Get Paid What you are Worth

In an interview with the Zora & Alice blog, Thalia Theodore Washington, the Executive Director of talks about her experience negotiating her salary. “My second job was in a non-profit in LA. I’ll tell the end of the story first, which is that I didn’t negotiate and I should have. I was young, it was my first office job, and I had no idea what I was worth.

I still to this day kick myself for not negotiating . And the reason is that you’re always building off of your last salary. You don’t have a $30,000 salary and then your next job’s $100,000. There are stages.

The fear I had and the fear that women have is that negotiating makes you seem greedy, not classy; it’s a knock against your integrity. Yet, now that I have had the chance to hire people, I would argue that there’s something to be said for advocating for yourself. Probably everyone has a job where an offer was made and you just said yes. But smart people don’t always just say yes.”

Here are some ways to negotiate a higher starting salary:

 Look at salary surveys- These surveys can give you an idea of what local positions, in similar size organizations are paying. Many organizations use these salary surveys to set their salary scales with in the organization. Your local nonprofit association may produce a salary survey or you can look at Idealist’s listing of surveys at Use these numbers when you are considering positions at a variety of organizations (e.g. larger organizations often offer a higher salary) and to give you an idea of what to expect during salary negotiations.

 Check out the 990- The last tip told you that salary often is depended on an organization’s operating budget and the place to find that number is on the 990. The 990 is a document required by the IRS for tax-exempt organizations. This form will give you an idea of how large the organization’s budget is and will also tell you how much the top paid staff at the organization are paid (if their salary is over $50,000 a year). Even if the position that you are interested in is not listed on the 990, you can determine what their salary scale looks like compared to similar sized organizations by looking at what they pay their top staff.

Be truthful but don’t overshare- Don’t ever lie about your salary history. The HR department will check your salary history and being a liar isn’t going to help your career. Instead of listing salary history on an application, list your desired salary range for the current position.

Just say hmmmm- Most people immediately accept the first offer from an employer. Even a reflective “okay” when they say the first salary number can immediately end negotiation. Pausing for a second and saying “hmmm” or “that’s a little lower than I expected” gives room for negotiation. The hiring manager almost always have flexibility and starts with a low-ball number to have room to negotiate.

What are your tips to negotiate a higher starting salary?