Negotiating a Raise as a Woman, Part Two: Unintended Side Effects

negotiating a raiseI wrote a while back about how I felt like I was part of the gender pay gap problem. I was terrified to ask for a raise.

I’ve been at my company almost four years, and have done great things.

So, finally, I asked. Right before Christmas, I wrote an email to my boss, and asked if we could talk. Then I told him how much I had contributed, and how much I would contribute in the future.

It was a great conversation. Until he guessed that my salary was $30,000 higher than reality. I thought, okay, sure, I’ll take that raise! But then he said he’d let me know.

I thought that was fair, since there were still ten or so days left in the month.

I was pretty sure I’d get what I asked for that month.  This was all negotiation a raise…I thought it would come in due time.

But he waffled. Said he’d let me know. That he was working on it.

I get paid once a month, so I knew that his waffling meant that I wouldn’t hear from him until at least the end of January.


What’s a Girl to Do When Negotiating a Raise?

So, I did what anyone would do. I started looking elsewhere. And I realized that I’d been holding myself back.

I’m working at a start-up, as an employee. We’re on a shoestring budget, which means I’m not getting any benefits.

I know this is a first-world problem, but wow, do benefits look attractive. I was given another four weeks to think about, and look at, other jobs in my city.

Not only that, but as a single woman, I need to look out for myself. There’s a decent chance that a charming prince who has health insurance isn’t waiting just around the corner. And waiting for the mythical “him” is rather foolish. I mean, what would that bring me to? “Hi, I’m Kathleen, do you have health insurance? What about 401(k) matching? Great. Yes, let’s have dinner next Tuesday.”


That’s not how life goes, at least not for me.

My life, my career, and my future is up to me. So, I polished my resume, I started emailing companies I admired.

Do you know the children’s story? The Princess and the Pea? Short recap: a real princess can feel a pea under 17 mattresses. So, in the story, they aren’t sure this woman is really a princess. So they test her. And she passes with flying colors. Turns out, she is a princess!

A weird fairy tale, to be certain, but in my life right now? I can feel the pea. I’m not frustrated, I’m not ready to leave, I’m not upset. I can just feel the pea.


Then the News Came…

My boss talked to me last week.

He gave me a 12.5% raise! And more commission!

I was excited, but not ecstatic. Happy, but not content.

It was almost too late, you know? My resume is updated, and I’m not ready to leave, unless there’s an amazing opportunity.

So, supervisors, managers, and bosses take note! When an employee asks for a raise, do not wait six weeks until you give her (or him!) an answer!

And also? Employees, take note! Ask for the raise! Negotiate the raise! Always advocate for yourself, no one else is going to!

What are your thoughts on negotiating a raise?

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  1. says

    Your boss thought you were being paid $30k more than you actually are? I thought you were making around $30k/year? 12.5% raise when he though he was already paying you 100% more…? What’s not adding up?

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