ask the readers: tell us about your successful salary negotiations

So many people are terrified about negotiating salary that they don’t even ask — and many times end up leaving money on the table as a result.

So. Let’s demystify the process. Share your stories here of successfully negotiating for more money. What did you say (be as specific if you can!), how did the conversation go, and what did you end up with?

{ 285 comments… read them below }

  1. CrazyCatLady*

    I have never negotiated salary! Negotiating is such a huge part of my job and I do it well when it’s on behalf of the company. But I lack the confidence to negotiate for myself, so I’m definitely interested to read the answers.

    1. SJP*

      I didn’t negotiate either, now I’m in the role and working the full depth of just how busy, stressful and demanding my job is I wish I’d asked for more money as it would soften the stress knowing I get paid to compensate for that demanding and very busy role

      You live and learn

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Will you ask for a raise once you’ve been in the role for a while? I’ve been lucky because in every role I’ve had except for my very first office job, I’ve been given generous raises pretty frequently, without even asking. It’s spoiled me and I think because of it, I think it makes me hesitant to negotiate up front. :/

        1. steve g*

          I’m gonna enjoy this thread. Ive negotiated raises (though probably not in the most diplomatic way), but never a salary. I’ve never had the confidence because offers were always good, though not great. If I had higher living expenses, I bet I’d be more aggressive with negotiations, because I’d have to be

        2. SJP*

          Yea I am definitely going to, they do salary reviews in October so not that long really to wait. They’ll offer and i’ll see if I can negotiate it a little higher if I feel it should be

    2. Alexis*

      A really helpful person whose name or publication I can’t recall at the moment suggested remembering that when negotiating, you’re not just asking on your own behalf, but also your family, pets, etc. Your salary/benefits impact you and those you love! (Single people without kids or pets can keep in mind future kids/pets/partners/robot butlers).

      1. Chelsea*

        This approach is especially recommended for women. Women are viewed more positively in negotiations when they are doing so on behalf of another party.

        1. EEE*

          yes! I was totally freaked to negotiate, but then I was like “I need to do this for feminism and women everywhere! LEAN IN!”

    3. The IT Manager*

      I have only ever worked for the government so I have never neogoiated. However I did find out that a co-worker neogiated her Step level when she joined my federal goverment agency when she came from a state government job. It never occurred to me that you could do that, but it can be done if the agency is willing and you have the credentials.

      She was hired for a grade/band like GS-13, but there are 10 steps that people can earn slightly higher salaray based on how long they have been in the grade. She started off on a higher step thus a higher salary to start.

    4. Jessie's Girl*

      I didn’t feel I could negotiate because I was already getting a 30% increase (although this increase was still below what others were being paid on average). Then I received a 15% increase the following year (when the company normally does 3%) but that brought me up to the average pay.

      This year, I’m not sure because I know that I’ve earned one heck of an increase (I’ve been working like a mad woman and my boss would not have survived without me–I’m not exaggerating, sadly) but can I get it after 30 and then 15?

      I think my only option is to be promoted or to leave and I don’t see a promotion available.

  2. KT*

    I have a deep terror of negotiating salary for a new job due to experience with 2 different non-profits, both where when a candidate would try to negotiate, they would respond with “Sorry we’re not the right fit for you, best of luck in your search”. And they’d move on to a new candidate.

    I am, however, really good at negotiating raises-I’ve gotten substantial raises at the one year mark at the 2 non-profits above mentioned.

    In both, I would request an in-person year review. A few days before the meeting, I would send them an update; I would have the job description, then how I went above and beyond each responsibility with stats, such as “Reduced budget by 15% while increasing donations” or “increased social media following by 20%”. I would also call out additional tasks I took on, and if it resulted in a cost savings or extra revenue.

    Then I’d got through the review, get feedback, then at the end say something like “Given the extra work I’ve taken on and the money I’ve saved the organization, I’m looking for a salary increase to match my additional responsibilities” Then would just go silent. I never named a number–in both cases, they didn’t have much of an argument against it because of what I presented to them in black and white, so for each time, I walked away with at least 15% more.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I always think that’s just an incredible dick move, when the employer responds with “Welp, bye” instead of saying they can’t budge and asking if the candidate is still interested anyway. I guess it’s the “what if they’re secretly still dissatisfied and leave” thing, but it smacks of game playing.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I think apart of it could also be wanting passive people to manage that won’t Rock the boat.

      2. Green*

        Depends on the industry. In places with lock-step (1st years get paid X, 2nd years get paid Y, 3rd years get paid Z, and on up), you would look so out of touch with the cultural norms if you tried to negotiate. I could see a non-profit thinking you’re not a great fit if you come in with a market salary for for-profit without taking the whole “but you get to do stuff for GOOD so you don’t NEED money!” into account. The pay I was offered as a lawyer at a non-profit was 1/3 of what I was making as a for-profit lawyer.

        1. PX*

          In places with lock-step (1st years get paid X, 2nd years get paid Y, 3rd years get paid Z, and on up), you would look so out of touch with the cultural norms if you tried to negotiate

          But this assumes a candidate knows these things upfront. And while I can try pretty hard to google a company/industry, it might not always be clear that negotiation is a big no no. And still, why cant a company just say that salaries are fixed? Is it really worth rejecting someone you thought was the best choice for this role (can they really be that bad of a culture fit if you were willing to hire them!) simply because they either didnt have a particular piece of information?

          1. Green*

            No, for the industries that do lock-step comp, if you make it through law school or business school without figuring out how the key players in the industry do compensation, it’s a red flag. The salary scales are on forums, key industry blogs, industry charts, and compensation information (if not the exact numbers) is available on most of their websites. If you can’t or haven’t found it out, you’ll be viewed as not-so-resourceful. (Or, even worse, it may suggest you think you are better than all of the other 1st years they hire at the exact same rate and because you’re so *extra special* they’ll be willing to negotiate…). And they always have back-ups. Lots of them. (They actually typically make offers to large groups as a “class” with a certain expected acceptance rates. They actually want at least a few of them to say no.)

            1. Melissa*

              I think that’s silly. First of all, because the lock-step rules are bent all the time. I am in a role that technically has a lock-step salary because it’s grant-funded, and the grant specifies how much I can make. I’m making 25% above that salary because I got special funding from a separate office that topped up my salary, and I know of many people in positions similar to mine who have gotten the same deals – including at least one other person in my office in the same exact role (in fact, I think he even makes slightly more than me).

              Second of all…people can get into forums and say any kind of thing. Why should I trust a forum about how a particular place operates? Key industry blogs are another thing, but I’ve seen salary data for my own field; it varies wildly, and much of it is inaccurate. Even the accurate data shows a wide range of salaries in different types of positions – some positions in my field are public, and I can look up their salaries, and there’s a range of fluctuation even though they’re supposed to be set at a specific rate.

              I think the second part of your comment is the more likely culprit – they’re making offers to more people than they can hire and they are looking for reasons for people to cut out of the process, or they are trying to select out for people who want to negotiate. I’m not doubting you that they actually believe that they are screening out the less resourceful people by retracting offers to people who try to negotiate, but I doubt that’s what they are *actually* doing, because even some people who have done the research might still try to negotiate for various reasons.

              1. Blue Anne*

                I think that you and Green might be coming at it from different industries?

                I work at a huge accounting firm in the audit department, and my experience has been very much what Green describes. There’s a set ladder for Big 4 firms, your pay depends on your location but you’ll come in at exactly the same salary as everyone else at your grade, you’ll know exactly when you’re getting raises and promotions, how much they’ll be, etc. If you don’t come to the interviews with basic knowledge of this it’s because you’ve done zero research, and having done so little research it’s unlikely you’ll make it through the interview.

                I think the further up you go the more room there is to negotiate (and once I get past my current grade I’ll at least start checking how negotiable things are), but if you were offered the standard entry level trainee package and tried to negotiate it… well, everything Green said.

      3. Creag an Tuire*

        It’s especially galling given how much advice is out there advising people to -always- negotiate and that you’re a -fool- who’s leaving money on the table if you don’t. Even if you don’t agree with that advice, punishing people for following it is dickish.

        The only possible exception I could think of are jobs like mine, where it was made clear from the outset that the salary was subject to a Collective Bargaining Agreement and trying to negotiate personally would represent a Critical Comprehension Failure.

        1. Sara*

          I work in a field with collective bargaining, and I agree – you’re not paying attention if you don’t realize that means negotiation is not an option. But I do struggle to imagine a hiring manager cutting a top-choice candidate loose because of that sort of faux pas. (Maybe I’ve just been lucky to only get hired by really reasonable people?)

          1. Nobody*

            Collective bargaining doesn’t necessarily mean the salary is non-negotiable. I work in a job with a collective bargaining agreement, and I negotiated to get $2k over the initial offer. I have a coworker who was hired around the same time who negotiated to get $4k higher than the initial offer. The CBA sets a range, but there is room to negotiate within that range. I later found out that there is a way they can get approval to go above the range “to fulfill business needs,” and if I could go back in time, I would have pressed for them to do this.

            But even with a different CBA, where the pay structure is more rigid and all employees start at the exact same salary with no room to negotiate a penny more, I don’t see how it’s completely unreasonable to ask. I definitely don’t see how a mere attempt to negotiate should be a reason to rescind a job offer.

      4. AVP*

        I think it depends on whether the employer was up-front in the job ad and interview about the salary being firm or not. My salary offers are generally firm, but I make sure people know that well in advance of getting the offer. If they try to negotiate, I think they haven’t paid attention or that they’re not going to be satisfied with the job and bounce quickly.

        But if you haven’t said that, negotiating is such a normal thing to do that it would worry me about what else this company doesn’t get about professional norms.

    2. Marge*

      After a job offer or a raise offered after an annual performance review, I almost always push back a little bit on principle. I figure nobody would ever present their absolute best offer straight out of the gate (or at least I wouldn’t).

      I use words & strategy similar to KT – “I’m a little disappointed with the raise offered. Given the additional responsibilities I took on this year, and my positive performance review, this was lower than I expected. ” Then I go quiet, and let the awkwardness hang while I wait for the boss to respond.

      Similar to KT, I will back up with specific statistics on what I accomplished during the year. I’ve never walked away with 15% more, but I usually get a bump up from their first offer.

      1. Artemesia*

        In my first job salaries were set in stone and published; it was a school system. But in my second professional job they could pay what they wanted to pay. I negotiated by being hesitant to accept given the move and sacrifices involved (my husband relocating etc) and they increased it by about 4%. I didn’t have much leverage as a beginner but at least I was 4% of my peers for the rest of the time I worked there. Later after a merger where my salary was way out of line with the salaries of recent hires and counterparts in the other merged organization, I asked for some equity based raises based on both my productivity and my counterparts salaries. I ended up with a 30% raise which didn’t make me rich but at least put me in the ballpark with peers. I was later in a position of authority that allowed me to give a particularly productive person similarly affected 10% raises 3 years in a row to also bring him some equity. (the normal raises tended to be more like 2% COL.

    3. steve g*

      I wouldn’t be afraid of what you said happening…..if the salary is low and they know you won’t accept it, it doesn’t really matter what language they use while rejecting the candidate

    4. another nonprofiteer*

      when i was hired at my current nonprofit gig (way below market rate!!), i was told there would be “no negotiating” before i even had an opportunity to ask. so i didn’t. i needed the job because i was homeless.

      at my one year review, i came prepared with similar things:
      –first profit on a spring appeal EVER
      –raised more funds than past 3 years
      –re-designed marketing collateral
      –increased social media following
      –created website
      –digitized donor records for the first time ever
      –sold xx dollars of ads and sponsorships for major event
      –planned and executed major event

      blah blah–my boss just said: “i disagree that you are as great as you think you are.”many of these were just objective pieces of evidence: my newsletter brought in more money than ever before–how can she argue witht hat? but she did. then i asked her what she thought i was doing wrong, and she said i had used an “aggressive font size” which made it seem like i had a hostile tone in emails. i use large font because i write to elderly people all the time and they can’t read it. anyway, i tried hard not to laugh. needless to say, there was no raise.

      a few months later we all received a memo about how raises would be merit-based. those who received a rating of 85% or better in their eval would receive a 3% raise (this is less than COL really, but they were calling it merit-based. ha!). i later found out that my boss, the ED, was the only one to receive the raise. the rest of us are, apparently, under-performing.

      summary: can’t wait to leave. i could write a novel about bad management after working here about 1.6 years.

      1. Peep*

        “i disagree that you are as great as you think you are.”

        I just about fell over in my chair. Geez. I always think there can’t possibly be real people who are that rude/clueless about their word choice, but I’m always proved wrong. :( Sorry for the crap situation, hope something new comes along soon. =\

        1. another nonprofiteer*

          we’re working in homeless services. sometimes i feel like my boss hates the poor and the homeless. i think she knew i was homeless before taking this job and is taking advantage of that–“will work for anything!” etc

          1. Chicago?*

            What metro area are you located in? Those kinds of resume items are the ones I look for when I’m hiring, and I’m hiring. If you’re in Chicago, I’ll ask Alison to connect us.

      2. java jones*

        I know you know how stupid this is, but this is so stupid and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it. Crossing my fingers and sending good vibes that you find something else soon.

        1. another nonprofiteer*

          thank you! i’ve had a few interviews– i have a feeling i’ll be out-earning her soon.
          life finds a way. :)

      3. Ama*

        Ugh, I am so sorry. If it makes you feel better, with those kind of accomplishments there should be a line of better-managed nonprofits waiting to hire you.

  3. Dana*

    I’m dying to read the answers to this but wanted to respond with my own experience (before I knew you were supposed to negotiate salary, which I learned here!). I was working as a temp (but not really temp, which is why I was job hunting) in my first job out of college in my field. The job posting for my job (same job, different industry) said to include salary requirements in the cover letter and that letters without salary requirements wouldn’t be considered. I really liked the people I was working with at the temp job, so I decided on a number that I would leave for, not knowing the market value of my job. I included a range and put a “+” at the end (being hopeful!), got an interview during which salary did not come up at all, and then an offer with the bottom number of the range I supplied. Even though I know now to negotiate, I really felt like they were the ones getting to negotiate. How do you come back and say “Yes, I realize I put this down as an acceptable salary, but I changed my mind and want more.”?

    1. IT Kat*

      “Now that I’ve learned more about ____, would you be willing to consider something closer to $X? I believe this is reasonable because _____.”

      The key is to fill in that blank with something pertinent and not just “I’d like more money”. For example:

      “Now that I know more about the position and the focus on Teapot Technical Design, would you be willing to consider something closer to $65,000 annually? I believe that this is reasonable because of the requirements for XYZ certification and continuing education annually.”

  4. Malissa*

    For my current job the negotiations went through a recruiter. Early in the process I gave a range and said it depended on benefits. When I received the offer from the recruiter, they had pegged the middle of my range and offered NO benefits. I told the recruiter that because there were no benefits I would need 10% more. The recruiter asked if I would be interested in a bonus tied to payables discounts. I said no. The company happily gave me the 10% increase. I ended up just $3K from the top of my range.

  5. LouG*

    The job posting listed a salary range, and when I was offered the job by some one from HR in the middle of that range I said “is there any room for negotiation” assuming I would then have to really justify my request. She said “I’ll check” and after a few days (seemed like forever, I was so anxious), came back and offered me more! I’m so glad I negotiated, I never expected it to be that easy, and I was terrified.

  6. NJ Anon*

    I didn’t negotiate my salary but my start date. I wanted to give OldJob 4 weeks; NewJob wanted me to start in 2 weeks. We compromised at 3. Worked well for all. I just explained to them that I had been at OldJob for 11 years and wanted to leave knowing I tied up all loose ends. I think they wanted me to start earlier because the person in the job I was taking was leaving but I stood my ground.

    1. azvlr*

      I think this brings up and important point that there is more to salary negotiation than asking for more $$.

      I think Alison mentioned in a recent letter reply that asking for certain things may make you seem out of touch with the culture and I agree with her advice. What I’m suggesting is that it makes sense to consider things that add value for you, but may be little or no cost to the company. For example, what about negotiating the start and end of your work day, or work-from-home privileges? Any others I’m missing?

  7. Adam*

    The two times I was in the position to do so I didn’t (but probably should have). I was younger and new to the workforce and frankly after MONTHS/over a year of nothing I was desperate for any job as both times I had only $300 in my bank account right as the offer came in. You could have hired me to be a tap dancing bear and I would have only asked “Rhythm or Broadway?”

    1. Michele*

      That is the thing. If you are unemployed, you don’t have much leverage to walk away. You are just happy someone made an offer.

      1. Adam*

        Also you may really want out of your crappy between-jobs-job. My second stint of underemployment I spent a year working retail at a department store that now has a wretched reputation (not my fault :P). Every day I tried to maintain a good attitude about things, but they just wouldn’t let me…

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Yes this is so true. And, during the recession with so many people vying for the same spot, makes it scary.
          Also, for people with dime a dozen jobs like customer service or admin asst. where there’s not only lots of competition but the job duties vary greatly it’s hard to know what the exact fair amount is.
          For me if it was fair I accepted. But I went through three layoffs in five years and didn’t really feel I’m position to push back. Now, the one time I did try to negotiate they would not budge. Come to find out from my coworkers they were only making about $2 an hour more than me, had been there for years, and had been on a pay freeze for a couple of years…so that makes sense

      2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        Plus, if you’re on unemployment, in many states you’re disqualified from receiving it if you turn down an offer of employment. I took a job that was a really bad fit all around because I knew if I didn’t, my unemployment would go bye-bye. I was laid off after 6 months.

  8. IT Kat*

    I’ve not negotiated salary (honestly, I didn’t even realize I could until recently), but I have negotiated bonuses. Recently, when I was assigned a contract that required being onsite and required skills that I have, but are generally filled by a much higher title, I scheduled a meeting with HR and my manager. Then I simply laid out what the new contract would entail, how I would be an asset to that position, and finished by: “Because of X, Y, and Z, I believe this position is more in line with a Teapot Engineer, as opposed to a Teapot Administrator. I’d like to work out financial compensation more in line with market value of a Teapot Engineer.”

    I didn’t name a number (although I had one in mind, due to market research!) and they came back and offered me more than I had intended to ask for. Apparently I had made a better business case than I thought. ;)

  9. Dawn*

    Worked as a Research Analyst for 2 ish years, starting in a new division of the company as one of the first Analysts that the company had ever had. Started out doing very basic stuff and then flash forward 3 years later, I was basically a Business/Strategy Analyst on top of doing Research stuff. Job had expanded significantly and my visibility within the company had me presenting to VP/SVP/CXO levels on the regular.

    I had good rapporteur with my boss and my VP, which helped a lot. My boss (who would not be the approver for the raise, although her opinion of me would count for a lot) actively encouraged me to ask for a raise and helped coach me a bit with doing research and giving feedback about the materials I put together, which helped a bunch. I started out using Glassdoor and looking up salaries for Research Analysts within the metro area I was in, focusing on those that were at companies of comparable size and who probably had similar job duties (I tried to find job descriptions for as many of these jobs as I could by looking on the websites of the companies and seeing if they had similar/ the same jobs posted). After I had a ballpark of what I thought my market value was, based solely on the job functions I was already performing, I ran it by my boss who confirmed that it wasn’t an out of the park figure. I then though of some examples of really tough stuff that I had been asked to do, and excelled at, over the past 6 months in order to show the high level of work that I was being asked to do (and was doing very successfully). I put together a small document with what I was asking for and all of the backing research that went into deciding what to ask for.

    I then scheduled a meeting with my boss and my VP and laid out the information that I had gathered- basically starting with “here’s how my job has evolved, here’s some of the awesome stuff I’ve been doing in the last 6 months, here’s some comparative analysis of other similar jobs at similar companies with similar functions, here’s the salary I’m asking for, here’s why I think it’s justified.” I made sure to have good data to back up anything that I said- whether it was about a project that I did, or a number that I quoted, or a company that I used as a comparison.

    Circumstances actually worked out such that I ended up being able to ask for a promotion in addition to a raise (both of which I got) but I think that the initial asking for a raise is more relevant to the discussion here.

    SO, what worked for me= 1) having lots of data that I could confidently point to in order to confirm that everything I said was true and factual and backed up with research 2) Believing that I was worth what I was asking, largely because of the research that I did. It’s important to BELIEVE in yourself and the worth that you bring to the company! 3) Having good rapporteur with my boss and VP, both of whom I had worked closely with and both who knew the value of the work that I did. This might not help some people, but it was still a big factor in getting the promotion/raise because my VP went to bat for me with the HR/CXO that had to approve my promotion/raise. 4) Knowing what I would do if they didn’t give me what I asked for. I wasn’t expecting this, but having a plan in case they said “no” made me feel more confident in asking. For the record, I was prepared to start job hunting if they didn’t give me a raise because I felt that it was obvious I was being underpaid and could go somewhere else that would put more value on my work. A bit of a nuclear option, but I was prepared to go through with it.

    I ended up with a promotion and a raise that went with the promotion which was about 5K beyond what I was initially asking for. So that was cool! And then I got laid off along with 20% of the entire company five months later… but that’s just how those things go sometimes!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      It stinks you were laid off, but thank goodness you went through the raise/promotion process so you could job search with your new title.

  10. fposte*

    Twice. First, in my first real job out of college. I had been temping at this place and doing a particular job, and they offered me a permanent position doing the same job plus more. While temping I’d had access to the personnel files and knew what this position had made, so I pointed out that if I were being asked to do more in the position, I’d like more salary for it. They were startled–“We’d have to call corporate!” Okay, I said, please do. And I got an additional 4%. (Which was only a few hundred at that salary, but still.)

    Secondly, when I was interimmed into a higher job and it was then made permanent without my getting the salary. There was some organizational flux that complicated the situation, but eventually I said Hey, I’m doing X job now. I’d like to have X salary, please. Oh, they said. That makes sense. And that one was over 10%–I can’t remember how much it was exactly.

    I’d say in both cases what emboldened me was knowledge and lack of fear. In the first one, the lack of fear was because I didn’t much care whether I worked for them or not; in the second, I knew that asking wouldn’t be held against me.

  11. Malissa*

    My first raise negotiation was due to me being a total smart ass. Back in my college days I worked for an auto parts retailer. After 6 months of driving trucks around and getting greasy and dirty from delivering parts I transferred store into a merchandising position.
    I walked into this store and it was a dirty mess. This particular store sat in front of the regional office and was a bit of an embarrassment when I got there. I happily let my OCD side out to play and had the store looking good in about a month. Both the district manager and the regional manager kept saying what a great job I was doing and how great the store looked. Repeatedly. One day I had enough talk. They were talking again about how nice the store was behind me while I was cleaning a greasy shelf. I turned around at looked at them both and said, “If I hear how great this store looks one more time I’m going to expect to see that statement reflected in my paycheck.” They just looked at me and walked away.
    The next day my store manager informed me I was getting a 22% raise, effective immediately.

      1. Malissa*

        Bold in only the way a 21 year-old who doesn’t know any better and isn’t afraid could pull off. I’m not sure I could pull off that kind of swagger now.

    1. Adam*

      I love this. Getting verbal praise from your boss IS important to be sure, but when it comes to employment at a certain point words become a dime a dozen.

  12. Michele*

    My negotiation went very well because I didn’t know what I was doing. I have never been good at negotiation, and because I was unemployed, I didn’t have much leverage. I had done research and came up with three numbers–the lowest I would accept, what I expected based on industry standards, and what I would really like but didn’t consider probable.
    When the director and I sat down to discuss salary, he said the first number. I was trying to find the best wording in my head to indicate that I wanted more but without putting the offer at risk. He then blurted out the second number (the numbers were all $5k apart). I was just about to accept when he said the third number and said that he would have to get special approval for that but would not be able to go any higher. I accepted.
    Apparently, not knowing what to say made it look like I was disapproving. It did support the adage that whoever speaks first loses.

    1. Sospeso*

      That is interesting! I have never considered the power of silence in this particular scenario before. In my experience, being silent often prompts the other person to fill the silence in some way, so I could see this being a good tool to have.

      1. Artemesia*

        A sort of ‘being concerned, hesitating’ worked for me. I really didn’t need to take the job — in fact it meant my husband had to give up a good job and move and he was unemployed for a year as a result — which we hadn’t expected because he was a rock star where he was. In fact I probably shouldn’t have taken the job — but it was this pause and hesitation that got me 4% more than everyone else coming in that year.

    2. Sunflower*

      This is great. There is a true power in silence. It’s important that when if you counter someone’s offer, you state your reasoning + number and then shut up. Sometimes they’re hoping if they stay silent, you’ll balk and come down. A couple second pause works both ways I guess!

    3. literateliz*

      Ha, I love this! I had a wonderful professor/mentor in journalism school who actually advised this as a negotiation method when discussing payment for freelance writing: when the other party made you an offer, you were supposed to say, “Hmm.” And then be silent until they offered something higher. And then say “Hmm” again.

      He said that writers did this to him all the time when he was an editor, and even though he knew exactly what they were up to, he always ended up offering them more while mentally kicking himself! (Maybe he was just a better editor than he was a negotiator, but I still think there’s something to it.)

  13. Frenchie*

    I had never negotiated salary before (I’m still early in my career) but thanks to askamanager I knew I had to at least try. When the HR person called me to give me my offer I asked if I could negotiate it. She said it depended on what I wanted and she would check. I asked for $3000 over the offered salary. She came back and said that that was not feasible since they were already offering the most they could. I then asked if I could maybe get an additional 3rd week of paid holidays a year. Long and behold they accepted! Lesson learned, you might not be able to get more money, but you might get more perks :)
    I was laid off last week and am currently looking for a new position. But I know already that I will be negotiating

  14. Wip*

    I pretty much nailed my salary negotiations for my current job.

    “Would there be any room to come up a bit on that number?”
    “No, that’s pretty much it.”
    “Oh…uh…ok…I accept then.”

    I at least made an attempt this time.

    1. Caroline*

      Yeah, I asked for more, pointing out I had another higher offer but I wanted to work for them. They came back and said “nope, we don’t negotiate new grad hires. We don’t think that’s fair because new grads are all at the same skill level basically.”
      I accepted the original offer. I still count it as a success because I practiced negotiating and gave it a try.

      Also, their salary was very competitive to start. I researched market rates before they made the offer, and decided what my goal was, and then also my super stretch, I can’t even imagine making this much at this job in my wildest dreams, it’s so much money amount. Their initial offer was 10k over the wildest dreams goal. The higher offer from another company was because company 2 knew how much company 1 had offered and beat them, but I decided company 1 was a better fit for my first out of school job.

  15. Brenna*

    For my first real job (non-academic) after grad school it was as simple as asking “Is the salary negotiable?” after the offer was made. I only received a tiny salary increase due to budget issues (non-profits always have those, don’t they?) and should’ve asked for more time off too, but compared to the stress of interviewing, asking such a basic question seemed like no big deal.

  16. hc*

    I have really f*cked up salary negotiations before (and since straightened out my ways) – one story would be far more appropriate for the “unprofessional” thread last week.

  17. Lauren*

    I have an idea to help everyone negotiate salary in future jobs. I think that everyone, women and men, need to make use of sites like Glassdoor. If a surge of people add in their salaries and titles for every job they’ve had during their career, it would give future employees of those companies the leverage needed to negotiate based on the real market value and not feel taken advantage of by a low-ball offer if enough people post anonymous salaries. Of course if you are the only Office Manager, post current salary and a review probably isn’t a good idea for your current job. But pay it forward, by giving others the inside info and post at least salaries without a review.


    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Yes. Glassdoor has been largely useless to me because people in relevant positions/areas aren’t reporting their salaries. If more people were willing to, I could see the site becoming a valuable resource.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, I’ve never found a glassdoor posting for a similar job in my area. I guess perhaps I should start, so someone else here can have one data point.

      1. Anon for this*

        I don’t want to put my salary in because I know I’m being underpaid and I think it would do a disservice!

        I am two months away from finishing my degree though, so after that I’m negotiating and then jobsearching if nothing changes.

  18. Apollo Warbucks*

    My least successful negotiation involved me using the phrase

    “You call that a salary offer, that’s a fucking insult”

    1. The Office Admin*

      Sometimes I think someone needs to hear that! Maybe not that exact phrasing but….
      We have a job listed right now and I think the salary range is insulting. The work is way above this pay level and I’d never take the job. No, actually, I’d never apply to this position with the pay range that goes with it.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        This is why the salary range should be part of the damn job posting–so nobody is wasting anyone else’s time. Failing that, sometimes it’s good to find out much earlier in the process. Many years ago I was applying for an advising job at a neighboring university. The initial screening call was from HR, who said, “the salary for this position is X–are you interested in the role at that number?” I told her that represented a 20% pay cut from my current position, so unless there was room to come in higher, I didn’t see any point in continuing the conversation. There was no room, so we parted ways cordially. I also took from that conversation (perhaps incorrectly) the impression that this particular university adhered to a strict interpretation of its compensation rules–and that at least at that level, didn’t pay well. (This was before glassdoor/, etc.)

      2. Seattle Writer Girl*

        When I was recruiting for my maternity leave replacement, my boss insisted that the hourly pay had to be lower than the hourly equivalent of my annual salary so what we ended up offering per hour for the level of skill required was about 1/2-1/3 what most freelancers in my field make.

        About 75% of the candidates literally laughed out loud and 1 woman literally grunted with revulsion when she heard the number.

        We did end up finding someone to work for the wage we offered, but I felt horrible about the whole thing.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I once told someone on a low-ball offer – “I don’t want to take advantage of you. Call me back when whatever you’re on wears off. Then we’ll get serious. Until then, please don’t waste my time.”

    3. Malissa*

      I used a phrase very similar to that in response to a job offer no too long ago. But I got a special combination of we want you because of this very unique skill, but we want to pay you 20% less than the bottom of your range because we need to train you, and I think you should talk this over with your husband.

      1. James M.*

        I think Apollo Warbucks’ choice of words would have fit that situation quite well.

        “… I think you should talk this over with your husband.” WTF!!! My calendar says it’s 2015, not 1962.

    4. Serin*

      I probably lost an offer by blinking in shock when the range was mentioned and saying, “But I’m making more than that as a part-time temp.”

      If I’d gotten the offer I would definitely have turned it down because … they were offering less than I was making as a part-time temp.

    5. Shannon*

      I once was offered a full-time professional job, in my degree field, at a for-profit business for no pay. Literally. They wanted me to come work 40 hours a week for them for no money. And didn’t understand why I wouldn’t “take some time to think it over”.

  19. Ann O'Nemity*

    I always use the same negotiating script: “I’ve done a lot of salary research on similar positions, and with my skills of X and experience of Y I’m looking for a salary closer to $Z.” I ask for something competitively high but nothing outrageous or offensive. I always ask for extra vacation time too.

    1. Seattle Writer Girl*

      I tried this approach during my 1 and only performance review at LastJob. I even brought job ads for similar positions that had salary ranges on them to show that I was being underpaid by 50% of market rate.

      My boss shut things down before we even got to me naming a number.

      He also gave me a lovely song and dance about how I need to meet performance goals (which I didn’t have and he wasn’t going to give me) and work hard and show growth. Because apparently the 400% growth I made in the 4 years I spent working there was not enough to prove my worth…

    2. L2L*

      Yes, be careful asking something offensively high. I used the same sentence structure as you did. The problem was that, I said I found market to be a range upwards $100k, I’d like to be close (the offer was $75k and my happy number was actually $80k). I think I messed that up :(! I practiced saying, “I want $10k more” hoping to settle at $80k but my nerves got me!

      Womp womp.

  20. LJL*

    The one time I negotiated, I asked for relocation expenses. My boss told me that the company did not offer relocation, but would I be willing to accept 10% more on my base salary instead? I jumped at it. And yes, it did cover the relocation costs.

    1. Sidra*

      This is similar to what happened to me – I asked for a lump-sum up front to cover costs associated with the switch, and they just bumped my salary instead, which is much better for me in the long-run anyway!

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Agreed! Although having a lump sum relocation fund (particularly if it’s a big move) can be helpful to cover the up-front costs…

    2. Molly*

      That’s hilarious. From an employer perspective, I’d vastly rather pay a one-time relocation cost than a higher base salary going forward, unless you were only going to be around a few months or something.

  21. Sidra*

    I successfully negotiated the salary for my current job – though looking back I’m pretty embarrassed and would never take this approach again!

    They offered the job, and I stated that it was lower than my current salary (it was, by $3K), but that I’m very interested in the role and would like to accept if they could pay a tuition reimbursement ($2K) from my current employer that I would be asked to pay back for leaving before 2 years. They countered and said that they don’t do up-front bonuses or anything of that sort, but they did offer a $1k more a year. That’s MUCH better, and I gladly accepted.

    Apart from the fact that I think it’s ridiculous to ask for them to pay my tuition penalty, it turned out that my old company let me go free and clear as they counted all of my time employed, including a 4 month period where I was a paid intern, putting me past the penalty.

    I wouldn’t have accepted a job with a lower salary, except that I was very excited about this new job (still am!) and they have a bonus scheme that evens things out. Thankfully, two years later and I’m $4K up from my previous salary, and enjoy my job so much more.

    1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      Its actually not that outrageous to ask them to pay the tuition penalty. Depending on your career level, I’ve seen this done several times. Its not always approved, but it doesn’t really hurt to ask!

    2. nk*

      That type of thing is pretty common. Relocation packages and signing bonuses are pretty common among my colleagues, and when someone leaves before 2 years it’s not uncommon for a new company to offer to compensate for the payback of those items.

  22. Bend & Snap*

    I had a competitive offer, so I used that to negotiate a higher offer for the job I wanted. they couldn’t meet the base salary or stock options but they raised my base a little and increased my bonus percentage so that together they surpassed the base of the other job.

    It worked out well and I was really happy they worked with me. Never flinched leaving money on the table with the other job (stock).

  23. ali*

    I was able to negotiate in my current job up $6150 from their offer. They had offered the exact salary I was making, which had been a $10k paycut from my job before that (I had moved to a city with a lower cost of living, so this wasn’t unreasonable). They thought that by offering me the same amount plus bonuses would be enough incentive, but my existing job was giving me a huge retirement match and paid my benefits at 100%. I was able to negotiate the base salary to be higher because I’d be losing those great benefits. I said something along the lines of “I would really like to accept this position, but I need a minimum base salary of $x to make up for losing the great benefits in my current position. I do not want to have to depend on bonuses to pay my bills.”

    Things that played in my favor – I had interviewed with this company before and went pretty far in the process before they decided to move the position to a different city. Secondly, I was well within market rate for what I do – in fact, I’d say what I was asking for was actually lower than market rate (after 3 years here, I have reached what I would say is market rate). Finally, they were desperate for someone who could do the job well and pick up the product quickly – I’d actually been a customer of the product in the past, so when I started I was able to jump right into the work with very minimal training. I had 40 jobs in my queue on day one (my usual now is about 20), so they really were backlogged.

    1. ali*

      I should also mention that I was able to negotiate 3 days a week of working from home, too, after I was trained. This was an easy one since the work is almost entirely independent, nothing team driven, and the manager was remote as well.

  24. cheeky*

    I’ve only ever successfully asked for and received raises. I graduated from undergraduate school right before the recession, and just didn’t know to negotiate because I was being offered more money than I’d ever made. Now I know better. At my current job, I tried to negotiate my starting hourly rate, but I’m in a union-covered, non-exempt job, and my company is very firm on not negotiating, so I couldn’t. Fortunately, in my position, I get bi-annual raises and an annual cost of living increase, and I have been able to negotiate for higher than average raises. In two years, my salary has increased more than $20,000.

  25. BG*

    I started a new job in August and didn’t negotiate because they offered me more than I asked for. However, I got promoted last month and they offered an increase of 10% of my salary + my 3% merit raise since I would not be eligible this month because of the recent promotion. So, they offered an 11% raise and I asked to get it up to a not-much-higher even number, it was accepted, and so I received a 15% raise and promotion 7 months after starting!

  26. Clever Name*

    I’ve successfully negotiated at my current job and my last job. My last job, the hiring manager asked me for salary requirements. I had done my homework, and came back with a range (low to mid- $50k). The offer I recieved was for $52,000, which I happily accepted.

    My current job I was negotiating my hourly rate. My boss offered $25 and hour, and I said, “Um, actually I was hoping for $30 an hour” (My magic number really was $28 an hour). My boss gave some reasons why they couldn’t do $30, and countered with $28, which I happily accepted.

    For reference, I am a woman, with a master’s degree in my field. I am a consultant in a STEM field, and both jobs were consulting jobs.

  27. Adam V*

    I’ve “negotiated” twice. I put it in quotes because I feel like I had no idea what I was doing!

    The first time was my first job, right out of college. I was offered a really *really* low salary ($X) for my work in the area. (I later find that that’s just how this company operates – lowball everyone, give decent raises, let people leave as they get experience, replace them with other people fresh out of school, and start all over.) I responded back saying “I was hoping for more like $X+3K?” (I was so worried! I thought they’d just say “sorry, we’ll just move on to the next person then” and hang up.) The recruiter responded “let me get back with you.” After two days, I was so worried I’d messed up my chance to get the job at all, and was just about ready to call them back and say “you know what, I’ll take $X after all”. The next morning, they called back and said “we can do $X+1K” and I accepted.

    The second time was at my current company. My last company was experiencing quite a bit of turnover – within about a year, we lost about 8 developers, some by choice and some being shown the door. A friend of mine who’d just put in his notice told me that his new company was looking for another hire, and he put my name in. When their recruiter called me the next day, she only asked for basic information, which included my current salary – which I didn’t remember at the time! I responded saying “I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s $Y” and made a note to check when I got home. After the interview process completed, she called back and said “we’d like to offer you a position, the salary will be $Y” – keeping me at the same salary they thought I was currently making. I responded back and said “actually, I double-checked, and I’m currently making $Z (not a significantly larger number); I’d like to at least keep that same salary”. She said “okay, let me talk to them again” and went away for a few hours. She called back later to give me the okay.

    (As it turned out, when I got my first paycheck, I’d misunderstood her, and they’d given me another $1K raise over my last position! So that was lucky.)

    What can you really take from this? I’d say… not all that much. I think I’ve told the story before and been asked “how can you not know how much you’re making??”, but honestly, it’s one of those things that, as long as the paycheck shows up every two weeks, it’s not that important of a thing. (Knowing I’m valued, like being given good work assignments and positive reinforcement from my supervisors, is much more important, and I’ll deal with raises and promotions at the proper times of the year.) Still – if you’re going out on the market, know what you’re making (because they will ask) and know what you’re looking for.

  28. Bekx*

    Should I be negotiating in my situation? (Let me know if I should ask this during tomorrow’s open thread instead…)

    When I interviewed, they asked me what my salary range was. I said, at least XX,XXX. They gave me 5,000 more which was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t negotiate because I figured that was higher than I asked for.

    Just had my performance review. Bonuses are basically told to us, we don’t seem to have negotiation on that. It’s based off our performance for the year where my boss rates me basically 1-5 on things where doing your job well is a 3, exceeding is a 4, and going crazy above and beyond is a 5 (rare) on different categories. The base raise was 3%, but I got a few 4s so that bumped me up to 3.2%.

    Since I’m pretty much guaranteed a raise and a bonus at this company every year (they’ve never not done this, even during layoffs), do I negotiate more? Or am I good? My boss does look out for me, and I was beyond happy with my bonus.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Remember that when salary increases are given to people in a group – it’s from a “set budget”.

      But many companies have a “slush fund” — to cover what they call “emergency raises”. So if you have a better offer in hand and present it — do not be surprised if the money that wasn’t “in the budget” suddenly is available.

    2. plain_jane*

      My recommendation would be to speak with your boss to figure out when the raises and bonuses are being decided internally. And then make sure you speak with them about 2 weeks before that. Or ask for salary to be reviewed again in 6 months.

      I worked in a company similar to what you’re describing, and they didn’t have much wiggle room after deciding what everyone’s raise would be and asking then would be very tone deaf.

    3. Kate*

      This is similar to the way raises are done where I work. There is a standardized review system that triggers a raise based on the scoring on the review. In my experience, there is room to negotiate during the review ie: you’ve rated me as a 3, but I believe I have exceeded expectations because of X, Y, and Z. Then if my manager agrees and changes that rating, it triggers a higher raise. For me, if I waited until after the review had been turned into hr and the raise had been calculated, I would not have been able to negotiate more because the raise follows some type of standard calculation based on the review.

      1. Bekx*

        Okay, this makes sense. This was my first ever performance review in my working life, so I wasn’t sure what was acceptable or not. Thanks!

  29. Frequent Reader*

    This was very early in my professional life, and I am now working at a much higher level in a completely different field. At the time, I was 24 years old, and had been working in the office of a major (Fortune 500) corporation in an administrative role. They had just announced they were downsizing, and closing our office. In the course of my job, I regularly dealt with the vice-president of another company, and when he heard I was about to be on the market, the president called and asked if I would be interested in an administrative position with them. At the end of the interview, he offered me an amount that was exactly what I was making at my current position, which was $23,500. I told him I would need $26,000. This felt very bold to me, and I was really nervous, since how nice would it be to be able to collect my severance pay and go immediately into a new job without worry? But the interview went very well, and I had some very specific experience that he could not get just anywhere, and I was certain I could get at least that amount elsewhere if need be. He waivered a little. At that time I told him I would accept $25,000 if he would agree to adjusting me to $26,000 after a 90 day performance evaluation, assuming my performance justified the increase. He said no, that’s okay, I’ll give you the $26,000. I mean I know it’s small potatoes compared to my salary now, but I was pretty proud of myself at the time.

  30. amp2140*

    When I went from temp to perm at my company, I knew they gave me the very bottom of the salary range even though I had an ivy league degree and two years experience (only saying that since they also did that to coworkers on the basis of not having a degree or not having the experience).

    The recruiter told me there was no room to negotiate, then called my regional manager to laugh about me.

    A year later my coworker (male) WITH THE EXACT SAME CRITERIA made over 5K more.

  31. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    In my business (IS/IT, and not non-profits) – through the years I’ve had to use resignation and a subsequent counter-offer to obtain increases. The tactics used vary from management culture to management culture.

    Some managements will take a “suicide option” over doing the right thing — example = an extremely profitable company decides to NOT give increases to people who have been working 55 hour weeks, on salary. People start leaving. Managers say “I won’t negotiate! This is TERRORISM!” – yes, but the management is killing the company, and, themselves, by sticking to their guns.

    The one thing you need is LEVERAGE. Do you have a better job offer in hand?

    If applying to company B from company A — and a “lowball” offer is extended = REFUSE IT. If you’re trying to better yourself, don’t say “um yuh, OK”. And if they come back with a FAIR offer – you CAN accept it, but know full well when raise time comes round, you’ll have to take some radical action.

  32. Technical Editor*

    At my last job, they offered me a pittance, but I needed the work. This is how the conversation went.

    Job: We want to offer you $40,000.
    Me: Is there any wiggle room on that? I wouldn’t be able to make my car payment with that salary.
    Job: OK we’ll give you $44,000 plus an extra week of vacation.

    Probably not the best strategy, but it worked. I even got a free week of vacation without even asking.

  33. Cristina in England*

    I am especially interested to hear from non-US commenters here. My experience in the public sector in the UK is that it is more common to have a range listed upfront, and that you’ll be offered the bottom of that range, with room for incremental raises throughout your stay there. Even private sector jobs commonly list salary ranges upfront but I have never negotiated, in either sector!

    1. Michele*

      It is rare to have a salary range listed, at least in my field. There are a few trade organizations that publish information, and a lot of places use those as a guideline. I am pretty sure that the place I work for did when I was hired, and I remember one job offer that was industry average down to the dollar.

    2. Another unnamed*

      UK here, so I’ll chime in.
      My first job hunt, as a fresh grad, I was lucky enough to have 4 offers, of which 2 were very interesting. I spoke to the one I preferred, and said “Company Y are offering me 25% more; though I’d prefer to work for you, that’s a significant difference”. The response? “We can’t offer you that much, but we’ll go to 20% more”.

      More recently, I was returning to a former employer. I’d worked elsewhere for a short while; it hadn’t worked out. Meanwhile, my old organisation had reorganised, increased the priority of my old division, and were actively hiring experienced people to build up the team. I spoke to my former manager; he said “let me see what I can get you”. The move away and back, in the space of less than a year, gave me a 35% pay rise – so I didn’t negotiate that time. I’m now wishing I had, but I was in enough of a hurry to move (and satisfied enough at the time) that I didn’t.

    3. Ruth (UK)*

      UK person! But unfortunately I was too scared to negotiate because I so badly wanted the job. So it looked like this:

      “The salary is £x”

      But not in those words.

      Honestly, even after reading AAM and even after reading other comments on this thread I am still unlikely to try negotiating at any point in the not-too-distant future if I apply for any new jobs or anything. I would be too uncomfortable doing it. Uncomfortable enough that I’m willing to forfeit the potential additional money/perks that could be negotiated in favour of avoiding the negotiation.

      I try to follow advice from this site etc, but this is one area I can see my self basically eternally failing. I’d probs suck if I ever had to hire anyone for a job too, since I’d probably feel equally awkward from the other side of the conversation.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But are you really willing to pay thousands of dollars to avoid three minutes of discomfort? If you haven’t looked at it like that, you should!

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      I had to leave my last job for a few reasons but one of them was the pay (the upper end scale was £17.5 a year, the union fought every year to get an increase was which was 2% over 2 years when I was leaving) and I couldn’t afford to live on it by myself). I was only looking at jobs with more pay. When I got my current job, the HR person said, “we will offer it to you for x pay” and my reply was “ok, is that the middle of the scale?” It was the bottom of the scale but the HR person said that that was a mistake and it should be y. I was happy with y, so accepted.

      I am job hunting again (relocating) and again, am only going for jobs that have a scale of x-y so I know I’d be able to survive. When I get an offer, I’m going to counter with what my annual raise would be if I was staying my current position.

  34. edj3*

    I’ve negotiated three times.

    The first time I was unemployed and my husband had learned he was getting laid off (and our apartment had flooded thanks to a water main break—I’m talking 2 feet of water throughout and uninhabitable). I still negotiated but through the head hunter the company had hired. I laid out my reasons for a higher salary (strategic job, highly visible to the clients, I brought an unusual mix of skills to the table, ones the hiring company wanted and had failed to find for half a year), and told him that at the end of the day I wanted to work for the company. Obviously he had good incentive to negotiate on my behalf since his fee was based on my salary. I got an extra week of vacation and about $5k more if I recall correctly.

    The second time, I negotiated on my own behalf and was able get a slightly higher salary, but no extra vacation (that was flat against company policy, which was a first for me), and also a relo package (moving from Boston to the Kansas City area).

    The third time was about a week ago and this one was weird because the hiring manager and I have known each other for nearly 20 years. I’d been doing consulting work for her team for nearly a year and she really wanted me on board. But she’s also got constraints imposed by the company and of course a budget of her own to manage. She told me the top range of the salary and I said, yeah I’d need to be at the absolute tippy-top of that range for me to move in house and out of the self-employed consulting I’ve been doing. She came back $2k over her limit and I’ll be starting in a couple of weeks.

    I guess you could also call it negotiating when I’ve set my bill rate for the consulting I’ve done, so I’ve done that a lot. But somehow I think of negotiating for a salaried position as being different.

  35. Libretta*

    The hardest negotiation I ever did was at a first (and only, though I didn’t know that) interview with a Biotech company. The interview was with a VP, and she asked me about my expected salary about 20 minutes in. I was not expecting to talk about salary at this interview, so was only sort of prepared. I had always worked for non-profits, so I was earning non-profit wages. I knew vaguely what I was worth in the for-profit world, so I asked for the highest possible number I could imagine anyone paying me for my skills, which was a $17K raise from what I was making. I was employed and did not know for sure that I wanted to work there, so it did not seem super risky to me. She countered with $5K less than what I asked, and I told her I would need to think about that. I met the CEO about 5 min later, and one of the first things he asked me was what I expected to make (apparently she was only supposed to bring a candidate she was ready to hire in to meet the CEO). I told him the number I asked for, and he countered again with $5K less, but said they could give me that the next time they received a grant. So I asked for a signing bonus – which I never in my life would have expected to do but it was so bizarre and fast I decided to go for it. And they agreed! A $2500 signing bonus! Yay me! I took it, and we got the grant a few months after I started, and I asked for and got my last $5k. The VP became a friend, and she later told me that was the top of their range. Love it.

  36. GOG11*

    In my first job, I was hired in as a Teapot Production Associate alongside another Associate and under the supervision of a Teapot Production Supervisor. My Department was supposed to have these three people along with the general support of the rest of the Teapot Store. Welp, Supervisor went on medical leave and Teapot Associate quit (along with a lot of other people who could have assisted). I was supposed to have about 20 hours per week, but was actually getting time and a half some weeks due to the sheer volume of the work/projects I had to do.

    After a few weeks, and a medical problem that resulted from not being able to take any sort of break for 10 hours on the days I was in, I asked the Head Teapot Manager for a raise because the volume and level of work I was doing wasn’t in line with what I was hired in at. The raise was eventually granted (turnover higher up prevented it from going into effect when it should have, but a different Head Teapot Manager went to bat and got it sorted out).

    I’m pretty sure the only reason I actually got the raise, though, was because they knew I could walk and then they’d really be SOL. They weren’t the sort of place to do it because you work was worth more (except in this case, because they couldn’t bring anyone on without anyone to train anyone amid being short of staff everywhere else, too).

  37. KTM*

    I negotiated my first job coming out of college with my MS in an engineering field that is somewhat specialized. At the company I ended up working for, I had a couple interviews and felt I was a really strong candidate (and received feedback along the same lines). When they gave me a job offer it was about $5k-10k less than I was looking for. I asked to speak with the hiring manager about details and additional questions (clarifications on benefits, etc) and during that conversation I expressed that I was hoping to be slightly higher in salary since I had a received a similar priced offer (from another company) when I had only had my BS at the time. It turns out the company hires a lot of entry level employees so they have a set rate of pay depending on your degree but they came back the next day and gave me a $5k signing bonus to cover the difference. Within a year I received a 12% merit raise based on my performance and I was right up to where I had wanted to start!

  38. Ada M Key*

    I was able to negotiate an approximately 6% higher salary in a corporate environment by pointing out that, at full-time hours, it was a pay cut from my graduate stipend. That position still paid WAY below market.

    I was not able to negotiate anything with my next position in local government, though I tried. The salary was at market, though, so I took it. The benefits were amazing as well.

    For my current corporate position, I initially turned it down because it was a cut in total compensation (the benefits are nowhere nearly as nice here, though I would say they are typical for corporate). They came back at nearly 5% more on the base salary. I took the position, not because the salary change makes a big difference, but because there is a lot more opportunity here.

  39. Kate*

    I’ve been on both sides of the negotiating table, and the last five raises I negotiated for myself – either incoming to a new employer or while at an employer, ranged from 23-50%.

    People are terrible at asking for raises, and I think a couple of things are key. First, always ask for at least 10% more than you would be happy with. And use the words “at least”, as in, I want to make at least $75 for this position. Too often people give a range, which is a bad idea. If you tell me that you would like to make between $70k and $75k, why would I ever pay you $75? You probably won’t get the “at least” number either, but if you are a valued employee, your employer will get as close as they can. You should always go in with a goal, don’t rely on your boss to set the number.

    Tie the request to your accomplishments, or the market (“I have taken on these additional responsibilities”, “I am better than my peers in this role”, I know I am underpaid for this position” etc.) rather than to need or desire, which isn’t relevant to the employer. People are afraid that they will get fired or face some appalled reaction by asking for a big number, but all you really do is reset the bar. And even if you get turned down, just asking is valuable. You can ask what you need to do to reach that level, ask when the next time your salary can be reviewed is, and set yourself up so that the next time you ask, they will say yes. Employers are loath to say no twice in a row. Don’t ask every year, if you expect them to take you seriously. You need to be happy for at least a couple of years after a big raise.

    Also, it’s best to ask outside of the normal salary budgeting period. During annual reviews, managers are working off an overall budget for compensation. Any extra money for one employee has to be deducted from another employee. If you are asking for a big raise, you are best off asking for it when it can be done on an exception basis, and won’t run into budgetary constraints. Most employers give raises around the first of the year, so that means ask in the summer. When you are offered a job, always go back and ask for more money. Say, specifically, “Before accepting, I’m really excited about the job, but was hoping that the salary would be [offer + 5-10%]. Can you tell me if that is possible?” Again, if they say no, you can accept anyway – they aren’t going to pull the offer – but ask when it will be possible to have your salary reviewed.

    Most importantly, don’t be timid, or whiny. You need to give yourself a little pep talk beforehand, about your value, and ask confidently and with the expectation that your request will be accommodated. Don’t ever threaten to quit if you don’t get it, but you can threaten to be unhappy (“I feel like I do a terrific job for this company (with examples) and I want to feel valued in return”), which can be surprisingly effective.

    1. A Jane*

      I love this, especially the last part about the pep talk. Sometimes, you can psych yourself out by thinking of all the reasons you’ll get denied a higher salary. Push past that and ask with confidence!

    2. fposte*

      This is great! I’d love to hear more from the other side of the negotiating table. I’ve never been–that’s not in the structure here.

    3. Sunflower*

      This is great. I’ve always kind of thought ‘huh’ about giving your expectations as a range. It’s not like I’m not going to accept a job if it pays more than what I expected. I like saying ‘I’m looking to make at least X’ because it opens up that if you are offered X salary, you might not be happy with it so they should be prepared to negotiate beyond that.

      People seem very scared of offers being pulled. Thinking on both sides of the table, I really wouldn’t want to work for anyone who is gonna pull an offer over a couple thousand bucks. Not being able to give me the couple extra is reasonable. Telling your top candidate to kick rocks over it just seems really unreasonable and foolish. Who knows what you would expect working with this person?

  40. AdAgencyChick*

    Early on in my career, I just asked for what I wanted right at the beginning, without doing any research on whether or not this was anything like market rate for the job. This got me a lot of cold silences followed by “…oh” in phone screens when I was trying to get out of my marketing-manager-trainee job and into an entry-level writing or editing job. Once, when I was trying to move to a new city to follow my then-boyfriend, I said what I wanted, and they said, “Well, this is what we’re paying, do you want to continue the conversation?” I said yes because I really didn’t have any other irons in the fire in that city, even though it was a HUGE pay cut.

    Then after I took that job, which was at a nonprofit, and broke up with the guy I had moved out there for, I heard about a job that had opened up at an ad agency. I had been trying to break in before with no success, but the nonprofit gave me experience in the subject area to make this agency interested. I very bluntly said, “You’ll have to double my salary!” They were a bit taken aback until I told them what my then-salary was. I got what I asked for and a bit more on top :) But still, I was asking based on what I had made in a past job, whether or not that was what THIS job should pay. In retrospect, I can’t believe I was successful!

    These days I’m still blunt but more informed, and I pretty much assume salary negotiations happen at the beginning. I’ve never tried negotiating a salary at a company I was already working at. Fortunately for me, I had an amazing boss during the salary-building part of my career who did a lot of that for me. These days I make enough to be happy, and the next pay bump wouldn’t come without a lot more scrutiny and responsibilities that I’m not good at. So I don’t do it.

    But, the last time I changed jobs before this one, I was very candid with the recruiter. “I make $X, which I know is on the high side for you. You called me, and I’m content where I am, so I wouldn’t move without a substantial bump. I’d rather not waste your time or mine, is that within the realm of possibility?” I didn’t say what I meant by “substantial bump.” The recruiter (whom I’ve known professionally for years) said, “I can always count on you for your candor,” and we proceeded with the interview process.

  41. Stayc*

    My biggest success in salary negotiation came after I had a competing job offer. I had gotten a promotion and negotiated for about a 20% raise with another bump up to where I wanted to be at the end of the year. Well the end of the year came and I only got the standard 4% raise, so I started job searching. I got a job offer for about 35% more than I was making (yes I was underpaid, but this was a very generous job offer working for a former co-worker). My company countered with a 40% raise and a 10K retention bonus. I took some time to think about it, but ultimately I stayed with my company and still think I made the right decision. I’ve since received another raise and several bonuses (in a business development position, so these are based on sales) and make more than double what I made when I started here 3 years ago pretty much fresh out of college.

  42. Labyrinthine*

    The only time I have been in a position to negotiate…I never had to. I gave a range early on based on cost of living in the area and market pay for similar jobs. They came back with $15,000 above my top range. I stopped while I was waaaay ahead. I always suspected I could have gotten more, though.

    1. Amanda*

      I was wondering if someone would bring this up, or if Alison had heard about it. Curious to hear hers and others’ thoughts.

      Me: I’ve never negotiated. Still on the first job out of college, which started out as a temp job and then turned permanent. I was so thrilled to get benefits like insurance and paid holidays and vacation time (plus the raise), I just accepted.

    2. Stitch*

      That’s generally how it seems to work in my field. (Depends on the company, though.) Generally, new grads are hired at a set amount and given raises as they achieve certain certifications/accomplishments. These raises and bonuses are spelled out in the program handbook. I imagine there is some room for negotiation, but only really after you’ve reached a milestone in your certification process.

      The market rates are also very well reported (not only through Glassdoor, but through a major recruiting company that lists the information publicly) so the companies would have difficulty finding candidates if they were outside of market rate.

    3. Stone Satellite*

      I work at a company that operates the same way for largely the same reasons, and it works really well for us. I greatly appreciate it and the company’s commitment to making all our internal processes transparent and unbiased (promotion, raises, etc.). It turns out there’s a lot you can do to improve fairness if you actually decide it’s important, and I’m proud to work at a company that puts real and substantial effort into improving its fairness.

    4. Zahra*

      That assumes that “objective” really is objective. However, research have proven that women are usually judged more harshly, even on equal “objective” measures. Of course, women don’t negotiate as much, so it may come out as a wash in the end.

  43. Christina*

    I did this for the first time just recently and was so proud of myself! I was asked by an organization I volunteer with if I’d be interested in taking on a more substantial and official role with them, I told them I’d love to and gushed about how much I love the work they do. They asked if I’d be willing to do it on a volunteer basis, but, based on past not-great experiences volunteering my professional skills, I said I would like to be paid (plus, something to add to my resume and not bury under “Volunteer/Other”). They said to just let them know a number.

    I took a few days to think about it and came back and asked (via email, as that’s what she asked I do) for $2000 for 6 months of work, and then we could touch base at that point. I gave them my justification that this came out to about $16/hour for 20 hours per month. They came back and actually offered me about $20 more per month than what I asked for! And ended the email with “If you’re this easy to work with, we’ll get along great!”

    (In hindsight, I probably could have asked for more, especially realizing that now is their busiest season. But, have to start somewhere!)

  44. Juni*

    In the Nonprofit sector, in fundraising: I negotiated my offer up by $2500/year plus a $500 extra/year pot of professional development money, but I’ll be honest, I was in a good position to walk away so I felt pretty confident. I wasn’t desperate for the job, and I could have stayed where I was, but it sounded like a good fit so I applied.

    They made the offer on the phone, and I said, “Thank you so much! I’d like a chance to review a formal offer – which I know also includes benefits – before I make a decision. Can you send me that in writing today, and I can get back to you tomorrow after I’ve had a chance to take some time to look at it?” The hiring manager did so, and I reviewed the whole package including benefits (and contribution percentages for the insurance), professional development budget, PTO, etc.

    It would have been a small bump in pay from my current job, but the benefits were not as good (and there were way fewer holidays), so the increase was smaller than I wanted in take-home. I called her back the next morning around 10am, and said, “I received the offer and I’m interested! The salary is aligned with where I want to be, but the benefits package isn’t competitive, and as a result, my take-home pay would be less than the job I’m in now. That’s not the kind of career move I can make, but if you can offer $XX,XXX I can accept right now.” That number was $3,000 higher than what she offered initially. Then I shut up. She said after a moment, “Let me see what I can do, can I call you back this afternoon?”

    She did call me back later that afternoon, and said, “I’m not authorized to take the offer above $XX,XXX (which was $2,500 higher than I asked for, not the $3,000). But I can offer you the difference as an increase in your professional development budget. Does that work for you?” It did, so I said so, and she sent over a revised offer letter that afternoon, which I signed.

    I’m still here. I’m happy. She’s a good boss. After a year, my COL increase put me over that initial number, so I was pretty pleased to hit it, and I still get that extra $500 for professional development every year which is worth it’s weight in gold.

  45. socrescentfresh*

    When I was hired for my first full-time job after grad school, I had a great experience negotiating my salary with my friendly, feminist supervisor whom I adored. (I’d been interning for the organization for the previous year so I already had rapport with her, which certainly helped.) I led into my negotiation by describing how my decision to work across the country from my family was a difficult one and I wanted to be able to visit home a couple of times a year. Then I said, “I was wondering if there’s room in the budget to go up to [5% more than the offered salary, rounding it to the next $5k]. I phrased it that way because the organization was a small nonprofit and I was genuinely concerned about the budget. Plus, it let me save face if the original offer was firm and I chose to take it anyway. My supervisor smiled and said, “Good for you for pushing back.” She agreed to the increase and I took the job. Ironically, even though I had a great first negotiation experience, I didn’t negotiate the offer for my current job, because at the time I was desperate and it was already higher than I expected. I kick myself for that.

  46. AnonymousaurusRex*

    I negotiated salary (successfully!) for the first time for my job now. It is my first job in my field after finishing my PhD. I was working in a relatively unrelated field in local government, with published salaries, when I received the offer for my current position.
    I was so excited to get the offer, but my heart sank when I saw the compensation. Typical entry-level PhDs in my field make about $65,000 when at private businesses (academics and those working for nonprofits make closer to $60,000). My offer, which was for a for-profit company, was for $53,000. It was considerably more than my government position that wasn’t in my field (I was making about $46,000–but barely able to pay student loans, living in a high COL areas, etc), but the new job would come with a new, very long, commute that would pretty much eat up that difference in pay.

    I talked to the person who would be my manager, and mentioned that I wanted to talk about compensation. She said she didn’t handle any of the salary negotiations, those were handled by the HR department. I have no idea if this is how it’s usually done, or if this company is just a little odd.

    Anyway, I scheduled a call with the HR manager. I told her that I was really excited about the job and I wanted to take it, but I was really hoping the compensation would be more in line with market rates. She said immediately that she could go up to $55,000. I was polite, respectful, but said I really was looking for something more in the ballpark of $65,000. She said that that was a really big difference, and they were a small company and probably couldn’t do it, I was an “unknown quantity” etc. I stressed the value I’d bring with skills in x, y, z. She said she’d have to go back and talk to upper management, but asked “what was the lowest I could go?” I told her I would have trouble accepting anything below 60k.

    I received an updated offer letter for 60k later that day. Which I happily accepted. It wasn’t totally in line with real market rates, but it was both a tough job market and I felt the job would be one I’d enjoy and excel at, so I was happy to take the new offer! And it is pretty much in line with similar jobs in the nonprofit sector, so I was willing to compromise. Also, I feel like a 12% increase was a pretty successful negotiation!

    It was a really uncomfortable conversation in the moment, but I was thrilled with the result. It really boosted my confidence. Also–I totally thank AAM for giving me the courage to even attempt negotiation, as well as a lot of the script as to why I wanted more than they offered: stick to the market rate, sell your skills and what value you are bringing to them, NOT your increased commute, or what you were making before, or your student loan debt–none of that stuff is relevant.

  47. College Career Counselor*

    I have negotiated salary on every job I’ve had, except for the entry-level one (they just said “Here’s the salary,” and I accepted).

    As for each negotiation case, after I received the offer, I asked for a couple of days to review it and then came back saying something to the effect of “I’m very interested in the position because of Reasons, but I would like to inquire whether there is room for negotiation on the salary.” And I waited to see what the other person said (this is extremely difficult for me, because I immediately want to go into super-justification mode and/or don’t-hate-me-for-asking mode).

    I was successful in two instances in negotiating a somewhat higher amount (although I would have been accepted the position in either case). However, one hiring manager said “No” in response to my inquiry. She followed up with an explanation that (1) the position was grant-funded so there was no additional $$ available and (2) based on their market research the salary was in line with industry norms (which it was).

    In the first two instances, it felt like the other person was expecting me to negotiate (and certainly a career counselor should be able to have the conversation if s/he is advising others to do it) and was ready for a counter-offer. Because of who I am, I don’t particularly like engaging in salary negotiations, but I think it’s important to advocate for yourself, AND everything you negotiate in your favor benefits you when you get a COL or other annual increase.

    In all cases, I conducted negotiations over the phone, (script your talking points, but don’t read them verbatim!) which I recommend instead of by email. I realize this is not always what is done, but I find it easier to gauge the other person’s reaction hearing their voice.

  48. A Minion*

    My negotiation went something like this:

    HR: We’re pleased to offer you this position! The salary is X, as advertised, which is unfortunately, not negotiable.
    Me: Great! I accept!

    I admit – I was ecstatic. The offered salary was more than 40% more than what I was currently making and there was a 5% raise built in at the six-month mark, which is coming up this month, so I’m still ecstatic. Negotiating wouldn’t have done me any good and would likely have ended with the offer being rescinded as it’s a smallish nonprofit and, now that I’m in a position to know, the budget is fairly tight.

  49. QAT Contractor*

    My first (and still current) professional job was only the second real interview I have ever had. One was for a Microsoft internship that I failed misserably due to no clue what they expected. (stupid career counsler not giving me any info..)

    But the second interview, 1 year out of college with no experience in the field other than course work, was for a position that was basically the samething, only full time and not an internship. This one required me to drive 4 hours to a muh larger city for a 2 hour interview. At the end I was offered a start date, 2 weeks vacation and $XY,000.

    I thought about it for a minute, calcuated how much that came out to per month and said I woul like to negotiate and that I knew most people ask for additional vacation (I found that out somewhere along the line) but that I would need a bit more pay due to the cost of living difference from where I lived and where I was moving to. I also mentioned I had a life style that I would prefer to keep and would need a little more income to support that and the cost of rent.

    I never gave a number but the compan offed an additional $1200 a year which I accepted. Looking back that was not really a lot per month, but I was happy to have gotten anything more and a job. Now, 7.5 years later, I am earning double what I started at.

  50. CollegeAdmin*

    When I applied for my job, I had to input my desired salary. (Damn you, online applications with mandatory fields!) Let’s say I put $35K. When I was offered the job, I was given a figure of $32K. I said, “You know, I had requested $35K – is there any chance we could meet in the middle at $33,500?”

    The HR rep told me that she had only been approved to go up to $33K but she would find out and let me know. When she called back in a few hours, and she told me that she couldn’t go past $33K (and that it was indeed a little higher than they would usually offer someone with my limited experience) but I would be eligible for a raise at the annual review time in three months, so I accepted. Come review time, we all (admin staff) got tiny raises, but it put me right at that middle ground number, so it felt like a win.

  51. Rachael*

    So I have a long history with both negotiating and not negotiating, but here goes. For reference, I live in NYC and have a MPH.

    Job 1 – Graduated from undergrad and offered $30,000 to be a research assistant. They apologized and said maybe they could be higher. Later I learned my colleague made 35,000 and probably all I had to do was ask to get that.
    Job 2 – Program Assistant for non profit. In interview they asked how much I made, I tried not to answer, but ended up telling them. They offered $35,000 and said they could probably get a few thousand more. I was so unprepared, and scared, and frankly had no idea what to do, since I had never thought about how I was supposed to approach these issues, and did not ask for more. I did not get it. I still cringe, and think about this.
    Grad school
    Job 3- My first successful negotiation. I applied fora gov job and they offered $45,000. I knew from public salary postings that for someone with a masters and two years experience the salary was closer to 52,00-55,000, so I asked for that. They came back at 48,000 and I held on to for least $50,00, and I got it.
    Job 4- I applied to a non profit, and was very unhappy in my current position. They offered 53,00 and I accepted without negotiation because I was desperate. Later on, I asked for a raise and they wanted to give me a big one, but it was not approved by the high ups and so I got a small 3,000 raise.
    Job 5- Another govt job where the posted salary was $75,000. The benefits were worse than my previous job and so I asked for a couple more thousand to cover increased healthcare costs. They made me send them a document of my current salary and healthcare costs breakdown, but I got $2,000 more.

    For me, knowing real salaries, based on glass door, talking to friends, reading the Billfold, and government job salary ranges helped me know what was reasonable and made a me a little more confident. Though, obviously, still a work in progress.

  52. Sarah*

    When I was interviewing for my current position at a non-profit, the salary was about $2000 less than I hoped for, so I said something to the effect of” I was really hoping for $xx,xxx.” They asked if I would be willing to move to that after a 3 month probation period, and I said yes. In the course of my work, I received the minutes from meetings prior to my hire and saw that they had approved spending up to what I asked for BEFORE I asked for it. If I hadn’t of asked, I would have been stuck at the lower amount for who knows how long. It’s always worth asking!!! (I think we were all happy with the negotiations. They had some room to move, and I got the salary I wanted. Now to work on a raise!!)

  53. Lunar*

    I am still in my first job and I negotiated my salary for it. I was hesitant to do so because I was so entry level and didn’t have any skills that I considered special, but the salary I was offered was very low compared to what I said I was looking for and wouldn’t really be enough in my city which has a high cost of living. I wasn’t really sure what to ask for because my title is pretty general and organizations my field (nonprofit) have a wide range of salaries. I mentioned that I had some concerns about the title (which turned out to be a mistake on my original offer letter) and salary and I was wondering if there was any room for change in those areas. I was nervous and added that these things wouldn’t necessairily be deal breakers. There was some hemming and hawing where my boss asked about other organizations I was applying at and pointed out that some of the benefits in the offer were unusually good. I explained that I didn’t really know about other organizations because I hadn’t gotten to the offer stage with them but that I had definitely seen ranges that were slightly higher. I also said that I agreed that the benefit he mentioned (retirement contribution) was excellent, but it wouldn’t help me with living in such an expensive city, so I would still need a higher salary. I was definitely a little awkward, but I pushed through it and my boss reassured me that negotiating was a normal part of the process. He took it up the ladder and got me an 8% increase.
    I’d love to hear more about negotiating raises, particularly with a rather general and amorphous job title and description. It is hard to think about explaining how I have taken on responsibilities beyond my job description when my job description is basically – “do whatever needs doing at a small organization with a few employees.”

    1. Sarah*

      I have the same type of position, and I negotiate by telling them how I’ve gone above and beyond. I’m required to do x, but this is how I’ve improved the process and look of x. There was some downtime, so I took it upon myself to create a manual. Look for opportunities to improve what you’re doing and then be sure to bring them up when it’s negotiation time.

  54. Anon for the monies talk*

    I have negotiated for every job offer, but I’ll talk about two of them: The first was right out of college. Market rate for an Engineer with a masters degree was $60k. The company I interviewed at offered $55k. I called them back after asking to take the weekend to think about it and mentioned my relevant work/lab experience and asked if they could move closer to $60k which was the going market rate for someone in my position. They countered with $59k and i accepted. I also asked for a raise and promotion at the two year point after making the case for it and got both.

    The second negotiation with another company did not go as well as I was happy with the salary (I asked for $80k on my application materials and they matched it) but I was only offered two weeks of vacation. I was over 4 years into the industry and was about to leave a job with three weeks and 6 personal days, so i would have lost 11 days of vacation to come to this job. I explained that with my experience level and where i was at currently, that i would like an additional week of vacation to help make up the gap. They asked me if the job offer was worth risking for an additional week after they generously matched my salary. I ended up accepting, but i regret it because that initial week would have been so much better!! I should have said, “actually, i cannot accept the offer as it stands. If you can meet me half way with an additional 5 days of vacation, i will gladly accept.” Live and learn :-)

    My rule is to always negotiate, even on something little like vacation benefits. Unless the offer is exceedingly generous, I’ll usually live by that rule and it has helped me not leave money on the table.

  55. AGH*

    I know you are supposed to negotiate, but I tried twice and ot didn’t work put. I try to find out the range early on and if I can’t live it, I take myself out of the running.

  56. Skyler*

    This is more of a negotiation failure story, but hopefully some people can learn from my mistakes (and I can learn from your successes).

    I had been working at a company for two years. There had been no raises, benefits had been cut, and I was already being paid fairly low for the industry and area. Cost of living was going up quickly and I had taken on a second part time job. In my two years there I had gone above and beyond my role description and had absorbed responsibilities from colleagues who had quit and not been replaced.

    During my review I got glowing praise from my manager and was told I was doing everything right. I asked about a raise and she said I would have to speak to the CEO directly. When I presented all the reasons I deserved a raise to the CEO he said sorry, it’s not in the budget. Upset by this, I told him that perhaps some of the budget should be reallocated to people who do their jobs well rather than people who are not contributing (the CEO had hired his son a few months previously and he did literally nothing but create more work for others who had to fix his mistakes). I did not call the CEO out directly for the nepotism but alluded heavily to what I was talking about.

    The CEO responded by demoting me, which cut out what little benefits I had left and cut my salary by a size able amount.

    1. John B Public*

      I really hope you have a happier ending than that! Please tell me you got a new job?

      1. Skyler*

        Not yet. I’m still searching! I’ve been to a few interviews in the last month so I hope one of them results in an offer.

  57. HappyWriter*

    For my last corporate job (I now freelance), I was told during the initial screen that the salary range was 40-45K. I said that was in the range of what I was comfortable with. When I interviewed for the job, it became clear I had more experience than anyone who had been in the position before and I was 100% sure I could do the job well with very little ramp up time. So when they offered me on the low end of the range ($41,500), I was candid with the HR person and said that given my experience, I was disappointed to be offered in the low range. I asked if that was negotiable and she asked me what I had in mind. I said $45K. She called me back an hour later and said that if I could start in a week, they’d give me $45K. I wasn’t working at the time (laid off), so it was no problem for me to start in a week. Boom, done!

  58. KB*

    I have made a lot of progress on this!

    My first job in high school (fast food), I didn’t even *ask* what the pay was.

    My first two jobs out of college were entry level and I did not negotiate – but I knew the salary was in a competitive range, and the benefits were excellent. I didn’t have much leverage here.

    First job out of grad school, I had a number in mind and the offer was over it. Again, great benefits. I had 5 years experience at this point and felt good about negotiating if the offer was low, but didn’t need too.

    After that, I negotiated by sticking firm to the requirements I laid out in the interview. The number matched my experience, but I knew it would be high for the organization. Here, the benefits were lacking so I wasn’t willing to go lower.

    Finally, in my current position, I negotiated salary and other things (but I’ll stick to salary because that’s what was asked). The number they gave was on the low end of the range I indicated when interviewing. It matched my current salary at the time. I said I would consider it and asked for the full benefit details.

    I came back asking for 10% more, stating the high cost of benefits, the pace and demands of the job that came out through interviewing, and my experience. They were upfront about that being out of the budget, but came back with a number that was ok – basically in the middle. I was ok with it. I was willing to walk if they did not move up. All of this happened over email.

    It was not scary at all – I knew I was asking for a reasonable number that was supported by other details. I wasn’t asking “just because.” I think that helps a lot. I will say, I only had the confidence to think about doing this 5+ years into my career, when I knew a lot more about the market, my abilities, and my options.

  59. CAF*

    For my first real job post grad school, switching careers out of academia, the large nonprofit I work for offered me the very top of my range. Since the job was a great fit and they came in with a high number, I didn’t bother negotiating, though I was prepared to do so.

  60. Pearl*

    I work in the UK, in a sector where roles are typically graded, with a (publicly available) salary scale for each grade. You can’t negotiate your grade, but you can negotiate where you fall on the scale. When I returned to my current employer after a couple of years working elsewhere, I asked to discuss salary, read lots of AAM to prepare for the conversation, and then was a bit blindsided when the woman from HR opened by offering me a mid-point on the scale (which was the most I thought I could reasonably ask for). I was delighted and said yes. In retrospect maybe I should have tried to push them up a step or two, but I was so pleased and relieved to be offered the job AND an increase in salary (I loathed the job I was in) I was going to say yes whatever the hell they offered!

  61. Jen*

    I tried to get $2k more when I was offered my current job. The reply was something like, “You might have misunderstood something. The starting salary for this position is $X.” The CEO and CFO are both women, so I thought they’d be a little more receptive to a fellow woman trying to negotiate, but that wasn’t the case. I felt stupid for even asking. I accepted it. Luckily, the company is thriving and it’s run by a pretty great leadership team, and they offer decent raises and bonuses, so I exceeded that $2k I was initially seeking within the first six months.

  62. lindsay*

    I moved from a coordinator position at a large nonprofit to a director position at a small nonprofit last year. I had done my research on the ED’s salary by looking at the 990 forms from previous years, so I had a good idea of the ceiling for my position.

    When she called to offer me the job, she prefaced the offer by saying, “we are pretty scrappy,” never a good sign. The offer was 35k, 5k less than I was making. I countered by saying, “I’m pretty excited about this position and bring a lot of experience in xxx (something they were looking to expand). Would you be able to do 45k?” She immediately said that wasn’t in the budget. Then, I said, “I’m really interested in this position and want to make it work. To be transparent, right now I’m making 41k. If you can match that, I’d be able to accept the position.” She said she thought that might work, but wanted to double check with the board chair. She called back an hour later with the approved 41k.

    My salary ended up flat from position to position, but I have a better title and more responsibility than in my previous job. I know I’m paid less than other people with the same title at different organizations (aforementioned scrappy-ness). But next time I’m applying for jobs, I can move to a larger organization with the same title OR a small organization with a better title.

  63. Lore*

    One job, the department was hiring for two positions–associate editor and editor. With the level of experience I had at the time, I thought I was interviewing for the junior position, for which they made me what I thought was a very nice offer, almost a 20 percent increase from what I was making at the time and with excellent benefits. It never even occurred to me to negotiate. I did not realize until my first day, when they showed me to my office and walked me past the cubicle of the other new person, that I’d gotten the more senior job. For which I was seriously underpaid until I finally got up the nerve to say, “Hey, you know you’ve been paying me well below the rest of the department, right?” It was like my boss had been waiting five years for that question. The difference was made up at the next salary review. (Though of course I then did not get any other corresponding merit or COL increase that year, so I ended still being paid less than the prevailing wage in the department, but then I got a promotion that came with a new base salary so it came out in the wash.)

    I also, and this is perhaps bad form, negotiated over a job offer I wasn’t that enthused about. It would have been moving to a consulting-firm publication, so the work itself would have been significantly less interesting to me and I was mainly interested in diversifying my resume and getting paid consulting-firm money. Their first offer was only a few thousand dollars over what I was making at the time, and even though it had better bonus potential it had substantially worse benefits and it wasn’t worth making the shift. Plus, consulting firm–I was pretty sure they expected me to negotiate. So I gave them a number that I would have switched for–about $15K over what I was making–and they came back with a number in the middle. With the bonuses, it would have been more money–but there were definitely some issues with the benefits that they would not negotiate. So I turned them down.

  64. Gooseberry Yogurt*

    During one of the initial phone conversations about my current position, my now boss was (fortunately) clear that the salary range for the position was $75K-85K. I was actually hoping for something in the middle of that range, so I felt like we were in a good place to move forward.

    Many, many interviews later, I receive a phone call from him extending a verbal offer of the job, along with a salary of $75K. I asked for a day or so to consider the offer. Really, what I wanted was a bit more time to devise a negotiating strategy, since I was a bit put off at being offered the very bottom of the range. I exceeded the minimum qualifications for the job and knew that I had really solid references, so I felt I had some room to negotiate. Off to AAM to look for some language.

    I called back the next day, saying that I was very excited to receive their offer. However, I said, in terms of salary, I was thinking of something closer to $85K. To be honest, I don’t remember if I even provided much in the way of justification, though I may have pointed out my years of experience, additional skills, etc. In actuality, I was hoping for around $80K, but figured we’d get there if they split the difference.

    In the end, that’s what they did! I remember being incredibly nervous asking at the time, but it’s pretty amazing how just a few minutes’ worth of conversation netted me an extra $5K/yr., plus the ongoing effects that has in terms of raises.

  65. Eliza Jane*

    I negotiated only once, and it went… mediocre. I’d worked for a small company before, for several years, and left because their expectations were crippling. They reached out to me a few years later asking if I’d be interested in some contract work. I said yes. They asked what terms I’d ask, and I said, “$X per hour, paid within 10 days of invoicing, with a minimum of 4 hours per day worked.” They told me that sounded fine.

    When they came back with the actual offer, though, it was $5 less per hour, and with a daily rate rather than an hourly rate, with a statement that a “day” was 8 hours of work. I pushed back, saying they’d verbally said my terms were acceptable, and was told they could give me my $X/hour, but needed the daily rate “for simplicity”. This ended up burning me pretty badly, since I needed to work a lot of 10-12 hour days to meet deadlines.

    On the other hand, I also had to work a lot of weekends! So that’s something, I guess…

  66. VictoriaHR*

    The only time I negotiated salary was for my current role (IT Recruiter). My boss said he was thinking $XX with a $500 bonus on each placement and $500 bonus after they stay for 6 months. He asked my thoughts. I countered with $YY (5k higher) and a $250 bonus/$250 bonus. I explained that I would feel more comfortable with the higher base and that I’m not as motivated by bonuses. He accepted and we went from there.

    1. CollegeAdmin*

      Ooh, I really like your style here. Not that it’s applicable for my field, but I too would rather a higher base than larger bonuses. Nicely done!

  67. First timer*

    I just negotiated a salary offer two weeks ago, which was my first time and it was pretty successful and it was an inperson negotiation as well, which made it more difficult. My circumstances area little different than most though. Company A sold my subsidiary to Company B, however I did specialized work for Company A outside of my subsidiary and they now have to hire someone to take over that work, so Company A wanted me to come back and work for them. Some benefits are better at Company B than Company A. When Company A offered me the job (and they knew the salary that had been paying me), it was a 10% pay increase but I had hoped for a 20% increase due to the things I was losing, i.e. pension, lower bonus, etc. I shared my displeasure and explained several reasons as to why I thought I deserved a higher salary. We negotiated up another $4000 with a promise that they would get to my desired salary by Jan 2016 with a raise, plus would work on getting me an additional year of PTO and bump me up to the short term incentive bonus program so I would qualify for a higher bonus %. I told them that I would consider their offer, but needed a couple of days to think about. 4 hours later, I received a phone call and they bumped up their salary offer another $1500 (now a 18% raise), officially added an extra week of PTO and added a sign on bonus. I was thrilled and planned on taking the offer, but still told them I would let them know in a couple of days. Due to other circumstances, I was completely upfront with my manager throughout the whole hiring process with Company A and told him I made my decision and I was leaving for Company A. He got in touch with management from Company B and they actually gave me a counteroffer which I didn’t expect to happen since Company B has only owned us less than 2 months. They matched the new salary and then threw in an additional confidential offer. I was in disbelief and took Company B’s offer. I learned some important lessons throughout this process: 1. Be prepared to have reasons as to why you think you deserve a higher salary 2. Don’t do all the talking and don’t be afraid to say that you need time to think about the offer 3. In particular situations (not all of course) be upfront and honest with your manager. If I hadn’t done the items previously listed, the salary negotiation would not gone as well and I would have had the much lower offer.

  68. Stargazer*

    I ask for more money all the time. But I’ve been with this company for 9 years, and worked in almost every department so I’m not as afraid of higher-ups as I might be if it were a larger company or I were newer. I don’t always get it, but I always try to remain casual and collaborative and use “we”. e.g. “I definitely want to work here. Is there any way we could have any movement on the salary?” (Got bumped from $30k to $34k with that one. I had originally asked for $40k.) Or, “My monthly column is often the top read on the website the day it comes out. What do you say to a $50 increase per column?” (I was told no for that one.) If someone offers me a freelance story, sometimes I’ll shoot back an email asking for, say, $100 instead of $75. A lot of times I’ll get it because freelance budgets are often more flexible. But if the type of story (like a restaurant review) has a set pay, a lot of times I’ll be told, sorry, this is the pay. Just ask!

  69. Mockingjay*

    In my youth, I once got an increase through sheer, dumb naivety and arrogance. (Cringes at memory.)

    In my first job, during my second annual review, the company handed me the memo listing a modest increase. I looked at the senior manager and said, “I was hoping for a little more. I was just turned down for a credit card due to insufficient income, which is kind of embarrassing for a college graduate.” (I still can’t believe I said that. Oy, the arrogance.)

    They actually coughed up a few hundred more. (This was back when $100 was a lot of money, and credit cards rare. We used traveler’s checks for business trips.)

  70. Alexandra, PHR*

    I have once, for my current job. I got the job through a head-hunter. They made an offer to the salary I requested, however I had said if that was if benefits were on par with what I had now. I had GREAT benefits. And the company were suspiciously very slow about giving me benefit information. By the time I got it, realized the deductible as 4X my current one and waiting period was 6 months!!! So I negotiated for them to pay my COBRA til I was eligible for the company plan, and $1,500 extra a year to make up for the deductible. Since then, the deductible has increased significantly, but I’m now on my husband’s plan.

    Wasn’t a huge negotiation, and they said yes very quickly.

  71. Joey*

    I’ve got two.

    For anyone in considering govt, I negotiated my govt job by typing “salary [job title] [govt agency]” into google to find public records of salaries. It also listed hire date and name so I was able to see the salaries of everyone in that title. I looked up some of those folks on linked in to get a feel for experience/skills and threw out a salary that was comparable and told them I took into account the salaries info I found online.

    I helped my wife negotiate her salary and commission structure [sales] by focusing on how much and how quickly she raised revenue in her current job relative to her peers at her current job. Luckily she was coming into a huge company in a territory that hadn’t produced well so they increased the base offer to match her current take home, gave her a higher title and agreed to a commission structure that was only going to be expensive for them if she increased sales substantially.

  72. Vanilla*

    It was my first “real” job out of college. It was an editorial position and low paid (less than $30,000/yr.), so I wasn’t shocked by the salary because I had asked others in the field what I should expect for my experience, the market rate, etc. I had been unemployed for several months, so I was pretty desparate to take anything I could get that was in my field, but I still asked for more money ($5,000 more). I knew it was a long shot, but I knew that it was the most bargaining power I would ever have what that particular company. A few seconds later, they gave me $1,000 more. I like to tell people about the time I made $1,000 in 10 seconds. :)

  73. HQ*

    I successfully negotiated a salary increase for my current job (internal hire, moving from a union position to a non-union). I work for a state-funded organization, so there’s a set salary range and a (supposedly) prescribed formula for deciding the salary to offer based on education and experience level.

    The first offer they came out with, I greeted with a surprised silence. Then I said, “I am very excited about this position, and would like to accept, but I need a base salary that is close to what I make with my current base salary and overtime.”
    Then I politely asked how they arrived at this figure. The HR rep told me about the work and experience formula. I’ve had several years of experience, so I asked which years of experience were considered for this job and which were not. That proved to be very enlightening, because it seemed to me like the person who calculated my initial offer hadn’t actually read the job description. But I couldn’t think of a nice way to say that, so instead I said something like, “This is going to sound strange, but is it possible that my salary offer was mixed up with another applicant’s? In the job description, it listed three years of unclogging teapot spouts as a requirement, and five years of teapot polishing. I’ve had six years of experience in both areas, yet these work experiences do not seem to have been taken into consideration for the salary offer.”

    I also asked if I should rewrite sections of my resume to more accurately reflect the work experiences I’ve had–work experiences that would be considered in the salary offer.
    The HR rep said she’d talk it over with whoever decides the salary. She called back the next day with an offer that was $5,000 higher and I took it.

    I should say here that this is a large organization and the HR department isn’t even in the same building as my workplace. If it was a private industry or a smaller organization, I don’t know if the “there must be some mistake!” angle would have worked–although I did truly believe a mistake had been made. I was also employed at the time and willing to walk away from a great job if I couldn’t live on the income.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      Oh, good for you! All but one of my jobs have been in public sector organisations with the same kind of pay structure, so this is veeeeeery enlightening.

      (The one private sector job where I could have negotiated, I didn’t – I was coming straight from the paltry salary of a postdoctoral lab researcher in academia, and was so dazzled by the ~75% increase that it took me over a year to realise I was being paid well below market rate).

  74. Olivia*

    In all of my professional positions I’ve successfully negotiated for more money. In my most recent job, I knew the range ahead of time as it was posted with the position. Any number in the range was a raise, but not necessarily one I would be willing to take the job for as it entailed a move several states away. I ended up being offered $5k below the top of the range, and asked for $3k more just because I feel that I always have to negotiate.

    I received a counteroffer of $2k more and happily accepted. Per AAM’s advice I negotiated over the phone and said “Based on my skills and experience I was thinking more along the lines of $X” or something similar. The hiring manager told me she would need to check with the person who deals with budgets and get back to me, and I said “Okay, great.” She called back and offered me $2k more and I accepted.

  75. LizNYC*

    Learn from my mistakes! When moving from HellJob to (Old) NewJob, I filled out the application and put the current salary I was making. I don’t remember how it read, whether it said “salary expectations” or “current salary,” but I definitely should have put in the real range I was seeking. I was initially offered my current salary. On the phone with HR, I said I was really looking for (not even) 10% higher. They met me in the middle, so it wasn’t a total loss (and still a raise).

    When moving from OldJob to NewJob, I researched the salaries as much as possible because I was changing industries (though not job function). The company didn’t offer a range, so I was really nervous in giving them mine because I really wanted the job. They ended up meeting me at the low end (which I was still happy with bc it was a 12% raise for me). If I hadn’t overcome my nerves, I would have left money on the table.

  76. Sunshine*

    I just started a new position about a month ago, when they made the offer, it was more then I was expecting based on research I had done so I was pleasantly surprised, and did not negotiate. I was ready and armed to possibly negotiate because of all the advice that encourages it. If the offer was lower I may have negotiated, but I honestly thought it was a very fair offer.

  77. Cherry*

    For my current job I think I negotiated really well, mainly because I wasn’t sure I wanted the job (sales support in a specialized field). The original salary offer was about $12K less than I was willing to take. I have some unique qualifications and was able to show numbers for comparable positions/qualifications. After a bit of negotiation (which I did via e-mail, which I guess is bad?), they offered me a $9K salary bump, an extra week of vacation, and a $10K signing bonus for moving expenses.
    Honestly, the main things that helped me were being willing/able to walk away from the job offer (I know that’s a huge luxury, but it really helped me stay calm) and being clear in my own mind about how much money I needed to take the job. It’s sort of like negotiating to buy a car or a house. You need to know what it’s worth to you, why it’s worth that much, and be willing to move on if you can’t agree on a price. Hard to do, but it can work out really well.

  78. Liza*

    Copying this comment I made on a recent thread, since it’s also relevant here. (On the original thread it was in response to someone who specifically asked about experience negotiating salary in the Midwest.)

    I grew up in the Midwest and lived there until recently. I negotiated salary for at least two jobs while living there, with good results.

    The first time, I got an offer and said “I’m really excited about the job and I’d take that offer but I’ve been told I should always try to negotiate salary. Is (offer + $2000) an option?” (That’s probably verbatim. I was excited and inexperienced at negotiations. :-) The hiring manager sounded amused, she said the amount I was asking for was what she had wanted to offer me in the first place. She had to get approval from higher up, but she did get that approval. Result: I started with a higher salary than I would have *and* I knew my boss would go to bat for me!

    The second time, I got an offer and asked “Is there room in the budget for (slightly higher amount)?” The hiring manager sounded regretful, he said if there were more money in the budget for salary he would need to put it toward raises for people who had been there longer. I thought that sounded fair. Result: I knew my new boss was fair to his employees. Also good!

    1. fposte*

      That’s an interesting point–that a salary negotiation can get you some significant information.

  79. Lizard*

    Job 1 (academic): They offered $X. I asked for $X + 5000 and some protected time for research. They said no (I later learned that it’s a big thing for them that everyone in that department starts at the same salary). I took the job anyway.

    Job 2 (promotion from Job 1, 1st management role): They offered $Y. I asked if there was room for negotiation in the salary, asked for early promotion to the next title up (no change in salary; would have happened automatically a year later), and for them to pay for a particular $5000 development course intended for people in our academic field who were being promoted to leadership positions. They said that they wanted to keep the base salaries the same across the board for people with the same title and weren’t able to give me the title change until the usual time, but they did offer me a $5K annual “performance incentive” and were willing to pay for the development course.

    Job 3 (current job). I had been looking to make a big geographical change and knew I would probably need to take a less-senior role to do it given a much smaller industry in the new city. I had a few interviews that indicated that the salary in New City was going to represent about a 20K pay cut. Fortunately New City has a much lower COL so that was OK. I didn’t take any of those jobs because the mix of job duties was not that appealing to me. Finally had an interview with a 3rd place that offered me almost exactly what I was making in my old, more senior, expensive-city job plus relocation expenses. So a substantial pay increase in real terms, along with a really interesting mix of work. I did not negotiate at all and accepted that offer as it was made :-). In retrospect I sort of wish I’d negotiated a little bit, but I was honestly really happy with the offer and so far the job is great.

  80. LillianMcGee*

    My first job out of college was a Subway sandwich shop on campus. I asked for $.50 above minimum wage (I had a college degree after all AND prior experience at Subway) and they refused! I took the job anyway because desperation. When I gave my resignation the owners asked if there was anything they could do to keep me. I said yes, pay me about $10/hr more so I can start paying back my loans. They flatly refused. Not that I would have stayed, but what idiots. I was the ONLY ONE who ever washed the bread pans. EVER.

    I have worked at the same itsy bitsy nonprofit now for 5 years and I have never negotiated. Not for my salary and not for my raises. Perhaps naive, but I have always trusted them to give me what they could and what I deserved. For the first couple years, I received significant merit increases when everyone else was being told that there would be no raises (and the ED even took a pay cut!). So that really solidified my trust in them to recognize hard work (because I was working my buns off, let me tell you…). This last raise was not on merit but because of a promotion :) Raises are frozen again this year, unfortunately, and we are losing good people to better offers.

  81. MollyDolly*

    I’d like some feedback from other readers if at all possible – I have an interview lined up tomorrow and want to be prepared if/when the time comes for an offer:

    I work in higher-ed and am interviewing for a manager level position in my old department where I worked for four years (my old supervisor left unexpectedly and this is to fill her role). As a university, the hiring ranges for salary are posted publicly online. Unfortunately, the policy is that there’s a set cap for salary increases: when a person transfers internally, their salary cannot raise by more than 15%. I started here almost 6 years ago and am working my way up the ladder, however through my transfers, my current salary still sits below the hiring range for the position even if they meet the cap. When I got hired in my first position, I knew the salary was low but I was 22 and excited to work here (and still am!); I feel like now I’m at a severe disadvantage because of my initial starting salary and that’s going to keep me from earning what an external hire would be earning.

    Since this is for my old supervisor’s role, I already know the computer programs we use (very specific to our school), have (positive) existing relationships with stakeholders and all people connected to the role. I would only require minimal training since I was for the most part cross trained in her duties, which is nice because they are in a hurry to fill the position. I fit into the culture/co-workers and am in the middle of my MA for Management. The Dean (immediate supervisor for the role) has gone so far as to say that he’s excited that I applied and he’s looking forward to sitting down with me.

    I plan on using all of these points during negotiation, but where I’m getting tripped up is: how do I convince them to grant me an exception to the salary cap so that I can at least make it into the hiring range?? Who would have to sign off on that type of thing? I don’t want to negotiate more time off because I rarely use the time I’ve accrued already, and bonuses are very atypical here. And even more frightening — what if they try to lowball me and don’t even offer to meet the 15% increase cap?! Thoughts? Help? lol Thanks in advance!!

    1. College Career Counselor*

      It sounds like you’re looking to move into a higher role (admittedly from within the institution), so if I’m understanding that correctly, you should still be subject to the salary band FOR THAT POSITION (and thus eligible for a higher pay rate). Otherwise, no one would ever attempt to move up within the university because their salary increase (even with a change in pay grade) would be capped at +15%. I suspect that the internal transfer salary cap refers to lateral moves (to keep people from hoping jobs to increase their pay).

      It’s also possible I’ve completely misunderstood, and/or your university (higher ed can be…odd) does exactly what you say. In case it comes to negotiating for the higher rate, I like what you say about knowing the role/tech requirements, minimal training, good working relationships, etc. All those things are evidence of your skills and prior experience. I would imagine that the Dean would be the person to intercede if necessary on your behalf. I’d also recommend going through the interview process and seeing what any forthcoming offer is before you raise any of this, however.

    2. SouthernBelle*

      When I worked in higher ed, the only time I ever heard of anyone getting around that issue was to “quit” and then be “re-hired” into the new role. This person effectively doubled her salary that way and I’m sure it was orchestrated because they really wanted her in the role, so YMMV if you choose to try that route.

  82. CheeryO*

    I successfully negotiated once, but I definitely manhandled the process and ended up turning down the offer.

    During the phone screen, I gave my range as 50-55K, which was the going rate for a new grad with a Master’s degree in my engineering field in my area (low COL mid-Atlantic state). This company is in a VERY high COL city on the East Coast. I don’t know what I was thinking, other than that I was unemployed and getting desperate, and I figured that living in a big city would be worth the comparatively lower salary.

    The HR woman then told me that I could “probably get 65K” based on my Master’s degree and the fact that I had some relevant internship experience, so she put that as the upper end of my range. Company flies me out for an interview, and I get an offer for 50K. I ask for a day to think it over, and I start plugging numbers into budget calculators. I realize very quickly that I made a big mistake and would need to seriously downgrade my standard of living to make ends meet on 50K there.

    I ended up telling the hiring manager that I wouldn’t be able to accept anything less than 55K. I was candid about what the HR woman told me, and I apologized for acting in bad faith by not accepting a salary within the range that I had provided. (I also brought up the COL difference, which I probably shouldn’t have done since it wasn’t really their problem.) In the end, they came back with a final offer of 53K, and I turned them down. Then I got a government job with no room for negotiation.

    I still feel terrible about the way I handled the negotiation (mainly because they spent a decent amount of money to fly me out and put me up in a hotel), but it took them another ten months to fill their position, so I don’t think I was being entirely unreasonable. The lesson is to never, ever put anything other than your bare minimum salary requirement out there, because there are companies who will happily take you at your word. I wish I could explain how this was anything but obvious to me at the time!

    1. CheeryO*

      I should add that the hiring manager did not take it well at all (understandably). He told me that I shouldn’t believe things that I read on the internet about cost of living and the market rate for entry-level engineers. I’m very surprised that they didn’t pull the offer.

      1. Yuu*

        I don’t think it was unreasonable to say you hadn’t realized the large difference in COL when you first applied for the job. It sounds like you made a good choice.

  83. The Other Dawn*

    I’ve never negotiated, but I was at one job for many years and felt like I was making good money.

    I wish I had negotiated at my last job. I was just happy to get 5k more than I made at the previous one, so I just took it. But I hated that job, so I don’t think more money would have mattered anyway.

    With this new job, I asked for a 10k range starting where I left off at the previous job. They gave me my top number without hesitation, which told me I should have asked for more and would have probably gotten it. Oh well. I’m pretty happy – I’m making 15k more than I’ve ever made and I love the company, the people, and my team.

  84. Ash (the other one)*

    This is both a sort of success story and a cautionary tale about how I should have run far, far away by how they handled the negotiation…

    At the time I was applying for a director level position at “The Teapot Center”, I was coming from a job in the federal government. I had been in the government for a few years at that point so my previous year’s salary was in the public record. However, my salary at the time was significantly higher; I had received a promotion (grade bump) after completing my doctorate degree.

    I had done my due dillegence in preparing for an offer by looking at The Teapot Center’s 990 for others with “Director” in their title and also by looking at Glassdoor for similarly sized nonprofits and came to a number that was about $25K more than I was making at the time.

    COO called to offer me the position and asked, first, what salary I was looking for. When I responded, he was taken aback and said something along the lines of “well, I looked up your salary and we were hoping to do this for under $XXX”, with XXX being about $20K less than I was making in the federal government. I pushed back and said, “well, actually, the salary you looked up is not my current salary, and that should be irrelevant to this discussion any way. My understanding is that this is a director level position and I really feel that XX is closer to the right salary for that position.” He then informed me that since I only had XX years of experiecne, they weren’t goign to give me the director title, so it shouldn’t matter what the other directos make. (I learned later that the organization was incredibly ageist; I did all of the work of a director without the title). He said they would recosnider the director title after a year, but of course I forgot to get this in writing. He asked me for my current salary again (grr) and made me an offer slightly higher. We went back and forth for a while and came to a number only about $10K more than my salary at the government (which turned out to be signficantly less considering the benefits I was giving up). I asked then that I have my own office as I thought that critical to completing the work of the position. I got an email back from the Executive Director to the tune of “I can’t believe this is coming down to this” and they begrugingly gave me an office. I was pretty desperate to leave my position in the government so I took it, but should have seen that I had no potential for growth and that I would be miserable. When I finally resigned, my direct supervisor told me that he was upset by the amount I was ultimately offered because he didn’t think I deserved it.

    Again, cautionary tale — run away if an organization acts like this in salary negotiations!!

  85. AmyNYC*

    1) Moving to a new job, I was offered my then-current salary via email. I replied with (something like this, it was few years ago) “That’s what I’m currently making at X; could you offer an additional week of vacation?” they replied with a slightly higher salary, which I accepted.
    2) at my current job, I wanted to ask for a raise during a performance review. I did some research and math beforehand and had some ideas of what I would ask for (which varied depending on how the review went). The review was fine, but not stellar, so I asked for a 2-3% “cost of living raise” which my boss was fine with but offered more (about a 10% increase!) as I would be taking on more responsibilities.

  86. Wee*

    Not real high dollar stuff, but here’s my story:

    I was a contractor at a large, well know company transitioning to permanent. As a contractor, I was making $18.50/hr. At what I felt was the appropriate time, I asked the HR rep (who is in another state) what the pay range was. She came back with $18.65, according to her market rate calculations. However, I had already began researching similar positions for my experience/education and knew this was a lowball figure. Keep in mind too, I had been a contractor for almost a full year – no benefits, raises, etc. I told her I would get back to her with a counter. I gathered actual job listings that were similar to mine in scope and geopraphical area (no small feat when almost NOBODY includes salary info!) and attached the document to this email:

    Hello XXX,

    I received the verbal offer today and am excited to be joining XXX as a permanent employee. I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far, and I believe my position to be valuable to the [Department name]. In addition to my stated job duties, I’ve saved thousands of dollars on lab purchases (over $30k annually on one [item we use] alone) and have taken on duties that used to be done by the chemists, which allows them more time in the lab. I look forward to learning and contributing as much as I can during my time with XXXXX.

    However, I believe the offered rate of pay to be lower than market average. I have attached several recent postings I found that included salary information. They are comparable to mine in terms of education, experience, and responsibilities.

    Ideally, I would like to be in the $22-$23 range to start. I’m sure we can quickly come to an agreement on this, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    They ultimately came back at $21, but with a one time bonus week of vacation, so all in all I was pretty happy and accepted. You just have to be confident, do your research, and know your worth!

    Hope this helps!

  87. Bee*

    I don’t have a story of my own, but my husband, who is in IT, was recently job searching and was made an offer that basically matched the salary he was already making. The day he received the offer, he also received the notification for his yearly raise at OldJob, which was fairly significant. He also found out that NewJob have a much stricter school expense reimbursement policy – OldJob reimbursed all school expenses, but NewJob would only reimburse up to a certain (low) amount and then only after he had been with the company for a year.

    On my suggestion, he took the offer back to NewJob and asked for either 1) for NewJob to match the raise he was just offered by OldJob or 2) for NewJob to offer him the same school reimbursement benefit as OldJob. After three days of nailbiting nervousness, NewJob agreed to allow him into the school reimbursement program immediately upon hire and at a much higher limit, which actually equated to as much or more extra money when the math was all done.

    If you’re uncomfortable making a request, try looking at if you can give the prospective employer options. It feels less demanding and it might make the negotiation seem more appealing to the prospective employer, as well!

  88. John R*

    I care about time more than money, so when it reaches the point where I’m offered a job I always accept the salary if it is in a reasonable range for the position but insist on an extra week of vacation and/or the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s off. So far, this has worked well for me, though I have had to compromise and promise not to take more than one consecutive week off during my first year.

  89. Snargulfuss*

    This is such a valuable thread! When people talk about salary negotiation I always feel as if I must be terrible at it, but after reading the comments here I think I’m doing okay (although I have picked up some good tips).

    The How Much Do You Make thread from last year was also super valuable and actually validating for me ( I see the data on average starting salaries for college graduates and feel woefully behind because 5+ years out of grad school I’m just approaching those figures (even the ones specific to my fairly low-paying industry). The thread here, though, reassured me that not *everyone* is making top dollar, even with years of experience.

  90. Anon for Salary Info*

    The only time I’ve ever negotiated salary was about a year ago. I had been in my current job for less than a year at that point and even though I had been getting good feedback, I didn’t really feel like my boss liked or really trusted me that much. My prior company, which had laid me off, called me and wanted to talk with me about coming back, but in a higher level position. After talking with them, they offered me $100K base, which was $20K less that what I was making at my current job, and 20% bonus for meeting targets. I asked for $110K. They immediately came back at $105K. I held firm at $110K because I felt like even then I was taking a big hit in base salary, and the bonus was based on how well they did relative to budget, which had been prepared by someone else (but normally would have been prepared by my role) so it wasn’t guaranteed.

    Before giving up this job offer, I decided to meet with my boss to discuss how I was doing and I mentioned that because we had recently laid people off, I wanted to know if my job was at risk because my old job contacted me about coming back to work for them. He raved about my performance and said how much he and the company valued my work. So, in light of the positive feedback and the fact that the other company wouldn’t move up to $110K, I declined the job offer from my prior company, and I thought that was the end of it.

    Then, a week later, I received an email from my old company saying that while they couldn’t budge on the $105K base, they could guarantee a prorated bonus at 20% for that year and offer a sign on bonus of $7,500. I was completely blown away! I did decide to stay with my current company, though.

    But the only reason I pushed so hard for more is because I was willing to walk away. If I were unemployed or really wanted out of my current job, I probably would have accepted the $100K/20% bonus, which, looking back, would have been a mistake in this situation.

  91. Stranger than fiction*

    Is it true that sometimes hiring managers don’t go to bat for you for a higher salary because they get bonuses for minding their department budget?

  92. Stranger than fiction*

    Oh and is it true you never want to be the highest paid on your team or you’ll be prime candidate when layoffs come?

  93. Banana*

    I negotiated salary at all of my jobs but my first. For my current job, I used Ask A Manager’s approach and said something like, “I’m so pleased to get an offer from you. As for the salary, I was hoping for something closer to $X” and then sat in silence for an answer. They eventually offered me 10% more than the original offer with very little effort on my part. I’ve had other companies say no, but it hasn’t ever really hurt me to ask.

  94. I'm a Lucky Girl*

    So I was really, really nervous about applying for a job in my field after administrative temping after leaving school. (I’m one class off from a degree, don’t ask and PLEASE don’t lecture.) I had the chops and the portfolio to do the work, but I was worried my recent work experience–my only solid full-time work experience–combined with my lack of a degree would put me behind.

    And it did, but only because I had so little confidence in my skills. I put in a salary range in my cover letter late in the game at their request, and it was so freaking low, the hiring manager had no compunctions offering me the top of my range. (Of course, I cared more about the job and getting out of the call center.) Because I’d named the range, I couldn’t in good conscience negotiated (I’d named it AFTER learning about the job/technical interview), and I knew I should’ve asked for more because they immediately came back with the absolute top number.

    Fast forward a year, and I’ve proved I know what I’m doing and more. With my manager’s blessing, I started learning and cultivating a following on LinkedIn as “practice” for work and to prepare to teach the platform internally. Because my manager’s a smart man, he knew that I was getting contacted by recruiters in the area to do similar work based on the comments, shares, and such my work was attracting.

    So this spring, I was offered a 20% raise that puts me right in the ballpark with what the market rate for my job & location. (I didn’t even ask for a raise–I didn’t think I could get one with just one year on the job! My manager just saw my work and recognized me for the success I brought to both our company and my personal “branding.”)

    To me, then, while I wish I’d negotiated and had the confidence to “price” myself accordingly, I’ve learned that a great workplace can recognize you for your talents without you having to say anything at all, and that such a workplace is worth its weight in damn gold. Now, when recruiters contact me, I name a price $20k higher than what I’m making now, because my workplace is worth that much to me and that’s how much it’d take for me to put my working environment at risk.

    (FWIW, nobody’s bitten yet on the higher salary, but everyone says they’ll “keep me in mind” if a position comes up–and they still like my LinkedIn posts from time to time.)

  95. Maude*

    I have negotiated twice that were successful (I have also been told no twice). The first time was a company transfer and I was moving from an hourly position to a salaried position. In my hourly role I had been working 10-15 hours of overtime weekly. The salary offer they gave me would not have been an increase after factoring in overtime. I did the math for the hiring manager and got a more appropriate offer.
    More recently, I have been out of work for a couple months which seems to make hiring managers think they can low ball me. I am fortunate that I am in a position that I don’t have to take something right away to make ends meet. I received an offer that was much lower than expected and lower than industry norms. When making the offer, the hiring manager framed the offer, “this job pays X”, leaving me to believe he was not willing to negotiate. I poliety turned down the job based on the low salary. The next day the CEO called me with a more siuitable offer.

  96. thisisit*

    i’m curious about people who’ve had to relocate for a job, and negotiated on things other than salary? say they offer you a relocation package, but you want something better? can you negotiate for things related to a partner or a dependent?

    also curious about people’s experiences negotiating for salaries in different currencies – how do you account for currency fluctuations?

    1. The HR Witch*

      Sure, you can negotiate aspects of the relo package! Asking for job placement assistance for a spouse is pretty common; so is assistance with moving your cars (you don’t necessarily want to drive them!); assistance in locating childcare/dependent care; pack/unpack services; temporary lodging; home sales/purchase financial assistance…the list goes on and on! The key is to do your research in advance and know what you specifically will need. Use ‘good relocation package’ as a search term, and go for it!

  97. AVP*

    I have two raise negotiation stories that worked out, both at my current place of employment.

    I got hired as a receptionist for a super low amount of money ($11/hr, no OT, NYC). But I wanted something steadier than I currently had going on, and I really wanted to get in at this company, so I said yes. Four months later, I’m doing a good job, the person above me quits, and they offer me her position. I say yes, but pull my supervisor aside and ask if that bump in title/responsibilities would come with more money. She is surprised – I think she thought I was about to quit for some reason. I got a little bit – up to $12.50.

    Then, a couple of years later I am still doing this job, responsibilities have magnified but still at $12.50 because it’s the recession and we are in the depths of a few terrible financial years. I get it. Then when the recession starts to ebb a bit, I started looking for a new job that would be a level up into a department I really wanted to get into. It wasn’t really available at my current company, but my supervisor knew I was looking because we’re in a tiny industry. He even recommended me for a few jobs and got me interviews with his friends. They wanted to keep me but didn’t see a way. Suddenly, we get a bunch of huge new contracts, everyone is scrambling, I kick ass at this, and they came back to me – “what would it take to keep you here?” So I said I would need to move up into this other department, you will need to replace me by hiring a new person (I was very afraid they would “move me” but not replace me so I’d be stuck with two roles), and I gave them a pretty big salary request – I think 15k? And they gave it to me, because they really were afraid I was going to leave and they would be filling a lot of roles at once and lose all the institutional knowledge.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I’m a little confused here.
      $12.50 x 40 = $500 a week (assuming you’re working 40). That’s $26,000 a year.

      How is $15K a big salary request? Based on what you posted, that’s a pay cut. And in New York City – how can you survive on that?

  98. mskyle*

    I negotiated a bit at my last job as a librarian. The initial job offer was either at the very bottom of the advertised range or a little lower (and the range had not been partciularly generous, although at least it was for a low cost of living area). Uncool! I knew they were really interested in me so I said I had really been hoping for something more like [top of the range]. My manager said, “The highest I’ve been authorized to go is [middle of range].” I believed her, and I knew enough about the industry (academia) and institution (small, private, tuition-supported college with next to no endowment) to know that trying to get her to go back to whoever approved the funding was unlikely to get me anything more.

    I was still woefully underpaid at that job, but I was less woefully underpaid than some of my colleagues, so I guess that was something!

  99. A few tries*

    I’ve negotiated my salary a few times now. (I’m only 29, but my industry is one where it’s not uncommon to bounce jobs a few times, especially early in your career.)

    Both times has required a move. I used online cost of living calculators to make the case about how my current salary would be reflected in the more expensive city. That allowed me to argue in favor of a higher salary. That might not work for everyone, but it did for me.

    In my current job, I actually took a pay cut. That’s because I had briefly left my industry, which meant a large pay bump, but then decided to return after six months. As a result, I negotiated salary based on my previous pay in that industry. But I was able to use my current salary. However, an important part of that negotiation was by health benefits. I found that the company didn’t give health insurance for three months. That was going to be a big cost to cover myself for that time. So I asked for coverage on the beginning of the first full month of employment. They agreed. So I would urge using something like that to negotiate as well.

  100. BSharp*

    Oooh, this is embarrassing. My boss is one of the best humans I’ve ever met…which is why this unprofessional story has a happy ending.

    First negotiation: Boss asks if I could work on 100% commission. Um, nope, I’m 22 with no savings, too much student debt, and a car payment. I say I need $X/month to make ends meet; otherwise I need to keep cleaning houses part-time. (Yep.) He scrapes together $X, I accept…and since Rookie BSharp forgot to account for taxes, I still couldn’t make ends meet! I’m bringing home about 2/3 of what was genuinely the bare minimum I needed. Worse yet, I’m getting paid monthly, not biweekly. The occasional commissions and bonuses baaaarely get me through. Boss notices that I quietly hyperventilate whenever money comes up in conversation, so he approves every possible thing as a business expense and also hires me to read to his elderly mother on the weekends.

    Second negotiation: A year later, at the end of a very long day on a business trip I receive notice that I’ve overdrafted, again, and I know everything is maxed out and there’s no way to fix this. I BURST INTO TEARS at the dinner table (luckily only Boss is present) and dramatically announce that I can’t keep living on this wage because I meant $1800 AFTER taxes and I’m just not skillful enough to carefully pay all my bills in the right order. Boss says hmmmm and asks me to make a case for a raise later. It took about three months to have that conversation and another three months to get the raise, but it helped immensely. Bless that man.
    I’ve since moved into a cheaper place ($240 rent!) and gone carless. It’s still tough, but now I get to donate to charity and save a little each month.

    I still don’t make $X a month after taxes, though. Not even close.

  101. Amber Rose*

    I was so desperate to leave old job I lowballed myself, even against the kind advice offered by the community here. I could have easily asked for and got a few dollars more.

    That said, a couple weeks after I was hired, I approached my boss and asked about possibly negotiating vacation, since I get 2 weeks a year after I’ve worked a year. And we agreed that after I’ve worked 6 months I can take 5 days.

    So my advice is be courageous, and if you can’t at the offer stage, it may not be too late to still ask for a little extra later.

  102. Anon for now*

    I’m considering a negotiation tactic, but I’d like a second opinion on it! After a little over a year in my job, which has turned out to be a lousy fit and is making me unhappy, I am job searching. I just had a great interview for an exciting position with a wonderful prospective boss. I already know from the company’s HR that the typical salary for this job is $X. I am currently making $Y, which is 2k less than $X, so it would be an improvement even if I can’t negotiate any higher. But I’m in a very high cost of living area, and 2k will make very little difference in my life.

    When I left my last job, I was also making $Y at the time I left – same as I’m getting now. But they countered with $Z, a 6k raise, if I would stay. I turned down the raise so I could move on, thinking the new job would be a better fit (ultimately false!) and a great learning experience (true), preparing me for even higher-earning jobs down the road. This means I’ve been making $X for over 2 years now despite changing jobs, with no raise so far from my current employer for either merit or increased cost of living. (And I could have been making 6k more! I kick myself sometimes.)

    If I get offered this exciting new job, and they offer me $X (the 2k increase from what I now make), could I say this during negotiations: “I turned down $Z [the 6k increase] at my old job in order to take my current one. That was over a year ago, and I now have an additional year of new skills and experience under my belt. Do you think you could match $Z?”

    1. Florida*

      I don’t think I would mention the $6 that you turned down because it’s not on the table anymore. If they offer you X, I would say, “I was really hoping the offer would be closer to Z.” You could add, “I believe I am worth Z because of A,B, and C.”

      1. The HR Witch*

        This. The $6K isn’t current, so it isn’t relevant. Use the AAM mantra (I was really hoping …) – it really works!

      2. College Career Counselor*

        +1. Someone else’s salary offer (that you didn’t take) 2 years ago has no bearing on any current negotiations.

      3. Anon for now*

        Thanks for the replies! I’m feeling pretty discouraged over this whole topic. I get the sense that in salary negotiations, if you don’t have strong market data to support your ask, you’re better off saying nothing and waiting with raised eyebrows than you are if you give your actual reasons. The fact that a real world employer offered me $Z for a comparable position seems like a pretty rational reason for me to think I’m worth $Z. I mean, I can understand why another company might not care about it, but is it crazy that I do care? I’m not sure what else I would say if asked WHY I dare to hope for that salary, or why I believe I’m worth it, if I can’t say that an actual employer who knows my abilities thought I was worth it back when I was a little less experienced than I am now.

        I do comprehend why people are saying don’t do it, and I don’t disagree, but it’s frustrating to feel I don’t have any other option except to ask for what I want, because that’s never gotten me a positive response. I see the anecdata about how it works, but I more often hear the importance of market research, and I always come up empty there. Meaningful salary data for my industry is not widely available, except that everybody knows it’s a notoriously underpaid industry where people tend to accept low salaries. There’s always someone who will do your job for exactly what the employer wants to pay and no more. Seriously, where are you guys turning to figure out market rates for your jobs? The only real numbers I have are the ones I myself have been offered.

        I don’t know what to do next. I would like to go into my next salary negotiation with something more compelling than “I was hoping.”

        1. Florida*

          It’s definitely not crazy that you care, but I think if you told me that 2 years ago a company offered you more money and you didn’t take it, then I’d wonder why money was so important now. I absolutely understand that you feel like, “Hey, this company thought I was worth $Z.” But it would really turn me off if you mentioned it.

          I certainly understand that you want real world data. More than anything, I think it gives you confidence. However, you would be amazed at how often the “I was hoping…” works. Often, they offer X, but fully expect to pay you Y, so all you have to do is ask for it (without a compelling reason) and you will get it.

          If they ask why you deserve the extra,.. first off, I’ve never been asked that. But if they do ask, you can say, “Well, I have 4 years experience in teapot making. I have a specialized training on restoring antique Chinese teapots. As we discussed previously, I have a track record of successfully drinking tea without spilling it.” Yes, the 4 years and the specialized training were requirements of the job, but somehow in this situation that seems like justification for the extra money you are asking for.

          Also, it depends how much more you are asking for. You can easily ask for 10% more without any reason. I wouldn’t hesitate to do that. For more than that, it depends on how qualified you, and how the employer seems. Sometimes you just have feeling that the person is willing to negotiate or not. I wish I had a more useful way to describe it. Whatever you do, please don’t say your reason is that it won’t cover your expenses (that’s your problem, not mine). I think it’s better to not have any reasons than to use that reason.

          As far as where to find market data, it depends. For my field, there is a national association that does an annual salary survey. National surveys are mildly useful. For me, there is also a local association that does a biennial salary survey. This is more useful, but still not as useful as you’d expect. In any field, the Director of Teapots at a small nonprofit is not going to make as much as the Director of Teapots at a Fortune 500 company. So a salary survey that tells you that the average salary for Directors of Teapots is $50,000 is only somewhat helpful.

          Some things I’ve done previously to find salaries:
          – I knew the person who held the position before it came open. I said, “I hope this isn’t too bold, and if you don’t want to answer, that’s fine. Do you mind telling me what you were making at XYZ?” I didn’t expect him to tell me, but he did. (I didn’t even know him that well.)
          – Look at job ads. The job you applied for might not have posted the salary, but similar jobs at other companies might have a range.
          – If there is a comparable job in the government, that salary is public record. But keep in mind that sometimes government titles don’t coincide with private sector titles.

          I hope this helps. Good luck with it.

        2. looking forward*

          Remember they want you to work for them, and they want you to be excited about it. If someone makes you a great offer, it doesn’t mean you left something on the table. They genuinely want you to be excited about their great offer. If an offer doesn’t make you excited, give them the opportunity to do something about it. I have been on both sides.

  103. Cate*

    I hate negotiating, but because I work in the employment/careers field I felt compelled to negotiate my last offer. Thankfully, my supervisor made most of the process really easy. Since my current role is for a newly created position, we hashed out the details (number of days, schedule, telecommuting…) before the position was written up. My employer is unionized, with bands & steps, so I requested a higher step since I already knew which band I would be assigned. When the formal offer came, the salary was lower than agreed. I used the advice from Deepak Malhotra (Harvard Business school prof) and the salary was corrected. Turned out it was just an oversight, but it was a great exercise in negotiating terms and having some phrases to use thanks to the video made everything much easier to deal with on my end.

  104. Bevina del Ray*

    I have had extreme, recent success recently with salary negotiation, and the success was due to aiming high, taking a risk, being direct and clear, and balancing confidence (knowing my worth!) and compromise (understanding limitations). Here’s what happened:

    First, as a background, I have a BA in Education and have been working in education-based non-profits, philanthropy, and classroom settings for about 12 years. I have always made low money (started off around 25K 12 years ago as a coordinator, moved up to the 30’s for a while, high 30’s as a teacher, mid – high 40’s as an administrative manager, and peaked at 50K even as a Program Manager, which felt great after not having anything too high. However, at 34ish, I really wanted to move forward and have no desire to go back for an MBA since it’s not really relevant in human services-related work and I have enough work experience where it’s not going to give me a huge edge (also can avoid school debt, yay!)

    Interviewed for a Program Director role at a non-profit medical center that was possibly a shade over my head. Rocked the interview. Did my research on salaries for similar roles, and the range was broad based on degree and experience–anywhere from 50-90+K. The interviews went so well that when asked about salary, I took a risk and shot for “mid to high 70’s” while adding “I’m always somewhat flexible for the right role” just in case I went WAY too high. (Some people say to never say “I’m flexible” but I think it shows confidence if it’s said the right way.) The hiring manager (now my boss!) nodded and said, “Thank you, that sounds reasonable.”

    I was up against (and have now seen the applications of!) 6 other folks who had Masters’ degrees and sometimes PhDs, but slightly less experience or the same years of experience but in less relevant ways. Got a call 10 days later with a thinly veiled job offer but it was clear that the (abridged and kindly worded) message was, “You’re a wee bit too high because we have a huge HR dept with pay grades that are related to degrees earned–how flexible are you, actually?”

    I said, “I’ll be completely honest, because that’s how I operate–my “mid-high 70’s” was based on market research, but it’s not something I’m tied to, and what’s of equal or greater value is the obvious fact that this is a great team and that we’d be able to really take this program to the next level together.” I said, honestly that I’d be willing to go to the 65-70K range, but no lower (which is still 15-20K more than the job I was in). And I figured if my being direct and not dancing around and trying to play the game too much wasn’t their style, then it wouldn’t be the right fit.

    Got an offer 48 hours later. $72 K. With a Bachelor’s degree and 10 years’ work. ROCK. You can do it, too.

  105. Bevina del Ray*

    Sorry, said “recent” twice, but you get the gist. This just went down a few months ago. And I encourage people to really value themselves. I went from being a “But I only have a Bachelor’s…” person to a “And I did all of this without an advanced degree.” Rock.

  106. Lola*

    I always negotiated my salary when receiving job offers, even right out of college (the first job, they didn’t budge, but the rest were surprisingly easy). They key is to not act defensive or give unnecessary explanations. “I’m so excited about and grateful for your offer. My salary requirement is _____.”

    However, I never asked for a raise until 2 years ago. I was always sheepish about it and was content with the raises my employers were giving me. But all that pay gap / lean in talk finally got to me :) I was very thorough in my approach. I looked up salary reports on Glassdoor and (and even paid for a semi-custom one on NACE.) I prepared a list of accomplishments and quotes from higher-ups and clients lauding those accomplishments. I asked for a $20K increase. A few days later, they agreed to a $10K increase, and a year later, I got a promotion and another $10K increase. (This is all salary, btw.) I think it’s that custom report from NACE was what swayed them. It cost me $25 — not a bad ROI.

    Which is to say that, even though I was never unhappy with my compensation, only when I approached it seriously and methodically did I uncover a gap between what my employer was willing to pay me and what they were actually paying. It’s your financial health — invest some effort in it.

      1. Lola*

        It stands for National Association of Colleges and Employers. On their website ( they used to have this Salary Calculator, which is what I used for the semi-custom report. However, it seems to have been taken offline and instead, they offer other salary resources like a salary survey for paid download. Which is a bummer, because it was a really cool tool that took into account more than just profession, title, and geographics, but things like number of people reporting, annual budget managed, etc.

  107. Brooke*

    I just successfully negotiated (and then accepted) an offer for a new job.

    First: it is a highly specialized position, they recruited me, and I am already pretty happy at Old Job, so I was negotiating from a strong position.
    Second: the internal recruiter asked a lot about what I would be walking away from at Old Job and what I would need from New Job to want to move, so the initial offer started out in the right ballpark.

    I was happy with the base salary, but they hadn’t covered some unvested 401k matches I was walking away from. I said that I realized the base was probably had to change at this point, but could they maybe give me a sign-on bonus to partially cover the lost 401k? They came back with a $5k bump in base. Awesome.

    I also negotiated start date. I wanted to start in 5 weeks to give me 3 weeks notice at Old Job + 2 weeks to relocate. They wanted me earlier, primarily because they had big meetings already scheduled with big shots at a partner company. The result: I start full time on my preferred date, but flew in just for the big meeting this week and will call in to the next one. No deliverables beyond attending the meetings, but they’re paying my full salary as of this week even though I won’t be full time until May. Awesome #2.

  108. Florida*

    Right now I’m a freelancer, so usually I tell them my rate and they can negotiate. I’m willing to negotiate a little, but not much.

    When I had more traditional jobs, early in my career, I did not even try to negotiate. Later, I started trying, and I always get more than the original offer. It’s not always what I wanted, but it is an improvement. Here’s what I have done:

    First, I never give a salary before we get to the final phase. If they ask, I always say, “I’d like to learn a little more about the position. At this point, I don’t feel like I know enough the position to know what is reasonable.” Sometimes I will add, “What do you have budgeted for the position?” (Although, in the back of my mind, I know what is reasonable, unless this position is at a substantially higher or lower level than what I thought.)

    Employer: We would like to offer you this job with a starting salary of X.
    Me: OK, I’d like to know briefly about the benefits because that makes a difference in whether this salary is reasonable or not.
    Employer: The benefits are A, B, and C.
    Me: This sounds pretty good. I was actually expecting for the salary to be closer to Y (X+10%). Is that something we can do?
    Usually there is some hemming and hawing at that point. Depending on the situation, I might be silent. Other times, I will say justify why I deserve the higher salary. Reasons I’ve used:
    – you said you prefer someone with experience in this special software, and I know this software backward and forward. I can come in and hit the ground running. If you hire someone else, you might have to send them to training. (The job was very heavy in the software. It wasn’t a peripheral part of the job.)
    – I have a broad experience, so I will bring more to the table than someone who has only been doing this one thing.

    Every time I’ve asked (which is three times), I’ve gotten them to come up. I have never gotten them to come up to the level that I asked for, but always more than the original offer. All three times, when they came back with a number, I excepted that. I didn’t keep going back and forth.

    I really don’t feel like I’m that good at negotiating, but so far this method (which seems a little unsophisticated to me) has worked for me.

    I also have negotiated days off as in, “I can start on April 1, but I will need April 15th off. Or I can start April 16. Which one will work better?” (They always say April 1 with the day off.) I mention this AFTER we settled on the salary.

    One time I tried to negotiate my title, but I was not successful with that.

    I have never negotiated benefits, but I once worked with someone who worked full-time for 9 months of the year. During the summer, she got Fridays off with no decrease in pay. I don’t now how she negotiated that. I also worked with someone who came in late once a week because she had been volunteering once a week and wanted to continue that. She came in about two hours late one day a week.

    I should also add that all three situations where I negotiated, it was an office of 15-30 people, not a huge corporation or government.

  109. Serin*

    This is a fascinating conversation.

    I didn’t begin negotiating salary till I was in my late 40s; I didn’t have a clue. (You can bet my kid is hearing about this stuff!)

    When I applied for my current job, there was a weird little song-and-dance where I got an email from HR that said, “If you want to be considered for this position, you MUST give a target salary and a start date.”

    When HR called to schedule the interview, they said, “Your target salary was $X, but we only have $X-minus-2,000 in the budget. Do you still want to continue?” The figure was pretty low, but (1) I was temping, and (2) it would put a job on my resume that wasn’t secretarial, so I said sure.

    The job offer came via email from a recruiter in another country, and the offer was $X-minus-2,000. I countered with $X-plus-4,000 (thinking I might nudge them up to my original target) and to my shock the recruiter accepted that counter. It made me wish I’d asked for more.

  110. It can't hurt to ask!*

    I actually just did this yesterday. The recruiter was very candid in the initial phone screening the range. This range was less than I was making now, however it’s actually for a company I’ve wanted to work for for a while. I continued with the process. Got the offer, but asked for a tad more to bring me closer to where I am at (with bonus). He said it was unlikely, but he’d try. Few hours late I got what I asked for and accepted.

    I also did this for the current job I have as well. It was just a little but I felt the need to ask.

  111. Sars*

    I’m in my first full-time position as a graduate in the UK. I’ve negotiated unsuccessfully twice.

    Once, I was on the verge of an offer with an institution that provided a lot of funding to a very controversial political cause. It was not going to be a major part of my role if I received an offer, so I tried to negotiate away from those duties and towards the scientific ones that were in the posted job description. I was not successful, so I declined to move further in the process (and this was a one-on-one with the CEO, who’d flown me in from the other end of the country).

    The other was a fairly bog standard position, and would have been market rate elsewhere in the country, but for London the pay would barely have even covered my rent & council tax. They only had 1k in wiggle room, so I had to decline.

    At the same time, I had another offer for 4k more than the London one – but based in a city with a much lower COL. I accepted that one with no negotiation and I love it. 2% pay rise fairly early on, too!

  112. Jane*

    I didn’t know I could negotiate anything other than start dates until my most recent offer. I decided to try for the first time, and overall, I felt really pleased about how the negotiation went:

    When I got the offer, I expressed excitement to get an offer to work at the company. After I was told the salary, I paused (for about 3-4 seconds) and asked if there was any flexibility with that number. The hiring supervisor apologized and said, “No, we really don’t have any additional money for that position.” We went on to discuss other aspects of the job, I again expressed my excitement to have gotten an offer, and then I asked for the evening to think about the offer (changing jobs, after all, is a pretty huge decision). When I called back the next day to accept, the hiring manager said she’d actually managed to get $X more per year added to the offer.

    It definitely made me nervous and uncomfortable at first, but negotiating salary was far less scary than I thought it would be.

  113. Schmitt*

    I work in IT. When this story takes place, I had been at the job for a couple years, and about a year previously duties had been divided up differently on our team, leaving me working primarily for an external client, and “Josh” who had been at the company for ten or more years, for our own in-house teapot selling website. I only realized much later that this was damage control.

    Said website did a promotion for Teapot Gifting Day and ended up having 2500 teapots ordered. This was way, way, way more than our supplier could handle. Our big boss rounded up our entire staff of 30, gave us a pep talk, and we all shipped off to the supplier warehouse to assemble the teapots, pack, and send them. It was Friday. Teapot Gifting Day was Sunday.

    I ended up on their ancient computer trying to get the interface that Josh had programmed to work. He had never tested it for more than 10 orders a day and it was choking, gasping, and sputtering. It was near-freezing temps in the warehouse to keep the chocolate teapots cold, and by the end of the first 12 hour day I was wrapped in three peoples’ coats and getting a cold myself. Friday evening at home I rewrote the interface to handle more orders.

    Saturday was more of the same. Every time I turned around I discovered another stupid thing Josh had done. We battled valiantly on but eventually fell to the individualized greeting card printer being too damned slow to keep up with orders.

    Sunday the delivery services don’t pick up but we still had some boxed and labeled teapots that had missed the last Saturday pickup but were ready to go out late on Monday. These all had to be changed in the system. I read the emails about this and called the big boss:

    Me: So you (achoo) need XX and YY done by 6 AM Monday morning (cough).
    Boss: Right. We thought we would get Josh to do it.
    Me, gritting teeth: Do you want it *done* or do you want it *done right*?

    He picked me up and we drove to the office, me sneezing the whole way. As we pulled into the garage, I looked over and said, “If I’m not being paid as much as Josh, it’s a travesty.”

    I didn’t find out until I was promoted over Josh later — but my next raise put me exactly there.

  114. 42*

    I negotiated when I was being converted from a contractor to FTE. I was a contractor for a full year, so I was a known entity.

    My boss told me the offer amount with a ‘wink-wink’ and said that I could negotiate if I wanted to–just tell her my counter offer and she’d bring it up the food chain. So I countered 3K above, hoping for the 2K that was my target. She said that may be a little high but she’d give it a shot.

    She came back to me in a day or so with the news that they accepted the entire 3K above initial offer, and I was thrilled. My company is awesome, and my boss stressed that “we want you to be happy”, and I totally am.

  115. _ism_*

    I’ve never done it! And the more I read around about this in my continuing stew, the more I see a trend that hourly wages are often not very negotiable.
    I started at $8 an hour thru the temp agency, but I got a merit raise to $10.50 per hour.
    And when my company hired me full time I wasn’t expecting it, and didn’t try to negotiate. They’re keeping me at 10.50 per hour – given what a larger percentage my merit raise was while temping, I’m afraid to ask for more in the future. This is a really cheapass company that hazes new employees with cruel pranks and refers to hiring temps as “ordering some labor.”

  116. Noelle*

    I’ve had three jobs where they’ve asked me my salary requirements, and I would just say a number, and then shut up. No range, or “it’s negotiable,” or “ideally.” I got the number I asked for every single time. Also, in one of those jobs I actually got another $10K AFTER I’d listed my salary requirements, because there was a very generous benefit that was technically available at the organization but my particular manager didn’t offer it. So I was like, “Well, if you’re not going to give me this benefit, then I’ll need more money.” And it worked! In my current position, I didn’t negotiate because it offered me over 15% more than my current job (and my salary is public record so they knew exactly how much I was making), plus drastically better benefits. Plus it is seriously an insanely awesome job.

  117. Editrix*

    I was a VERY lucky girl going into my first “real” job after college.

    I had been working part-time for $12 an hour at a small teapot-brochure company. When I graduated and was able to work 40 hours a week, my boss bumped me to $12.50 an hour, or $26,000 a year. And then, things changed: She wanted me to start marketing our brochures instead of editing the copy for them, and I just wasn’t having it. I decided to look for another job about three months into my full-time era.

    I went on two interviews, both for writing/editing jobs in the $40-$45k range. My first job offer was for $40,000, which was gold compared to what I was making. But I was expecting a little more considering the work involved, so I asked the HR manager for $2,000 extra–just flat-out asked. He agreed to it. Before I met with the second company, they called me with a surprising (and intimidating) twist: They’d bumped the salary to $60k-$65k! They had decided during their interview process that they wanted someone with a little more experience. I thought for sure I’d be out of the running, but after an in-person interview with the hiring manager and a phone interview with the project manager, I was offered the job.

    Let me tell you: going from $26k to $60k was like hitting the lotto. I was in disbelief. I didn’t want to negotiate. I was so thrilled about the $34k salary increase that I thought it would be greedy of me to ask for anything more. But the HR manager insisted there was some wiggle room and suggested $61k. I accepted it.

    Knowing what I know now, I would’ve asked for $64k. Really, though, I’m just grateful to be in the place I’m in now–able to pay my bills on time, save, and have fun, too. And when I decide to leave, I’ll definitely negotiate my next offer!

  118. Libretta*

    For jobs where they tell me they don’t negotiate (non profits! Ugh! It is absurd to not negotiate at all!), I have been successful (twice) in asking for a 6-month review with a pay increase with good performance, since I know I am good at what I do. I have had to push for the 6-month review when the time came, but they did do it and I received a 3-4% increase, which did not affect annual performance reviews a few months later, where I received another 3-4%.

    1. TCO*

      I have successfully negotiated my pay at all of the nonprofits at which I’ve worked. Not negotiating is not an industry standard!

    2. ReanaZ*

      I’m fine with a no-negotiating policy at nonprofits if the salary structure is a) totally transparent and b) totally consistent. It’s fine with me if you pay everyone at Level 3 $40k, as along as everyone knows that upfront, throughout the process, and while working there, and as long as no one secretly authorises Joe to make a little extra on the side.

      I’ve worked places that did this, and it was culturally a very good fit for them.
      But unfortunately “we don’t negotiate” is code for “we’re trying to underpay you; accept it and never talk about it. Or you hate the children.”

  119. Oryx*

    I’ve never negotiated salary and the one time I was going to try ask for a raise, my manager beat me to the punch. It was part of a merge and I was getting a transfer and we had this meeting planned and my co-workers are all “You have to ask — nobody is just going to throw money at you” and I go in, all nervous, and my manager goes “So, as part of this transfer I’ve talked with corporate and you’re getting a raise and your new salary is now $X.”

    As it happens, it was the exact same number I was planning on asking for and apparently sometimes people WILL throw money at you.

  120. FJ*

    I’ve only had one job, first one out of college, so I didn’t negotiate then.
    I sort-of successfully negotiated a raise as part of a transfer to a different location within the same company. We were opening a remote office in a different state, and I said I would be interested in transferring. It was the same position, but different projects. My boss drew up the papers with HR and when I asked about salary, they acted surprised and pushed back. I said I’d done my research on what the pay should have been for my position, and that I was taking on personal and professional risk with the remote office and had some long talks with my boss and his boss about it. Nothing happened, since apparently there are only certain times of the year that they can give out raises. But then a year later they said they could do it with a 10% or so raise. So I moved then. My company has always been a little odd and not very transparent about their salary logic.

  121. Blue Anne*

    I have one from my last job. I had been hired as an admin/PA at a tiny tech company straight out of college but took on a lot more than that over my time there – sales, tech support, accounting, all kinds of stuff. Plus I got awesome performance reviews and our customers loved me. But I was on minimum wage – £13,650 a year. So after my performance review I asked my manager if we could talk about compensation. We had just been talking about all the new stuff I’d been doing and how well I’d been doing it, so for me it was perfect timing. I said basically this:

    “I’m really enjoying the work, it’s great to be able to shape my own role so much and get involved in whatever seems interesting. It’s really satisfying, and I’ve really appreciated how you’ve been fighting my corner to let me take on more and more responsibility. But, it does mean that the role has changed a lot from when I was hired. I’m not exactly a basic admin any more, but even if I were, my salary right now would still be below average.”

    My manager said it was a good point and that she wasn’t at all surprised I’d brought it up. Unfortunately money was tight and there wasn’t a lot available for raises (which I did know was true) but she asked if I had an idea of what kind of salary I thought would be more fair for the role, and I said £18,000. More disclaimers about there not being a lot of money going around, it was probably unlikely, but she would talk to the other directors.

    A couple of weeks later I got an offer from them. Not the raise I’d asked for, but:

    -A small raise, bringing me up to £14,000 (which is good because that’s where banks start to treat you like a human being here)
    -Inclusion in the profit pot (at the end of the year, 10% of the company’s profits were split among the programmers… and me)
    -Some basic accounting certification courses through distance learning, and a few days of paid leave before my exams to study (Enormously helpful for me, and a great deal for them – I helped them file the paperwork to get 50% of my tuition covered by a local grant)
    -The company bought a widely used accounting software package I’d been pushing for, and I got to implement it and learn how to use it (BRILLIANT for my CV, and now they’re actually using accounting software, thank god)

    It was fantastic, a big win all around. On their side, it cost them considerably less than the raise I’d asked for, it made me really happy and engaged with the company, it improved the skills I used for them, and getting the software running was a big plus. For me, between the little raise and the bonus I’d been bumped at least £1,000, the courses were GREAT and I would’ve been hesitant to invest in them myself (plus it would have cost me more), and oh man it is so good for my CV to be able to put that software experience on it.

    Lesson learned: even if you know your employed is strapped for cash, it’s worth asking and seeing what can be worked out.

    At my new job, I’m a trainee at a Big 4 accounting firm. Career is taking off, and you know, every single round of interviewers mentioned how great it was that I’d done those accounting courses in the evenings while also working full time. I kind of miss the culture at that little startup, though, I have to admit.

  122. Sammy*

    The only time I ever negotiated:

    I spent some time in high school and all my college summers temping in medical records. So after a while recruiters could say I had “years of experience”. I kept temping after college while I looked for a direct hire, and one day I got a call asking if I’d be interested in an assignment for “$14 to $17 per hour”. I said sure, but could they find out the exact number? They called me back and said the client was offering $14.50. I asked if they could try for $17, since I had “years of experience”. Ten minutes later, they came back with, “Nobody actually gets $17. We can give you $16.”

    It was just a month of work, so that’s, what, $300? Still, that was like two car payments. I was pretty proud of myself!

  123. College Grad*

    I was offered a position with a company I really liked, but the salary they offered me was presented as non negotiable. as it was so out of touch with the living expenses for the area (and I would need to move), I had to decline. The same thing happened at my current position – it was told to me that salary was X, no exceptions, my coworkers made that, etc. Well after accepting I found out the coworkers with same salary did not have my same education level or did nearly the amount of work (my boss straight up admits “there’s an unfair disttiburon of work towards you”). My one year review is coming up and I’m tempted to try and negotiate a raise, but our area is under major financial hardship right now with big budget cuts. I feel I’m being severely underpaid for the amount of work I do (I can’t afford to live on my own) but also that it’s not an option to better the situation.

  124. AvonLady Barksdale*

    When I first saw this thread I thought I had nothing to contribute, but then I realized that I’ve always negotiated and I’ve always been successful. Well, not in my first job out of college– they offered me exactly what I wanted/expected– but for all of my professional jobs since. The negotiation always goes like this: “We’d like to offer you $X.” “Is there any way we could bump that up to $X+$3k?” “I think so! Let me check and get back to you.” It’s always worked. I don’t know why, and at this point in my career, $3k is a smaller percentage than it was 10 years ago, but that’s always been the bump I’ve asked for. I’ve never been asked to justify my request, either. I wish I could say I had some fail-safe technique, but I honestly just… ask. And I do it politely, without any explaining or demands, and I’m gently assertive when I ask. It helps that I have a good resume behind me, I guess.

    The only time I was surprised was when I was offered my current job. I had a cushy job making a moderate NYC salary, and I kept that salary when we moved to a state with a much lower cost of living. I was bored to tears at my job but very well compensated. I found my current company, interviewed, fell in love, and they offered me about $7k less than what I was making, no benefits (it’s a small, growing firm). Still a great salary for the area, but that’s a big cut. So I said, “Anyway we can do X+$3k?” and they came back with X+$4k. Uh, yeah, I’ll take it! I think they did that because of the benefits issue; my now-boss and I discussed it quite frankly during our interview, and I’m one of the first people hired by the company who can’t be covered by a parent’s or spouse’s health insurance. I think they also wanted to ensure I’d stick around for a while, and that extra $4k did make a difference.

  125. Kyrielle*

    I’ve never negotiated – I’ve only gone through the process once, straight out of college, and I was moving into a stretch role and was intimidated.

    But I have negotiated salary, and yes, bringing up the reasons or asking the question should be followed by resisting the urge to babble. Just waiting is so effective.

  126. TrainerGirl*

    I negotiated the salary of my current position. I’ve been in a situation a number of times where I was searching and facing an upcoming layoff, so I haven’t negotiated in the past. In 2012-13, I was laid off 3x in 13 months. Luckily, when I applied for my current position, I wasn’t in danger of losing my job, and so I decided to negotiate. The recruiter seemed a bit put off that I didn’t jump at the original offer. I countered with a number that was $10k more than what I was making. I figured all they could say was no. It was only $3k more than they originally offered. It took less than a day for the hiring manager to agree. I feel like there’s nothing wrong with negotiating as long as you haven’t previously accepted a number, and it’s not an unreasonable amount. I currently sit next to a recruiter, and I’ve learned a lot about negotiating from listening to his calls to applicants. I’ll definitely be more prepared in my next job search.

  127. Sarah*

    “I appreciate the offer, and I understand your pay structure [suffers from XYZ limitations], but I was hoping for something a little more competitive. Given that my experience is such a good match for the position, could we look at going to the top of the posted salary range, at X?

    Then, STOP TALKING. (Never negotiate with yourself.) You should be prepared with reasons for why you deserve more, but you may not even need to share. Plus, then you have something new to say if they counter verbally on the spot.

    1. Sarah*

      I forgot to say – the offer was pretty good, and I nearly accepted on the spot, because it was so tempting to save myself the uncomfortableness of negotiates. But it was successful! I agonized for about a day while the hiring manager went to HR and such, but I’m so glad I asked.

      I negotiated another 5%, which was the absolute top of the salary range. I also knew they would never be able to go over the range due to the type of position.

  128. Kira*

    I’m at my third professional job, and the first one where I’ve had a chance to ask for a raise. It’s a great workplace, and I’m a great fit, and I was hoping to make a case for a raise at the year-end review last fall. But… My supervisor is new-ish at the company and her style is a bit different from the other managers. It got to be January, and she still hadn’t sat down to do my performance review (she didn’t realize she was supposed to go over it with me, not just tun it in). When we did the review, she was really happy with my work and I brought up that I was hoping to ask for a raise next time. She seemed a bit confused about how that would play out–she had thought that her boss would ask if I should have a raise, which never happened–so I’m not sure if we’ll miss the opportunity again this year. It doesn’t sound like she’ll be proactive about figuring out what the process is to make it happen.

    Moral of the story, I kinda think I should have got a raise last year and it feels like it’s my boss’ fault that didn’t.

  129. TCO*

    I have successfully negotiated salary at all three of my “real” jobs since college.

    The first job was PT and so-so pay. I wanted and needed a FT salary, but I really wanted to be part of this workplace and there was a plan for it to go FT eventually (and it did). I basically said, “I’m really interested in working for you and want to bring my very best to this job. Being that it’s only part-time, I will need to have a second job to earn a livable income. I don’t want that second job to be a distraction from my work here; I want to bring you the best energy and schedule possible. Would you consider 30 hours/week instead of 25 so that balance works better?”

    They said no (I think they really couldn’t afford that) but they did offer me a slightly higher pay. It was a great job and I stayed 3.5 years (eventually going FT) until I left over salary when they simply couldn’t keep up with my arket value.

    The next job offer I was blunt with: “Your job posting said ‘minimum salary of $A.’ I was disappointed to be offered $A because my experience is significantly higher than the qualifications you stated. Because my current benefits are better, $A would actually be a pay cut for me, and I’m not willing to leave a good job for that. I can’t accept the job for less than $B.” (It was about 8% more.)

    They had to get approval up a few levels (they had never intended to offer anyone more than the minimum) and I all but had to walk away, but I got $B.

    My current job was probably the easiest. I told them, “I have two offers and I’m really much more interested in working for you than the other place. Would you be willing to consider $C?” (About 8% more, which totaled 55% more than my last job, and with better benefits!)

    They got back to me within an hour with an enthusiastic yes. I would have accepted their original offer, but not trying to negotiate seemed silly. I didn’t tell them, of course, that my other offer was significantly lower, so low that I had all but lost interest in that position.

    1. TCO*

      I want to add that those first two jobs were at nonprofits and the third was at a public university. Some people believe that negotiation is only for the private sector… not true. None of these employers were at all offended when I negotiated, and they all met me at least partway.

  130. Some Developer*

    I have gotten better at it. At my last job I saw that the range was about 70% of what I expected to be earning. I had a dynamite interview, and the manager seemed really keen to hire me, so I asked about vacation (three weeks — OK) and then benefits (none — remote work, my price just went up) so I suggested a number 20% higher than my desired salary. The manager gulped, and asked if I’d be flexible, and eventually came up to the number I wanted. My only mis-step was that I should have asked for another week of vacation.

    The downside was that when the company ran into financial trouble, I was the newest (and perhaps a little more expensive) developer, so I was the first to be let go.

  131. Anon this time*

    In my very first job, I had an amazing relationship with my boss, and successfully negotiated a raise by telling her the truth: I was deeply committed to my work and I didn’t feel like my employer felt the same commitment to me. I got both a better raise and an salary supplement to buy health insurance.

    Next job: was unable to negotiate on salary – they said they were offering all they had, but I was able to negotiate an extra three days of annual leave since their benefits were less good than the job I was leaving.

    Job after that: Accidentally got an extra $2k a year by pointing our their health benefits were expensive – out of line with industry standard. Didn’t intend to negotiate on salary because they offered me a huge (30K) increase over the previous job, but my compliant to HR about their benefits led to the increase three days after I started.

    Job after that: I was working for my first beloved boss again! I asked her if there was any room to negotiate on her offer, or was she boxed in by corporate. She said there was room, and I got an extra $5k/yr on their first offer. Then they promoted me and I asked for 10% over the last position, and got it.

    Current job: I work for the government now. I didn’t even try.

  132. Initial E*

    I increase my salary mainly by moving company and to a better role.
    I only negotiate once which went like this:

    Potential employer: for this role, I’m looking for $65k.
    Me: I’m looking from $70k and above. How do I get to that range.
    Potential employer: For $70k I’d expect this person to have x, yand z
    Me: I understand. Are you open for a start at $65k and a review in 3 months for $70k?
    Potential employer: That’s fair.

    3 months after starting (and doing excellent) I asked for a meeting to discuss my progress.

    Me: Before I started this role we discussed about a review after 3 months for $70k salary. How do you feel about my performance right so far?

    Got my raise a couple days after, so I thought it went ok :)

  133. Sans*

    At my old company, they really wanted to keep me and knew I was a “flight risk”. So they offered me the huge raise of …. 5%.

    Since the usual raise was about 2.5%, I was supposed to be thrilled with this. With a salary that was pitiful to begin with. I smiled and left the job for a new company with a 25% raise.

  134. la Contessa*

    The otherwise fairly useless job coach I hired years ago told me to respond to the first number by repeating the number, pausing, and then asking if there was any room to move on that. As a professional negotiator (attorney), I use that technique sometimes in my actual job.

    That said, I’ve had two professional jobs. I did not negotiate the salary on the first one, because I needed the job ASAP because I was one month away from defaulting on my student loans and I’d take anything I could get. For the second one, it’s in the public sector, so I was somewhat bound by the civil servant level for my amount of experience. They offered me my previous salary minus roughly $4000, I responded by basically saying, “*repeat salary number* Hmmm. Listen, I’m not going to play games here–I’ll be happy if you can just match my current salary.” I ended up with my previous salary minus about $2000. I get that they were bound by the civil service rules, and I’ve been trying to get this job for 7 years, so I took the money and ran.

    And yes, I love my job now :)

    1. la Contessa*

      And if you’re thinking, “OMG, that girl took a pay cut, WTF?!”–turn it around and consider how underpaid I was at a large regional law firm if going into public service only earned me a $2000 pay cut ;) Also, did I mention I love my job now? It was absolutely worth “paying” $2000 to get here.

  135. SanguineAspect*

    Coming into my current company, I negotiated for the first time. I was leaving a much larger company for a smaller company. At the smaller company, they prefer to do quarterly bonuses with a smaller base. What they offered would have–in total–been the same as I was making at the place I was leaving.

    I basically told him I wouldn’t take less than I was making at my present company, and believed that I was worth more than I was being paid there. So I said: “I can’t really take the position for less than $X.” He came back offering me a couple of options, to get me to where I wanted to be. I chose the higher base salary with no bonuses, with the option to discuss adding in a bonus after a year.

    It was the first time I’d ever negotiated, I was SUPER nervous about it. I think it helped that I was confident in my worth and I wasn’t so desperate to jump ship that I’d be willing to settle. I’m really happy with what I’m making here, even if the job is pretty crazy stressful.

  136. Chomps*

    I was very lucky when it was time to negotiate, because I was a co-op at my current workplace for a year and a half. It was very clear that they wanted to hire me full time; I was assigned a critical role on a project that was scheduled to run for three years (as a part time co-op)! Another co-op in my work group also left for another opportunity without warning, so I think they were a little concerned about losing me–I had been very open with them that working for this company was my first choice, but that if they were not able to give me an offer within a month of my graduation that I would be starting to search in earnest for full-time opportunities.

    When they gave me the initial offer, I think they were a little taken aback that I didn’t immediately accept. It happened during the middle of a work day, so I took the offer letter with salary information, told them I was excited to look over the offer, but that I had a meeting a needed to run to (true), and needed a little more time to look over the details.

    I was a little worried about negotiating, but my sister pointed out that they kept me for over a year and a half and they knew I produced good quality work, which gave me very good leverage. From reading this blog and other sources, I also knew that your salary when you first start working can set the tone for the rest of your career. So in an e-mail by the end of the day I outlined what I was looking for based on the market rate for my skills, as well as all of the projects in which I played a key role. As a result I was given an offer 12% higher than the initial offer.

    Pretty unique situation, but even though I had plenty of people saying I had a lot of solid reasons to negotiate a higher salary I was still incredibly nervous about actually doing it!

  137. TheAssistant*

    I’ve negotiated one promotion and one entering salary. Both were successful.

    The promotion is probably NOT a recommended method. I was serving as the Interim EA to an Interim VP – very “org in flux” moment, let me tell you – and he was a busy man. We had a habit of catching up at the end of the day, and I always jotted down the few things I needed to touch base with him on onto a PostIt as the day went on. One day we were going through my PostIt and he said, “is there anything else?” And I said, “Well, I’d really like to be the permanent EA and onboard the new VP.” He agreed, opened with a salary I was planning to negotiate up to, and I got my first promotion. I think I may be the only person in the world to negotiate a promotion based on the “surprise! We’re having this conversation now!” method. It really worked for my then-boss, but I recognize it’s not a replicatable strategy.

    When I left that job for my current role, I was juggling competing offers (and told my now-boss as much during the interview process). She offered me a salary less than I was making in the EA role, and called it a “strong, high offer” in the email. I really did not want to ruffle any feathers, but there was no way I was walking away from a higher offer, even though I preferred her company. So I bit the bullet and asked for 3k more. I framed it as matching another offer on the table, but also pointed to the fact I had more experience than they were asking for, and wouldn’t it be useful that I could hit the ground running? It took my now-boss a few days to work around the budget, but they ultimately accepted the counter-salary. I have a feeling I make more than my peers in my role, but I’ve also proven my worth.

    I did try to negotiate a raise last year, but unfortunately my current company is very structured in its merit raises. I had my bullet points and proposed raise ready to go, but my boss (fortunately) cut me off by explaining exactly what the possibilities were based on evaluation metrics. However, I was very pleased that I was offered the second-highest bracket of raises after just a year at the company. I have a feeling that this year won’t be as nice, though, since the company has been in an uncomfortable budget situation since last June.

  138. ReanaZ*

    My first job was a fellowship with a government-set compensation package, so no negotiating there. My second job offered me double the salary of the first job, and I was too surprised to even think about negotiating. (I felt a bit bad about it later due to ‘you should always negotiate’ advice and all the articles about women not doing it being part of the reason for the wage gap. But I learned later the org hated it, and generally had a policy of not doing it (although occasionally they broke their own policy).)

    Third job offered me what I asked. I should have asked for more, but a) it was 5x first-job’s wage so I already felt outrageous asking it and b) once they matched it and I kind of realised I aimed a bit lower than I should, I think it would have looked bad on me to ask more.

    Fourth (and current) job finally got me to successful negotiating! It was lovely. I felt very comfortable and like it was going to be a very good cultural fit from the beginning. They also felt like people who were honest and fair and committed to treating people well (they are! and while still mostly holding people to standards! the holy grail! And it’s a non-profit so even better). This impression gave me the courage to approach the negotiation process completely honestly and how they responded to it further confirmed my impressions.

    I discovered while interviewing that the job as planned was a little junior for me, but they were keen to have me and I thought the org was a good fit. I was expecting the salary to come in pretty junior and was planning to make a case for a bit more money for a bit more skill. They made me a written offer by the end of my second interview. It came in low, BUT the hiring manager told me proactively that he thought I was going to bring more to the role than was written and that if the salary amount was the only thing keeping me from accepting to let him know.

    I was narrowing in on an offer I didn’t really want at a for-profit company. But it was for significantly more money. I originally told the hiring manager at the nonprofit I couldn’t make a decision until after my on-site/meet-the-team visit with the other company. But I emailed him the next morning after thinking on it and said something like, “Thank you again for your time and the offer. I really do think {org} would be a great place to work and that I have a lot to contribute. My only hesitation is that my other offer is for $X (which was about $15k more than they were offering.) Being a nonprofit, I’m not expecting {org} to be able to match it, but if you can make your offer a little more competitive, I’ll cancel my visit with the other company and accept the position.”

    He came back and offered me $8k more and told me it was the absolute top of the budget, but he convinced the CIO to offer it to me because of my more extensive experience. I happily accepted that, and less than 6 months in I got a performance raise that brought me close to the other place’s offer anyway. And further confirmation that place would have been a terrible place to work. Winning all around!

  139. Teapot*

    I recently spoke with a manager who was upfront and said the position would pay about X. I asked if there was any flexibility, and she said there is some flexibility and talked about the benefits. The salary is 2k-4k below market. She said if I didn’t want to consider, she’d move on to the next candidate. I told her what I was looking for and said I could consider it. She followed up to see if I was still interested, and we gave some rough numbers. The next time we met, she’d bumped it up a little. I knew they don’t have much wiggle room, so I wouldn’t have been able to ask for much more without seriously turning them off. I would consider it a successful salary negotiation because if I took what was offered flat, it’d be 3k-4k less.

    What I learned about salary negotiation is that it’s really important to gauge how much they want you, how much wiggle room you think they have (based on what they’ve said & their company size), and know the market range for the position. Then state your number and ask if they can get closer to meeting you on it. If you’ve done your homework, the number you say won’t sound out of reach. It’s important to apply context and be able to read cues when navigating the whole thing.

  140. Anon IT Consultant*

    I have a coworker that tried to negotiate a raise and promotion during our most recent review cycle. Her role on the project she worked on over the past year was two levels above her current title. She was denied the promotion and only given a small raise. Her manager suggested that she bake cookies for the team and mentioned that it had worked for another female coworker that had recently been promoted.

  141. Yuu*

    My first job out of college was teaching English overseas in a program, so no chance for negotiations or raises. Since you couldn’t negotiate salary, in my 2nd year when they asked if I’d like to do a 3rd, I said yes, but only if my manager would support me in getting approved to take a 3 week language/home stay class in the summer to learn the native language better. I had to write a report on how me having stronger language skills would benefit them, but it ended up being approved. So I basically got 3 extra weeks of vacation and my pay for that time paid for the language course.
    The next time I negotiated, I had been interviewing with White Chocolate Teapots that would have been a move to NYC with higher COL. I didn’t think this new job was a good fit, but I was pretty desperate to leave my dead end government job, and it was in an industry I was trying to move into. They called and asked me what my salary range requirements were, and I said I was open to their best offer, but they kept asking for it, so I ended up telling them, “It would be very difficult for me to turn down $XX,000” which was at the beginning/mid range of PMs in NY for that field according to my research. They later offered me only a lower position with only a few thousand more than I was making at my government job. (Guess they weren’t crazy about me either). I turned them down.
    Same field as #2 but in LA, but Dark Chocolate Teapots had approached me as I spoke a language they needed (from #1). During the phone screen and the in person interview, the interviewer had said the position was hourly and gave a $5 range. I had said I thought we could work something out and was still interested in the position. When the offer came, he surprised me by offering me a salaried position! I was flustered a bit because I had readied myself for a discussion on hourly rates. I was also making the jump from a 37.5 hr week in government to the private sector, so I was worried I’d be working way more hours and make less per hour.

    So I told him, “Is it possible to get the position as an hourly position? I think that would be very motivating for me.” He came back later with an hourly offer that was $1 more than the original range. The client I was hired to work with was expected to be low volume, but 6 months in we got a huge project and were working 70 hour weeks. Its been almost a year since I took the job and going hourly made me $20,000+ more than if I had accepted his first salary offer, so it ended up paying off!
    I do sometimes worry that there might be a stigma against hourly employees and it might make it harder to move up the food chain. But either way, I absolutely love my new company and they have amazing benefits, so I feel really lucky to be here.

    Interestingly, both White Chocolate Teapots and Dark Chocolate Teapots originally told me they were looking for a Project Manager, but then at the interview lowered the position title at the in person interview. Has this happened to a lot of people?

  142. Molly*

    I’ve only negotiated once from the employee side, but it was a very, very odd one. The employer was offering very little, but asked early on what my previous salary had been. It had been pretty good, so I went ahead and told her. She wasn’t sure what her offer added up to annually (to compare) so I pulled out a calculator. At no point did I say I wouldn’t take the offered salary (I was pretty desperate, I probably would have) but just kept answering other questions and asking my own. Every few minutes, she asked me to calculate the annual based on a slightly higher weekly amount, and I ran it on my calculator and showed her the figure. In the end she offered 20% more than the original offer, without my ever saying a word about what I was looking for, and I accepted.

    Of course, as you might imagine, that boss turned out to be JUST as problematic as the strange interview might have predicted. Luckily I wasn’t there very long, and now I only do the negotiations from the employer side.

  143. Jerzy*

    Late last year I was contacted by a family friend who thought there might be a good fit for me at her current company. I had been commuting over an hour each way to a job that, even though I loved the people I worked with and the work I was doing, wasn’t really paying me what I was worth. I interviewed and before I offered a position, the new company asked for my salary requirements. I HATE this part of the interview process, but since my friend was kind enough to offer up what she was making in a similar position, I figured that I had the right neighborhood to begin my negotiations. I gave a number that seemed to surprise the hiring manager, and I was worried I had aimed too high. After all, this family friend is about 10-15 years older than I am. Then I heard back from the hiring manager, telling me they he and the CEO wanted to make sure I understood their benefits packages were not going to be as generous as my current ones. I figured out how much more I’d be spending on health insurance and increased by bottom figure. Less than a week later I was offered a salary that was not only $5,000 over my minimum, but $3,000 over the salary my friend is making (though I have kept that to myself). All in all, I ended up with an increase in pay amount to a 50% raise, and a commute that has been cut in half! Woo-hoo!

    1. Jerzy*

      Oh, yeah! And I also successfully negotiated an additional week of vacation time, and got rid of the need for me to have to accrue the time (because, really, I’m a professional with ten years plus of experience and I shouldn’t have to go six months without having even a week’s worth of time under my belt if needed). I get the feeling the company knows this is a silly requirement, but they count on people not negotiating for a better deal.

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