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Career Advice

Here’s What Happened When I Negotiated My Salary

Posted by Heather Huhman

October 14, 2016

Finding the courage to negotiate your salary is extremely intimidating. It’s especially tough when you appreciate—and are beyond excited—about a job offer, but the right money just isn’t there. Some people trade a job for one they’re less passionate about because the pay is more enticing.

Salary isn’t everything, but when you have an opportunity to get both the dream job and pay, I say negotiate.

Don’t let anything hold you back.

Mustering up the courage to ask for more money is tough. Doing so during the Great Recession? Even more difficult. But if a company has the means and is devoted to bringing you on board, they’ll make it happen.


At the height of the Great Recession in the summer of 2008, I had just completed an amazing job interview. I remember walking down the street, heading back to the train, when my phone rang. It was an offer for a position I really wanted, but the offer was a bit low. I told them I’d think about it and get back to them the next day.

Minutes later, thankfully still not at my train, I received another call with an offer for a different job. The second job offer came with more money, but the position was less desirable. I immediately hung up and called my contact at the first position and told them about the second offer. By the time I got home, they had left a voicemail exceeding the second job offer.

Find confidence with time.

Getting nervous is natural—so is questioning your worth, especially when a company tells you what they think your value is. As you grow professionally, you’ll learn to never take yourself for granted.

My position was somewhat unique at the time because I didn’t have to conduct thorough research to prove my worth—another company did that for me. However, I was admittedly nervous because I knew deep down I would have accepted the lower offer because I would enjoy the position more. Luckily, in the end, I didn’t have to.

Now that I’m eight additional years into my career, I’d be more confident in making the same request.

[Related: One Thing Women Need to Negotiate Better Salaries: Confidence]

Do yourself a favor and research.

We’re taught to research a company before an interview to fully understand the position and showcase our desire for the job. What we’re not so often taught is the importance of researching our own worth.

Although I’ve worked for myself for the past six years, if I were to negotiate my salary today, I would conduct thorough research. I’d look at elements that alter my worth, such as the salary of similar positions, position level, company size, etc.

I would approach the situation confident in my request because I had the information to back it up, but I’d also go in knowing my request might not be possible and I could lose out on the opportunity.

[Related: Research Any Company and Reviews By Their Employees]

Know a company’s capabilities.

There may come a time when you’ll walk away from an because of salary—and that’s OK. I typically didn’t apply to companies that might provide an offer that was too low or were not likely willing to negotiate. Because of this, I never walked away from an offer due to salary.

Small companies, for example, often don’t get involved in negotiations not because the budget just isn’t there. What they are offering is what they have. This isn’t always the case, of course, but it’s certainly common.

Be truly convinced of your worth.

As a job seeker—or as an entrepreneur—it’s necessary to believe deep down in what you’re worth and be proud of this. Companies will see your work is well worth the pay when you put your best self out there.

Today as an entrepreneur—I own a public relations agency—I am so confident in what our work is worth that I list our prices right on our website. Clients still often try to negotiate down because they want to work with us but have various budget constraints, but I decline, knowing the value we bring to the table. Negotiating down is never a good practice.

[Related: Do You Know Your Employee Worth?]

Have a conversation.

To anyone considering negotiating their salary, I say go for it. However, you need to understand the process and potential consequences before stating your case.

Be confident in what you’re requesting, but understand that a negotiation is just that—a conversation, not a dictation. Listen to what the other side has to say and take it into consideration when offering up numbers.

Money is a sensitive subject for most people, but you should never let a company have full control over your worth. Be both knowledgeable and understanding when discussing a salary negotiation. If the negotiation didn’t fall in your favor, always factor in how much joy the position will bring you—because money isn’t everything.

TELL US: Have you ever negotiated your salary? If so, how did you go about it? Let us know!