’ve pretty much secured the role and the interviewer should expect the subject of compensation to be raised. Prior to this, broaching the subject of money in the first interview or even your application is a turn off for many employers. These initial stages are designed to let the employer get to know you, discovering how you might be a good fit for the role and the strengths you’d bring to the company. If you suggest money is a motivation it implies you value financial gain over experience and the opportunity to join the firm.

Prior to beginning a conversation about your salary, you should demonstrate that you are a good fit for the position and give yourself time to consider if the job is right for you. If you are working with a recruitment consultant, they can help you discuss your salary and even negotiate on your behalf.

The Rutherford x HerCapital Mentorship Initiative

In March 2021, Rutherford officially launched in partnership with HerCapital an initiative to create safe spaces where women in senior roles within financial services could coach and mentor ambitious women in mid-level functions who are looking to move up the corporate ladder and invest in their career. Find out more about the initiative here.

About HerCapital

HerCapital was founded in 2019 with the mission to empower women to become financially independent and to take control of their income. The two founders, Zabreen Khan and Rabiya Ather, aim to create a strong community of women who are looking to become confident investors and to be equipped with tools who will help them be part of the conversation when it comes to investing and managing personal finances.

This initiative with Rutherford is enabling the non-profit organisation to expand its current horizons, by providing safe spaces for their community to discuss career goals and progression with well-established women in senior positions. This will help empower women to also take control of their career and future.


If you wish to know more about the initiative or get in touch with Rutherford to be part on the next session, please contact Genevieve Higgins-Desbiens, Head of Marketing at Rutherford, the legal and compliance recruitment specialists.


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