Title: Senior Marketing Manager

Location: London, UK

Original Salary: $110k

Negotiated Salary: $115k

Learn to embrace those awkward silences

How did you decide to negotiate your salary?

In 2014 I had just relocated from Los Angeles to London and was looking for a job. I was stunned at the low salaries I was seeing for positions similar to what I held in the U.S. (I was previously in brand management for a consumer packaged goods company) and knew that I did not want to take a step down with my salary.

To maximize my salary potential, I pivoted my search to focus on American tech companies with offices in London and received an offer shortly after for a Senior Marketing Manager position. I was excited to have actually found a job and to try a new industry, but the salary they were offering me was less than what I was making with my previous job and was less than what a U.S. employee in the same position was being paid. I wanted to stand firm in my decision and not take a salary that was sending me in the wrong direction.

How did you decide what to say in response to the low offer and what to ask for?

Knowing that you want to negotiate your salary and actually doing it are two totally different things. I was really excited with the idea of taking a stand and asking for what I wanted, but getting into the details of exactly how to ask for it had me lost.

I called a good friend I admire, who has been really successful with negotiating in the past and has a lot of confidence. I asked her to help me figure out how to begin the conversation and explain what I was asking for. She gave me great sound bites and a boost of confidence that I desperately needed. She suggested that I basically pitch myself again. She pointed out that even though I had pitched myself to prove that I was right for the job, I now needed to pitch myself again to prove that I deserved the increased salary I was asking for

What was the salary they offered?

Equivalent of $110,000 (with a $28,000 signing bonus)

What did you ask for?

Equivalent of $119,000 (keeping the signing bonus the same)

Did you have any hesitations going into the conversation?

Absolutely. I was terrified that they were going to say no or think that I was ungrateful in asking for more. I also was worried that they would pull the job offer and I’d be left with nothing (though I realize now I wasn’t asking for anything crazy).

I also felt a little greedy in asking for more. I technically didn’t needto be paid more and could get along just fine with what they were paying me.

How did you approach the conversation? How did you structure “the ask”?

After I received a verbal offer on the phone, I was given a couple of days to think it over before accepting and signing my contract. I emailed the HR woman who was my main point of contact letting her know that I wanted to talk about a few things before making my decision. We set up an appointment to speak the next day.

When we got on the phone I dove right into my rehearsed talking points: I let her know that I was so excited about the opportunity, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the compensation package. I wanted to find something that worked for both of us and would be representative of the value I could bring to their team. I then launched right into asking for a higher salary and explained that I felt that amount reflected what I was bringing to the role.

That was all fine, but when I was done with my rehearsed spiel there was an awkward silence that threw me off. I started apologizing for my request. I actually remember saying that I was sorry for asking for more. Seriously.

How did the other person react?

She was absolutely un-phased but said that she was ultimately unable to make the decision. She let me know that she’d contact the corporate hiring team to ask them and would let me know within a few days. From her reaction, I’m guessing most people try to negotiate their starting salary.

Was there anything unexpected that happened during or after the conversation?

I didn’t realize that the person approving my request was so far removed from the people I’d be working with. If I’d know that, I think I would have felt much more confident during the conversation.

I also didn’t realize I would be so nervous and that I’d end up feeling badly about asking for more money partway through the conversation. My confidence vanished within 30 seconds of starting the call.

What was the outcome?

A few days later she called me back with a counter-offer. They would meet me in the middle by increasing my base salary offer to $115,000 and my signing bonus would be increased by the difference, $4,000.

I accepted immediately.

What would you do differently in the future?

I need to walk into those conversations more confidently, so I don’t end up apologizing. I need to learn to embrace those awkward silences.

I also feel like my ask was a little low – I only asked them to match what I had previously been making. In the future I want to be bolder with what I’m asking for, as long as I truly believe I deserve it.

Do you have any advice for someone in the same situation?

Believe completely in what you’re asking for. Come prepared with backup talking points for why you deserve the salary and frame it like another elevator pitch: this is who you are, the value you’ve brought to other positions, and the value you are so excited to bring to them. They know they like you, but it’s time to remind them why they loved you and offered you the job.

And be prepared for awkward silences in the conversation.

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