From Buzzfeed (I know), here’s a story about a woman who paid off student debt by getting a higher-paying job. Buzzfeed focuses on the amount of debt and the video the woman made to celebrate paying it off, but her method of knowing what to ask for after she realized her current job underpaid her is genius:
I went to work the next day and decided to talk to one of my white male coworkers. I said, “Hey, so what are you making?” He, being a normal American person, was like, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about money.” So I was like, “OK, I’m going to give you a number and I want you to tell me if you make over or under that number.” And I said a solid six figure number. And he said, “Under.” I went down by $10,000. He was like, “Over.” And that was all I needed. […] I blasted dozens — and I’m talking dozens — of people [on LinkedIn] with the same email, saying, “Hey, I’m looking to make a career jump into one of the big tech companies, and I just want to know what you’re making. Can you just tell me, are making over or under X?”
With that info, she was able to interview and negotiate into a new job that gave her a salary jump of 41%. As she puts it at the end of the interview:
There’s a burden that we carry by not sharing what we’re making with each other. It perpetuates this idea that it’s all up to you to figure out how much you should be making, when really you are working for a series of employers who have pay bands, or salary caps, or freelance amounts set by what people are willing to work for. All that the secrecy has done is put the burden — and the shame — on the individual. The only way to circumnavigate that fucking capitalist bullshit, which is built on secrecy, is by having these incredibly uncomfortable conversations.
This is what privilege is — to have a casual conversation with gatekeepers. I was always jealous of friends whose parents were able to set them up for a coffee, an email, or a phone conversation with these people, because it’s those things that give you not only a network, but a spectrum of what you’re worth. That is what I think so many people do not have access to, and that’s one of the reasons why I am vociferous about talking about this.