a salary negotiation success story

A note from a reader to end the week and inspire you to negotiate your next job offer:

I’ve been job searching for some time to get out of my current unfulfilling position. With your help, I wrote what I would say was a great cover letter, interviewed well, and was offered the job!

The only downside was that they offered me about $1,500 less than I am currently making (although the benefits are much better). Now, I was happy to take the offer, to be honest. The chance at getting out of my current position was reward enough, and I was worried I’d offend them by asking for the very top of their salary range. But I reconsidered after reading your advice that it’s silly to be scared of what they will do if you counter a salary offer. Well, I sent them the email asking them to top out their range for me and within 15 minutes they wrote back and said they would! So I wanted to thank you for setting me straight.

Yay! Consider this a reminder that salary negotiation doesn’t have to complicated — a single sentence like “I was hoping for $X” can be all you need to get a lot more money.

{ 40 comments… read them below }

  1. forte*

    Good work, LW!

    I tried to negotiate at my current job, but the entry-level salary was set in stone. They did, however, offer me a promotion pending favorable reviews at either the three- or six-month review. And I got the promotion right before I’d been here for six months!

  2. Venus Supreme*

    Congratulations, OP!

    I’m still new to the workforce, but it was because of my amazing mentors at my internship that I learned to value my work and counter-offer a salary negotiation. As a female, it was difficult for me to wrap my head around that concept but I’m glad for sites like AAM that remind me that I am a worthy employee regardless.

    I’ve told this story before, but coworker at OldJob accidentally forwarded me the e-mail exchange with the higher-ups re: my salary negotiation. Their sentiment was of the “Who does she think she is?” and honestly, if it weren’t for my mentors at my internship I would’ve believed my work was actually not worth much.

    All in all, I’m excited for you, OP, and I’m thankful for sites like this.

    1. misspiggy*

      So did the higher ups approve the increase? This would be very interesting to know given their reaction!

      1. Venus Supreme*

        We met in the middle, which was about $2k less than what I had initially hoped for and $3k more than their starting offer. Their attitude indicated they didn’t want to negotiate!

  3. TootsNYC*

    I learned a huge lesson when I was hiring someone at my current company.

    The HR person said, “Let’s keep $5k and a weeks’ vacation in reserve in case he asks for it.”

    And of course, he asked. And I realized, I should have.

  4. MoinMoin*

    In an email, no less! Well done, OP! I hope this outcome makes you more confident to negotiate in person if you ever need to. I hope you love your new job!

  5. Fabulous*

    Just had a salary negotiation earlier today. They offered X/hr, I countered at X+2. I should have gone higher since X+2 is where I wanted to end up. Instead, they came back in the middle. I don’t know that I would have gotten anywhere had I gone back again though…

  6. Madeeks*

    Wow! Congrats OP!

    On another note, I love this site, it’s so useful! Especially for recent grads like me out on the job search. Normally I would be too scared to negotiate, but when I finally do get an offer I will make sure I do that.

  7. Kristine*

    Congrats OP! It’s always encouraging to read about stuff like this. I’ve never had a successful negotiation yet but hopefully one day.

  8. Perpetuum Mobile*

    Just curious: what about a salary negotiation if I am in the industry that has been experiencing a huge downturn in the past couple of years and literally had close to 20% reduction in its US workforce?

    I am considering changing companies and working for a new employer (actually, an “old” employer as I worked for this company in the past for over five years). They have a hiring freeze so I plan to come in as an independent consultant. My salary will be much higher than now, perhaps in the range of 20-25% to compensate for the lack of benefits (medical, paid vacation and sick leave, 401k, etc). Would that be still ok to negotiate or, given the bad situation in the industry, I should just be happy with the number they’ll put on the table?

    I’ll appreciate any comments but Alison, I’d be especially grateful for your opinion.

    1. Josh S*

      As an independent consultant, you should ask for MUCH MORE than 25% of your old salary.

      Not only will you have to pay for your own benefits, you’ll be on the hook for your own payroll taxes, which are significant. And all the other incidental costs. It adds up.

      1. Perpetuum Mobile*

        Oh thanks! Never did it before, so pretty much clueless how it works. So what’s the typical percent difference between an employee vs a consultant, 30, 40, 50%?

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — the rule of thumb is actually something like double the hourly rate you’d be getting if you were an employee! You’re not getting health insurance, paid leave, or other benefits, you’re responsible for your own payroll taxes, and you don’t have protections like being eligible for unemployment benefits.

        1. Perpetuum Mobile*

          Thanks Alison! But back to the negotiation question, would that be ok to try and negotiate the number, with the bad overall situation in my industry? Guess it’s more of a strategic question rather than tactical. Thanks

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s pretty context dependent, but in general you want to know what the market rate is for your worth. If you’re not offered that, you can definitely negotiate!

          2. MillersSpring*

            The state of the industry is really their problem. For example, if the going rate for IT managers in your city is $75K, they can’t really expect good candidates to take pity on them and work for $55K. They still need to offer wages that attract and retain good employees. In the example of the IT manager, the company might find someone desperate who will accept $55K, by the candidate is not going to stay long if he or she easily can find a position at a company willing to pay even $65K.

            Even if the role is specific to the industry, your skills and experience have a value. Don’t be so quick to undervalue yourself.

  9. Callietwo*

    I’m meeting my boss next week for my salary negotiations and terms of my new position.

    I’ve inadvertently been given some information that puts me in the drivers seat in that regard so I’m kind of excited about it!

  10. Hypnotist Collector*

    I had good luck in my most recent salary negotiation with the line “Would you be comfortable going to XX?” It worked. (Although now, 20 months later, my job has doubled in scope and in breadth of skills expected, with no increase in salary… I guess all the more reason to be glad I was able to have started higher, but it’s frustrating and totally demotivating.)

  11. Milena*

    Nice job!!!!! It’s scary for sure, AAM is here to keep us confident in asking. What’s the worst that can happen?? I have to say at my last job I was making a salary that barely made ends meet. I was in the final stages with a company (my current co.) …and they asked my salary requirement so I blurted out a number. When they called me back about something else, I asked if it was too late to edit my salary requirement. Since it was apparently not too late… I said “I know I said this number but this extra 2,000 a year would really help.” I wanted to get paid more and like my job, whole reason I was looking. THEN I get hired with that extra 2,000 AND I am making in total 12,000 a year more than the old job! It’s less stressful too. I almost cried. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE <3 <3

  12. MamaSarah*

    Congratulations, OP!! Way to go!! I just had my first annual review and will receive a step increase at the end of the month. Feels good!

  13. Brigitha*

    Woot! Congrats!

    I’ve had good luck negotiating salary. It really never hurts to ask, and if someone gets all flustered when you ask it’s probably a red flag anyway!

  14. Turquoise Teapot*

    I got a lot more confident about asking for money after seeing how much companies spend on other things. Depending on where you work, they may have software for which the anual fee is equivalent to several peoples’ salaries. An extra $1,500 isn’t a big deal in the realm of business expenses, so it’s fair to ask for it as long as it’s within market value for the role and what you can bring to it.

  15. MashaKasha*

    Both my major work changes (2000 and 2006) were through recruiters, and both went along the same lines:

    (recruiter calls me) their salary range is X to Y
    (i go through the interviews)
    (recruiter calls back) you did great! they are very happy! They will send you a written offer right away for X-5000.
    (me) Didn’t they say at least X?
    (recruiter) X-5000 is not negotiable. Do you want it or not?

    And this, kids, is why everyone I know used to pad salaries when interviewing for new jobs in the late 90s – early 2000s. This way, I still got my raise, even after the employer did what I knew they would do. I hope something changed since then, this bait-and-switch is ridiculous.

    1. chicken_flavored_deodorant*

      Yeah, recruiters often ask how much candidates currently make. I was annoyed by this question at first and resisted giving them a number, but this generally didn’t go well.

      Now I just give them my current rate plus $10k. Nobody has batted an eye when I explain that I expect to make $5-7k more at my next job. This tells me pay ranges, at least in my field, are a lot more flexible than recruiters typically let on.

  16. Formica Dinette*

    Congratulations on your new job and on negotiating a higher salary! Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Depends on how you phrased it! “Would it be possible to make that $X?” “No.”

      “Ah well, I was hoping. I’d still love to accept the job!” but now your manager also knows you would have liked more. You would have *liked* more but you’re *willing* to do it for this.

      If $X is what they offered you plus some ridiculous amount, then they might just walk away, fearing you’d leave for a higher offer. But if it’s only above what they offered by a reasonable percentage? Probably they’ll understand.

      (Not that I tried to negotiate the offer at my current workplace – they came in well over the number I had named to them during screening, and I was very very pleased. Also, pretty sure the manager had already gone to bat for me. It seemed disengenuous to ask if they could raise it again when my original ask was lower.)

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “Thanks so much for considering it. I was hoping you might have some room there, but I’m excited enough about the job that I’ll be happy to accept regardless.”

      1. Dee*

        Thank you for writing this – i was looking in the archives last week for wording for when they refuse to increase the offer – but i want to accept the job regardless.

  17. Blue Anne*

    Alison, I had a similar thing happen at my new job. The hourly rate is lower than I was looking for, and I was pretty terrified of negotiating, but I re-read a couple of your “They will not pull the offer for negotiating” posts and asked if we could knock the hourly rate up by a couple bucks. No, but they gave me a $2,500 signing bonus, split between my first Friday and the end of busy season in April. Just got the first check! :)

    So, thank you for that!

  18. AmyH*

    Glad the negotiating works for some. I’ve had an offer pulled over it (for small amounts). The lesson is to always be prepared to walk away.

  19. Considering becoming a government lawyer*

    I know this thread is from Friday, but if anyone is still reading, has anyone negotiated with a federal government over salary before? If so, what did you do? I’ve been told by some that you are started at a certain level based on whether you have previous government service or not, however, someone else at the same agency said there is more flexibility there. I have a lot more experience than the minimum level that was stated in the listing and I currently make the same as the highest level listed. I would like to ask for the highest level listed so I don’t have a drop in salary, but not sure how it works.

      1. nonymous*

        The job listing should indicate qualifications required for all levels. Point out how your resume qualifies you at that higher band (HR is notoriously bad at this and the hiring manager should support you in pushing back; afaik there isn’t an incentive for the first-line manager to exert downward wage pressure). You can also ask for continuing ed/conference funding as a way to increase your compensation package. At your level, maybe even relo or signing bonus?

  20. PartTimeHR*

    If a candidate asks for more than we’re willing to pay, we often offer mid-way between with a 90 day review and bump to higher end of the candidate’s salary request. Most of the time, it’s not that wereee not willing to pay more, we just don’t want a “top candidate” to turn out to be a top “all talk no walk” candidate.

    At 90 days, we either pay then what they asked (90% of the time) or we tell them why we won’t and postpone it to the 6 month review.

  21. Henry @ ISL*

    I stumbled over this post (and one other on your site) while doing some research for a colleague writing a paper on salary negotiation and wanted to pop back and say thanks for the inspiration – not just from your original correspondent but also the many coments added.

    I got some terrific ideas, so thanks again Alison.

  22. HyacinthB*

    I now this is an old post but I wanted to add my salary negotiation success story.

    I was offered a great position at a company that turned out to be truly wonderful to work for. However, they only offered me the same as I was currently making. I countered at about 15% more. The hiring manager’s response was “but that’s more than you currently make.” I allowed that she was correct but stuck to my guns. Not long after, she replied via email that they could pay me what I requested. So that was the first good thing. 3 months later, I had a review and they liked my worked so much, I got a 30% increase.

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