a salary negotiation success story

A reader writes:

I wanted to send you a note to thank you for all of your excellent advice, some of which I’ve recently been able to put into practice.

I’m a 27-year-old woman, and I recently negotiated my salary successfully for the first time. In my first job out of university, I accepted the first offer I received without even thinking about asking for more; I was just grateful to have a job. For my second job, I attempted to negotiate a higher hourly rate with the hiring manager via email, who told me he wasn’t able to offer anything more than the going rate (this was true) and I ended up accepting anyway. This job paid barely more than my first.

For my third job, an internal move to a different department at the same organisation, I was once again offered a lower salary than I wanted. The HR manager approached me in person with the verbal offer and salary, with a contract to follow. I made a half-hearted attempt to ask if there was room for negotiation, citing that market rates for the role were closer to $5k more than what they’d offered. The HR manager said that the salary for this position was standardized across the department, but that if I wanted to “contest it” she could look into this. Intimidated, and really wanting the job, I lost my nerve and accepted without “contesting” the salary any further.

I’ve stayed in this role for a little over two years, receiving excellent performance reviews, regular glowing feedback from clients, and two incremental merit raises of 2-3%. My confidence has really grown in this time, and up until recently I was keen to progress my career with the company. But after being unsuccessful in two promotion applications, I decided it was time to look at new opportunities.

I had a few phone screens and one in-person interview, but ended up self-selecting out as I realized the opportunities weren’t the right fit for me. Then, about two months ago I found a job online that sounded like a great fit. I got a great impression of the company from the five people I interviewed with (over two rounds) and asked a lot of my own questions. It sounded like we were very much on the same page.

Their initial offer was at the bottom of my stated salary range. I gave it some thought and realized that I wasn’t willing to settle for less than $5k more. I had a call with the hiring manager a few days later and explained that even though their offer was within my stated range, I had done some of my own number crunching and in order to move forward I was looking for a base salary $5k higher than their initial offer.

We had another phone call the next day and they had agreed to my number! Here’s the best part…my new salary will be a nice 20% jump from where I currently am. I really want to thank you again for all of your excellent advice, and these common themes in particular which really helped me:

  • Asking your own questions and interviewing the company as much as they interview you.
  • Not going into too many details or justifications for why you are asking for a higher salary. Just keeping it short and sweet and explaining what you need in order to move forward.
  • Knowing what you want and being willing to walk away if needed.

Sorry this is so long, but I thought that giving you the full story would help to explain why this recent negotiation has been so important to me. For the first time in my working life, I’ll be starting a job with the salary I actually want, rather than the lowest number I’d begrudgingly agree to.

That is awesome — congratulations! I’m hoping this will inspire other people to do the same.

Let’s tackle salary negotiation questions in the comments, in the hopes of getting more people more money.

{ 155 comments… read them below }

  1. The Photographer's Husband*

    That’s awesome to hear, congrats!

    I myself am trying to prep for negotiating a raise in my annual evaluation on Monday. I have a number in mind, but I’m having a hard time finding market rates for my position (I’m an IT consultant specializing in Quality Assurance and I’m also doing some Jira Administration). This is my first year in the industry, but I’ve already moved from rookie tester to QA Lead of one of our client’s projects. I’ve also picked up a Jira certification out of my own initiative that’s expanded my skillset and allowed my office to retain some business since a couple of our other Jira SMEs moved to another department/office.

    I hope it’s fine to just state the number I’m looking for, because I think percentages would be too vague. I’m hoping to get a raise to 55k. Does anyone happen to know if that would be too outrageous for a QA specialist with 1 year of experience?

    1. AK*

      I think a lot of this is going to depend on your industry and location. Have you looked on Glassdoor at companies and titles similar to you in your area? That might help give you a good range.

      1. The Photographer's Husband*

        I have looked at Glassdoor, but I find it to be too vague and generalized for my needs.

      2. The Photographer's Husband*

        Thank you for the suggestion though, and I do recognize that location has a lot to do with it. If it helps, I’m probably in a pretty average CoL area.

        1. grey*

          I’m wondering if you could look outside of your area and then use a COL calculator to determine what the salary would probably look like in your area? I’ve been in a similar situation where there just wasn’t enough information for my area.

        2. This may or may not be helpful*

          I know you know that this is super location-specific, but my boyfriend is in almost the exact same position as you (first job in the industry, about a year of experience in QA, moving to team lead very quickly, certifications in… some stuff? I don’t know a lot about the technical details). We live in an extremely high COL area (not the Bay Area, but comparable to that, it’s elsewhere in CA), and people in his role make about 74k/year, but they’re having trouble retaining people because that’s really low compared to wages in the Bay, so people keep leaving for jobs up there. If you want to try doing Grey’s suggestion of using a COL calculator, if you plug in San Jose, that’s about identical to our COL here. Might… be a useful data point? Can’t be less helpful than Glassdoor, right?

          1. The Photographer's Husband*

            Thanks! I’ll take any and all data to try and put together a framework. I appreciate it!

    2. Tech industry employee*

      Obviously YMMV based on location but I am in software development and my company’s QA engineers (distributed around the US, mostly in midsized cities) make around 45k-90k depending on experience and technical skill (scripting, automation, comfort with API testing). From what I know of comparable companies in this industry, that’s a pretty standard ballpark. 55k seems a bit high for one year experience if you don’t have technical background, but if you do it’s pretty reasonable.

      1. coffeeee*

        My husband is in QA and I’m in tech (project management) and I agree with your assessment. At 1 year of experience my husband had 45k and is now at 85k.

        1. The Photographer's Husband*

          Thank you for your input, both of you. It sounds like I may actually already be slightly above market rates then.

          Coffeeee, just to clarify, do you mean that your husband was at 45k when he had 1 year of experience and now after however many years he’s at 85k? Or that his salart went from 45k to 85k after one year?

          1. coffeeee*

            When he had 1 year of experience he had 45k.
            He currently (as of a raise last week) now has 85k. (He’s been doing it 6 years now btw if that helps you)

    3. Janey*

      If you’re ever thinking about moving outside of QA and more into IT processes, and even project management, the JIRA administration skillset is super helpful.

      1. The Photographer's Husband*

        That is my tentative plan – I love Jira, and would like to become an Atlassian guru.

            1. Honoria Glossop*

              Where did you get your certs from? My company recently moved over to Agile using Jira, and we are really inept at it so far. I’d be interested in taking classes just to make things go better.

              1. The Photographer's Husband*

                For my Scrum Master certification, my company employs a guy that is a certified Scrum Trainer, so every 6 months or so he’ll come by our office and do the 2-day course to anyone who is interested.

                For my Jira certification, Atlassian has great materials and courses for learning the programs. There is a cost to purchase them (luckily my company has a ‘You Pass, We Pay’ policy), but it’s not terribly expensive. If you search for Atlassian University, you can get a ton of info there – should be the first result. Good luck!

    4. Anon for this*

      From the perspective of someone who works for a large company in Seattle, 55K seems very low, even for relatively little experience in this field. It sounds like you’ve demonstrated a great ability to learn and apply new skills. I haven’t found Glassdoor to be very accurate in the markets I’ve looked. Good luck with whatever you decide on this.

      1. Sk*

        Cost of living can be hard to account for. My industry’s main professional organization publishes a yearly report that includes a salary survey. It groups salaries by experience and region (northeast, west coast, etc). It’s interesting to see, but a salary in Boston is obviously quite different than a salary in a small Vermont town.

        1. The Photographer's Husband*

          Thanks for the advice. Yeah, my area would have a much lower CoL than Seattle, so that makes sense. Others have suggested using a CoL calculator to get more data points which I’ll look into. Thanks for the well wishes!

  2. Scoop*

    Man, OP, that is awesome! I am so impressed by people who are able to handle negotiations like a champ, which it sounds like, after some practice rounds you were able to do!

    I’m curious what reasonable percentage differences are for negotiations. Back in the podcast episode about negotiating, Alison walked through a scenario with the letter-writer that ended up with about a 5% increase in the ask.

    I’m anticipating doing some negotiating in the near future (either for an internal promotion I’m going out for, or potentially at a new company if that promotion doesn’t work out) and am trying to find out what isn’t too much. Some articles I’ve seen have said 10%-20% more is a fine range to ask for. Other sites have said 20% is a crazy amount to ask for.

    Anyone here have any thoughts or experience? (Would also be willing to hear about how the answer might change if it’s a non-profit vs for-profit company.)

    1. Sleepytime Tea*

      In my experience, negotiating with internal promotions are extremely tough. They know you want the job, they know what you’re currently making, and they know that job searching outside the company is a lot of work and that many people won’t end up doing it. I have had zero success negotiating salary for internal moves, but those experiences have also been with companies that I’m not with any longer for a reason.

      My most successful salary negotiation I asked for about 15% more than what they offered and they came back at about 7-8% plus a signing bonus. I think that in for-profit companies in mid-level jobs and up that type of negotiation is fine. For entry level jobs asking for 20% would be insane because entry level jobs just don’t require the same level of experience. And in the non-profit sector, their budgets are so much smaller (usually) that unless you are pretty high up on the totem pole I wouldn’t even get close to that – the negotiation range is much smaller.

      It really depends on industry, job level, and location. But when it comes to things like compensation don’t forget to consider the benefits package. A big salary is nice, but huge medical bills or not enough PTO to spend time with the people in your life you care about or not getting much money put away for retirement has real impacts to your overall finances.

    2. SarahKay*

      For internal promotions I think it can depend on company policies, on how much they want you – both in the new role, and in the company at all – and on how good / influential your manager-to-be is. If you’re job scope and / or responsibilities are increasing significantly then I would say 20% could be perfectly reasonable.

      I’m in a for-profit company and in my first internal promotion I took what was offered even though it was lower than I wanted. I was told that the 20% increase offered was the max my company would do for internal promotions (regardless of how much higher the new job scope was!), and I wanted the job. I later discovered that I was being badly underpaid compared to colleagues in that first year, although thanks to a good manager fighting for me I then got a very good increase next year to bring me into line with the rest of the department.

      Second internal promotion, in the same company, I was told the max increase now was only 15%; thanks to some helpful colleagues sharing their pay levels I knew that I’d be hideously underpaid – like on 75% of the salary of the rest of the team. This time I’d learned my lesson, and I was totally prepared to walk away if that was the best offer. I had the advantage that this was all part of a restructure and my current role was being closed; if they didn’t promote me into the new role they had no-one in that role and would have to advertise externally, while I would be paid pretty generous severance. My manager-to-be went to bat for me, and got me 15% immediately and 15% six months later, which brought me to a salary I was happy to accept.

    3. Anonym*

      Some companies have guidelines on what percentage raise is recommended with a straight line promotion. I’d ask around to people you trust, especially if they’re managers. Or your company may have available policies on this!

      In my case, I found out that the guidelines were based on your performance grade. In my case (high performer), 15% was recommended. I knew I was below market already, however. They came in at about 20% of previous salary in the offer, but I pushed back and got about 28%. (In more concrete numbers, what I wanted was roughly 5k over what they offered, so I asked for 10k over and took the compromise.)

    4. Always ask, it's not that scary, promise*

      Two experiences:

      – Internal raise: Typical year raises at my company range from 2-5%. I’ve never really had success getting more than this at any company without getting a counteroffer. However, get a counteroffer, and there is often suddenly money on the table. For example, with a counter I was offered a >20% raise.

      – External negotiation: 15% higher just by saying “hm, that is a bit lower than I was expecting”. Especially for external negotiations, always ask. Have a number in mind that you want, and if they don’t offer that, state what you were hoping for and they will often budge. If they offer more than you were expecting, ask for slightly more. If they say the salary is standardized, keep in mind that may not be true or the base salary might be standard but they can offer you a signing bonus.

      I can’t emphasize enough that you should ALWAYS ask. There’s really no harm in doing it. Negotiation sounds scary and complicated, and maybe people who are really advanced at it can get more out of the process than I could, but if you simply say something like the above or what OP said it’s often enough. I was originally very scared of “negotiating” because I didn’t understand what it was, but it’s really just politely asking or expressing something isn’t what you hoped.

      I would also strongly recommend looking at comparable ranges though on Glassdoor. In both cases above, the number I had in mind was within the suggested ranges or just above for someone in my type of job, which is important so you don’t ask for something completely realistic.

    5. Hannah*

      It is definitely more difficult, but excluding cost of living increases, I’ve negotiated internal raises in almost every job I have ever had. These raises have ranged from 10% to about 35%, and in one outlier case 60%. In my current job I am responsible for giving internal raises, and I regularly give raises that are between 10% and 20% (but those are generally without being asked, because we make proactive comp adjustments within roles).

      From my perspective:

      – almost any raise is acceptable to ask for, but it has to be justified by market, a change in job responsibilities, a change in capabilities, or exceptional performance.
      – there’s a lot of power in asking for a raise with the conviction that you deserve it. To Allison’s point, I don’t think it needs to be over-explained, and you shouldn’t be aggressive in your delivery, but it also shouldn’t be tentative or as though you are asking your employer to do you a favor. It should be more of a statement of fact.
      – it’s ok to ask for a raise and have the answer be no, or some compromise postion – it is better than not asking at all, because it will help you get a raise later. If you are denied a raise, a good follow up is to ask 1) what you need to do to get a raise and 2) if you can revisit the subject in some set period of months (most often six).
      – While some companies only give raises as part of annual reviews, budgets are set well before they are communicated to employees, so if you want a significant raise you are better off having that discussion well before review time.
      – I don’t think threatening to quit is a good strategy, but I do think making them worry that you might quit (subtly, carefully, and infrequently) can be.

  3. Sleepytime Tea*

    I recently got a new job (woo hoo!) through the use of external recruiters. Working with staffing agencies was new to me and overall I found the experience weird, although it worked out really well. One thing that I was told by these recruiters was that I
    1) had to name the salary I wanted up front
    2) they would “present” me as that salary and there would be no negotiation on it.

    Is that normal? Ultimately I got what I wanted, but it was really difficult for me to try and peg a salary for jobs I had no info on beyond the job descriptions and I didn’t know what the benefits packages were. Essentially I went high on the salary so that I could compensate for the possibility of the benefits not being great or it being more in line with market rates for a given job, and it ended up working out, but it was really nerve wracking and I don’t know if that was really a normal thing. (Probably more normal for contract positions, but for permanent full time positions it seemed super strange.)

    1. Murphy*

      No, I think you should have an opportunity to adjust your desired number once you learn more about the job requirements.

        1. MassMatt*

          Yes, you need to know your FULL compensation, not just the salary! Benefits may or may not be flexible, but it’s important to know whether the job is offering $50k and crappy insurance, little or no paid vacation, or retirement plan vs: $50k and a good benefits package.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’m currently working with a contracting firm/recruiter, and that is my experience now and with a few previous recruiters. The ‘negotiation’ is up front with the recruiter, but I haven’t gotten any pushback when I say what my desired rate is (I know it’s in line with the market for the type of work I’m looking at and my experience level). So basically they’re submitting me at the rate I would generally accept at. But, if during the interview I find that the job description doesn’t match what I submitted for (more or harder work, for example) or there are fewer benefits than expected, I would take it up with my recruiter prior to accepting any offer. The recruiter I’m working with indicated that that is when the rate is finalized, not during the submission of the initial application.

    3. ZuZu*

      (former) agency recruiter here – yes, it’s normal, but I would say more for contract and contract-to-perm roles. In my agency, the recruiters who handled perm roles usually would present a candidate’s range to the client, and then the offer would fall in that range at the client’s discretion. One reason is because the fee the client pays is based on the salary. So, if your recruiter presents you at $50k, the company knows their fee is $10k. If your salary increases, so does the fee, and the clients can see that as their agency being duplicitous to get more money. It’s all about finding an agency you trust – and of course, congrats on the new position!

  4. Kes*

    Wow, I identify with so much of this story. I’m a woman about the same age, and I totally lowballed myself with inaccurate salary information and ‘not wanting to ask for too much’ on my first job out of school (they actually ended up giving me a small raise after being there a couple of months, and a significant raise after a year, and I suspect I was still at or near the bottom of their range – I was easily able to find jobs offering significantly more when I left). In my next job I tentatively tried to ask for more but immediately accepted being shot down (“We’re taking a risk on you” – not sure this was really true, but I was too nervous to consider pushing back). I’m starting to apply to new jobs again after missing out on promotions, looking for a significant raise, and I’m hoping this time I can do a bit better on the negotiation front, even if it’s not my forte. Stories like this are so encouraging to read – thanks OP and Alison for sharing.

    1. Blue*

      I’m in the same boat as the two of you, and I successfully negotiated salary for the first time this summer. The advice OP highlights at the end were the same things that were really helpful for me, and it was so much less stressful (and more successful!) than I anticipated. Good luck!!

    2. Personally*

      “We’re taking a risk on you”

      What? That’s such a line of poop. They’re only taking a risk on you in the way that every hire has a chance of not working out. They aren’t doing you a favor (aka taking a risk on you) they’re hiring you to work for their business. They’ve decided you’re the best candidate, that isn’t them “taking a risk on you.” That’s a lie AND condescending.
      It really rubs me the wrong way. I honestly wouldn’t work somewhere if they said that to me.

    3. IT Manager*

      “We’re taking a risk on you”

      @Personally is correct. This is a standard line that they are feeding you to make you feel nervous so that you will accept a lower salary. I know how hard it is to fight this feeling that the company may pass on you if you ask for more money.

      Every 5 years I lose my job with my company since I perform contract work for the government. That is okay because the new company taking on the new government contract always hires the same employees (excepting the rare case of a bad apple). These transitions are the only time we receive significant raises. Starting out, I did not ask for raises at the transition. Like you, I was nervous. Now I determine what I am worth, ask for that salary, and receive it.

      Some of my employees are still nervous, despite my coaching. They are missing out on the raises at the contract rollover. Others have become self-confident, ask for raises, and earn more than their boss (i.e. me) does. I am happy for them and their negotiating skills.

      I have an advantage since I am an IT manager. I can see what the minimum, mean, and maximum the company pays for each position, including mine. As you look for a new job, find out what the range is for your field, shoot for the middle, and then hold firm. That way you are not overpricing yourself (as one candidate I am interviewing has done) nor under-pricing yourself.

  5. Kiki*

    My question is…how do you know exactly what the market rate for your position is? I’ve done a TON of research into the pay for the role I have in the industry I work in and in the area I live. For my position and years of experience (10 yrs) I get a range of $35k-$90k. I make $38k and that’s about the number I’ve gotten in all the jobs I’ve worked at (I asked for $45k at Current Job and was told that was too high). So how am I supposed to know if that’s fair? Is the $90k only for rockstars? Am I being underpaid? Should I just average and assume the market rate is around $60k? I’ve spoken to people who are at both ends of that pay spectrum and everywhere in between. I’m so confused!

    1. Kes*

      Have you looked on Glassdoor? I find it super helpful because there is a quite a range, salarywise, for positions doing what I do in my area, and it can be hard to tell from job postings where companies fall in that range (somehow everyone offers “competitive salaries”). Glassdoor is fairly well used in my area/industry and is really useful in giving an idea of what the company actually pays people in that role, which allows me to prescreen companies before even applying. (You have to take their data with a grain of salt, but I’ve found it to be reasonably accurate and it gives an idea.)

      1. Jumping in*

        This is helpful! Anybody have advice for when you have a weird/niche job? Glassdoor has been unhelpful in this regard. I work alone, as I’m the only person with my position/a similar position at my company and don’t have many professional connections in my field I could ask, aside from people who are in the same boat as me (we’re a pretty isolated profession). Recruiters for my job are typically used for hard to fill, short-term positions that come with a higher pay rate. I can find a national average for my job title, but because the settings we work in vary so much, it’s a poor gauge. I live in a high COL area but also a well educated city which brings a lot of competition for jobs, which I think partially drives salaries down. I am asked often for stated salary on job apps and am afraid I’m either really lowballing myself or asking way too high. I have a 25k range in mind. Should I just always ask for the highest number?

        1. Cap Hiller*

          I put $0 or leave the salary box blank on job apps unless I’ve spoken with someone first and know the salary range

          1. Jumping in*

            I’ve been tempted to do that, but was unsure if that was just avoiding the question. Unfortunately many only accept numbers so you’re unable to type “negotiable” which would be my first choice

    2. Sleepytime Tea*

      If you know people who make that high end of the salary and they’ve shared those numbers with you, reach out to them and ask them how they negotiated that. Do they have certifications you don’t? Do they have experience with special projects or specific technology you don’t? I’m an analyst, which can work in basically any industry, and the pay range is wild. But there are things that make me more (or less) valuable on paper when negotiating a salary. There are certain technologies that are considered particularly needed and so I made sure to get experience in those, which gives me an edge in the hiring process and more negotiating power. Also certain job duties, frequently associated with those technologies or specific skills, are going to be a part of higher paying jobs. There are teapot analysts making $20/hr playing with data in Excel and there are teapot analysts making six figures building databases and designing reports in Tableau. You have to talk to people in your field and get an idea for what the different skill levels are and what the salary range is for those. Some job titles just encompass too much.

  6. Murphy*


    To add another success story if that’s ok, I recently got a raise which I probably wouldn’t have had the courage or proper vocabulary to ask for if not for Ask a Manager! Doing some unrelated research, I ended up finding out that I was being paid about 10% below what my university considered the “market rate” for my position. I’ve always gotten good performance reviews so I took this info to my boss and calmly explained the situation. He looked into it with HR, I spoke to HR, and ended up getting the 10% raise along with the standard COL increase that employees in my class were already set to get. I had been really nervous about asking, but I went ahead with it, and got it done in about 2 weeks. Thanks to Alison and all of you!

  7. 313Unicorn*

    How does one figure out what the going rate for a position might be? I am trying to transition out of Higher Education to another field, and in higher ed this process is much simpler, since at least public institutions are required by law to make salaries public information. But I have no idea how to go about estimating salaries for other fields, especially if I don’t really know anyone in that field that I can network with. I’ve checked out websites like glassdoor, but those are just estimates themselves, and I have no barometer for how accurate they may be. Does anyone have any suggestions here? I’m looking at some jobs in non-profit- are they similarly required to post salary information? Where would I find it if so?

    1. SalaryTalk*

      Look for specific companies on Glassdoor with similar positions to what you want to get into. If the company is large enough, you will see where people have posted actual salaries. Click on the salary and it will tell you how many people have reported a salary at that position and the range.

      I’m going currently going through an interview process and this has proved invaluable. The recruiter asked me to come ready with a range for my phone screen. I currently make 75K and figured I would say 80K. But then I looked at salaries for the company at the level I was going into and they were higher. I also looked at my current company because I’m on the cusp of bumping up a level, and I wasn’t sure what the new pay would be. The new pay is range is between 80 and 85K.

      Once I looked at those numbers, I realized I would be taking a pay cut at 80K. I bumped my minimum to 90K. The recruiter said the range was between 80K and 110K, and I was relieved that I hadn’t bottomed myself out. If they do make an offer, I now feel more educated to argue for the 90K than before when I randomly added 5K to my salary.

    2. CrabbyBeth*

      If you’re making a career change I would strongly encourage you to talk to people working in your desired new field! That was so helpful to me when I transitioned from academia to consulting. I asked a few contacts for a ballpark estimate of what an entry-level consultant would make at their company or a similar company. That is a different question from “how much money do you make right now?” so people were more willing to talk numbers with me. A few also shared what their own entry-level salary was, with the caveat that for some this was a number from 5-10 years ago so the starting rate has increased since then.

  8. KatieKate*

    At what point is it appropriate to ask for a salary range in the interview process? There is no range posted on the job listing and they haven’t asked me yet. I have a second round interview next week (other members of the team, not the hiring manager) so they’re not really in a place to answer. But at this point I will have used six hours of vacation/sick time to interview. Do I stick it out and just wait and see if I even get an offer?

    1. Cordoba*

      I’m a fan of getting everybody’s rough salary expectations out in the open as soon as possible; I always bring it up by the end of the first phone call.

      If there’s a mismatch to the point where it’s never going to work out it’s better to find that out early before a bunch of time and effort has been invested.

      In the case you describe I would absolutely address it now rather than continuing with the process and hoping for a favorable result.

    2. Sleepytime Tea*

      Is there another round after this next interview? If not, then you won’t need to bring it up because either you’ll get an offer or not, and then you’ll know. If there is, then after you meet the team and send out your thank you notes, I would send a note to the hiring manager saying you enjoyed meeting the team, learning about the role, and are looking forward to the next step in the process. In that note you can also bring up that now that you’ve learned a lot about the role through the interview process, you are also interested in knowing the salary range.

      That said, if you feel like you need to know the salary range to make sure it’s acceptable to you BEFORE you spend more PTO to go on this second interview, you could send a note to the hiring manager and say that you are looking forward to the interview and something like “I apologize, I should have asked you in the first interview but was so excited to learn about the position it slipped my mind. Would you mind sharing the salary range with me for the position?”

    3. just me*

      Yes, you can ask the salary range – but they can lie. I had a recruiter lie to me. I don’t know if it’s a one off bad apple or a regular practice, but either way know that it can happen. It was awkward when I found out the real range, notified her of it, and had them raise my salary offer.

    4. Gaia*

      I think it is best to discuss in the initial conversations. And by best, I mean best for both parties. The only thing better is if they’d put a salary range in the job ad. There are still some people who are put off by asking about salary too soon (they say things like “the candidate was only concerned about what was in it for them” etc. As if we don’t *all* work for money?) As a candidate, you’re selling your experience, skills, talent, and time. As an employer, they are purchasing it. In no other transaction would you invest hours upon hours of your time only to find out you are 50% apart on the price.

    5. TJ*

      I just recently went through a job search/interviews myself and honestly, I asked for a range in the phone interview. I phrased it in the sense of “So I can make sure we are on the page before we go any further, can you give me a sense of the salary range for this position?” Some people gave me the range, some asked me what range I was thinking (where I pulled out the trusty ‘based on market analysis and what I’ve heard of the job so far, I’m thinking of $X’).

      To be honest, no one batted an eye that I brought up a range in the initial stages. You could have asked after a phone interview/end of first interview and I think you would be fine. It makes sense for both to figure out if you would be willing to take their stated range in the beginning before going any further, using any more time off, etc.

      1. Cordoba*

        An employer who will clutch their pearls and turn down a candidate they would otherwise hire because the applicant had the gall to scandalize them by mention money in the first interview is likely:
        1) rare
        2) somebody I don’t want to work for anyway

        If such a thing actually happened, so what? Good riddance to them.

        I want an employer who respects my time, who accepts that ultimately I work for money, and who understands not to play games with my livelihood. If somebody wants to wait until the offer stage to talk money generally they are clearly indicating that they are none of these things.

      2. Elle*

        I always bring that up if they are recruiting me through LinkedIn or other networks. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time if we aren’t on the same page. I spent months interviewing, waiting on a hiring freeze, etc. for a job and the offer they presented was insulting. Never making that mistake again.

  9. Susana*

    The best lesson here is one women should heed: you do NOT have to say why you want/need more money. Not, I can’t pay my mortgage on this salary/I have kids’ tuition/college loans. Don’t make yourself a charity case. Make the case for more money based on what you can offer the company. So what if you don’t “need” the money? If your experience and abilities warrant it, ask for it.

  10. Cordoba*

    “Not going into too many details or justifications for why you are asking for a higher salary. ”

    This is excellent advice. There are exceptions, but in general I’ve found that it’s better to approach negotiations with a new company as “My labor costs $X” rather than “Here’s a bunch of reasons why I think I’m worth $X”.

    The reasons are your skills, experience, knowledge and ability to do useful things.

    Apple doesn’t tell the customer “here are the justifications for why an iPhone costs $800”. They just say “here’s what an iPhone can do for you, the price is $800”.

    1. Gaia*

      Yes. All of this. Women are conditioned to soften requests by explaining them. We don’t have to do this and, sometimes, doing so undermines our ask. The only reason that matters is “My time and work product are worth it.”

  11. just me*

    I just negotiated a $5k pay increase from the company’s initial offering as well as working part time from home!

  12. just me*

    Also my pay is 21k more then my last job and another 20k more then the company I worked for a year before that :)

  13. Environmental Compliance*

    AAM is what gave me the confidence to go forth and find a new job a few months ago that 1) wasn’t toxic and 2) pays me what I’m worth. I’m really thankful a blog (and community!) like this exists.

    So, at Current Job, there are annual reviews every January. I’ve gotten glowing feedback so far from a variety of Higher Ups.

    I started in March. Would it be too early to negotiate for more vacation during the review period? I’m really not interested in a raise, and I’d rather have 1-2 more weeks of PTO.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Obviously everyone’s workplace is different, but generally the time to negotiate PTO is when you get hired. At every review I’ve ever had, the raise (“merit increase”) had been decided by various budgets and managers all the way from the top down by the time I got to the review. It certainly may be worth asking if you can get more PTO in lieu of a merit increase, but it will depend heavily on company culture as to whether that’s even A Thing.

    2. Personally*

      I think it depends on the size of the work place. In my experience, regrettably, PTO has been non-negotiable (I think it’s because it’s clear if someone gets more PTO because they’re gone more, less so if they get paid more!). But if you work in a place where people get different amounts of PTO, I don’t see why it would hurt to ask.

      1. Emily K*

        Yep, everywhere I worked had either a set amount of PTO for everyone, or it was awarded in tiers, with new junior employees getting one amount, and senior/long-term employees getting more. It was not up for negotiation.

        The other thing to consider even if PTO is negotiable is that while you may be able to get an extra week, at least in the US 2 weeks would be a LOT of extra vacation to ask for. Two weeks is the most common allotment here, so either you’re already getting a generous 3+ and you want to come back and ask for another half-month off on top of that, or they’ve only given you a miserly 1-2 weeks and you’re expecting them to be willing to double/triple it. Either way…it’s a lot. If you have a full workload, what’s going to happen to the work you would have done in those 80 hours, and is it going to be a problem for the business if you’re doing 80 hours less work a year, or does the business actually need those 80 hours from you to function?

        1. Emily K*

          Oh, also forgot–if your company pays out accrued vacation when you leave, that’s another reason that many of them don’t like to dole out extra days. The unused days sit in the company’s books as a financial liability and represent money they can’t spend because it has to be earmarked for in case you quit and are entitled to a payout.

        2. Marina S*

          My workplace has tiered PTO based on seniority, but I’ve heard through the rumor mill that occasionally new employees are brought in at a more senior level based on their experience. As far as HR is concerned, they can’t negotiate giving a new employee the same PTO as a 3 year employee, but they can negotiate categorizing a new employee AS a 3 year employee. Magic bureaucracy, sigh…

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        For us, it’s pretty negotiable, and I only have 2 weeks PTO – this includes vacation, sick, personal…etc. I have a couple closer work friends that I’ve talked to, and those that have been here only 1-2 years have closer to 4 weeks PTO.

  14. ElspethGC*

    This is UK advice needed rather than US – I’m starting to think about getting on a graduate scheme, or at least applying in the next few months, and a lot of them simply say “competitive salary”. What does a competitive salary mean for a 1-3 year grad scheme? It’s hard to compare and find an average rate because so many of them don’t give actual numbers, and those that do are often the ones based in London, which isn’t somewhere I really want to move to based on living costs.

    I need an idea of a baseline because it will be dictating whether I want to look mainly in my current local area (if the salary won’t be enough for me to move out without saving up for a few months) or if I’ll be able to move to wherever the job is (bar London) and find a place right away without worrying about money too much.

    1. ElspethGC*

      PS. I’m considering this relevant to salary negotiation as I suspect I’ll be expected to negotiate my “competitive salary”!

    2. Gaia*

      We get hit in the US with “competitive salary” too. It can mean anything from market rate, above market rate to waaaaayyyy below market rate.

      In my experience, it almost always means below market rate.

      1. Emily K*

        Yeah, US here, but in my experience –

        “competitive salary” = below market rate
        “salary commensurate with experience” = mid-low market rate
        “very competitive salary” = actually competitive mid-high market rate

    3. PX*

      Hmm. This is interesting because when I was job searching from abroad looking to move to the UK, grad schemes were one of the few things where I could almost always find the actual range. If you do a Google, there was once a pretty good website with forum for people preparing for grad scheme assessments, and those also tended to have success stories with salaries.

      My experience/ranges might be skewed because I’m in engineering, but I was applying to large companies, none of which were explicitly based on London, and I definitely think I saw something like starting at GBP24,000 all the way up to GBP31,000.

      Things to be aware of, like you indicate, it will definitely be region based (I saw at least one which had an adjustment factor for if you ended up in London). And depending on the scheme, if they allowed you to join when you already had prior work experience (so not fresh out of uni), that would also factor in.

    4. short_stuff*

      Our grad scheme is £28k per year. I’d be surprised if it was as open for negotiation as a regular job, usually a grad scheme is a pretty set deal. When I did mine (some time ago) there was a base amount, and then you got extra if you got a first or had a masters or were based in London. But it was formulaic, rather than negotiated.

  15. ThatGirl*

    Just a few bits of anecdata from me. My sole true successful negotiation was when I moved to Illinois (Chicago area) from Kentucky; I was being paid a mere pittance at my first job and knew my salary would have go to up considerably to be able to afford an apartment etc. So when I got the offer, and the salary was lower than I needed, I calmly and truthfully said I’d need a bit more to be able to afford it. Now, in retrospect, I could have and should have taken a different tactic; I was only asking for $1k more a year (yeah) and while COL was a major factor, my experience should’ve factored in too. But, it worked.

    More recently, last summer I was job searching and got an offer from a staffing firm for a temp job. It would’ve been a hell of a commute, but the good hourly rate would’ve made it at least temporarily worth it. Then the staffing agency came back and told me there was a mistake and they could only give me $10/hr LESS than the initial rate, which would’ve put me below my previous salary and absolutely not worth the drive. I pushed back, and never did get a straight answer, but ultimately turned them down for both the lowball salary and the shady tactics. (Later found out a former coworker who lived closer got that job, and she was given a better rate directly from the company. :-/)

  16. a*

    Great job, OP! Congrats on standing up for yourself!

    When I was getting the offer for my current job, the salary offer was $5K below what I was then making. Although I didn’t think I had any room for negotiation (the position was for a 2 year training program, before becoming an actual teapot examiner), I asked the HR person whether they would be able to match my current salary. She said that it would not be possible. I took the job anyway, because teapot examination is a pretty cool job. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I got my first paycheck and found that they had matched my salary after all.

    I am a horrible negotiator in real life. But it always pays to ask for what you would like; otherwise, you’re unlikely to get it.

    1. Sally*

      When i was negotiating my second job’s salary, the hiring manager asked if she needed to match my current salary. She kind of laughed after she said it, maybe because my facial expression must have been “are you joking?!” I said that i didn’t want to lose the offer over it, but yes, i wanted them to match or exceed my then-current salary. I got $1k more than what i had been making. I was OK with that at the time.

  17. kartaylir*

    My question is … if you ask, and they say they’ll get back to you, how long do you wait before checking in?

    I accepted my current position at about $5,000 below the advertised rate due to an HR policy dictating that someone moving from one area to another could only have a salary bump of a particular percentage. (Yes, it’s stupid. No, I didn’t know at the outset. I just really needed out of a toxic department and jumped. For what it’s worth, I really like it over here?) I had my annual review recently, which was great, and I was very up-front about the fact that I was really hoping to get closer to what the job was offered at, or perhaps a little higher given the reality of my position and what the day-to-day is like. My supervisor seemed very receptive to it and said he’d check on this for me, figure out what’s doable and get back to me, but I’m not sure how long to wait before nudging him about it. This is the first time I’ve needed to ask for a raise, so I’m trying not to handle this like a total fool.

    1. Anonym*

      And if he doesn’t have an answer then, ask when he expects one, or when it makes sense to check in with him again.

  18. Master Bean Counter*

    How timely.
    I just put in my first ask for a six figure salary to a recruiter yesterday. And they didn’t think I was mad.
    I asked about the salary range up front. Mostly because they are recruiting me, and I’m sick of wasting my time. When they wouldn’t give a number I threw mine out there. But I’m not really looking to change jobs at the moment–I keep saying that—maybe I’ll believe it. Anyway the current job isn’t so terrible that I can’t ride it out another year or two at least.
    But good opportunities at my level are few and far between if don’t want to move 100+ miles. So I tend to a least take the conversation when a recruiter calls.

    Anyway I got to this point by asking for at least 20% over my current salary every time I switched jobs. Did I always get it? No. But I always got at least 10%.

      1. LarsTheRealGirl*

        The thing is, that *can* happen, but it really doesn’t benefit the recruiter or the company…so chances are that it was probably more of a communication issue/error/late change than a flat out lie.

        Recruiters (especially external ones) work on commission, so if the final offer is going to be one you won’t accept because they initially lied to you and told you it was higher, they don’t make money. There’s just not a lot of incentive to lie to you about a higher range if the final offer will be lower.

  19. Autumnal*

    My company (or at least, my department in my company) doesn’t negotiate, period. I find it to be so strange. We have a performance review and then 1-2 months later a mass mail-merge email is sent with our new salary information and about a month after that the new rates are reflected in our pay checks. We never have an opportunity to address the link between our performance and our pay. I’ve worked in other places where negotiations are heavily discouraged (ie: it is well known the decision is already made before reviews and changes are rare), but I’ve always gotten raise information in that performance review meeting.

    Does anyone else work in a place that does it like my (generally great to work for) company?

    1. Sleepytime Tea*

      Yeah this is basically how it has been at several places I’ve worked when it comes to annual raises. The only time I ever got anything different was when my manager worked out a “salary adjustment” for me that was an entirely separate process. And it was a BIG process, which took months of her arguing with HR that I was underpaid. And the only way she won that argument was that my job duties had changed since I was hired and I was putting in 80+ hour weeks (in a job/industry where you should NOT have to do that and it isn’t the norm). Honestly I don’t know if it had even ever been done before. In this case, it was also partially a compromise. I wanted a job title bump (with a raise) but honestly I wanted the job title change more (for a reason I don’t really know when I look back on it). So the compromise was a “salary adjustment” and no promotion.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My experience has not been quite so cold, but my “merit increase” has always been presented to me at my review, with a note of “this is what it is, take it or leave it.” Sometimes with a side of “this is the best we can do,” which I generally believe from my manager’s perspective, anyway.

    3. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      This is how it works at my company. It’s pretty much impossible to get any type of merit raise here above COL.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The fact that they don’t give you an opening doesn’t mean you can’t go and ask for a raise on your own (or for a higher raise). They may refuse to do it, but the mere fact of no opening is not a reason not to try. It’s not uncommon for people to need to go and initiate the discussion themselves.

    5. MassMatt*

      This sounds terrible, I can only imagine it benefits the employer greatly to have their employees feel as though their raises are set in stone, and unconnected to individual accomplishment. Until it comes time for employees to consider working elsewhere. Maybe the company is generally great and has good leadership/ownership that tries to retain their people and pay them what they are worth, but I would expect it’s likely most companies doing this are trying to pay as little as possible and suffer a lot of turnover.

    6. Emily K*

      Similar where I work. We go through our review process and you get your rating by February or March on a scale of 1-4. A 1 will always come with a PIP. A 4 is rare and almost always tied to a promotion. Most people gets 2s and 3s.

      Then in April, each VP is told by C-Suite how much money their department gets for merit raises that year, and the VP uses the ratings to divvy up the merit pool. The largest raises go to people who scored 4s and 3s. Every person’s job also has a minimum and maximum pay rate set by HR based on market comps, and high performers who are below the midpoint of their range will often get a big increase, while other people may have already hit their cap and can only get a COLA even if they are a high performer. To earn more they have to get a promotion and a new job description that will have higher market comps.

      It’s definitely frustrating that there’s no real room for negotiation, but at least the HR-established pay bands mean we’re all being paid fairly enough to somewhat neutralize the negative effect of not being able to negotiate for ourselves.

  20. Nessun*

    I don’t have a success story to note, but I did try to negotiate with my boss when he and I discussed my moving to a new role in support of his new role (the alternative was to keep doing what I’d been doing, but for someone else – he gave me the choice). Although he wasn’t given much say in what my new pay would be, given our organizational structure, it was still a very important conversation to have. I found it very empowering to be able to say what I felt my work was worth, and he was transparent about what he could and couldn’t do for me. We had an informal discussion of my value to the team, and he made point going forward to find other ways to acknowledge my contributions. I love the team and did stay with them, and I haven’t regretted that decision – and he is a big advocate for me to others because he knows what dollar figure I’d pull in another company! The conversation is worth having regardless of the result.

  21. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

    I posted about this topic on the Friday thread. I was trying to figure how to approach my boss about a decent raise.
    I’ve been 9 years with this company, and my hourly salary has only increased over that time by $2.50. With COL increases and whatnot, I’m essentially bringing home less and less (by a substantial amount) every year.
    I’ve definitely read many of the topics here at AAM on asking for a raise, and I was muddling through trying to figure out my Worth when what I do doesn’t match any standard job description.

    Then, the other day, my boss came to me and said she negotiated me a raise with the Owner of the company. Great! Except, it’s only like 30 cents more. I’m still way below what I think I should be worth, and I don’t know where to go from here.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      So, she negotiated a raise that is … essentially the same hourly rate increase you’ve been given every year on average. Even if that’s on top of this year’s raise, that doesn’t seem like a good thing for the long term.

      You may have already done this, but could you make a list of your skills and typical tasks, and see what job titles come closest to including most or all of those without too much extra? Or focus on a few of the aspects of the job you like best, are really proficient at, and could see doing full time. Like if you do 40% admin, 30% project management, and 30% accounting, and you love the project management part, focus on those types of jobs and reframe your admin and accounting work so that it aligns more neatly with typical PM tasks.

      Honestly, though, I went back to your post on Friday and it doesn’t sound like going to your boss with market rate comparables will matter. If your boss has the attitude that people work for passion, not compensation, you will almost certainly find you are underpaid. So I think as you look at what the closest job titles typically pay, you should be job searching for companies who hire people with your skills and pay a (more than) livable salary.

      1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

        I think knowing what I know about my boss, and how things have been after all this time are likely my biggest blocks, yeah.
        I’ve considered job-hunting, but at the same time, I also know that I’m planning to move out of state in a few years for sure. I’ve been away from family for 10yrs now.
        I just really need to seriously ask myself if I can make this work for a few more years, and then I need to decide what my next career should be! I’ll definitely take advantage of all Allison’s excellent advice (and book) to negotiate after my move.

        1. Marina S*

          You might want to add up how much you’d make in a few years if you got a higher paying job. For instance if you’re underpaid by $5/hour – that’s $20,000 you’re losing by not getting a different job for only two years. Is it worth $20,000 to you to stay at this job?

    2. HereKittyKitty*

      I now see that I posted a similar problem to yours! My manager negotiated my wage and it was a whole $1 more an hour. My rent was just raised $200 so now I make even /less/ per month than I did before. I’m not sure how to negotiate again since it was just negotiated by my manager.

  22. Rachel Morgan*

    I’ve negotiated twice within the last year, both in public libraries.

    First job: offered $32k. I negotiated up to $37k. (So 14% higher)

    Second job: took the offered salary (45k), but negotiated benefits. Original benefits of 40 hours vacation after 1 year, 5 hours of sick pay per month. Negotiated benefits of: 96 hours of vacation after 1 year, 40 hours after 6 months, and started with 40 hours of sick pay. I chose to negotiate for benefits rather than salary since I was already going up in salary (I doubled my salary within 2 years), but I really needed better benefits.

    It’s possible to negotiate for benefits – don’t forger that!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, I didn’t negotiate for salary at my current job – I was happy with the number and they also offered me a sign-on bonus – but I did make sure I got three weeks’ vacation instead of 2.

  23. Ladybugger*

    I did this recently as well! I like to say I gave myself a raise. In my interview for my current job they asked what I currently made (the answer: an entry-level salary for a 10 year industry track record). I said “how about I tell you what I want to make?” and gave my fair market value number for my experience. They met it!! It was also a huge step up in seniority for me and , so I’m completely thrilled. I’m so glad I held firm on not disclosing my entry-level salary; I started my job as excited as I wanted to be about the fantastic company and projects.

  24. DaniCalifornia*

    If a company really can’t budge on salary but it would be a good fit, is asking for more vacation time considered normal? Okay to do? In a recent interview I loved everything about the company but they couldn’t match my current salary (they were about . Their benefits were awesome, the job details sounded awesome, and I wondered if I were to say ‘If you can’t match X salary would you be willing to offer an extra week of vacation?” It never got to that point of negotiations but for future reference I’d love to know.

    1. Greg NY*

      Yes, totally normal. In fact, you can negotiate for anything. The only fly in the ointment is that certain things are more difficult to get than others. For example, it is administratively close to impossible to get a different cost-sharing on a health insurance plan than other employees. It’s very difficult to get an increased company contribution to a 401(k) compared to other employees. Some organizations can’t offer extra salary because they literally cannot afford it or there are internal pay equity rules in place. Some can’t offer extra vacation because they can’t afford you to be out of the office even unpaid.

      But you lose nothing by asking. The worst that will happen is that you find out something very useful about the company, whether it’s their financial state or that they’re sticklers and won’t be pleasant to work for.

  25. Greg NY*

    Congrats on the salary negotiation for your second job. I’m just very sorry that you were too intimidated to negotiate at your first job.

  26. K8*

    Congrats OP! I just got a new job myself and was terrified to negotiate. They offered me essentially what I was already making (and my current company would be giving me cost of living raise next month, so I’d be making less at the new job). I explained this all to them politely, and they came back with $5k more (what I was asking for), plus a $10k bonus! I was shocked, I’ve never had a company give me more than I was asking for. I’m glad I had the courage to speak up.

  27. Please help*

    How do I ask for a raise in my current position (been here 1.5 years) at a start up company (under 10 employees) that is still not making any money? It’s not projected to make any money right now, we’re operating off of investor’s funds. The founder isn’t taking a salary at all, and my colleagues are also underpaid. My responsibilities are way above what I was hired for and semi-negotiated (I was less confident then about asking for raises, and they didn’t have money anyway).

    How do I even start asking for a raise given this scenario?

    1. Greg NY*

      I’m afraid that you can put forth the most compelling case and it probably won’t bear any fruit. At the end of the day, if there is absolutely no lying or misleading going on and the money truly doesn’t exist, exactly where is the money for a raise coming from? It won’t be from your colleagues (you are all underpaid), and it won’t be from laying someone off (you are all probably working hard given that it’s a start up).

      In this situation, your best bet is to keep polishing your skills and to move on to another employer that is in better fiscal shape.

      1. MassMatt*

        I was going to say this. It doesn’t help you pay your bills now, but it could have a big payoff down the road. There is a big risk with company stock in a startup, obviously. Ultimately if they cannot afford to pay you then (or rather, you cannot afford to work there), you may need to move on.

    2. Cordoba*

      You are essentially a supplier of knowledge and labor to your employer.

      Does the fact that they’re a start-up with no profits cause any other other suppliers to give them discounts? Do they get a break on their electric or water bill? Does Staples charge them any less for pens?

      I doubt it. The water company and the pen vendor don’t care that they’re a start-up.

      Then why is is that their labor suppliers are expected to accept below-market rates?

      They’re getting $X from investor funds, presumably they can get $(X+Y) with $Y being the amount of your raise.

      I think you approach this the same way you’d approach asking for a raise at any other employer.
      1) Here are my skills
      2) My skills are worth $Y
      3) Pay me $Y (or increase benefits equivalent to $Y)

      If they’re not willing to do this then there is a difference between your assessment of your own value and how much they think you’re worth. In that case you start looking for other jobs. If you find people willing to hire you for $Y then hooray, you were right. If not, you might have been wrong.

  28. Temp to Perm*

    I’m currently deliberating on whether to accept a permanent position at my temp job right now. The salary offer is extremely low and almost non-negotiable, and the benefits are less than desirable, but I need the job. If I know I’m not going to use the company’s health insurance plan, can I bring that up to HR to try and get a marginally higher salary offer? Has anyone had success with this?

      1. Greg NY*

        It’s going to be hit or miss, just like with asking for extra vacation. I think a successful case could be made for applying the amount the company would pay to the health insurance company on your behalf as additional salary. It comes down to the willingness of the organization to negotiate and what they’re willing to compromise on to get you on board.

        1. Temp to Perm*

          True. They’re probably not willing to compromise much to get me on board, but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Shoot your shot, you know. Thanks!

  29. Persimmons*

    Good job, OP! I’m envious.

    I make under market, and the only way to get what you’re worth here is to threaten to leave with something better in hand. It happens with a frequency that would surprise you; I guess because the non-salary aspects are good.

  30. Greg NY*

    Let me ask a question of my own. With the exception of the few fields in which there is a dearth of candidates, is it ever fruitful to negotiate for your first professional position out of college? I’m not saying it hurts to try to negotiate, but I’m wondering if it ever gets you anywhere given that you realistically have no leverage due to having little to no experience.

    In other words, while no one would be put off by someone trying to negotiate their first professional position, what incentive does the employer have to say anything other than “no” and have the candidate walk if they won’t accept the offer as is (knowing that there are many other candidates in the pipeline)?

    1. JessicaTate*

      I commented below with my own story related to this. For a professional position, even entry-level, I’m not just plugging a hole with any warm body. If we went through a whole interview process and you were my best candidate and striking the notes I wanted to hit with a candidate… if I have the budget space, I would absolutely go up. At that stage of the game, I picked you over all those other candidates for Reasons. So, at least in some cases, it’s possible.

      I’d be curious of others’ opinions. I don’t think my field is the most competitive in the world, but I’m even thinking for an entry level assistant position… I’m picking you for a reason. It’s not out of the question that I’d offer at least a little more to get you.

    2. MassMatt*

      I would TOTALLY try to negotiate your first professional job out of college. It’s entirely possible that an employer may refuse to budge, but it’s more likely that they have a salary range and if you can make a case you may get the upper range. For a really stellar candidate, they might throw out the range altogether.

      Your first professional job is important for setting your worth throughout your career. Yes, you can improve your salary in negotiations for your 3rd or 4th job, but by and large raises and bonuses year by year are based on a % from where you started.

      There are some great success stories here! I think the salary negotiation material and resume help are the two best things about this site. Alison has probably helped get hundreds if not thousands of people better jobs and better compensation.

  31. Gaia*

    This is awesome to hear!

    I had an initial conversation where they asked the dreaded “salary expectation” question. I tried to ask what their range was but they were having none of it and so, since I know the market range for this role in this area, I gave a range in the middle of that and….from their reaction I went for way lower than they were expecting to hear.

    Ugh. I hate the games we play around salary. But these success stories only prove it is possible to get great results when negotiating! Keep it up!

  32. JessicaTate*

    Congrats, OP! I will co-sign the idea that even for a position as a recent grad, it is worth asking for higher. As someone who once hired a recent graduate (Masters-level), I was required by the powers-that-be to offer her a salary at the lowest end of our internal range because her experience was on the lower side, as a recent grad. I was also authorized to go higher if she asked / pushed back, because we did really want her. But only if she asked. I was mentally willing her to ask because I really felt she deserved more. She didn’t. So she didn’t get the full salary that the organization would have been able to give her. Moral of the story: Ask.

    I have also been in the position of offering someone the highest salary I could from the start. If she had pushed back, I couldn’t have accommodated. BUT it wouldn’t have made me rescind the first offer. It would have been up to her whether the salary was worth taking. Moral of the story: Even if they can’t go higher, the job offer shouldn’t disappear just because you asked. So, ask.

  33. jack*

    I have a salary/raise question: I was recently promoted, which required a move to a different state. The state I was living in before did not have income tax, and my current state has a notoriously high income tax. I found out after my first paycheck in the new role that I’m basically getting the same pay as I did before when I take into account the new taxes. I am receiving a very generous COLA for the first year, but that will decrease by 50% every year, and expire after 4 years (I plan to have moved on to a new role by then which will likely require another move and a move to a different salary band). Is there any way I can bring this up around review time? My company gives out merit raises in June of every year.

  34. Persephone Mulberry*

    At my last company, during the interview process I had given a range of $40-45K, and they verbally offered $40. I responded, “I was hoping to be a bit higher, would it be possible for you to do 44?” and without hesitation they said “we can do 44.” It may have helped that a) I had already asked for 3 weeks vacation instead of 2 and was told that was a no-go (the hiring manager agreed that their vacation policy was stingy but the owner was dead set on the subject) and b) I suspect I was the only applicant for the job.

  35. Academic librarian person*

    I had success at an academic appointment basing my ask on comparative dept rather than on what the Librarians salaries. It was a public institution and the librarian salaries were on average 20,000 less than assistant prof.s in the English dept (salaries are public).
    There was pushback Re salary compression. I noted that was not my issue but pay parity was. I got what I asked for.

  36. HereKittyKitty*

    I took my current job out of desperation and it’s a fairly low salary, and I’ve wanted to negotiate higher since I’ve been here a year. Here’s my issue, my manager negotiated for me! It’s wonderful that she’s trying to get the employees higher salaries, but as much as I love my manager, she is not a good negotiator. I know I’m a better and more aggressive negotiator, but now it’s been a month and I’m afraid I can’t negotiate again. Do I have to wait another year? Can I come back in 6 months and attempt to negotiate myself?

  37. Em*

    Right out of college, I have my range as x to x+5k. I was laughed out of one company and offered x+9k at the second. The third company (my current job) offered me x+11k. I was so shocked I didn’t think to negotiate. A good lesson in doing market research, I guess!

  38. raktajino*

    My company hired a consultant company to do an assessment of our wages and how they compared to the industry and the region. The last time they did this adjustment (with a different consultant company), we were still not brought up to regional industry standard. I suspect we were brought up to industry standard nationwide, and our office is in a West Coast urban area.

    If our wage increases more than COL but not enough to be comparable, do I still have a basis to negotiate for a raise at my annual review? If yes, should I just follow the “how to ask for a raise” stuff or is this a more delicate situation? I think my performance this year would warrant a raise otherwise.

  39. Free Meerkats*


    I may be in a position to be doing that for the first time soon myself. Though I’m in my 60s, I have worked in government since high school; first the Navy, then a series of union positions at municipalities with one county mixed in. Salary has always been transparent and fixed with set increases.

    I’ll likely be moving to an appointive position shortly, and while the range is fixed by ordinance, where I start in that range is negotiable. The unexplored country for me.

  40. MissDisplaced*

    It does get easier!
    And it’s true when starting out in your career you don’t have as much leverage. But all women need to learn to ask for more upfront in most cases. I’ve learned to walk from some jobs over the years if negotiation gets shut down.

  41. Zombeyonce*

    I’d love some advice on salary negotiation for moving from a regular analyst role to a senior analyst role.

    I’ve been with the same company for 8 years and my manager and I have been working on getting me moved into a senior analyst role for the last 2 years. It looks like it’s finally going to happen! My question is what kind of percentage bump should I ask for? My union requires a minimum of a 4% raise for a promotion, but of course I’d love more than that. My current pay is pretty good and I don’t want to make the bigger bosses angry by asking for too much since it’s been such a struggle to get here, but I don’t want to leave anything on the table since this is probably going to be the last job move I make for quite a while.

  42. just peachy.*

    I just got a new job at a nonprofit and successfully negotiated a higher salary! I simply asked how flexible they were with the salary and asked for $5,000 more (knowing they probably wouldn’t match that, but I was prepared for it) and only got $2500 more, but hey, I’ll take it, especially at a nonprofit. It was a lot easier to do it through email though, that’s for sure!

    1. just peachy.*

      Forgot to add that my salary went up almost 10% from my previous job, so overall, I think I’m happy with what I’m going to be earning (and will for sure be asking for a raise in a year, of course).

  43. I woke up like this*

    YES! I love a good negotiation success story. I had my own in the Spring! I was negotiating for my first post-PhD job, a tenure track Assistant Professor position in the Humanities. My biggest piece of advice for those who are deeply uncomfortable with negotiating: push through that discomfort and just do it. I’m a textbook people-pleaser and had stomach aches the entire time, but now that I am in this position with a higher salary, a new laptop, more start-up research funds, and an additional course release (sorry for all the academic-ese), I am so so so happy I did the work to set myself up nicely.

    I had been initially tempted to not ask for a higher salary because my other offer actually had a lower salary. But my mentors all encouraged me to ask for more money. They reminded me that my retirement contributions and future raises are based on my salary. I had initially planned to ask for a $2k raise, where I had hoped we would end up. My mentor instead pushed me to “ask for a number that made me a little uncomfortable.” (I’m not sure how relevant this advice is to folks outside of academia, though!) In my case, that was $6K more than my original offer. They came back in the middle, a $3K increase, which was a higher number than I had hoped for in the first place! So don’t forego salary, folks.

  44. esra*

    Has anyone ever successfully negotiated out of the 3-month waiting period for benefits (this might just be a Canadian thing). I have an expensive monthly treatment covered by some benefit plans, but don’t want to take the 4k hit while waiting on benefits. It’s really awkward, I started the treatment at my current job, so I’m going to have to ask for the benefits book and also if they can start immediately. But I can’t be the only person with expensive, monthly prescriptions, right???

  45. UpForAPromotion*

    I’m looking for some advice on how to negotiate a raise with a promotion. It will be the same role with a new title and more responsibility. It’s a known fact around the office that our company typically offers less than what they’d offer to an outside candidate. Is this normal? And is there anyway to try and get them to offer something higher?

    1. Sally*

      It’s very common (and unfortunate) that companies offer less for internal promotions than for outside candidates. You could cite your institutional knowledge – that an external person wouldn’t have – as an advantage. You might also want to make it obvious to the hiring manager or HR that you are worth more. Both times I asked for a substantial raise, I put together a document that had each project listed with a bulleted list under each that outlined my accomplishments for the project. I made sure to highlight accomplishments that helped the company by saving money, making processes more efficient, etc. You could do something like this to highlight the accomplishments that led to your being offered the promotion. Best of luck!

  46. Sally*

    The most difficult part of my most recent salary conversation was to tell them the range I was looking for and then to SHUT UP. It was so hard to just stop talking, but I did it! And they offered me a salary at the exact middle of my range! I was so proud of myself. I didn’t negotiate beyond that because they gave me what I asked for, so there wasn’t anything else to negotiate. Plus, the benefits are great, so I was really happy with the offer. What a relief! I was very interested in working here, so I’m glad they offered me a package that made that possible for me.

  47. jstarr*

    Good job, OP. You’re not much younger than I so I imagine your first job hunt was similar: a panic to have anything at all in the midst of a serious recession.Glad you’re able to keep moving forward!

  48. Michael Lewis*

    I started a new job in May 2017, and used soooo much AAM resources to get that job and negotiate.

    I attempted to get a raise at my previous employer, and they acknowledged I was paid well below market value, but said since unemployment was low, they weren’t willing to give me a raise.

    So I called their bluff and accepted an offer with a new company, and negotiated into a 25% raise from my previous company. A year later (July ’18), I was promoted into management, with another major raise. It brought me up another 20 percent, leaving me over 50% higher than my old job.

  49. Michaela Westen*

    Congrats OP! :) Good job!

    Employers, take note: She would have stayed at her current company if they had either negotiated with her, or paid market value. When you pay lower than market, you can’t expect people to stay long.

  50. LurkieLoo*

    We always give new hires the salary they ask for. If it’s higher than we had in mind, we will offer lower with a contingency to be bumped up to their requested salary 90 days from hire dependent on favorable review. Basically, we don’t want people looking elsewhere after being hired based on money. We do also usually list a range in the ad. We have had people ask for more than the high end of the range and actually get it.

  51. EmmaBird*

    I’d just like to chime in with another success story of sorts. In my first job out of college, I didn’t even realize negotiating was a thing (my parents don’t really have traditional white collar jobs). In my second I made a half-hearted attempt but wasn’t sure what the correct way to ask was so that flopped. I just used Alison’s scripts to negotiate the position I just accepted last week and while they didn’t budge on salary, I’m just glad I asked in a way that I know was matter-of-fact and professional. My new salary is a 15% increase so no hard feelings about not getting what I asked for!

    1. Gloucesterina*

      Congrats EmmaBird! I appreciate hearing your story a great deal, since I expect to negotiate down the line but typically operate in contexts with pretty fixed, and sometimes public, salary brackets.

  52. anon anon*

    #3- from personal experience, Stacia sounds like she might have binge eating/bulimic disorder. :/ no advice on how to approach it but what you described, I couldn’t help but think that she’s probably binging on huge amounts of food, purging and then feeling incredibly ill. imagine eating like 30k calories in one sitting and then vomiting it all up. this also would explain prolonged bathroom absences. it sucks. eating disorders are the Devil.

  53. Leader Brad*

    I work at ABC Corp in Memphis, a medium-sized company in the middle of significant restructuring. Thus far, about 15% of 300 positions have been cut. As a result, I now have a direct report, lead multiple important large-scale initiatives, and have a very heavy work load. My direct report is quite green and OVERpaid for her background (2 years experience – 4 months at ABC Corp). I’m UNDERpaid by about 10%; 25% considering benefits normal for this role. I want to stay and make it work, but I have been consistently underpaid at ABC Corp.

    Given the layoffs, is it completely tone-deaf to ask for more money? Others who have left in the past for similar reasons were replaced by new hires at a significantly higher rate. I am considered a strong performer.

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