How One Woman Negotiated a $27K Raise (Plus 2 Other Tales of Salary Bump Success)

Brace yourself: You’ve got a review on the horizon and you want to request a bump in pay. Sure, it’s easier said than done. (The in-room review jitters are real.) But with the right amount of prep—and steering clear of a few common negotiation pitfalls—you’ve got this. Here, how three women negotiated and locked down a significant increase in pay.

5 Things to Always Say When Asking for a Raise

social media manager

The Associate Social Media Manager (new York City)

Starting Salary: $48,000
Percentage Increase Post-Negotiation: $55,000 (or 9 percent)

Reason for Salary Review: “I had been at the company for nearly a year and a half after starting as a freelance assistant and working my way up to a full-time role. I knew that I wanted to ask for a raise, so I requested it be brought up during a quarterly review. During that time, I helped develop a strategy for Pinterest that drove millions of views per month, maintained relationships with influencers and other brands, helped advise editorial teams and assisted with the launch of various features and big projects. I brought in a list of my accomplishments, but also a competing job offer. They promised the money had already been set aside for the coming quarter, which I believed (they were very good to me, and I was very happy there), and they followed through.”

Negotiation Prep: “I came prepared to talk about the aforementioned Pinterest strategy and how it was the first of its kind at the company, I rehearsed the talking points with family members who had decades of career experience, researched industry salary standards for someone with my experience, and during the meeting referred to earlier conversations with supervisors where I had met and exceeded goals. I brought a few pages of notes that included the points I wanted to make and the numbers I would use to make my points. (For example: We now see X referral visits from Pinterest compared to X before I started.)”

Negotiation Mistake: “The first time I tried to advocate for myself, I focused on the fact that I was underpaid, and that it was hard to survive on that salary in the city—which, spoiler alert, is not the way to go about negotiating a raise. My then-supervisor kindly and patiently suggested that next time I should demonstrate why I had earned the raise instead of focusing on why I was entitled to it because NYC is expensive. In retrospect, it was humiliating that I ever thought that was appropriate, but it was a great and valuable lesson that I have carried with me ever since. I remain so grateful for her honesty that day since I imagine it was cringe-worthy for her to watch.” 

product manager

The Senior Project Manager (boston)

Starting Salary: $88,000
Percentage Increase Post-Negotiation: $115,000 (or 31 percent)

Reason for Salary Review: “I received a new job offer and resigned. The job I was resigning from counter-offered with this number.”

Negotiation Prep: “I actually wasn’t headed into a negotiation—I really intended to resign. I was also prepared to turn down a counter-offer. I had thought through the prospect of a counter-offer and decided that what I really needed was a new environment with more sophisticated technology, so a counter wouldn’t appease me. But then they pulled out all the stops. They offered me more money than I ever anticipated, and also told me how vital I was to the organization. They also increased my title to associate director, which was more senior than the title I was going to receive at my new job. My choice became clear as to what made sense for my growth, both immediately and for the long-term.”

Negotiation Mistake: “I burned multiple bridges with the organization that made me the initial offer as I had accepted it. I had to go back to them and go back on my word and reject it. Still, it’s a reminder that an actual job offer—or even a company expressing interest in you—can boost your confidence to the point that you feel like you can ask for a pay increase or enriched package. And as long as you don’t give an ultimatum, the worst the company can say is no.”

office manager

The Office Manager (austin)

Starting Salary: $18/hour
Percentage Increase Post-Negotiation: $27/hour (or 50 percent)

Reason for Salary Review: “The organization I work for hired a new executive director and, as a result, a ‘review’ of sorts took place so that she could get a read on my role and begin to assess all aspects of the work process and staff. Instead of feeling timid about it—or nervous about making salary demands to a new boss who has the ability to hire/fire to create a new team—I explained very clearly the work that I assumed while the search for someone to fill the position she was hired for was under way and why I deserved a pay bump. I gave her a number and she was receptive with a caveat—we agreed to cap the hours worked per week.”

Negotiation Prep: “I went into the conversation with a brief description of my duties and how they had changed while her role was vacant. I also spelled out the time required to fulfill each task on my plate. Since my role is paid hourly, I could really break it down and help her visualize the work on my plate.”

Negotiation Mistake: “It’s important to have a realistic sense of what your value is in relation to the position and what your pay in competitor businesses. This isn’t a negotiation mistake exactly, but I was underpaid when I was hired and, in most cases, it’s hard to make a big leap from that without jumping to a different company. It helped that I quantified my work—something I almost didn’t do before the review conversation with my new boss. I realized I was the one that needed to do the math and come to the table with specifics to get what I wanted.”

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...