This article first appeared on Forbes.com.
Welcome to The Salary Chronicles, where we’re bringing transparency to negotiation and salaries, one story at a time. We ask women to share their experiences negotiating their salary and what their advice is for others doing the same. We share these stories anonymously so they feel comfortable speaking as openly and as freely as possible.
This week we’re speaking with a woman who realized she needed to become her strongest advocate and ask for what she wanted.
Location: South Florida
Position: Healthcare Claims Manager
Original Salary: $52K
Negotiated Salary: $65K
What was the situation:
I had been in my position for just under two years and I had made significant contributions to the team. The role had initially been challenging, but I was bored and felt like I wasn’t reaching my full potential. I really wanted to take on more.
My manager, who works in another city, was in town visiting for a couple of days. During our meeting I expressed that I was getting bored with my role and she told me that she really appreciated all of the value that I brought to the team and that I was doing an incredible job. This was the first time she had been so open with her feedback and it felt great to hear her acknowledge my contributions.
A couple of days later I came across an article about how women don’t ask for raises as often as men do. I realized that had just happened to me: I had been told what a great contribution I was making and yet I failed to ask for more.
How did you decide what to ask for?
After reading that first article I found The Salary Chronicles series and read every single one. I then made a list of all of my accomplishments from the past year. I ended up with a list of 15 quantifiable improvements and it surprised me to see just how much I had actually done.
I decided that I wanted to ask for both a promotion to manager and a raise. I did some research and figured out that the salary range was huge, $68K – $90K. I then came up with a backup ask, in case they weren’t able to give me a raise or a promotion. I’d ask for an increase in my tuition reimbursement amount and five extra vacation days.
How did the conversation go?
My manager was no longer in town so we had to have the conversation over the phone. I started off by telling her how much I enjoyed being a part of the team and how excited I was about our future plans. I then recapped some of my largest contributions over the past 18 months. After that, I just asked. I said, “In light of my performance, I’d like to be considered for a raise. Do you think that’s something we can discuss?”
Her immediate response was that yes, she was already working on a plan to promote me and I should have an offer for a new position in the next couple of weeks.
Two weeks later I received an email with an offer letter. I was thrilled until I read it and saw that my new salary was going to be $60K. That was significantly under the salary ranges I had seen online.
I pretty upset but I gave myself some time to calm down before I responded. I wrote back thanking her for the opportunity, but also let her know that I was concerned about the salary.
What was the end result?
The next morning I went to HR to ask about salary ranges and to understand how compensation is determined. She applauded me for doing my homework to understand market value and for pushing back on an offer I felt was too low. She also told me that my manager had called her and was nervous about negotiating with me. It felt good knowing that we were both a little uncomfortable with the situation.
Shortly after, my manager called with a revised offer. She said that they had adjusted my salary up to $65K, but that’s all they could do. I pushed back again and said that based on my past performance and the value I bring, I really wanted a salary of $75K.
Her tone changed and I could tell I had pushed her as far as she was willing to go. She told me that this was the best they could offer and I could always turn down the position if it wasn’t what I wanted.
I took a little pressure off the conversation by telling her that I would accept that offer, but I’d really like to have a review at 6 months and revisit the option of a raise to $75K. She agreed and we got to work discussing what I could do to make a difference in my new role. We ended the call on a great note and I can’t wait to work hard for these next 6 months and ask for more during my next review.
What advice do you have for other women?
Advocate for yourself. What we bring to our company is so valuable and our employers see that. If they aren’t giving us a raise, it’s not that they’re trying to underpay or undervalue us. Our managers are busy people. They don’t necessarily have time to think about whether you’re being paid enough or getting the right opportunities. You have to step up and ask for it because otherwise, you’re never going to get it.
Asking for more was nerve wracking and scary, but the outcome was absolutely worth it.