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 let herself be undervalued initially before finding a company that supported her both financially and professionally.
Title: Marketing Coordinator
Location: Oakland, CA
Previous salary: $34,310
Negotiated salary: $50,000
What was the situation?
I was working in my first job after college on the east coast, when I realized that I wanted to move back near family and friends in California. After a long job search I began interviewing for a role that sounded interesting. After being offered the position they asked my salary expectations and I told them I’d like to make $45k. I had previously been making $40k and I knew that $45k was an appropriate salary for the position and the area.
They came back with an offer that shocked me. They offered $34k, with extremely limited benefits. I was given 5 days vacation and no health insurance.
My friends and family told me to walk away, that I would be crazy to take the role. But I had been searching for a job for months and I was worried I wouldn’t find anything else. I went in to try and push for more: more money, more vacation, or something to help with the cost of self-funding my own insurance plan. They gave me nothing other than a vague promise that I would have a 90 day review and that everyone who performs well is given a significant raise at that mark.
After months of job searching and receiving just this one offer, my belief in my own self worth was shaken. I decided to work incredibly hard for 90 days and get the raise I deserved. I just had to show them I was worth it.
During my grueling first 90 days, I received a lot of praise and great feedback from my boss. I pushed myself really hard to show up early, stay late, and over deliver on everything.
When my 90 day review finally came, I went in with high expectations. I had done everything they asked for and more, based on the promise of a significant raise.
The conversation started out with my manager telling me what an amazing job I had done. My hard work had not gone unnoticed and they wanted to reward me with a raise. He handed me a piece of paper with my new salary and I was stunned when I saw the amount. They had rewarded me with less than a 1% raise. I would now be making $34,310.
I had ignored everyone’s advice and my own gut feeling and gone to work for a company that didn’t value me as an employee.
What did you do next?
Rather than continue to try and fight for more money, I began searching for a new position immediately and interviewed for a role that was two hours away. They asked me for my salary expectations, so I said $46k – $50k, a range that I considered to be fair based on this new city.
A few days later they sent me an offer with a salary of $46k. I was thrilled but then the realizations of what taking this job meant sunk in. I would be relocating to a new city and it was significantly more expensive than where I was currently living. I regretted giving them the salary range because I felt like they just gave me the lowest amount. I didn’t want to go into this position with the hesitation and regret of my last position. I needed to figure out how to negotiate better this time.
How did you ask for more?
I called my aunt, who works in HR, and asked for advice. I wanted to negotiate but after the failed attempt with my last role I was feeling unconfident. She told me that I could negotiate successfully if I approached the situation with respect and valid reasoning.
With her help I decided to draft an email response, because I was too nervous to call and have the conversation. I started out enthusiastically, letting them know how excited I was to join the team. I then asked if salary was negotiable and while I didn’t want to overprice myself, I had spent the weekend looking at the average salary in the area and felt like $50k was a more appropriate salary for this role.
I was extremely nervous after I pressed send. I didn’t want to lose this job, but I owed it to myself to ask for more.
What was the result?
Shortly after, I received an email response back letting me know that they were thrilled I’d be joining and an updated offer letter with a salary of $50k was attached.
I was shocked it was that easy. I had worked so hard at my other company to get a raise that was less than 1%. With this new company I felt like they really valued me as an employee, so negotiating a $4k raise was simple.
I’ve now been in my new position for a few months and I’ve realized that the ease of negotiation was an indication that the company is right for me. They are fair and good to their employees and I am encouraged to contribute new ideas, take initiative, and work on my own professional growth.
What advice do you have for other women?
Don’t lose sight of your worth. I let fear get the best of me when I was looking for a job and settled for a position where I knew I was being significantly undervalued. Taking that job, working for so little, and only getting a 1% raise really affected my confidence. I’m so glad I was able to finally see that my work was worth more and I was able to find a way to ask for what I deserved.
This post originally appeared on Forbes.com