Title: Marketing coordinator

Location: San Francisco, CA

Salary Offered: $58K

Negotiated Salary: $64K

When someone is offering you a job that you really want, it’s hard to say “thanks, but I want more.”

What was the situation when you decided to negotiate your salary:

I had just graduated from college and I was on the hunt for my first job, focusing on marketing roles in tech companies. After a few months of job hunting I was really discouraged. I was still unemployed, I was sending out resumes constantly, but I still hadn’t received an offer.

Thankfully, after final round interviews with a small startup I was really excited about, the COO called to offer me the position. Initially, I was thrilled. But when he then told me that my salary would be $58k, I was disappointed. I had been doing salary research for some of the larger tech companies, which pay more, so I was expecting a higher starting salary.

I didn’t know how to react to the offer. I was thrilled to finally have a job offer, but I knew I needed to do research on the salary and potentially ask for more. I used a response that a mentor of mine once suggested: “I’m really excited about the position, but the salary is lower than I expected. I’m flexible and willing to negotiate but I’d like to do a little more research on this and speak about it in a few days.”

“I’m really excited about the position, but the salary is lower than I expected. I’m flexible and willing to negotiate but I’d like to do a little more research on this and speak about it in a few days.”

I could tell from the pause that he was surprised by my response. I don’t think he expected me to push back.

He gave me five days to respond to the offer.

How did you decide what to ask for?

I went to a Facebook group I was a part of called Tech Ladies and asked for advice. The women in this group are incredibly supportive and give great advice, so I knew they would have suggestions for me.

When I posted my offer, a lot of women assured me that it was a fair salary for the position, but it was absolutely OK to make the case for a higher starting salary. They also gave me the idea to do more research on the salary and look for comparable salaries on sites like Glassdoor. The salary range that I found was $62k-$68k.

With that information I scheduled another call with the COO to discuss the offer.

I was really nervous about negotiating for the first time, so right before the call I gave myself a much-needed pep talk. I looked at my resume to go over my accomplishments and made a list of all of the skills I could contribute to the team.

How did the conversation go?

It was very uncomfortable. When someone is offering you a job that you really want, it’s hard to say, “thanks, but I want more.”I launched into a script I had prepared for myself that highlighted my skills and told him that after doing research I felt an appropriate salary was $66k.

He talked to me about the benefits of the role and what I’d learn by joining their company. He then pushed me a little harder and asked why I believed that I deserved more. I was nervous, faltered a little bit, and gave some reasons that weren’t very strong (for example, I justified asking for more based on the high cost of living, rather than any of my personal attributes).

He then told me that the max they could offer me was $64K.

I wasn’t ready to continue pushing. I was happy with that amount and wanted the conversation to be over. I told him I was happy to accept that offer, but I’d like a 6-month review. He quickly agreed and we ended the call.

What did you learn from the experience?

There are some things that I wish I had done differently. I wish that I had prepared a more articulate response as to why I deserved the higher salary, rather than stating cost of living for the area, which doesn’t speak to why I personally deserved more.

I also learned that I need to make sure things are incredibly clear during the conversation. I asked for a 6-month review but I didn’t explicitly tell him that I wanted to be reviewed and considered for a raise. I now worry that at my 6-month review I’m going to need to negotiate again because he’s not expecting for me to ask for a raise.

Though there are things I would do differently in the next negotiation, I’m so glad that I had the courage to ask for more.

What advice do you have for others in your situation?

Join an affinity group: I know that women are underrepresented in tech companies and I proactively looked for networking groups to join. That was incredibly beneficial. They not only gave me advice, but they helped boost my self-confidence. There are so many groups to join based on your industry, gender, race, or interests and I really recommend finding one that fits for you.

Focus on your self-confidence: Being unemployed can be hard on your self-worth. I’m so glad that I remained focused on my strengths as a candidate during the job search, rather than letting myself feel desperate and willing to take anything that came my way.

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