6 Women Share Their Real-Life Salary Negotiation Experiences
Over the course of my short career, I've found it really helpful to glean tips from the experts that show me it's possible to negotiate for more-a promotion, more time off, a raise. Anything that's going to tell me how to make more money is a win in my book, especially since I'm still pretty young and do not have a lot of work experience to draw from.
I've even tried to put some of the tactics on. I've read about it in practice, but it's never as easy as the articles make it seem. Either the advice does not quite fit my situation, or I can not quite muster the gumption to make-and-stick to-the demands I rehearsed the night before. Take salary negotiations. If you peel away all the layers, you're going to walk in someone's office and asking them for money. This is awkward and scary and weird (Right? It can not just be me.) But I know that other women have successfully done it just like that: they went to their boss's office, asked for money, and walked out with more money.
I wanted to know how they did it. So I asked a bunch of them to lay out exactly how these salary negotiations went down. Here, six women share stories of the times they’ve successfully negotiated salary—complete with the specific strategies they used to do so.
1. Jessica D., 30, event coordinator
Wage before negotiation: $ 16 / hour
Wage after negotiation: $ 65,000 annually
"I was an event coordinator for a high-end restaurant, making about $ 16 an hour. After two years with the company in one of my specific roles, I was responsible for things well above my paygrade. The role was demanding, and I was still getting slapped on the wrist for logging overtime.
When our corporate manager was in town, I asked to meet him for coffee, and he graciously accepted. I came with a year’s worth of data—including revenue I’d contracted, what percentage of our department’s revenue I was responsible for, and a list of my responsibilities.
He then set up a meeting with my boss's boss ( who's previously denied me a raise) and the vice president of the company. I came to this meeting with a 12-page packet detailing major clients I'd worked with, high-revenue events I'd overseen, and more. I realized that by not having manager-level access, I could not provide the kind of experience. U.S. Department of Labor to further illustrate how much I was doing.
I made sure not to mention my coworkers and their salaries; I focused on myself, emphasizing that I wanted to work more, do a good job, and provide proper support for those around me. They came back to me with a new position they’d created just for me—an assistant director title and a salary that was more than doubled what I was making before.
I’m glad I didn’t take no—rather, ‘sorry, we just can’t’—for an answer. I went to my higher-ups at least four times in a six-month period, and I always made sure to back up my requests with data. The promotion I ended up receiving not only made me the youngest manager at our location, but also one of three women and the only person of color to be named a manager on our team.”
2. Suzanne O., 38, recruiter
Wage before negotiation: $ 115,000 annually
Wage after negotiation: $ 220,000 annually
"When I realized one of my coworkers was being paid more than me, I started networking externally. I quickly learned just how valuable my skills were in the market. Within six weeks, I had three job offers. I had not been meant to negotiate for new roles, but as it turned out, I was being paid a lot less than I could've been.
Even though I've got negotiated fairly pretty extensively, I discovered I struggled to advocate for myself in the moment. So I hired a negotiation coach. Having a professional and unbiased perspective on how much I was worth was immensely helpful for me, and my coach was able to choose between two competitive employers.
One of the employers (who I really liked, we'll call them Company A) was taken a while to get me an offer, while the other (Company B) had already made one. I felt inclined to choose Company B's offer, since it had been made, but it was my job to get the other offer. that while I'd been interviewed with another company, I was very interested in them. I hoped they could get me an offer so I could take the weekend to consider both options.
Then, the tables turned. Not only was the company A was very understanding, but they also told me they did not want me making any decisions without first flying out and meeting with their CEO. Within days, I was on a paid flight to chat with their CEO-who made an offer (with an increased salary!) On the spot. Given their commitment to personal attention, I ended up choosing the company A.
I've now been an executive recruiter for years, and I've seen people (especially women) negotiate at the wrong level time and time again; they aimed too low instead of positioning themselves to get a much higher title and salary-as well as more responsibility. I used to want to fall into this trap, too-negotiating for a few dollars more, rather than realizing my full potential.
I wholeheartedly encourage people to position themselves for the job they want-rather than the one they already have. I also highly recommend hiring a negotiation coach. Having someone to hold me accountable, help me, prepare for my negotiation, and reiterate my value completely changed my career-well worth the investment. "
3. Jodi L., 43, government contractor
Wage before negotiation: $ 115,000 annually
Wage after negotiation: $ 150,000 annually
"About 10 years ago, I was working on a startup, and things were not going as well as I'd hoped. I knew I needed to land a full-time job. Before the startup, I'd done some work in government contracting and communications. So when a similar gig opened up, I asked a friend to refer me.
The process was untraditional. I was interviewed with several different people, and the salary did not even come up until the next day. When I heard what they wanted to pay me- $ 115,000-I simply said no. I'd made $ 116,000 in my previous position. Plus, I'd have to commute from Virginia to Washington, D.C., for this job, and I was not willing to do that for less than $ 150,000. / 82
I was straightforward about my needs. And a few hours later, they made me an offer with my desired salary.”
4. Ally C., 30, tech salesperson
Wage before negotiation: $ 90,000 annually
Wage after negotiation: $ 105,000 annually
"I was working for an early-stage startup, and our roles were not well defined. About a year in the job, roles' responsibilities became more clearly established and additional positions were created. I was quickly realized that my initial role was too junior for me, based on my employment history and the contributions. I was making to the team.
Shortly after realizing this, I was connected with my manager about being moved up to the next level; I made hired. I was hired. He agreed with me, and we worked together to make a case for upper management. They approved and offered me a salary that was on the lower limit of that role. Based on the value I was bringing to the table, I felt I deserved a higher wage.
I knew this would require some negotiation with both my manager and the upper management team. So I started by being gracious; I thanked the team for the promotion and salary increase. I then asked for some time to review the paperwork, because I wanted to prepare a solid negotiation strategy.
I took notes on what I’d contributed to the company in the past year, what I’d accomplished at previous jobs, and what others in similar roles were being paid (using Glassdoor). I then presented this case to my manager. I am able to see through my thoughts-using as many facts as possible. He submitted the case to upper management, and they responded with an updated offer that I ended up accepting. "
5. Merryn R., 39, program manager for a retail company
Wage before negotiation: $ 69,100 year
Wage after negotiation: $ 72,209 annually
"When I was 28, I was working as a program manager. I liked my job, but another position-retail brand manager for the Asia Pacific region-opened up within the company. This was technically a lateral move, but I saw it as a step up; I was in control of a segment of our business in a completely different part of the world. Thankfully, my current manager was willing to write me a strong letter of recommendation. I also knew I needed to gauge what was paid for. I had received a 3 percent raise six months earlier (during my annual review), so I kept that in mind, as well.
Since this was an internal transfer, I knew I needed my manager’s support. Thankfully, my current manager was willing to write me a strong letter of recommendation. I also knew i needed to gauge what the position paid, so I did some research online. I had received a 3 percent raise six months earlier (during my annual review), so I kept that in mind, as well.
I was eventually offered the position, and the hiring manager told me I'd receive a 3 percent raise. This was less than I was hoping for, but I made sure not to seem disappointed. I asked to see a written offer. I knew there would be other components, like benefits, to consider.
After reviewing the offer, I called the manager, thanked her again for the offer, and reiterated how much I wanted to work with the team. I then mentioned that I was hoping for a larger percentage increase. I made sure not to turn down the offer and instead emphasized my wish for it to be higher. I knew this was risky, but I also understood that I had more bargaining power at this stage of the process than I would later.
The hiring manager came back to me with an additional 1 percent. I pushed for it to be even higher, and they returned with an additional 0.5 percent. It wasn’t raining money by any means, but I felt good about standing my ground, and I appreciated her willingness to compromise. After that additional 0.5 percent increase, I accepted the position.”
6. Angel R., 36, financial analyst
Wage before negotiation: $ 70,000 annually
Wage after negotiation: $ 80,000 annually with increased vacation
"In 2009, I was unemployed. That was around the time of the recession, and I was really eager to get back in the workforce-so eager, in fact, that I was accepted a temporary position that paid $ 30,000 less than I was making before. I expected to receive a pay bump if I ended up being hired full-time, but when I was, I did not receive one.
I was young and inexperienced at negotiating, but I took a chance and asked for more money anyway. They were offered $ 70,000, I wanted $ 90,000, and they could only do $ 80,000. So I negotiated for additional paid vacation. Employees at my level were only granted two weeks of paid vacation, but I got them up to three weeks. (114
This ended up being a great perk for me. Remember: Even if a company can’t meet your desired salary, you can always ask for a sign-on bonus, more paid vacation, or other benefits.”