What I wish I had known
When someone mentions negotiating a job offer, what do you assume they’re referring to? The primary focus is salary, according to a simple Google search. There are thousands of “How To,” “Guides,” and “Step-by-Step” handbooks for women to negotiate their salary. When I received my second job offer, I fell under the same umbrella as the 31% of women who are uncomfortable negotiating salary. I learned a lot of skills growing up, but being comfortable with money wasn’t one of them. I was well practiced in saving for sparkly sneakers, but that was about it.
So I knew I needed to face my fear of money - not just to prove it to myself, but on behalf of the 68% of women who avoid negotiating salary altogether.
Job Offer #2: Entertainment company in San Francisco, CA
Salary: $45,000 plus bonus (up to $5,000)
Paid Time Off: 5 sick days, 10 vacation days
Position: Account Representative
What I Negotiated: Salary
While this job offer was $13,000 more than my first, living in San Francisco is an entirely different ballgame. So I did the math. Each month, I would’ve been paid roughly $3,160. I’d live in an area with lower rent, maybe $1,500/month, but still within the city to avoid car payments. With essential costs taken into account, I would have about $1,300 left for non-essential spending, such as clothing, apartment upkeep, and savings. Not to mention contributions to a 401(k) or investment accounts. I don’t want to fall victim to the gender wage gap by having $320,000 less than my male counterparts by the time I retire. Needless to say, I approached the negotiation with a similar mindset to my last job offer: I need to ask for what I want.
To prepare, I wrote a script to keep me on track. I listed every reason for the extra $6,000 to $8,000 I needed (my income breakdown, plus my move from LA), and rehearsed what I would say. When I get nervous, I ramble. Discussing money is something that I wasn’t familiar with, and for me, unfamiliarity invites a host of anxiety, sweaty palms, and an influx of superfluous anecdotes. (Side note: Since this negotiation, I’ve become way more comfortable talking about money. All hail Farnoosh Torabi’s “So Money” podcast.)
When the time came... I talked for three minutes straight. One downside to writing a script? I read everything I’d written. After a brief silence, my potential boss said she wasn’t authorized to offer me more and that every Account Representative was paid the same. In hindsight, I should have negotiated a different aspect of my offer. Moving stipend? Work-from-home-Wednesdays? My advice: thoroughly develop your first negotiation goal, but brainstorm follow-up ideas as well. Cover the bases.
In the end, I turned this offer down too. Yet I was impacted differently. I felt sad saying no, like I was letting these opportunities become my past without having a future plan. So I got a cookie (treat yourself, right?) and hurtled my way towards a third offer.
Lily Comba is an Assistant Account Executive at OMD who works with a broad range of clients to strategize their out-of-home campaigns. She previously worked as a Career Consultant for two years at her alma mater, Scripps College. From her experiences in marketing and career consulting, Lily believes in making the world a stronger and better place for women. She continues to grow a network of industry leaders and influencers that share her drive to help women to achieve their goals.