After I retired from the US Army, I went shopping for jobs with the quest of earning at least what the Army was paying me. I was able to achieve that goal. I later transitioned to a position as a hiring manager and COO of a staffing company where I was responsible for setting pay scales, ranges and managing budgets. I learned a lot about compensation in metro and regional areas, rural vs. urban salaries and cost of living. Then I learned something else. Women asked for less than men, almost every time.

Most of the time, men wanted too much, women asked for too little. I was shocked by this realization and, more than once, started an employee off at a higher rate than requested.


Pay inequality could be described as self-inflicted. In Dallas during the mid-2000s, the phrase was “$30 thousandairs.” It seemed that many college educated 20-30 year olds expected to be paid about $35,000 annually. Of course the 40+ crowd expected $50K+. Know your value…no more, no less was the “rule.”

Information is power. Know what you are worth and what others are being paid. Don’t sell yourself short, but also don’t expect to be offered more than you ask for, nor more than your position is worth to the company. All too often employees become disgruntled because they want a raise. But the truth may be that the position or skill doesn’t warrant a higher pay scale. If you need more pay, increase your level of skill, knowledge or responsibility in order to move up the pay scale.

Lastly is the “Art of Negotiation.” Never be the first to extend an offer, that is the employer’s role. For the one hiring manager that you may offend, the rest will tell you what the pay range is. Most quality managers do not want you being disappointed to find out that you signed on for less than others in your position and many will not pay you more than others are making to not cause discord in the ranks. So, be realistic and negotiate your best deal. Be sure to weigh the value of insurance, days off, and other benefits that are not taxed. Sometimes, less is more.

To learn about the Presidential Proclamation declaring April 8th National Equal Pay Day, click here.

Be sure to check us out at to learn more about pay ranges at VA.

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Published on Apr. 11, 2014

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