Negotiating After Your Start Date

Presented by Jeanine Mendez at You Got This From Your Couch

Video hosting kindly provided by Mux - video for developers


These transcripts were captured live by a captioner. As such, there may be small errors. If you spot any, please feel free to submit a pull request with amendments.

I'm here to talk about negotiating internally. About me: I'm a social entrepreneur, I co-founded a company called KindWork, tech training for young adults, helping people get their first job in tech. I'm a writer, a speaker, and I started my career in finance and jumped to the tech sector by going to Groupon. I joke that when Groupon was cool, I was there! I went off to Uber, started off as an individual contributor, and able to grow my career really quickly, and, when I left, I was managing a very large team, about 250-plus people. I have experience on the personal side, self-advocating, and promotions, and pay bumps, but really I wasn't that good at it, and until I became a manager and I understood the other side of what happens when you are sort of going in there asking for a pay raise, or a promotion.

Let's talk a little bit about the sort of one thing I want you to take away from this is that you're negotiating, and your self-advocacy does not end once you start a job. It just doesn't. You have to be in there, making sure your boss knows what you're doing, and talking about what the next steps are going to be for you and the company. A common issue that I see is folks will go into a job, heads down, you work your butt off for six months to a year, you look up, it's time to do your formal evaluation, and you're ready to go in there with your list of why you deserve this big pay raise, or this promotion to your next level, and at that point, it's too late.

Right, the decisions at that point have been made and there's no way that you're going to get anything different than what your manager has already prepared to tell you at that meeting. What I want to talk about today is making sure you understand everything you have to do leading up to that to make sure that conversation you're having, that once a year, or twice a year, during your formal evaluation period is the conversation you want to be having, and it's not something unexpected. You should know everything that is going to go on in that meeting by the time you get to it. I briefly mentioned before maximising your benefits, make sure that you understand that your cost to your company isn't just your salary, it's all these additional benefits, and that it is up to you to take action on these. They sort of will give you a big packet, or an email with these things in it, and it is on you to take action to get these benefits.

And, the big thing here to keep in mind is that because your package is more than just your salary, you can continue to ask for additional benefits, even when you're in the company. That is actually quite a demon occurrence, and it does help with your full package, so if you don't have, say, I was saying therapy sessions, like that is something that you want, it's something you can ask for from HR, please include this as part of our health care coverage or find a company that is able to offer these to you for free, and then that is part of your package, it saves you money, it helps your mental health, like there are so many great benefits being able to use these different things your company is giving you.

Okay, let's jump into the real stuff, what everybody wants to know, which is salary and performance. So, in order to get a pay bump or a promotion, it's composed of really two pieces. I will start with the one that most people maybe don't know as well, and the first is job level. So I always say to folks, if you want a pay raise or a promotion, you've got to know your level, and many companies, actually all companies, except if you're in a really tiny start-up, they will have levels. So levels 1, 2, 3, it can be A, B, C, it depends how your company names levels. What is important about the level is your pay band. You may be, and just to use this as an example, level 1, it might be between 50,000 and 65,000, right. If you come into that pay band at $64,500, there is a pretty good chance you won't get a very big salary bump at the end of the year, even if you've crushed it, even if you really nailed your job, because companies are pretty strict about the pay bands, so, in order for you to get more money, you actually would have to jump a level, meaning you would have to get promoted to go into the next pay band.

That's not something many people know, and many people get really frustrated when they see like a tiny salary bump, and they're like, "Why didn't I get a bigger salary bump? Why aren't I earning 75 or 80 this year?" It's usually because you were constricted by the pay band you're in. Everyone, an action item for you on Monday, find out what your level is, find out what pay band you're in. This is not some secret information. HR doesn't love to talk about it, but you can ask, and they should give it to you. Again, it's not secret info. Everyone should know what their level is. It helps you understand, when you come to that negotiating table internally with your boss, what is sort of your room to manoeuvre? Are you talking about a pay increase, or do you have no choice but to talk about a promotion because you're already at the top of that pay band?

And then the second component is your performs and also manager discretion. I didn't realise until I became a manager that I have discretion to actually give people money. It's not a huge amount of discretion. They don't get to decide everything, but many companies will give their manager a pool of money to give out bonuses, or salary bumps and there are of course limits to that, but something to keep in mind. Your manager has a little bit of discretion, but they're having to make these decisions way before they have that final performance discussion with you. So for performance, which I think is the one as we all know, we have one of the biggest control over, the first thing with performance is really setting expectations with your manager.

So now you know your level, you know your manager is going to have some discretion, how can you make sure that in this little formula, your performance really stands out? And the first piece of this is actually understanding what are you being measured on, right? What is your manager measuring you on? Do you have some kind of like objective metrics? Do you have - is it more subjective? Are there qualities they're looking to you so show in the work place? What exactly are you being measured on? So many of us don't know what we are being measured on, and it's really as simple as asking your manager what they're going to be looking for at the end of the year to give you the highest rating on your performance evaluation, so what are you being measured on? If you don't know, if you're sitting there, "Like when am I measured on?" And you have no clue, that is okay. Sit down with your boss and ask them, and try and get as much clarity you can about what sort of things you're being measured on.

The next is how will you be measured? Right, so, what is going to show up in that performance evaluation, how are they thinking about what is meets expectations, and what exceeds expectations? So very common is a rating system for your performance, maybe it's one to five. Try to really understand from your boss what behaviours are a three, and what behaviours are a five. I want to be a five. Tell me what that looks like. If it is subjective, if it is just based on behaviour, get examples, like concrete examples from them about what it looks like, and what is an example of someone who has really shown this skill that I can point to? Not all manages are great. Don't let them get away with vague answers, "Oh, just do your best and things will be fine," no, you need to know exactly how and what you're measured on in order to make sure that you can hit those performance metrics at the end of the year.If you're not able to get this from your manager, I would do what is called a Skip Level which means having a meeting with someone one level above your manager, because they can probably give you a better understanding of how your team, or your group, or your department really measures performance.

And then my sort of next tip is really about asking. I have actually heard stories of people who have gotten promotions just because they've asked for it. Their manager wasn't thinking about it, and they really think, I've been crushing it for two years, it's time for a promotion. The manager is, "You're right. Let me look into that," and they've come back and got a promotion. That seems kind of nuts but your manager is doing a lot, different leaders in companies are doing a lot, especially during this time, so whenever you have that time with them, you've got to ask for what you want. It is definitely a skill, and it is really uncomfortable to do the first time if you've never done this stuff before, but ask. Ask for the feedback. Ask for promotions. "Hey, I think it's time for me to jump to the next level. I would love to talk about that with you today." Keep asking and doing it consistently before you get to the final performance evaluation. You don't want to get to the final performance evaluation where they're sorry you didn't get a promotion.

Now you've got to wait a whole year to find out if you're going to get that promotion and work a whole year again, even if you feel like you may already be ready. To so keep asking, so this is something that maybe just write at the top of your notes "Ask for a promotion, ask for feedback" every time you go into a meeting with your manager. I think we sometimes forget that managers aren't sort of thinking about the stuff during the day-to-day, so sometimes you asking them kind of jolts them into reality. Oh, my gosh, you're right, we haven't talked about a promotion or what a pay raise looks like.

Okay, I'm throwing a lot of information at you guys super fast, so I know you will have a chance to replay this. I will definitely be answering questions later. Step one, understand the HR structure, what bonus you are eligible for. Make sure you're talking to your manager two months before the formal evaluation. If you get a mid-year evaluation in July, you want to start talking to them in May or June about your performance and getting feedback and understanding what is going to happen during that evaluation time. And letting them know that you know the pay structure, and you understand where you are, and why you're asking for a promotion, and while you're asking for your salary bump. That is really, really important to make that ask early - very early. Of course, within reason. Two weeks into the job, you're not asking for a pay bump, or a promotion. Once you've been there six months or so, that's about as good a time to say how am I doing, what is the next step?

Now, after your first year, you should expect a salary increase, but depending on your company, it could take two or three years before you're in a position to get a promotion. Some tech companies move a lot quicker which is great. But just sort of keep in mind that many managers are thinking like two or three years as sort of the promotion timeline. That may be feels really long for you. But that's okay, right. You can definitely have these conversations earlier. I'm trying to give you a sense of what I'm the manager - what on the manager side they think is the sort of normal time in terms of promotions and pay bumps. But it is absolutely 100% possible to really know ahead of time what that pay bump is going to be for you.

If you're just having these conversations with your manager, and asking those questions, and understanding how you're measured. So remote work is very challenging. It's a whole new world out there. And we were in the office, and we were able to jump over to our manager's desk and pull them for a one-on-one, it was maybe a bit easier to build that brand and advocate for yourself. But one piece of advice I will give everyone here today that I give anybody I coach, and I used to give all my direct reports when I worked at Uber, is that every week, there is one question that most people don't really think about, but it is actually a really great opportunity for you to advocate for yourself, and that is when your manager says, "How are things going in your role? How are things going this week?" Most of us are like things are great, everything's fine. But that is actually a really important opportunity for you to share something that is going on at work and for you to share something that is going on, you know, in your job, it's a chance to advocate.

One thing I advise people to do is when you sit down in that one-on-one with your boss and they ask how are things going, you want to say, "Last week, I learned so much on this new project. I'm really enjoying working with this team and getting a chance to use x, y, z skill. I'm excited to talk to you about it today." That sounds like something you might say in an interview, but what you're really doing is planting this seed of sort of your brand in your manager's mind, and if you have something every week, it doesn't have to be this over-the-top amazing thing, it has to be one thing that they're like, wow, that's cool that they're learning. That's cool that they know this thing. That starts to build your brand. You should feel you're repeating this thing over and over again. Whenever anybody else at the company asks you how things are going, you should repeat that same thing you just told your manager.

What ends up happening is that people at the company will say, hey, Jeanine is working on this really cool project and using these x, y, and z skills, you should ask her to help on this other thing, or ask her advice on this one thing. It starts really to build your brand with everyone around you in the company. And in a remote environment, you can't leapt the opportunities go unused. That's worked for folks in the past. It did wonders for me in my career. It's so simple, but just, you know, make sure you're doing that, and don't miss that opportunity. Don't miss your one-on-ones with a manager in a remote environment. Super important. Make sure you're having those meetings. Do not skip the meetings.

And then finally, don't, you know, do skip level meetings where you need to, if that means someone speaking above the fray, above your manager. Make sure your manager knows you're having the meetings, but is it is good to show what you're doing to someone slightly higher up in the company. Engage in Slack with co-workers, build relationships, how was your weekend, what is going on? It's really easy to get huddled in our work. I tell everyone now I'm an inside person because I spend so much time in my house. Make sure you're using Slack or whatever communication system you have to engage and build those relationships. Have ten-minute coffee chats with people, whatever it takes. Ask for feedback as often as possible. I can't stress this enough.

Ask for feedback. Ask for that pay raise and promotion, and do it really early, because that's going to really set you up for success when you get to that final performance. Okay, I kind of sped through that a little bit, but hopefully, everyone got something valuable out of it. Please follow me on LinkedIn, follow KindWork on LinkedIn. We're doing some really, really awesome work getting folks into tech, and it was so lovely hearing from all of you and chatting with all of you. I will be in the Discord answering any questions you have about pay raise promotions, levels, benefits, whatever you need, I will be in the Discord for a little bit.

About the talk

You got the job and you crushed it at the negotiating table. For most of us, we stop negotiating and advocating for ourselves after we sign on the dotted line. Internal negotiating for promotions, salary bumps, and benefits is rarely discussed but is critical to internal career advancement. In this talk we’ll discuss how and when to negotiate more benefits after your start date, tools for positioning yourself for great promotions, and the truth behind internal salary negotiations: how, when, and who to approach to bump up your salary.

About Jeanine Mendez

Jeanine Mendez is a proud Latina immigrant and the Co-founder of KindWork. KindWork helps talented young adults from overlooked communities transform their economic outlook and launch a career in tech. She started her career in finance and honed her operational skills at GE, Deloitte, and Groupon before landing at Uber. Jeanine grew and led operations for over 10 customer support center locations employing over 250 people in the NYC area. Since then she has become a start-up advisor, investor, and loves coaching young professionals on navigating career, salaries, and promotions.

Photo of Jeanine Mendez

Jeanine Mendez


You Got This is a network of community conferences focused on core, non-technical skills coordinated by Kevin Lewis.