Negotiation & Compensation 101

Women working at home office on smartphone

In this virtual session, The Mom Project welcomes three negotiation and compensation experts to discuss one of the most important but also most stressful job search topics. Watch the video to learn more about the details of compensation and how to negotiate once you determine your worth.

Ashley Cash is a hiring manager turned career coach and consultant specializing in 6-figure resumes, interviewing, and salary negotiation. She helps women get hired and get paid! After 13 years of managing teams for big organizations like Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, and Globe Life, Ashley now teaches women how to create winning resumes, nail interviews, and confidently negotiate for themselves.

Niani Tolbert is a marketer-turned-recruiter and the Founder of the #HIREBLACK Initiative. #HIREBLACK started as a LinkedIn post to help 19 Black womxn get resume feedback on Juneteenth and grew into an initiative whose goal is to help 10,000 Black womxn get trained, hired, or promoted.

Jordan Sale is the founder of 81 cents, which helps women and underrepresented minorities make sure they're being paid market rates by getting them personalized market data, compensation feedback, and career advice from hiring managers and recruiters in their field.


  1. Negotiating On The Job
  2. Resources to Understand Compensation
  3. How to Approach Negotiation
  4. What Makes Up Total Comp?
  5. How to Advocate for More Flexibility
  6. How to Answer "What Do You Currently Make?"

0:00 Colleen Curtis: Alright, hi everyone, if you can just put a little chat in there and let me know that you can hear and see me, and then we will get started here in just a second…Alright, thank you to our early birds for letting us know that we're all good here to get started. Thank you all for joining us, the community team at The Mom Project welcomes you for another installment of our Unity Hour. This series is designed to keep us moving together while apart... Yes, we’re still apart mostly. My name is Colleen Curtis, Chief Community Officer at The Mom Project, and Lisa, my colleague is woman-ing the YouTube chat. 

 Welcome all of you that attended live today. We fielded over 600 questions from 2500 RSVP’s to this session. Clearly a hot topic, negotiation and compensation, so we likely won't have time for audience questions for the sessions, but feel free to add questions to the chat, we always use this as a way to develop future content and be able to address some of those burning questions. So please listen, learn from the session, we've put together this incredible panel, we're thrilled to have them here really to talk about value, so negotiation compensation, but really it boils down to value and how we can advocate for that.

1:36 Colleen Curtis: So as a reminder, the entire session will be recorded and can be accessed via the YouTube channel, you'll also receive an email with the link and follow-up items from the host if you RSVP’d to the session, so we've got you covered and we know things come up, if you have to dash to take care of a kid or a dog, or work or whatever, we're gonna record and you can watch it after this... Like I said, we're thrilled to see so many of you here today, Unity has become increasingly important as we all navigate layers upon layers of challenges. 

The only constant is change so we are super grateful for your participation and acknowledging that showing up here is an ambitious effort all in itself right now, specifically as school has started, and many of you are managing e-learning, The Mom Project was founded to build a better workplace for the future for moms for everyone, and a big part of this mission is the powerful community that's formed around this purpose, each of you play a super important role in that, so thank you today for showing up. We might be here individually to invest in ourselves specifically around negotiation and compensation and continue on this path of working motherhood.

2:33 Colleen Curtis: But we're really in this together, and so our collective success really depends on what we can do for each other. And so we’re welcoming three really incredible women today to talk about negotiation and compensation. I know we have all been in situations where we didn't know what to ask or how to ask for it, when to ask for it, how to go in confidently, there's so much to unpack around negotiation and compensation, so... We're really viewing, this is as a 101 intro session. We've collected some incredible speakers today that are gonna give us their best, and so we are going to introduce a bit of them today, so... 

First, we have Jordan Sale, founder of 81 cents. This is a platform which helps women and under-represented minorities make sure they're being paid market rates by getting them personalized market data, compensation feedback and career advice from hiring managers and recruiters in their field. Niani Tolbert is a marketer, turned recruiter, and the founder of #HireBlack Initiative started as a LinkedIn post to help 19 black women get resume feedback on Juneteenth and has grown into an initiative whose goal is to help 10,000 black women get trained, hired or promoted.

3:39 Colleen Curtis: And Ashley cash, some of you will remember her from our resume redo session in April, is a career corporate girl working mom and interview and salary negotiation coach to women who are overworked and under-paid. You might remember Ashley from our resume redo back in April. So she is back to talk negotiation and compensation. One of her favorite things to talk about is the money, and so we are super thrilled we're gonna hear from them right now. So Niani, I would love to start with you, can you give us a brief on how #HireBlack was born and why you wanted to be part of this session specifically? 

Niani Tolbert: Yes, yes, 100%. Thank you so much for having me Colleen. I started the #HireBlack initiative, it was just a LinkedIn post asking for recruiters in my network to help with 19 black women get resume review sessions on Juneteenth. Within 48 hours, over 300 recruiters reached out and over 500 black women signed up to get their resumes reviewed so I've stopped, I said, What is going on? We have to try to get all of these people connected. I'm furloughed, so I have time, I got all the time in the world.

4:42 Niani Tolbert: And I realized how important is, I'm a tech recruiter by day, how important that information is to be able to know how to negotiate having this idea or knowing the conversations that happen in the back end between the decision makers. I want to make sure that that is as transparent as possible to everyone. So I'm here today because I think that there's a lot of information the recruiters see from the back-end, and I wanna bring that to light as you guys continue to advance in your career.  

Colleen Curtis: That's awesome. And how can people get involved with #HireBlack now, we've got a lot of listeners out there now, what would you say they can do to get involved? 

Niani Tolbert: Yes, so we have a Slack group and we are also going a summit, so we were originally trying to help 19 black women, that community has grown to over 3,500 people in our Slack group. We want to connect allies so that allies can learn how to be a better ally for a more equitable and diverse and inclusive environment in the workforce with black women and black talent. So this is a community for everyone, everyone is here to learn, everyone can advance professionally.

5:51 Niani Tolbert: Go to in order to join us and find us at The Hire Black Summit at

Colleen Curtis: Amazing, thank you so much, Niani. We are The Mom Project, a proud sponsor of that summit, and so we will be showing up on October 17th as well, so you will also hear about this from The Mom Project, so... Okay, over to Jordan, Founder of 81 cents, would love to just know why you started 81 cents, and if you could just give a brief on how it works, I think that would be super helpful, and why you were excited to join the session? 

Jordan Sale: Yeah, absolutely, so I started 81 cents a little over two years ago, and ultimately what happened was I was sick of talking to really smart, talented friends who are incredibly capable and ambitious and accomplished, and hearing how much they struggled with negotiation. I was talking to one friend in particular, who I'm just kind of always in awe of, and they were telling me like how insecure they felt, how awkward they felt, asking for a pretty modest... I think it was like a 5% or 10% increase in pay and it was just astounding to me.

6:58 Jordan Sale: Like as their friend I was like, I don't understand, you are incredible talented, you have all of... Everything you need to be successful. Like, why is this so hard? And obviously, that's an experience that I felt as well, where I've just felt so uncomfortable talking about money, asking for more, I've been made to feel really guilty for asking for more, it feels super taboo and it's quite frankly [messed] up... I'm sorry, I'm not supposed to curse… 

Colleen Curtis: We wont…it’s not a radio version so we won’t edit that out. 

Jordan Sale: I have a really bad habit of doing that when I talk about pay inequity, anyways though, I was... Yeah, it was just sort of this moment of like, Okay, why are we... Why is this okay? Why is this happening? And I noticed that it was in particular, my female friends and my friends of color who were the ones that were struggling the most with that, we obviously see this to connect to a lot of macro problems where we see super large wage gaps, 81 cents is representative of what women on average earn compared to men, but obviously there's a lot more there, women of color earn substantially less, there are different groups of men that earn less than 81 cents.

8:05 Jordan Sale: It's just a massive problem. And there's a lot of things that goes into it. It's not just negotiation, but negotiation is one clear area where we see that people continually hold themselves back, but then also face bias on the other side of the table, like women, for example, tend to negotiate four times less frequently than men, for example. 

And we see lots of different ways that this plays out. And it matters because literally negotiating your first job can literally lead to a million-dollar difference in lifetime earnings, because it'll impact what your bonus looks like that year, it’ll impact what your promotion looks like, it'll impact how much you're able to invest and add to your 401K and accrue over time you had compound interest. 

So it just is such a massive important problem, and I looked around and I just didn't see a lot happening... Everyone knows it's a problem, I never have to explain why the work that we’re doing is important, but there were just not very many solutions out there, so 81 cents was meant to be a solution, and basically our model is that we wanna help people feel more confident and have data going into a negotiation because data is ultimately what you can use to persuade the recruiter or the hiring manager that you deserve more.

9:15 Jordan Sale: And it also makes you feel a lot more confident. So the way our model works is not so different than a Hire Black like we have a community of people who care about the problem, we have hiring managers, we have recruiters, we have about 2,500 on our platform so far, and they basically volunteer to advise individuals as they go through tough negotiation. So, someone comes to us, submits the details of their pay, and then our community helps them and says, Here's what we would do if we were in your shoes, we've seen offers similar to this and they're actually substantially higher... Here's the data you need.  

So it's been an awesome journey so far, we've helped about 510 people, and on average people see a 17% increase in pay. So, to me, it was obvious for why to be here today, this is what I spend all my time thinking about. And then to partner with people like Ashley and Niani on this is just super meaningful.  

Colleen Curtis: We are just so grateful you are here, and also I am one of those compensation reviewers of 81 cents and if you are interested in doing that as a member of the community, it's a really great way to contribute to someone's success, so thank you for founding 81 cents.

10:21 Colleen Curtis: It's really an incredible platform and product, and we are so glad to have you here, and last but not least, Ashley Cash rejoining us. The 100K resume career coach. And so most of our group is acquainted with you, we've also gonna re-up on the resume redo, 'cause people are like, what I missed it? I can see it in the chat… I missed Ashley? So we'll send that out as well in the follow-up. But I would love to just know from you, Ashley, over the last six months since the last time we saw you, how has it been out there for your clients and as they've navigated compensation, like I would love just a temperature read... We're so excited that you're back here with us and have such tactical experience, helping women to go shape this.

11:08 Ashley Cash: Absolutely, well, I'm so glad to be back. Hey, old friend. But it's interesting because I have had lots and lots of clients come to me and say, I am building an offer, or in some instances, multiple offers, but I'm worried about negotiating. It's a tough climate. Should I not just be so grateful to have a job offer and just accept it, and the fact of the matter is, Yes, you should be grateful to have an offer, but it's always a good time to negotiate.  

And the way I frame it back to clients is to always say, negotiations are a conversation. So, it's always a good time to have a conversation. And to answer your question specifically, Colleen... We're still negotiating. Now, one of the things, and we'll talk more about this as we go on, we are negotiating with context, right. The way we approach a negotiation with joining a company that's just laid off half of its workforce may be a little bit different than the way we approach a negotiation with a company that…Zoom is probably a great example, right?  

If we’re joining Zoom, who is booming right now, we might approach those negotiations slightly differently, so of course, we're always thinking about context. But the short answer is pandemic or not, if you're getting an offer, it is always an appropriate time to have the conversation and negotiations. And my clients are doing that, and we're having our counteroffers accepted. So that hopefully is an encouragement to anyone facing that right now.

Negotiating on the job

12:44 Colleen Curtis: That is so great to hear... It segues very well into our first question, so I think generally, we're seeing there's a lot to unpack there in that interview kinda offer stage negotiation, but that that impetus for negotiation feels straightforward. You get the offer, the counteroffer might feel like, Oh my gosh, okay, I gotta get prepared for this. 

But it's a little bit more expected if you're currently employed and looking to negotiate or have a conversation with your manager or your department head, how do you do that? How do we know the good... Bring up the negotiation outside of a comp review or some more organized format? How do we recognize the signs and be able to negotiate while we're currently in-house, I guess we'll start with you, Ashley, and then I'd love to hear from Jordan and Niani.

13:35 Ashley Cash: I think, again, using that word context and climate is really important, I always advise people if and where you can, approach that topic fresh off of a win. Timing is everything. So sometimes it's maybe not great to approach that topic the day that you guys lost a big contract or something crazy is going on in the office, but I think if you're approaching it from the vantage point of, Hey, boss person... I wanna have a conversation about not just my compensation, but just my career in general. 

And sort of frame it around the context of, you know, I’ve taken on more responsibility, we've seen tremendous growth, I’ve made these contributions. And I wanna have a talk about what that means for us from a company standpoint, from my career overall, and then also compensation. And so you kind of just give them a little bit of a heads-up that I don't just wanna talk about money, but I wanna talk about it in the macro, and then allow them to kind of prepare for the conversation.

14:45 Colleen Curtis: That's fantastic. Niani, anything to add from kind of the recruiter angle, I know you've worked with a lot of candidates as well, sort of, how else can we be most effective? Sort of recognizing when it's time, and then as we go into it. 

Niani Tolbert: Yes, I think that having all of the information, having everything documented as much as possible is super important. So in addition to the win, when you're starting to feel overwhelmed, I would always say speak up because that is the moment where you need to start documenting exactly what you do. So when I've been recruiting, oftentimes when it comes to even how many job recs that I'm working on… I say, these are all the job recs, this what I do from day to day. 

No matter how small the task is, write down every single thing that you feel like you have to do this week. Take it to your manager and say, These are all of the things that I have to do this week. This is 60 things, this is 80 things, 20 things, whatever it looks like. Now, can you help me know what the priority is? So even if you know, make sure that that's in front of the manager so that they know exactly what you're doing, because people continue to interview things to do but forget all of the things that you're working on.

15:57 Niani Tolbert: So, you know, take that list, do that every single week if you can, hopefully you have that one-on-one time with your manager. And what I would say is have a Green... Green means, Yes, let's go. Yellow is do that after and then Red is stop so that you're making sure that you are... What you're doing aligns with the manager, so when you have a win, you're aligned with your managers, what considers is a win, and your manager also knows exactly what you're doing. 

Your manager also knows your work…your workload and can tell, Hey, actually, this is not gonna be able to happen this week, I need either help or I need more pay. So, I think that having more of those conversations so that everyone knows what's going on. Everyone knows the transparency, maybe at the end of the week saying, Hey, I got all of this stuff done. Make sure that that is not only with your manager, but try to make sure that that's actually out with a peer, with another person as well, so that someone knows what... Everyone knows what you're working on, if you have Slack, a lot of people have Slack.

17:02 Niani Tolbert: Try to…what I would say is try to see if someone can shout to you out on  Slack or try to say, Hey, we've just launched this. Make what you're doing very approachable accessible, have everyone know what you're working on so that when it comes to compensation and when it comes to review time, people can vouch for you. People can review for you, so that's my biggest tip that having those documentations and continuing to make sure that that's in front of whoever you're working with. 

Colleen Curtis: That's great. And I'm gonna pull out that point, if you're not talking to your manager every week, they control who gives you the compensation upgrade, and so... And it can be hard, some organizations and cultures are really good at weekly meetings, compensation reviews, and some aren't, and so as you're sort of navigating some of this, I would say we can't count on other people to document it and be... Create that transparency so that's awesome. And then Jordan, I'd love for you to just add in around how important is of market data and to arm yourself during a kind of in-house negotiation? 

Jordan Sale: Yeah, absolutely, and I love all of the points mentioned so far, they're just all so spot on. I will say to Niani’s point, I once talked with the woman who ended up having to work remotely for four months or so, and it was kind of like awkward this is not in a Covid era, so it was a little bit more of a touchy subject for the company, and so the woman ended up sending a weekly status report of, Here's what I did this week, here's what's up next week, and when she got back from working remotely, she was instantly given a 25% raise, and it was because she had just sort of by happenstance started communicating more of what she was doing. Like, her work hadn’t changed at all, if anything, it had gotten more uncomfortable 'cause she wasn't in the office.

18:52 Jordan Sale: But just by virtue of communicating, I think we often assume other people will pay more attention to us than they do. In reality, you're the only one that knows what you're working on, so I really loved that example. The other thing I would add on the topic is don't wait till the comp review to bring it up, the decision has already been made at that point. There was already a meeting with your manager and other managers and more senior individuals to talk about what raises people are getting at least two weeks, if not a month, before you ever hear.

So if you bring it up in that conversation, like it's already been decided, and if you ask your manager to go back and see if they can get you, you know, more, that just puts them in an uncomfortable position and makes them look to their higher-ups, they didn't have alignment on their team before all of this. So start it a month, six weeks, eight weeks ahead of the time. And then they'll go in and advocate for the number that you want. But that doesn't answer your actual question, which is about the importance of data and these conversations, which I think it's super, super important.

19:50 Jordan Sale: I mean, obviously, people have probably heard of examples of you get a counter offer or you get a new offer and then you bring it back to your company and you're like, Hey, I got this offer, it's higher, and then they match it to try to get you to stay that obviously is the power of showing market data and showing that, Hey, don't take me for granted, there are other places out there that want me and are willing to compensate me at a higher rate.  

So that's obviously effective with the big disclaimer that you can't just do that all the time, you have relationships you're trying to respect and maintain, but I do think that shows how powerful market data can be. I personally love when people have conversations with peers and others in their network and are just kind of always trying to get a sense of what their market data looks like, because I think it'll just give you an innate sense of your worth so that it's not such a big deal to have this conversation. So you don't feel like you're begging for $2,000 more. So, you inherently know. Yeah, I’m being paid $15,000 less than I should.

20:50 Jordan Sale: Like, this conversation should be a no-brainer, and if they're not gonna give me what I need, I'm gonna go elsewhere, and I think that's one reason why having data is so powerful, and then the second is obviously for the persuasive aspect, which is… it's certainly is more obvious sometimes in a new offer situation, how having data helps, but it's never gonna hurt you when you're talking within your company about what you're seeing in the market right now, what your peers are earning in the market right now, but I would say you definitely wanna balance that with, I think here's all of the amazing work I'm doing and here's how I’m impacting the bottom line.  

And I'd say a lot of times thinking about the metrics that matter most to your manager can be most effective if they care a lot about renewal rates or subscription rates, or retention or... I don't know, whatever the metrics are. You wanna speak in their language, and so if market salary data is their language, great, go with that, but if there's another metric that matters more to them then focus on how you've impacted that. 

Resources to understand compensation

21:50 Colleen Curtis: That's fantastic, thank you so much, Jordan. Quick follow-up question. Besides Glassdoor or 81 cents, what are some of the other good resources to understand market compensation rates? 

Jordan Sale: Yeah, it's a life-long quest for great accurate data. I will say Hire Black has a database that they launched about a month ago, so that’s a really awesome option, obviously still growing, but I expect that to be really big soon. If you work in or around tech the H1B database is a resource a lot of people don't know about. Basically, if you're a sponsored…an international individual who’s sponsored to work in the US, the company that's sponsoring you has to report what you're earning, and so there's a publicly accessible database with that information. 

The caveat there is that it's only base salary, you're not gonna see what bonuses look like, you're not gonna see what equity looks like, and hopefully we'll have a chance later in the discussion to talk about the importance of everything outside of base salary because it's so, so important but that is a really good resource. Obviously, I think your network is the best resource, it can be really awkward to have those conversations, but it's so important, and I think there are some things you can do to make it a little less awkward by acknowledging the awkwardness or sharing your own pay first and asking for feedback or asking, what do others in similar roles earn? I think those are all ways to make it a little less awkward.

23:14 Jordan Sale: And then the last thing I'd say is recruiters, recruiters are obviously the…holders of current market data, so if you know recruiters, they can be a great resource, if you build relationships with recruiters, they can be a great resource, and then also a lot of third party recruiting firms publish salary data really regularly, so if you were in tech for example, Better Rate is a great resource and they put out quarterly salary reports or Robert Half is a massive recruiter, you can go on their website and sign up for comp reports. So I think a lot of people don't realize that those are out there and you have to cobble together the data that works for you, but there's a lot of there. 

Colleen Curtis: Thank you so much. That's super helpful. I had a feeling there wasn't a million dollar question like answer on that one that was like, great, you just go to the secret thing and then you're gonna have all the market data for every role at every level, right? And so I would also say, as we're all very passionate about closing the gender pay gap, the reason it's been allowed to exist is because we are taught not to talk about finances.

How to approach negotiation

24:18 Colleen Curtis: Right, and so the more we talk about finances and what we make and our compensation packages, the more we're gonna be able to write permission slips for other people to do the same, so thank you guys. That was a really incredible answer, I think a lot of what we experience around negotiation is this emotional response to having to go into that conversation. 

And so I would love just what... And we start with you, Ashley, your tips on sort of approaching it and feeling confident, and sort of what we're hearing a lot in the questions is I get shaky during the comp review time, my voice starts to shake, I'm sweating. I'm literally having a visceral response to being able to have to talk about my value. And so I love just to toss it around the panel and how do we... How do we get over that? How do we do that in a way that becomes more effective?

25:13 Ashley Cash: Absolutely. So I talk about this a lot with women and really moms, so I always say sometimes when we have to do hard things, we have to almost go outside of ourselves, and what I mean by that is I get nervous about certain things too, but when I'm Mama Bear I’m really more like a pitbull. There's nothing that gets in my way, I have no nerves, I have no fear when I'm protecting my little cub, and so one of the tips I would give to anyone who feels almost that paralyzing fear is, think about not why you're doing it, but who you're doing it for... 

So if you start thinking about, I'm having this conversation, so my baby can go to college, or so that I can buy my children a home, or so that my children can go to college debt-free, right? When you sort of step outside yourself a little bit and think about, I can do this because I want Cory to be able to take ballet. And then again, Mama Bear mode just comes over me and I'm like, I can do it. So that would be the first thing for anyone who feels sort of grit with fear. 

The second thing that may be more practical for those of us who are maybe less emotional and more again, practical or pragmatic, is practice. Literally take the time to go through your market data, I love how Jordan talked about really thinking about your accomplishments, sort of in context of the company's bottom line or the metrics that matter most. Write those things out, and if you need to write a little script out and sort of start to think through what you wanna say, start to think through, Okay, if they give me this rebuttal that the money is not in the budget, here's what I'm gonna say.

27:09 Ashley Cash: And then…y’all before I was an actual coach, when I was just more of a job seeker, I would stand in the mirror and practice introducing myself. I would practice a counter-offer, 'cause I'd be like, Okay, let me look at my eyes... Let me look at my mouth... Let me start to just think through those things, or if you have a friend, a family member or a partner practice with them and say, Okay, you be boss person, I'm gonna be me. Let's go, right?  

And then that's how you start to get your nerve up, so those are some really kind of practical ways that you can practice and sort of overcome the fear. And the other thing I think is, and I said this on LinkedIn on The Mom Project post, is that we just gotta learn to be unshaken by no. That you might hear no... you might hear too bad, so sad, try again later, but you just gotta say, you know what? No, doesn't mean never. No might mean next or no might mean move on. But I can be okay with that.

28:13 Colleen Curtis: That's one of my favorite hashtags attributed to Ashley ever... I'm like #UnshakenByNo, right? The worst thing that will happen is not that you're gonna get judged poorly, it's that somebody said no to something that you wanted and that you showed up for, but you showed up, you have to be unshaken by that because it's not about necessarily the result, even though that's what we want... It's about asking and advocating, so that is awesome. Niani or Jordan, I don't know if you have anything to add on this sort of like how to go in and strip away the emotional ties and really advocate, but I'm happy to hear from either of you too. 

Niani Tolbert: Yeah, I'll take it! So, Ashley, I love what you just said. I just want to piggy back off of that... That's exactly what I would go in and say, lead with purpose, right? So, when you lead with purpose, it's like, this is not about me, and so you can think about your parents that you want to help your parents, if you want to help your siblings if you want to help your children. I think that it's also when you're talking about your compensation, remember that this is also a package, so if someone is not willing to, say, give you a certain amount of money, always have that idea of what would actually…when it comes to your purpose, when it comes to your motherhood, can that be more vacation?

29:26 Niani Tolbert: Can you have more vacation days, so that you could be with your family. Can you work from home? Well… when, if you’re going back to work…can you work from home more often? Are there any other packages that people can consider to add to make something better or better suited for your lifestyle? Because outside of work, we are human beings, so think about all of this purpose-driven rather than just the compensation. 

And so another thing that I just want to just amplify is what Jordan is doing. I think it's so, so, so important. And I think the investment in yourself and knowing what's out there, knowing that you have a... I think it's 24 or 25-page review from different hiring managers and recruiters and people that have this industry experience, having that type of feedback will give you the confidence, knowing what's out there will give you the confidence because you're aware, you're not coming off of emotions, you're coming off of data. And so if someone is low-balling you, you know exactly what you need to aim for, and so you know that you can get better, so you can get a better offer, so I think that having...investing into something that's going to give you that I think it's... Jordan, can you remind me how much it costs?

30:45 Jordan Sale: The reports are $195.  

Niani Tolbert: Yeah, so 195 can cost you thousands of dollars. If you don't invest in that, you can be losing tens of thousands of dollars being unaware of what's on the market, so I definitely think that that's absolutely important. And 100% think that…stand by a service like that. 

Colleen Curtis: That's fantastic, thank you so much and that brings up a good topic and we've got many... I'm trying to keep an eye on the chat, I've got my 600 questions here, so I just wanna make sure we hit on all the super important stuff. 

What makes up total comp?

31:29 Colleen Curtis: Kind of a two-prong question here: total comp, right so what all makes up compensation, right? It's not just base salary, so let's not get stuck there and then wanna hit on how to negotiate for the non-base salary, non-financial accommodations or evolutions that people might need specifically as it relates to the working parent segment around flexibility, vacation, parental benefits, whatever those might be being able to sort of do that.  

So, let's start with total comp Jordan. I think this would be great to start with you here, given your acuity around 81 cents and how those compensation reports really take into effect, I’d love if you wanna just give a bit of a run down in terms of how you think about total comp and some things that maybe people generally don't value or discount that could actually be quite valuable.

32:26 Jordan Sale: Yeah, totally. I’m obsessed with total comp, it's like my one thing that I'm always just telling people, don't just focus on the base salary, there's so much more there. So the way I think about it is in terms of three different buckets, First you have your monetary compensation, this is this anything that adds more money to your bank account or to your wallet, so base salary is a good example, but also like signing bonus or if they... an annual bonus…all of these things help you take home more money at the end of the year, then the next bucket is you have near monetary, these are things that help you from spending money... 

So if your company gives free lunch, that's like $8 to $15, depending on where you are and what you eat for lunch, that you don't have to spend that day, or if they help cover relocation to a new city, then you don't have to pay for that, or if they have an amazing health care benefits or something that's less money out of your pocket, you have to pay for healthcare, so those are near monetary, and then the last bucket is non-monetary, and a lot of people discount these 'cause they're like, Well, this isn't helping me make more or save more, but at the end of the day, these are the things that make us love our jobs, these are the things that make us excited to work there, these are the things that make us work hard to the point where we get promotions and raises and things like that.

33:42 Jordan Sale: And that could be PTO, it could be work culture, it could be travel, it could be learning and development, it could be anything that you care about at work that makes you happy to be there or honestly unhappy to be there outside of pay. So these are sort of the three big buckets that I think about. 

Everyone focuses on monetary and everyone focuses on base salary, but signing bonuses are often a place where recruiters can move the most most easily and people ignore those all the time, annual bonuses if you're at a place that has flexibility around them can be amazing because you're saying to the company, only pay me if I do well, if I bring in more to your bottom line or if I meet goals or if I surpass expectations or whatever, then compensate me. And companies love thinking about that. It's like, Oh great, we only pay if you do well for us it’s a win-win, so those are awesome to think about. 

Near monetary tend to be a little bit less negotiable, like 401K packages, those tend to be pretty set healthcare those to be pretty set. That being said, if you are moving from a job that has better near monetary benefits to one that has worse, sometimes they'll make up for that elsewhere in the offer.

34:52 Jordan Sale: So if you're saying, Hey, they used to give me this amazing commuter benefit and a car or something and you're not gonna give me a car. The company might say, okay, well, we'll give you a signing bonus to make up for that. So really important to compare that discussion, especially when you’re changing jobs. 

And then the non-monetary are the things that I think we should all be thinking about the most, what are the things that are gonna make you happy at work? And a lot of times, it's really easy to negotiate for these because they don't cost anything to the company. Like, Hey, I'd love to talk about how I can be on track to being a manager in six months, or I'd love to think about visiting our international office or I'd love to take a course around this. 

These are things that are just gonna make you happier at work and better at your job, and so companies are often more amenable to giving these, especially like a lot of times in the new offer, those won't necessarily come up but especially once you're in a role and you're doing great work a company wants you to feel happy and wants you to stay. So that's sort of like the overview I’d start with, hopefully that’s helpful.

How to advocate for more flexibility 

35:51 Colleen Curtis: That was super helpful. Ashley, how do we feel about prepping for negotiation around... I'm a mom and I need more flexibility. This is really important to me. This is what I need to be a good mom. How do we approach that conversation while also not taking a financial hit, I think is the main Asterix…

36:15 Ashley Cash: I just had a client accept an offer, literally, that was her scenario. And I may be controversial, I don't know, but I told them to approach it really from not a matter of like, Hey, I'm a mom, and this is why I need it, but more so from... To say, Hey, from a work-life balance standpoint, this is why it's important, right? I's really more so to say, I'm an high impact employee and having additional PPO is important to me. And this is a part of what I'm presenting as a counter-offer. 

I would say that when you're talking about needing a flex schedule or PTO or something like that, while it is important, I think to sort of justify... I think it's also important not to over-justify it in a way that maybe paints you in a light that you don't intend to. I am a working mom myself, and so yeah, work/life balance is important to me. But, when I'm talking about total comp or when I'm talking about my work, I'm really talking about it in the context of, Hey, this is a demanding role, or this role carries a lot of responsibility, and with that, with the extra hours or high level of complexity, in order for me to do a great job, I need more time off, or in order for me to do a great job, I've gotta have a flexible work day to manage all those other facets, and then I'm talking about it and I think Jordan said this, in their language.

37:49 Ashley Cash: I'm presenting it in a way that I think any decision I hear can be like, Oh yeah, I get that. And that's not to say you need to practice sort of dehumanizing or detaching who we are as human beings because we are humans, we are mothers or parents or caregivers, but I think sometimes I have found clients that maybe focus a little too much on that. And that sort of detracts and derails the conversation a bit because we're having a business conversation. 

The other thing I would say is, particularly as we're talking about a total package, our comp, I like how Jordan talked about adjacency money, but also kind of non-monetary things, is we really think about surveying them as a total offer or a total counter and not sort of onesie, two-sie it like... Oh, by the way, I forgot to ask, right? But sort of think about your counteroffer as... Okay, I'm going to think about the things that matter most to me. And that could be base, it could be my flex time or PTO time. 

And it's really important to me that the company maybe helped me prep for and maybe pay for my PNT certification or whatever that might look like and really sort of package that and sort of then put justification around those three things and present that as a total package for then you be able to have conversation around each item and that sort of piece meal your total package together.

How to understand your market value after a career pause

39:21 Colleen Curtis: Super helpful. So, okay, and I realized we're already like 40 minutes in somehow, and I feel like we could talk all day about this topic, so I'm gonna get to the meat of this. We serve a lot of moms who are returning to the workforce, so it could be a year out, five years out, 15, 20 years out, how do I understand what my market value or market rate is after stepping away for X amount of time? And how do I start to really understand that? Do I go back to what I made when I left the workforce? 

What is sort of the calculation and how does that work? So Niani, I would love if you wanna jump in, I know from a recruiting standpoint, you work with candidates who have potentially stepped out of the paid workforce for a period of time, how do you sort of help those candidates understand what the value is and advocate for that? 

Niani Tolbert: Yeah, yeah. And so in addition to working with candidates that are…have been out of the workforce, there have been so many candidates that are pivoting into different industries as well, and so this is where a lot of...I would consider a lot of certifications and a lot of…when it comes to transferable skills can come into place.

40:39 Niani Tolbert: So making sure that you're talking about what the capabilities of what you've done, and put that…forth with anything talking about what you're capable of and talking about what you have done to really invest in yourself in order to meet the demands of what workforce looks like right now, So I would say to make sure that... Make sure that you are kind of in place to get the right or get the best offer to negotiate from... I would, I would definitely say start investing into, at least investing into courses and those skills that you can put on your resume so that you can bring those up in order to... In order to negotiate and share what you are capable of.  

So... Yeah, but I think that that's a good start. And then also knowing what is out there, so continuing to look at the data, continuing to understand what people are being paid, and knowing that you are... You have that. You have that right, you have the capabilities, you've had this experience and you have this new training that's going to get you right into speed to go right back into the workforce.

41:51 Colleen Curtis: Fantastic, thanks Niani. Jordan, anything to add there around kind of market compensation expectations for folks that are re-entering? 

Jordan Sale: I agree with everything Niani said. And I think one of the biggest concerns I have when I talk to people who are re-entering the workforce, largely parents, after a time way, is that they'll low-ball themselves. I'm very, very concerned about that. If you... So much has changed and comp changes so, so quickly, and so I would really be very mindful to spend a lot of time on the market data set. 

And in particular, I would also think about how comp structures have just changed like stock and equity in a company was not nearly as pervasive as it is today. 10… 5, 10, 15 years ago, and so taking the time to educate yourself on new structures, like how retirement benefits shifted, what's sort of the going rate for company retirement match policies, health care benefits, things like that. I would... Before you really start looking, I would familiarize myself with that. And then I think the other thing is, because of being worried about low-balling, I would actually recommend considering if the circumstances allow for it, starting with some contract work first. 

I think this will one, you're gonna sell yourself too short on the first one, probably. It makes it so that it’s not like a terrible commitment. Maybe it's a month of consulting or something that's at a little bit of a lower rate versus a brand new full-time job where you have to wait six, nine, 12 months to change it.

43:33 Jordan Sale: So maybe we start with some short-term work. That'll also help you, I think, build up your knowledge of what the market rates are, and also just build up your confidence and then a nice side effect, you're also building your portfolio, adding to the certifications and courses and other kind of resume builders, like Niani mentioned. 

Colleen Curtis: Awesome, thank you. Ashley. What happens, you're re -ntering the workforce after some time out to care for your family, and you do get a low ball offer. It feels insulting. How would you advise that we sort of counter... And what does that feel like?

44:10 Ashley Cash: Absolutely, so I think we’ve all hit the market value point home, and so hopefully, if you are watching this, you take that away. Is that, the first thing to know is when you receive an offer, if you are getting a good offer or a terrible offer, is to always go back to market value. And we already talked about tons of resources to help you really just make that determination, this is just unreasonable or not. 

And so I think that's a great place to start. And then I think the other thing that sometimes people forget that they can use as it relates to presenting a counter-offer, is using intel that you've gleaned from the interviews and what you wanna be thinking about are questions that you wanna be asking during the interview process that you can then leverage our negotiations are things like, for this role, what problems will this person fulfilling this role solve for the company? What are the big projects that are coming up? 

Ultimately, you're using the interview process to really kind of figure out... It's like, Okay, where am I gonna be able to make a big impact? So once you get that possibly insulting or low-ball offer, you kinda go back with your counter and you base that around, Well, I've done my research and market value for this salary or for this position is within this range to that range, I'd like to have a discussion around bringing that offer up to at least market value.

45:47 Ashley Cash: And then the second thing is, given what we've discussed in terms of the deliverables, the impact to the business that this position is going to bring, I think this number is a little bit more reasonable for that. What can we do to get there? And again, when you're even ending with that question of what can we do to get there, you're now inviting or opening up a conversation around two things that are important to the business, which is one the impact of the position and two market value.

Discussing offer package during interview process

46:21 Colleen Curtis: Super helpful. Sorry, my internet connection is going a little wonky, so I took myself off video. Super helpful. Okay, we're gonna dive back into... You've gotten an offer, you're in an interview stage. At what point do you bring up some of these considerations that are important to you in an offer? So let's say it's PTO or flexibility or kind of non-monetary, at what point in the interview process is it most effective to bring that up? Um, Niani do you wanna start with that one? 

Niani Tolbert: Yes, yes. So I think that you have to tow the line very carefully when it comes to this... When it comes to compensation, don't bring anything up. I don't... I would say... Don't bring anything up. Well, I would say... What I would say is, I trust that you guys will give me something that is on market value. I trust that you understand what's necessary for this role, that's just what I would say because people have said that to me. And that's how they got the best offers. So essentially, a lot of the times when recruiters ask about what is what... When it comes to compensation, the compensation aspect of it, what is necessary or what the compensation expectation is sometimes people don't really know.

47:41 Niani Tolbert: For example, I got a woman, I ended up offering her 100, $100,000 and she was asking me for 70. And I knew that, so I was kind of like, I'm gonna say the thing is 100, but not everybody is like that. Because not everyone is people first, and that's just the nature of it. So often times, if you don't know, if you don't have all of this information in the first screening calls, just say that you trust. Trust that they're going to give you the what's on-market value based on what the role is. 

And I think the second thing when it comes to non-compensation, I think that that is really important for you to ask hiring managers and recruiters for the sake of your time, because if something is not going to work with your lifestyle, then I don't think that that's something that you should even attempt to try to go into. Because when it comes to, if something doesn't work in the beginning, you can make is to make sure that you filter that out. But if something works and the compensation is something that you need to negotiate, then that's an easier conversation that's about money.

48:49 Niani Tolbert: That's something that people can be flexible about, but if they're asking for you to work X amount of hours and X amount of roles, no matter what you do about compensation, it's just not a good fit. But I would love to hear what Ashley and Jordan has to say about that. 

Colleen Curtis: Fantastic, yeah, Ashley, how early do you start talking about what works for you as a candidate as opposed to trying to nail that... Get that offer and seal the deal.

49:14 Ashley Cash: Yeah, I'm exactly where Niani is, which is it’s such a fine line. It's always like, Gosh, am I talking about marriage on the first date? And I'll go back to a little bit what I mentioned about using the opportunity during an interview to gather intel. You can ask questions that sort of allude to things like, what’s a typical work day look like for the team? Do you have…is anyone on the team working remotely? What’s your schedule right now? Things like that, that sort of give you an indication of the company's culture or a precedent that may have already been set in terms of what the rest of the team is already doing. So those are some ways that you can use questions, which are a very, very powerful tool when it comes to interviewing and even negotiations to really gather facts without being too forward, right? 

 Imagine being... Imagine you being the interviewer and you talk to a candidate for the first time and they're like, Yeah, so do you think it would be a big deal if I didn't work for two hours during the day so I could do…be with my kids. It may be a little bit early in the conversation to talk about that it's again that premature marriage proposal, but the more that you gather about culture or again, whatever is important to you, you can then take that back into negotiations and sort of say… 

50:43 Ashley Cash: Hey, during our chat, we talked about...We've already got folks on the team working remotely, and that's something I'd like to explore as an option for me as that conversation progresses and you're moving towards an offer. But I think for me, when it comes to cop, non-monetary or not, I tend to use more questioning and gathering intel to make a determination of, is this gonna be a fit or not?

51:08 Colleen Curtis: Yeah, fantastic. I love it. Yeah, talking about marriage on the first date, it can get a little tricky, right? Jordan, anything to add there around how early is too early, or any additional thoughts or... I have many other questions I can jump to. 

Jordan Sale: I agree with everyone else so far... 

How to answer “What Do You Currently Make?”

51:27 Colleen Curtis: Awesome. And because this is a 101 session, this is a question we get over and over and over again, I do know the answer varies a bit state to state, but how do you recommend candidates address the... Well, what do you currently make? And there are states where that is illegal, but there are states where it is not illegal, and they can ask it, so I would just love to know from the panel like How do you not get awkward on that question and what... What information do you give so that you can come from an empowered state of what you truly wanna get from an offer?  Jordan, let's start with you.

Jordan Sale: I just think... That's even something, I mean... Yeah, Ashley and I think we made similar faces to that question, it's just so frustrating. So yeah, it's important to call out, but in a number of states, I wanna say about 15 so far, it is illegal to ask that question. That being said, that question still gets asked in those states and in other states too. And it's probably not a great look to tell a hiring manager or a recruiter that they've done something illegal or broken the law, so even if you get asked in a state where they're not supposed to, you can't necessarily call them out. 

52:35 Jordan Sale: I think there are a couple of options. One is you can say... Well, okay, I'll talk about the one scenario where I do think it can be helpful to share, and that's if you're going from the private sector to the public sector or you are making a career change and you have the expectation that you are going to be earning less and that is like, Okay, and you're willing to do that for the opportunity. 

In that case, I actually think it can be really helpful to share what you're earning and anchor yourself higher. That I'd say is probably the only area where I think it's okay. Other than that, I don't think it's healthy or productive nor should we be held back by what we've been making so far when we have so much research to show that what people make is not equal nor is it fair. So one answer that I like is, just so I can understand, it sounds like having an understanding of my current pay is helpful for determining what I'll make it its new role? And you just kind of frame it as a question.

53:33 Jordan Sale: You're kind of calling them out and saying, Why does that make sense? And why are you asking me that? But you're not saying that super explicitly, you're just kind of asking the question. The other thing you can do is just answer and talk about the expectations instead of what you're making, and you can say something like, Well, my expectation for this role is I'm hoping to make between X and Y plus bonus and other benefits and things like that. 

So that's kind of one way of answering it, and then the other is to try to reframe it as a question and say, You know, I'm still pretty early in the interview process, and so I don't have a super clear understanding of the role yet. That being said, if there's a range that you're looking to hit for this position, that'd be really helpful for me to hear, and so in that example, you're just blatantly not answering their question. But I do think that, yeah, where possible you really wanna avoid sharing what you're earning today, and if they keep pushing I one think that's a really good indication of what the culture of that organization is gonna be like, and as uncomfortable as that may be, it may be a sign that it's not a good fit for you.

54:42 Jordan Sale: But then second, I would just try to kinda hold out and maybe when you're prepping for interviews, you can write down two to three, four different ways to punt or differ that question. Getting back to I think Ashley’s point about scripting things out, I agree that that's super, super helpful, especially for navigating the more uncomfortable questions. 

Colleen Curtis: Fantastic. Okay, Ashley, current comp question. 

Ashley Cash: Jordan nailed it. She nailed it.  

Colleen Curtis: Awesome, okay, cool. Thank you. And so I'll ask a bit more of a tactical follow-up there, and I know everyone in my camera is off, I'm sacrificing my camera to make sure the panelists can stay online here through my wonky internet. What about when I'm applying for the job and the comp is required? And it's usually comp expectation and not current comp, because that's a really awkward question. What do I put there to not rule myself out, but also state my worth? Ashley, thoughts on that one?

55:49 Ashley Cash: Sorry, I was muting myself 'cause stuff’s going on in my house. So yeah, that one is interesting because I truly hate that. Especially on the electronic applications so where they basically make you put something in there, and so I think in those instances, it's just a great idea to have a really, again, strong idea of what market value is. If you can put a range, put a range, But if not... I think, again, putting what you consider, at least your minimum to be is a good place to start. 

And just think about... I think the way that that question was framed was like what do I put there so I don't rule myself out? So if you insert your minimum and it's lower than what they wanna pay, what truly have you lost? If you really think about that, if you were to get an interview or go through a big process and they're just like, Oh, there's just no way we could even pay you your minimum, you’ve really not lost anything by entering in a reasonable minimum salary target. So although I do hate that, I think it's also okay to go into an interview situation or opportunity sort of already aligned on like, Okay, I'm not gonna accept in less than this.

57:18 Colleen Curtis: That's fantastic. Okay, we have three minutes left. I think we covered that off, thank you, that's a very tactical solution to that kind of loaded question on current comp. So Niani, parting thoughts, talk to us about secure the bag, what are you... What do you wanna leave everyone with? And we'll jump to the next one. 

Niani Tolbert: Yes, I think that first thing, one thing that I wanted to say is Ashley, what Jordan... Ashley has been saying, it's amazing. I hope that you guys have been able to catch these gems. I especially like what Jordan said about how to address the compensation question, about it being my expectations in this role... Do you have a range? I think it's really, really important to ask the recruiter if you have a range, because the recruiter does have a range. They do. Period. 

They know, that's the reason why they ask you the first question is basically essentially to hear what your range is to see if you're gonna move forward, that's the whole point of the recruiter screening. And I think at the end, when it comes to what Ashley said about the total compensation report or total compensation counteroffer of, Hey, I'd like all of these things, that gives you an opportunity to really negotiate to see if they can take some things down, work with something and if you say, if you gave them that offer and say, I will take this today, if you guys give me these things, that will put something under their butt to really address and say, Yes. I could say between $5 and $10,000.

58:50 Niani Tolbert: If you say $5 and $10,000 above their offer with additional things such as paid time off, that's something that is so, so, so small and medial compared to what it costs to recruit, I'm pretty sure that someone would immediately... They'll be willing to at least consider it and bring that up to their manager, so I just wanna leave that as a little thought.

Colleen Curtis: Awesome, Thank you, Niani, we will see you at the summit, we also will share that information. Jordan, parting thoughts on if you could leave the group with one thing around negotiation and compensation, what would it be? 

Jordan Sale: Yeah, this stuff is so hard. There is a reason why there were 600 questions, and there's a reason why we could easily talk for four more hours, this is really, really hard, and I think a lot of times we... And also, we're not taught it, not in school…nowhere, it's very unnatural, especially if you've been conditioned to feel like you shouldn't ask for things, or you should just stay in your lane. So I'll say that it's something I struggle with daily, but it does get easier if you practice, if you write scripts, if you look for opportunities to negotiate whether it's in your home life or for something small, it does get easier.

1:00:09 Jordan Sale: And the one thing that really works for me is thinking about the upside, so yes, you're gonna have a very uncomfortable 25-minute call with the recruiter, and there's gonna be some awkward silences and you're gonna have to go out there and ask for more money, but the upside is amazing. Like, tell me what industry you can work 25 minutes and earn $10,000. If there is one then I’m probably in the wrong industry. But yeah, that's what I think about. This is so uncomfortable, and we all know it, and you have to do it because what happens when it goes well, or when it even just goes medium is so significant and can really be material.

1:00:48 Colleen Curtis: That's awesome, thanks, Jordan. And Ashley, parting thoughts from the resume, career coach, 100K woman extraordinaire, what do we wanna leave people with today? 

Ashley Cash: I just want everyone to know that negotiations are an expected part of the interview and hiring process, so this is me wearing my hiring manager hat, it's a conversation we're expecting to have, and when we don't, we're just like, Oh, good. I guess I'll be able to tell my boss, I saved the company X amount of dollars on salary because the person didn’t negotiate so maybe I can get a bigger raise. So I just want you to think about that in that context. And the other thing is, is that...

And Jordan, Niani can probably nod their heads in agreement. I don't know that I've ever really seen someone lose an offer by asking... Again, having that conversation. So if you're afraid of an offer being rescinded because you're asking, Don't be... Because as a hiring manager, as a recruiter, we’re expecting to have the conversation. And you are worth it. That's the other little thing I'm gonna say you're worthy of what you're asking for.

1:02:02 Colleen Curtis: I love that. Okay, I'm back. Do you see my camera now? I just... I didn't wanna mess any of that up... That was awesome. You are worth it. I've been reading the chat, we'll share this with the panelists, you guys are gonna enjoy it. So many great questions, I know we didn't get to everything but this was meant as an overview and a 101, we will continue on this topic.  

We know it's super near and dear to everyone's hearts and bank accounts, your value is an extremely important thing, and getting to that is a really critical skill as we kind of navigate work and life and motherhood. So, thank you to our panelists, Niani from Hire Black, Ashley, the 100K resume coach, Jordan from 81 cents. This was an absolutely incredible session, thank you guys so much for joining us. 

I'm gonna say goodbye now end the zoom call, I will abruptly drop everyone, but thank you guys so much and we will follow up with all the attendees. We had over 2500 people join us. So even though it just looked like the four of us rapping about negotiation and compensation, this is hugely valuable to a really incredible community, so thank you all very much and look forward to working with you in the future. Bye guys!

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