Salary Story: I Got Tactical With My Salary & Now I Earn 93k

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell
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.
Been in the workforce for at least five years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here. Published stories receive £100.
Age: 32
Location: Birmingham
Current industry and job title: Senior programme manager, telecoms
Current salary: £93,500
Number of years employed since school or university: Seven
Starting salary and year: £27,000 in 2014
Biggest salary jump: £0 to £93,500 after regaining employment post-redundancy in 2021
Biggest salary drop: £85,000 to £0 in 2020
Biggest negotiation regret: When I moved jobs for the first time I told them my actual salary rather than market rate. They gave me a £10,000 increase on my base salary but that didn't factor in the overtime and expenses I had previously. Other people on my grade were earning more than £30,000 more than me too. I regret not researching market rate.
I learned from this with my following job moves and pushed for salaries fitting the responsibility.
Best salary advice: 1. Never enter your actual salary when they ask. Only ever enter market salary.
2. The benefit package matters, always look at the bigger picture. I changed jobs six weeks into a company as I was offered a higher paying role where I'd also get a much better maternity package. This was a £15,000 difference purely on maternity pay. Not to mention the better pension package (5% personal contribution, 10% company). 
3. Companies do not always appreciate your worth until you have another offer in your hand. I know people that have stayed in the same company and have been promoted with tiny salary increases. Even those that have been promoted to a higher seniority (director level) aren't earning the same amount. 
In my case I was able to reach higher salaries through promotions in job moves rather than in company promotions, negotiating my salary as I progressed and moved around.