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5 Salary Negotiation Stories That Prove It’s Always Worth It to Ask

Topics: Negotiation

If you’ve never tried to negotiate a raise, you’re not alone: according to PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide, 57 percent of workers say they’ve never asked for more money in their current field. On the other hand, it’s worth it to ask: 75 percent of those who asked got some kind of a raise.

salary negotiation stories
Image Credit: BAMCorp/Flickr

Why aren’t you asking for more? Most likely, it’s because you’re afraid of what will happen if you do broach the subject of a raise. The most effective approach is to educate yourself about what you deserve. PayScale’s Salary Survey generates a free salary report with a range based on your job title, experience, education, skills, and geographic location, so you can be sure that your request is reasonable.

Beyond that, sometimes it’s good to hear from other people who’ve been through the process — especially if their experience was, shall we say, less than smooth, but turned out OK anyway. These Redditors and Quora users have tales that will inspire you:

  1. Negotiating With the Worst Negotiator Ever

“I once negotiated with the worst salary negotiator ever,” writes yellowjacketcoder at Reddit. How bad was this person at negotiating with candidates? Let’s go to the tape:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Her: “Well, this position offers between $50k and $65k. Is that acceptable?”

Me: “Um, I suppose…”

Her: *sigh* “Fine, we’ll offer you $65k.”

Me: “I accept?”

I really had no idea what I was worth at the time, and I would have been happy with the $50k, but you know, if they’re going to offer me $15k more, I’m not turning it down.

  1. Even Interns Can Negotiate (If Their Skills Are in Demand)

In answer to the Quora question, “Is internship salary negotiable?,” former Facebook and Quora intern Neel Hajare says yes — but offers a caveat, as well as a few tips:

Though my experience is limited to software companies, I have found that internship offers are definitely negotiable. Throughout my time in school, I successfully negotiated for higher salaries from seven different companies for internship offers.

As far as technique goes, there might have been a little more subtlety to the language I used, but the gist of it was, “You guys are offering x, this other company is offering x + ?, but I like you guys better than them, so can you please raise my offer by ??”

That said, I would expect that you’d be less likely to be successful if the companies you’re talking to are at the highest end of the pay scale for interns and have thorough knowledge of the competition.

  1. Trust Your Instincts

It’s easy to keep your cool during a negotiation with a potential employer when you don’t really want the job. At Reddit, eric987235 reminds us that sometimes it’s important to trust your instincts, even when the hiring manager throws out a higher number than you expected:

I once interviewed at a place and I didn’t get a great vibe from them. I was fairly certain I didn’t want to work there so when they asked me how much I was looking to make I said $120k with the intention of it being too high. For reference, I was making about $100k at my previous job.

Anyway, they came back and offered $110k. I said I needed some time to think about it and they said $120k so I took it. The lesson is this: always trust your instinct. Always.

EDIT: My instinct said stay away from these idiots. It was right. I should have listened to it.

  1. Be Flexible

Sometimes, you can ask for one thing and wind up with another … and be able to happily accept the job. At Quora, Nora Mullaney advises:

Ask for what you want in a negotiation, but be flexible with what you get. I’ve asked for vacation days and gotten a salary increase. I’ve asked for a salary increase and gotten more equity. Sometimes, it’s just not easy/feasible for a company to give you exactly what you want, but many will be willing to find other ways to make you happy.

  1. If Worse Comes to Worst … Sometimes, You Gotta Move On

A brief skit about salary negotiation, by twerps:

“I deserve a raise.”

“Next project. Money is tight.”

“I deserve a raise.”

“Next project. We’re in a salary freeze.”

“I deserve a raise.”

“Next project. Because.”

“I’m quitting.”

“We found a bunch of money for you!”

“Too late.”

(50% pay bump at new job.)

Want to find out how much money you should be making? Take PayScale’s Salary Survey today.

Note: stories were lightly edited for clarity.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever negotiated salary? We want to hear how it went. Tell us your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.


Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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