Location: Chicago, IL
Title: Marketing consultant
Original salary: $68k
Negotiated salary: $100k

Don’t play small.

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

After working at the same company for three years, and enjoying it, things were beginning to feel a bit stale and I decided to start looking for a new position. But money wasn’t my prime motivator in starting my job search. I consider myself a life long learner and I was ready to move on and tackle something new.

I attended a networking event and as I was speaking with a small group of people, I openly shared what I was currently doing, that I was hoping to make a career move, and what I wanted to do next. I try to make sure I’m doing something daily to make my voice or ideas heard, or further my career in some way. I am extremely active on LinkedIn and I frequently attend networking events.

One of the men in the group said they had an opening for a marketing consultant and asked if that was something I’d be interested in. Though the position and industry were different that my current role, I said yes and enthusiastically took his card. Later that night I followed up by emailing my resume.

After about a week, I hadn’t received a response from him so I decided to follow up with a polite reminder email. I didn’t know if this connection would go anywhere, but I was really interested to see.

Thirty minutes later he emailed me back to set up an interview for Monday.

My first interview went really well. The role sounded interesting, challenging, and unlike anything I had done before. On Thursday morning, just 3 days later, he called to ask if I could come in for an interview that afternoon. Realizing that they wanted to move quickly, I scrambled at lunch to put together an interview appropriate outfit and prep for the interview.

At the end of the interview, he brought up salary by saying, “I want to make sure what you’re expecting is in the range of what we can offer. What is your bottom line? What is the lowest you can go?”

I had done some research, but I wasn’t completely prepared to give a number. I did a quick calculation and added 25% to my current salary of $68k and told him that I was looking for a salary of $85k. He seemed comfortable with that number and told me that they would make a decision soon, but they just needed me to fill out a formal application. My process had been so rushed I hadn’t done that yet.


I didn’t want to peg my new salary to my old salary – I wanted to be paid exactly what I thought was commensurate with the value I was bringing to this position.


What happened next?

When I got home and did a little more reflection on what I really wanted, I knew that $85k wasn’t right. Even though that was a huge step up for me salary-wise and I was making a big career change, I knew that my background and work ethic was valuable and that I was going to add a lot of value to the role. I didn’t want to peg my new salary to my old salary – I wanted to be paid exactly what I thought was commensurate with the value I was bringing to this position. I also knew that they wanted to find someone for this role quickly, and they would probably prefer to spend a little more to get a well-qualified candidate into the role as soon as possible.

After a little mental back and forth, I decided the salary I wanted was $100k.

As I filled out the application there was a section for salary requirements. I decided to just put down $100k and figured that if he wanted to hire me, we could have a discussion about salary then.

The next morning he called and offered me the job at $100k. He made no mention of our salary discussion during the interview and was excited to get me on board as quickly as possible.

What advice do you have for other women?

Don’t play small. After some reflection I realized I was in a position of leverage – they wanted someone quickly and they liked what I could bring to the role. They didn’t want someone who was going to think small and play small. They wanted someone in the role who was going to be bold, take action, and go after things. I realized that if those qualities were important to them in an employee, I needed to be bold with my salary.

Get out of a scarcity mindset. The scarcity mindset, feeling like this is the only opportunity that I would ever get, leaves you feeling desperate. After I did some reflection I realized that I was in a comfy job that I wanted to leave, but I didn’t have to leave. I wasn’t desperate and I wasn’t grasping at whatever came my way. I was only going to make the jump for something that was worth my while. For this role to be worth my while, I needed to make more. Embracing that idea helped me move past my fear of asking for a much higher salary.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

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