Skip to Content

How Talking About Your Salary Helps (And Hurts)

Talking about your salary has historically been taboo; we’ve been taught to avoid speaking about this topic as it can come off inappropriate or even rude. In the age of closing the wage gap and fighting for our own self-worth, we asked ourselves the question, ‘should we be talking about money more?’

Your salary has been considered an awkward conversation to bring up because the unknowns run the gambit. Will you find out your co-workers all make more money than you? Will you get turned down for a job because your salary requirements aren’t in a company’s range? Yikes, I’m uncomfortable just thinking about it!

What most people don’t think about is that there are so many positives to learning how to talk about money. Sure, there are a few scenarios where it could hurt (and we’ll get into those)! But, if we can learn how to talk about salary in the workplace appropriately, we all win.

Here at GenTwenty, we believe that any salary conversation should have a positive goal in mind. Choosing to talk about salary from a competitive standpoint or something disingenuous isn’t something we would ever condone.

When considering talking about compensation, remember this: Don’t let the answers from this conversation ever bring you down. These chats are meant to be used as a starting point or a resource that can make us stronger – in finding what we want and deserve.

3 Ways Talking About Your Salary Will Help You

When we give ourselves the opportunity to discuss pay, we give ourselves the chance to make more money, close a potential wage gap and meet our goals. I love the idea of having long-term financial goals and being able to plan in your current job.

1. You’ll Never Waste Your Time During The Job Interview Process

When applying for a job one of the scariest ideas (I imagine for both an employer and the future employee), is to spend time and energy with interviews – only to find out the salary requirements totally misalign. Nowadays, we’re finding more and more companies will ask about salary right away to avoid this exact problem. Although daunting, this is a blessing in disguise – as it saves everyone time.

Like anything, there’s a time and a place to have a tough conversation. Never come out of the gates blazing with a new employer dying to talk salary (I would personally wait until at least your second interaction if it’s not brought up to you first). However it is phrased, ensure your (future) employer knows that the experience you’re getting from the job is your main priority.

2. You Can Ask For a Raise In Your Current Job

If you’ve been at your company for a while or feel it’s the right time to ask for a raise, having the salary talk will absolutely allow you to ask for more money. Knowing that every role at every company has ranges, it’s fantastic to know your opportunities to move within that salary range.

If you do choose to have this conversation, we would recommend coming with concrete evidence on why you deserve to be paid more. Think of it from your manager’s perspective; She/he will have to go and fight to get you more money. What will their reasoning be? Your likelihood of getting a “yes” here will be in your rationale, which you have the power to provide.

3. You Can Ensure Your Company Is Being Transparent About Equal Pay

Talking about salary with a co-worker can be tricky, but there are absolutely benefits. Personally, we’d never recommend asking co-workers loudly during a coffee break about a sensitive topic – because you may make people uncomfortable. If you are able to chat privately about salary with a co-worker, you can absolutely figure out what you and co-workers are worth.

These conversations are absolutely best if you are doing market research about your position (potentially before asking for a raise) or for a position you’d like to be in.

If you do chat salary with a co-worker, make sure to promise to keep the information confidential!

3 Ways Talking About Your Salary Could Hurt You

If done with good intention, and at the right time, it’s rare that a salary conversation could have a negative consequence. There are always risks to bringing up a touchy subject. We’ve listed out the biggest ones we see below!

1. You Could Make the Wrong Impression To an Employer

Whenever bringing up pay to a present or future employer, you want to ensure he/she does not believe you are ‘just there for the money’. It’s important to reassure anyone that you either enjoy your current job or want a job for the skills and experience. Why? Because no employer wants to hire someone whose solely there for the paycheck. The novelty of money will always fade and eventually, that person won’t be as motivated to perform.

2. You Could Make Others Look at You Differently (Or Vice Versa)

If you do end up talking salary with co-workers, you could either learn that you make more or less than others. If that difference is significant, you absolutely run a risk of feeling jealous or frustrated (especially because money could be so emotional!). Instead, I would focus on the positive aspect of these conversations. You are able to understand your worth, your company’s pricing structure and take action based on what you learned!

3. You Could Feel Frustrated – Without the Whole Picture

There are so many aspects to your compensation that go beyond just the base pay (i.e. bonus, stock, non-monetary compensation like meals or transportation). When talking salary, there’s always a risk of only getting the partial picture of someone else’s situation. Before you jump to conclusions, we always recommend ensuring that you have all the details!

And there you have it – how talking about salary can help (and hurt) you! Comment below and tell us how you feel talking about salary! Do you think you’ll do it in the future now? We want to know!

About the Author

Becky Bush

Becky is a twenty-something passionate about help others succeed in their career & achieve a healthy lifestyle. In addition to working full-time in Silicon Valley, she runs the blog, The Typical Twenty Something, to inspire others in all things adulting! She loves fitness, any fizzy water and other people's dogs (since her current apartment is way too small to fit her own!). Her goal is to help as many women as possible crush it in their careers through her blog.