You’re Not a Median Performer, So Why Ask for a Median Salary?

This week, our guest author Lisa Gates discusses the justification of not settling for a median salary. 

You’re in the throes of a job search. You find a perfect fit, submit your resume, get an interview. That interview leads to more and – ta daa – you get an offer.

Of Course, You’re Awesome

Being your awesome self, you do what all self-respecting awesome performers do and research your market value with your personal network, and on sites like,,,, etc.

When you do that, you come up with a graph that shows the low end, median, and high end of the role you’ve been offered.

To a person, everyone I’ve ever consulted with has felt obliged to circle their counter offer around the median. To that I say, “You’re not a median performer, so why counter at the median?”

That’s When I Hear Things Like:

“But I’m changing industries…I’ve never worked in X.”

“I’ve never had 15 direct reports, so I have a learning curve.”

“I’d feel more comfortable asking for the top of the range if I were able to meet all the qualifications in the job description.” (Yes, that old saw.)

Here’s what you have to get: You were offered the job/promotion. They want you. As my business partner always says, “You are a store of value, and the shelves are stocked full.”

While it may be somewhat true that your lesser experience in one or more of the qualifications helped your employer justify a lesser salary, your future potential is worth more than your past experience. And that’s what you have to leverage.

One strategy would be to open your counter offer by tying your top strengths to the top-level duties of the job description – and make sure you end with impact: money saved, money earned, productivity gained, process improved.

Like So:

“One of the problems you’ve said you most want to solve is bringing a data-driven approach to design. All of my experience has been to contribute intensely qualified research and data to teams and projects in a way that drives revenue. With this role, I’ll have the opportunity and challenge of scaling this approach across five teams. I think this factor alone is worth a salary of X.”

Awesomeness has a value. Don’t focus on your learning curve or what you don’t currently have in your bank of experience. Focus on how you solve your employer’s top level pain and future goals.

That’s it. You’re free to go.

#Careers #Leadership

Lisa is a negotiation consultant and executive coach who knows how to bridge the gap between self-worth and net worth. She is the co-founder of She Negotiates and the author of four titles at LinkedIn Learning, including Negotiation Fundamentals, Conflict Resolution Fundamentals, Coaching and Developing Employees and Asking for a Raise.