How I Overcame My Fear and Negotiated A Higher Salary For My First Job
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How I Overcame My Fear and Negotiated A Higher Salary For My First Job

In our new series, “How I Negotiated That” we ask a variety of women how they went about negotiating their salary, benefits, or other non-job related deals.In this edition of “How I Negotiated That” one woman looks back on her 23-year-old self, and how she navigated the minefield of negotiating a salary on her very first job out of the college. The end result? A salary that was $4K more than the initial offer. Here’s how she made it happen.

Who I was when I negotiated

Age: 23

City: Portland, OR

Profession: Junior graphic designer

The initial offer …$38Kvs.The final offer …$42K

This negotiation was memorable because…

First off, I was terrified to do it. It was at my first review, for the first job I landed out of college. I was the junior graphic designer for a big homebuilder corporation and I was just 23 years old.

My manager at the time quickly became my mentor, where she coached me to always negotiate my salary. Thankfully, she was in the room when I negotiated my raise the first time, which calmed my nerves. She taught me to know my worth and to do my research on how much money people are paid for a similar role. She told me to bring in successful examples that prove my value. To this day I still use this method regularly when negotiating salaries.

I wish I had negotiated…

At the time I was happy with what I got. But in other, future times, when I negotiated my salary with more strict organizations, I wish I would have played hardball on benefits when I didn’t get everything I wanted on the money side.

Here’s how I prepared for my negotiation…

I researched the position and how much people make on average with that position. If the salary offer is fair, I usually just shoot for a small increase. If it’s way off, I’ll bring this to the table as a value prop to my argument. I’ll also collect some examples of times I’ve brought success to big projects, campaigns, or shifts within the company.

“I’ll also collect some examples of times I’ve brought success to big projects, campaigns, or shifts within the company.”

Anything that adds value to my argument and proves it to the company. It helped that on my first negotiation the review was held by my manager/mentor and the director of my department and they were all people I worked closely with at the time.

Looking back…

I think because I was so nervous that I probably over-prepped for the conversation and overly proved my point. I got everything I asked for and everyone left feeling happy!

The most difficult part was…

Probably the prep phase. Since I’d never done this before, I was struggling to make sure I felt comfortable with everything I was going to present, and that it added value to my argument. And then of course, actually *doing* the ask is always nerve wracking.

The experience taught me…

I was surprised by how easy it became to have and lead the conversation once I got started. Again, because I over-prepped for the negotiation, at that point I was confident in my research to help my argument and I felt good about my wit/personality to win them over.

Over the years, here’s how I’ve learned to formulate the ask…

As soon as I receive an offer for a salary increase, I always express gratitude for offering a raise to begin with. I make it clear I really appreciate the offer. Then, I always ask if I can take some time to look over the offer, and think through my goals for my position, the job description, and make sure everything lines up. This gives me time to prep my negotiation argument.

Then, when it comes to actually negotiating, I again, express appreciation and gratitude to my managers for the offer. I’ll follow that up by letting them know I’ve done some research, and I’ll politely tell them I’d like to “share some of my findings and some examples I’ve gathered,” in-order to negotiate a bit on the offer. I’ll then ask if they’re OK to proceed with talks.

Here’s my advice to future negotiators…

I’ll pass on the same advice I was given, which is to *always* negotiate your salary/benefits! Know your worth, and do your research. Don’t just ask for more because you think you can. Be prepared to prove to them why you deserve it.