In our series Salary Stories , women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
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Previously, we talked to a a 33-year-old senior marketing specialist who regrets not having negotiated early in her career, 29-year old regional manager in the wine and spirits industry who tripled her salary without changing companies, and a 30-year-old technical business analyst who got a new job with the help of a maintenance person.
Age: 27 Current Location: Portland, OR Current Industry & Title: Semiconductor Industry, Operations Manager Starting Salary: $60,000 in 2014 Current Salary: $89,000 + quarterly bonuses (0.5%) + annual bonus (1%) Number Of Years Employed: 8 Biggest Salary Jump: $30,000 in 2014 Biggest Salary Drop: None. Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: “Not negotiating a higher starting salary and sign-on bonus when I was offered a permanent position at the company where I had a paid internship. I had no sense of what a typical starting salary was for my position, and I thought what they initially offered me was fair for someone fresh out of college. Now that I’m a part of the recruiting process for our group, I regret not negotiating for more or asking them for a sign-on bonus! If an employer makes you an offer, they will do what it takes so they don’t lose a strong candidate!” Best Salary-Related Advice: “I’ve learned that you have to take control of your own salary negotiations because, while other people may open up opportunities, no one is always going to advocate or prioritize you. It’s important for me to make my expectations clear and reflect on what I want to do and where I see myself in the future.”
“I was a college sophomore when I started as an intern making $13/hour. I still had about 18 months until graduation, so my boss offered me a salaried internship that paid $30,000 and allowed me to go to school full-time and continue working.
“It was really hard, but I was able to work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Friday and go to school 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. There were some semesters where I would go to school all day for two days a week and then work longer hours the three days that I was in the office. I definitely had no social life, but I knew what the outcome was and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. And that was motivating for me. Eventually, this evolved into a permanent offer.”
“When I got the permanent offer from the company where I had been an intern, I didn’t negotiate the salary or ask for a sign-on bonus. I asked for a starting salary of $60,000, they agreed, plus I was eligible for the standard company bonus structure of quarterly bonuses of 0.5% and an annual bonus of 1%.
“Looking back, I didn’t give myself enough credit. I was bringing a lot of knowledge to the position, and I didn’t really realize that there were so many other avenues of requesting more money, like a sign-on bonus. I wasn’t really confident in my skill set.”
“I received a $5,000 raise during our annual review cycle. My job title did not change, but my role increased in scope, as I was supporting additional teams, thus warranting a bigger raise than the average 3%. My bonus structure remained the same (0.5% quarterly bonuses and a 1% annual bonus).
“There was no clear review process in this role. My boss wasn’t someone who was interested in talking about career development. Essentially, HR just gave me a letter letting me know the amount of the increase I was receiving.
“Looking back, I don’t think I felt I needed to request more because it was my first review so I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone tells you the typical raise is 3% year over year, and this was over 3% so I thought I was doing okay. I think that was my biggest downfall. I was also in a position where my role wasn’t clearly defined. I just didn’t feel confident in negotiating more.
“I regret this because if I had spoken up and said I deserved more, I don’t think they would have argued with it. But at the time I didn’t feel like I had the data behind me to support asking for more.”
“My title changed to better align with what I actually did for the company, and I got a $7,000 raise during our annual review cycle, though my bonus structure remained the same (0.5% quarterly bonuses and a 1% annual bonus). My old boss left, and I got a new manager halfway through the year.
“My new manager restructured the team and as a result I was picking up a lot more tasks. I was able to build a relationship with my manager and show that I was capable of doing more work outside of my current role.
“I was being considered to receive a grade promotion, which meant I’d have a more senior role. But my manager’s manager ultimately decided that I was ‘too junior,’ and I was told they would reconsider me next year.
“I was disappointed because I felt like I was doing more than what my current job description entailed. I was supporting not just my own manager but other teams and managers. I also felt that this decision was almost ageist. I was new to the company but my manager said I was doing well and deserved a great promotion, so to be told that it was a little ‘too soon’ made me feel defeated and not as motivated. My biggest regret was not going back and requesting my promotion be reevaluated.”
“I finally received a grade promotion and a title change to Operations Manager. My bonus structure remained the same (0.5% quarterly bonuses and a 1% annual bonus). I continued to expand my job scope by supporting more teams and building my skill set and breadth of knowledge to multiple parts of the organization, I became a ‘Jill of All Trades.’
“I regret not negotiating a higher raise as I started to feel like I was being underpaid compared to my colleagues in the same position, but I didn’t speak up because I was the youngest person in my group, and I didn’t feel confident enough to argue for more.
“I learned that, with review cycles, each manager is given a certain amount of money and has to parse it around to their team. So I was happy about the promotion but the dollar increase didn’t feel in line with the grade promotion. I regret not going back to ask for more.
“I’m learning every year the intricacies and nuances of the review cycle and how to use it in your favor. As women, we tend to not stick up for ourselves and not ask for more. We hope that people will recognize what we’re doing and say we deserve more. But we have to actively advocate for ourselves.”
“I received a $2,000 raise during our annual review cycle. This one stung a lot. I was very close to my manager, and he would lean on me to assess staff reviews and team performance. This was also the first year where I didn’t focus 100% of my energy on my manager as I was supporting other managers as well.
“I think this kind of hurt because he didn’t look at it from a data-driven perspective, he looked at it as more: ‘Did she do everything I asked for?’ It was hard because I wasn’t expecting this low of a raise, considering everything I’ve done for the company. I had always been told I would be taken care of, and it didn’t seem like that was the case this year.
“Unfortunately, I also had more information than ever about the annual review cycle as I knew more of the process than my own manager. I had to help him input my coworkers evaluations, including raises, promotions, and stocks, as well as trade-offs, which also meant watching my own raise dwindle as we strived to stay within budget.
“I’d been performing at my highest and supporting senior management, but my direct manager didn’t take their feedback into consideration. I had a great relationship with my direct manager, but after this revealing review cycle, I made the decision to start leveraging my network so I could find a new position where I would thrive and be valued.”
“This was a lateral move, I didn’t change grade level or position I just changed teams. It wasn’t an official promotion, but I did get a salary increase. My bonus structure remained the same (0.5% quarterly bonuses and a 1% annual bonus).
“Over the past two years, I’ve been mentored by a more senior operations manager. I met with him on a weekly basis to review operational issues I’ve encountered, and over the course of our working relationship I’ve been able to build trust with him while showing off my skill set. Because of the guidance of my mentor and the initiative I’d taken, another manager asked me to come run his organization. Now, I’m working on operations for a team of 130 instead of 20.
“While a team change does not always result in a raise or promotion, twice a year HR does an assessment to make sure everyone is being paid at market rate. Basically, the company evaluated my salary and compared it to industry standards, and I received a pay equity adjustment. (I always had a gut feeling I was being paid less than I should have been, but I had no solid data to support this.)
I transitioned to the new team and got the pay increase a week after my 27th birthday!
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