This story originally 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 whose unsuccessful negotiation resulted in her walking away from a role she could have excelled in.
Title: Marketing Director, Public University
Salary Offered: $71,000
Salary Requested: $80,000
What was the situation when you decided to negotiate your salary?
I was just offered a position as a marketing director in a different department within the University that I worked for. It was a promotion from my current role as a marketing manager and I would be taking on significantly more responsibility.
Working for the University put me in the unique position that I could see all salaries published, including the salary of the woman who was retiring from the position for which I had been offered a job. On the flip side, my future boss could also see exactly what I was making, which I worried might make negotiating difficult.
The woman who was leaving the role was making $87,000 prior to retiring. They offered me $71,000 because they felt that was an appropriate salary for the position and it would be a large (50% increase) above my current salary. However, during the interview process I learned that the role was changing significantly. She had managed a team of 2 people and I was going to hire and manage a team of 5. The projects and the workload would be significantly larger.
Having worked for the University for a number of years, I also knew that because of budget restrictions there wouldn’t be any raises in the near future. So whatever salary I came in with would be my salary for the foreseeable future.
How did you decide what to ask for?
I decided that I would ask for $80K, which was in between what they were offering and what the woman I was replacing made. I was also able to see that the person I was going to report to made $125K, so I knew that $80K wasn’t unrealistic.
Because they had been so open about the role changing, I decided that my best option to negotiate would be to explain that as the role was changing the salary should change as well. I expected them to understand that rationale so I didn’t come as prepared as I should for any pushback.
How did the conversation go?
Not well. It was over before I knew it. I told my future manager that I was excited about the role, but given that the role was changing significantly I would like to discuss salary. He let me get out a few sentences before he told that if I wanted this job, I needed to be happy with the salary they were offering. At that moment I understood that they wouldn’t entertain any sort of negotiation conversation and they knew I would accept the role because it was such a large increase in salary from my current role.
I wasn’t prepared for such a quick no or for his immediate resistance to my ask. As soon as he said no, I went a little blank. I felt like I had nowhere to go other than to retreat. I hadn’t prepared for this and I wasn’t left with much to say in response.
What happened next?
I accepted the job but I wasn’t entirely committed. Not being able to get anywhere with my negotiation made me a little resentful, though I understand I could have been more prepared for the conversation.
Once I began hiring people for my team, my salary frustrations became too much to handle. My direct reports were being offered starting salaries of $68K; only $3K per year less than what I was making. I was angry, frustrated, and embarrassed that the University believed my employees should earn as much as I did while I earned $55K less than my boss.
At that point my willingness to continue to work as a member of that team was gone. I started looking for another role outside of the University immediately. I know I had a lot to add to the organization but their unwillingness to compensate me fairly cost them a valuable employee.
What advice do you have for other women?
Be prepared to fight for it if they say no. Preparation is the most important part of the negotiation conversation. I had done my research for what I thought I deserved, but I hadn’t prepared a strong argument to support my request. I assumed they would agree with my rationale and I wasn’t ready to fight for it if they said no. I should have been prepared for any type of response. The next time I negotiate I plan to bring with me a document that summarizes my “ask” and the specific plan for how I will add value to the company. I will never put myself in the position again where I feel underpaid and undervalued.