Let's talk about money!
Salary Negotiation and Investing
This is the knowledge you can use regardless of your gender. Be aware that it is also my very personal experience and I’m sure there are a lot more ways to approach this which might work better for your individual situation. Feel free to comment below on how you negotiate salary and what advice you would give!
When I started in the game industry I was not prepared for talking about salary. Generally, in my environment money was not a topic being talked about. While I had strong values due to my parent’s upbringing about not getting into debt and having savings for bad days which at least is a good foundation, my knowledge about money beyond that was very limited.
This resulted in me not being properly prepared for my first salary negotiation and simply accepting what was offered (I even got a bit more than I asked for, which already says a lot about my cluelessness at that time). Since then by learning more about how to negotiate and get a comparison of what others with similar roles and responsibilities earn I have at least managed to get increases more regularly.
What do I do to negotiate my salary?
The first step is to realize that you want to be more knowledgeable and start doing research. For me it started online, there are tons of resources and I also talked to friends and colleagues.
The book which helped me the most and I can highly recommend it is “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss. At first glance, it might seem a bit extreme since it also describes very tough hostage negotiations but I simply took the methods that seemed useful to my situation from the different examples given.
One simple question which has worked best for me is asking HR and my managers: “Given my achievements and responsibility do you think I’m being compensated fairly in my current role?”
Obviously, this means you need to do some work on highlighting what you bring to the table and what you have achieved in case they are not aware.
If the answer is “that they feel you are being paid fairly” ask for evidence that supports this. If your manager cannot give you evidence, ask HR.
At least in Germany, there is the Entgelttransparenzgesetz now, which will give you the average salary of people of the opposite gender in a similar role as you. This law is far from perfect since there has to be a minimum of six people with a similar role at the same company with more than 200 employees and it’s the companies’ decision if they deem the experience similar enough. Especially, in the game industry where job titles and roles can be very varied and female members are underrepresented it will be difficult to meet the criteria. But if you see a chance that it could apply to you, use it. Here is more info and a mail template.
Getting this information does not give you an automatic salary increase but the knowledge will help in preparing for negotiations. This is why I urge everyone to talk about salary. Find out what your peers in your industry earn. It will give you an idea about the range and help make a plan of where your career development can take you and if it fits with your lifestyle and goals.
Here are a few more notes from the Chris Voss book I use and are going a bit more into using human psychology to your advantage:
Positive & playful: Default voice. Voice of an easy-going & good-natured person.
Relax & smile while talking.
Recognize their perspective and vocalize that recognition.
Remove “I understand” from your vocabulary.
Never use “I understand” if you get a “No” regarding your salary/promotion expectations. Instead, ask:
What about this doesn’t work for you?
What would you need to make this work?
It seems there’s something here that bothers you?
Nefarious accusation: “We’ve given you a fair offer” (Jab meant to distract my attention).
Correct response: Fair? It seems like you’re ready to provide the evidence that supports that.
Let the other party suggest a price first. Especially if neither party knows the true market value. Use odd numbers: Don’t use round numbers.
Look for "That’s Right" answers when you ask questions. And get three "yes" responses.
Ask questions about your achievements and where they agree that you did well and had a positive impact on them or the company.
Non-cash offers: list of non-cash items possessed by my counterpart that would be valuable. (E.g. more vacation days, benefits...)
This is about fair and equal pay for everyone!
In the end, we are all in this together and when we demand systems to improve and become more transparent and fair we will benefit from it together. It’s important to acknowledge that covid had a negative impact on the pay gap, especially for parents and caregivers who had to reduce their work time to support their loved ones.
We are seeing that people who are caregivers and take some time off or work part-time suffer from it, especially in old age where if you have not saved money, the pension schemes now barely cover your basic needs. So on top of salary negotiations, I also encourage you to learn more about the stock market and how you can put money aside. If you are more risk averse (which I am when it comes to investing), ETFs are a good start for long-term investment and can already work if you have smaller sums of money you can spare to invest in them.
As said, this is only my perspective and I’m curious about yours!
What have you learned about salary negotiations that worked well for you?
Are you investing and do you have advice for beginners?
📚 Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
“The beauty of empathy is that it doesn’t demand that you agree with the other person’s ideas” ― Chris Voss
Thanks for reading Linda’s Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.