In our series My Salary Story, women with years of career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. Its 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. Interested in contributing your salary story? Email us here.
Previously, we talked to a 30-year-old unionized attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y., who has been working since she was a teenager. Today, we connect with a senior manager in tech who weathered Wall Street layoffs.
Current location: New York City
Current industry: Technology (Business Development & Marketing)
Title: Senior Manager
Current annual salary: $110,000
Number of years employed: 11
Starting annual salary: $40,000
Biggest salary jump: $13,610 (base) increase moving from a manager to senior manager
Biggest salary drop: 5%. “This was during the recession in 2009. My employer chose to reduce salaries across the board based on income, rather than pursue major layoffs. This was for a one-year period and then salaries were brought back to the original wage.”
Biggest negotiation regret: “There was very limited room to negotiate my first salary out of college during the recession. However, years later when I was promoted to manager, I still had not mastered my negotiation skills and did not negotiate pay. I was intimidated by the process and like many, feared that if I negotiated, the offer would be rescinded. I estimate that I left $5,000-$10,000 on the table by not negotiating. So, although I think I am underpaid by $10,000-$15,000, some of it is self-inflicted.”
Best salary-related advice: “Know your worth by researching the industry average for your role and evaluating the percentile where your current salary fits. Also, position yourself to be promotable. Go beyond the basics of your role, document your achievements, and pursue advance certifications and training in order to learn new skills. Lastly, be flexible: Compensation is not limited to just your base salary. You can also negotiate your bonus structure, personal time off, benefits, and more.”
First job: Communications coordinator
$40,000 per year in 2007
“My first job out of school was as a communications coordinator at a major financial services institution. I did not negotiate. I was so excited to have a job and to work for such a prestigious company.
“I started as a consultant with no benefits and the goal was to transition to a full-time employee after one year. However, the recession hit, and there were major layoffs within the company. I lasted through October of 2008, which was quite impressive considering the number of layoffs taking place on Wall Street that year.”
Second job: Training specialist
$47,000 per year in 2008
“The last 30 days at my communications coordinator job were primarily spent job-hunting and interviewing. Two weeks after my last day, I received a job offer through a recruiter to be a training specialist for a major technology company. I felt proud to have secured a position so soon.
“As an added bonus, this job included a higher salary and full benefits 401(k) matching after one year, paid time off, and medical, visionand dental insurance. I did not negotiate my salary for this position because again, I was so happy to have found a job during the recessionand finally have health benefits and paid time off.
“There was an opportunity for me to negotiate, however. The HR contact asked me if the salary was okay; I think it was her way of giving me an opportunity to ask for more. I did not take the opening, and Im not exactly sure why. I guess its because in addition to being grateful, I was not comfortable having a conversation about money back then.”
Third job: Junior business analyst
$55,000 per year in 2010
“There was an internal opening for another position within my division. I spoke with the director of that line of business at a social event, and she asked me if I was interested in the job. Toward the end of the process, I tried to negotiate for more pay this time around but because I was so underpaid, it was difficult to get where I wanted to be. Now that I’m a manager, I recognize there are usually percentage limits that must be adhered to for promotions.
“The director, who eventually became my internal sponsor, came up with a plan to bring me on in a junior role and promote me within a year so that I could maximize my earning potential. Though I was qualified for a higher analyst title, I agreed to the strategy and I am happy I did!
“No one had looked out for me this way before, and I was incredibly appreciative of her support. Today, I pay it forward with other hardworking professionals.”
Now that I'm a manager, I recognize there are usually percentage limits that must be adhered to for promotions. (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Promotion: Business analyst
$67,000 per year in 2011
“My director kept her promise and promoted me to an analyst role. I took on more complex projects within the team, making this a period of extreme learning and growth for me. I averaged 12-to-14-hour days and helped the company to secure impressive multi-million dollar accounts. In hindsight, I was definitely underpaid for my performance.”
Promotion: Senior analyst
$71,859 per year in 2013
“My team’s management changed twice due to a reorganization. My first new manager promoted me to senior analyst and the second manager implemented my bonus structure: $4,000 annually, paid out each quarter.”
Fourth job: Business manager
$78,427 per year in 2014
“An internal mentor recommended that I apply for this position, and it was the first role I had to ‘fight’ for internally. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t have any managerial experience, and I was a little afraid of the unknown. However, I decided to pursue this opportunity as a new challenge and leveraged all of my internal knowledge.
“I secured the position at a much lower salary than I wanted to because my manager at the time used my lack of managerial experience against me. This was a major lesson learned for me: If you’re good enough to do the job and take on the responsibilities of the role, you should be paid fairly for that role.
“This job came with a bonus structure of $13,000, paid out quarterly each year.”
$2,000-$2,800 raises per year in 2015-16
“I received a merit increase to my base salary in 2015, bumping me up to $80,400. In the first half of 2016, I received another merit increase to my base salary, moving me to $83,202.”
$4,500-$8,500 raises per year in 2016-17
“In August 2016, I negotiated a base salary increase to $91,800 by researching industry compensation trends and presenting all of my achievements to the division head. I also received back payment up to the spring.”
This is an opportunity for me to learn a different management style and find new ways to add value, streamline processes, and assist with the strategy elements. (Photo: Getty Images)
Promotion: Senior business manager
$110,000 per year in 2018
“In 2017, I received a merit increase to my base salary, bumping me up to $96,390. I was later promoted to senior manager and am responsible for multiples lines of business. This is an opportunity for me to learn a different management style and find new ways to add value, streamline processes, and assist with the strategy elements. I will also receive quarterly and annual bonuses based on company performance approximately $26,000.”
More from Refinery29:
How The Supreme Court’s Arbitration Decision Will Affect You
5 Money Diaries: A Week In The U.S. On $100,000+ Salaries
After 226 Years, The New York Stock Exchange Appoints Its First Female President
Refinery29.com is a USA TODAY content partner offering personal finance news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.