Why We All Need to Start Asking Our Friends How Much $$$ They Make

Being shy can cost you, says FLARE money pro and personal finance blogger Desirae Odjick

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Desirae Odjick sits on her couch with a notepad and pen, with a designed background behind her that has dollar bills.

Think back to your last no-holds-barred night out with the girls. Specifically, think about what you talked about. If you’re anything like my friends and me, nothing’s really off-limits over a bottle of wine (or four).

Except salary.

Sure, we might hint at it, but when was the last time anyone you know disclosed her salary outside of a job interview? The answer is probably *never*—and that’s a problem.

You Need to Start Talking About Salaries More

Too many industries are already trying to cash in on your lack of knowledge about something—the insurance industry, the automative industry and basically any repair service out there. The same is likely true of a prospective employer. She probably knows the industry average for the position she’s hiring for, how much wiggle room she has to negotiate, and she might even know how much other people in the company make too.

To have a fighting chance of scoring the salary you deserve, you need information, and the best way to get it is by talking to peers and mentors about salary details and pay packages in your industry.

An easy way to get the conversation started involves reaching out to your most go-getting, job-focused friend and asking her if you can chat careers over drinks (bonus points if you work in similar fields).

You don’t need to lead with asking how much she makes, or dropping your salary info either. Brief her on a role or promotion you’re looking at, and ask what she thinks the salary range would be for a job like that.

Ignore HR—Just This Once

If you think talking numbers in the breakroom is going to be frowned upon (even if it is technically legal), start building relationships with people in your field outside of the office.

Even if they’re more advanced in their careers, a professional relationship is a great starting point for advice. Think of it this way: if a newbie from your field (politely) asked you for general information on salary ranges for their level of experience, you’d dish, right?

So too—nine times out of 10, at least— will a favourite mentor, or a former boss who loved working with you.

Plus, some companies will straight-up share salary details publicly, all the way from tech companies like Buffer to the most traditional employers, like our own Government of Canada. That kind of transparency helps to keep salaries fair across the board—which sounds like a pretty great benefit of transparency, if you ask me.

Do Some Research, Too

If you’re still beyond spooked to ask a real live human about salaries, that’s OK. We’ve got this great thing called the internet, and it has plenty of details about how much people like you make.

The best place to start is LinkedIn’s salary tool or Glassdoor, both of which will give you a salary range for common job titles in your city. They’re both pretty well-versed in what a typical salary is for most jobs in most cities; less so if you’re in a specific niche and/or tiny town.

Practice Makes Perfect (and Will Likely Make You More Money)

If the only time you ever talk salaries is during a job negotiation, surprise! You’re woefully out of practice.

Not only are you lacking info, you’re also way out of your comfort zone. If you couldn’t even bring yourself to ask a friend for salary deets, how are you going to rock this negotiation?

Making salary talks a regular part of your professional and personal life is the best way to keep your skills sharp while also making sure you know what an appropriate salary is for your incomparable skills and all-star experience. To do that, make sure to start talking about salary as a regular part of your conversations with your boss at work, and if you know you’re going in for a Big Talk About Money, grab a friend and do a few practice runs first—and get her take on your salary range while you’re at it.

That way, the next time you’re up for a job, you’ll know to ask for more—and you’ll be confident doing it. After all, if you personally know someone just as talented and skilled as you makes twice as much, it’s way easier to ask for the same for yourself.

Related:
Want to Buy a Home Now That the Market’s Less Nuts? Do This First
Desirae Odjick on Ontario’s $15 Minimum Wage: Is It Good or Bad?
“Giant Eye-Roll”: We Asked a Money Pro About that Avocado Toast Advice

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