I was finishing my senior year of college and studying computer science. I knew that I wanted to move to New York when I graduated, but I cast my job search net wide and focused on a few different cities so I’d have a backup. I focused my job search primarily through campus recruiting, as there were a lot of opportunities for engineers.
When I finished recruiting I had two job offers: one for a company in Virginia and one for a company in New York City. Surprisingly, the company in New York was offering $80k while the company in Virginia was offering $88k. I knew that the cost of living between these two places was significant and that if I was going to move to New York, I should be making more.
I also had the benefit of having a close friend a year older than me who had graduated with the same degree and gone to work in the same field (though at a larger company with a bigger budget). His initial offer was $120k and he was able to negotiate to $130k.
Having two offers and knowing that my friend negotiated his starting offer helped me to see that I could and should negotiate.
How did you end up negotiating over the phone?
I really wanted the job in NY but I needed to negotiate the offer. I emailed the recruiter and asked if she had time to discuss the offer.
She emailed me back almost immediately and asked if we could hop on the phone for a quick chat.
I had just a few minutes to pull together what I wanted to say and give myself a little pep talk.
What was your script for negotiating your salary over the phone?
When we got on the phone I reiterated my excitement in the job and the team I’d be working for. I’d spent quite a bit of time talking with the VP of the group and felt like we had a good rapport. I was excited to work for him and be a part of the upcoming projects.
Negotiating over the phone script
Then I moved on and said, “I have another offer that’s higher than what you’re currently offering. And while I’d love to work for you, I also want to make sure that I’m making what I should be. My other offer is for $88k. Would you be able to at least match this?”
Immediately she tried to reject my request. She replied that they don’t negotiate offers and that they made the best offer that they could make. In fact, she told me they had another new hire from MIT who would be starting with me who was also going to make $80k.
Clearly, she wanted me to back down, accept the offer, and move on. But having another offer to lean on made me feel really confident about taking my time. I replied that if that was the case and they really couldn’t budge on salary at all, I’d need a while to think about it.
After I said that and she realized that I wasn’t going to immediately take the offer, her tone changed. She conceded that she’d have to talk with the VP and take a look at the budget, but perhaps they’d be able to adjust the offer a bit. We left the call on that note.
How did the negotiation phone call end up?
A few days later he called back and said they were revising my offer to $90k. Would I be willing to accept the position with that offer?
I eagerly accepted and was thrilled that I’d managed to negotiate my starting salary up by $10k.
What advice do you have for other women negotiating?
I learned a lot as a child from watching my Mom negotiate, whether it was negotiating a price in a market or other various situations. She doesn’t shy away from hearing ‘no’ and she never takes the first answer to be the final answer.
She taught me from a young age that you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate for.
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