Ask Vicki: How do I negotiate a good salary if I'm currently underpaid?

In this answer on Quora, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi explains how to rid yourself of weak paychecks.

Ask Vicki: How do I negotiate a good salary if I'm currently underpaid?

Each week, Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi—a former recruiter who utilizes 15-plus years of experience in recruiting and human resources to empower job seekers—answers user questions on Quora. We’ll be republishing the answers here. If you have a question for Vicki, send it to socialmedia@monster.com.

Vicki Salemi

Q. How do I negotiate a good salary if I'm currently underpaid?

A. Before we dive into salary negotiation tactics, keep this in mind: Several states and cities will soon prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their salary history or benefits as part of an effort to ensure pay equity for women, and a growing number of states are considering similar measures. A new bill has been introduced to the House of Representatives to enact a similar law nationwide.

But even if you don’t work in one of the states where it’s illegal (or is going to be illegal), your interviewer isn’t going to assume you’re currently underpaid.

First, always find out what your worth. Based on your geographic region, specialty, and years of experience, what is the ballpark base compensation? Ask a mentor, a former boss or colleagues, or a professional organization within your industry.

Then, when you are presented with a job offer, leverage the proposed salary against the knowledge you possess—knowledge really is power. If you’re being offered something below standard, gently let them know that you think their figure is too low and explain why (“Based on my industry research, I discovered the going salary is XYZ…”).

I’m assuming a main reason you’re looking for a new job is because you’re significantly underpaid. So it’ll take more than a slight salary bump at a new job to get you fully caught up. You deserve a clean break to be paid what you’re worth. 

Read Vicki Salemi's answer to "How do I negotiate a good salary if I'm currently underpaid?" on Quora.