Salary Story: I Learned The Hard Way To Always Do Salary Research

Illustrated by Michelle Mildenberg.
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: 27
Location: London
Current industry and job title: Marketing manager in tech
Current salary: £57k
Number of years employed since school or university: Six
Starting salary: £25k in 2015.
Biggest salary jump: 2018, I went from £31.8k to £45k.
Biggest salary drop: £25k to £24k in 2015, after I left my first job after two weeks.
Biggest negotiation regret? When I moved from my first company to my second (where I still work), I was so happy to be moving on and working somewhere else that I really didn't do my research. They asked me what my ideal salary would be and provided no guidance or estimates on the job description. I was really flying blind and I took what would have been a great salary at my current company (a small local business) and applied it to my new company (a tech corporation). I didn't look on Glassdoor and at the time felt like it was a massive increase. Your previous salary shouldn't dictate what you ask for in your new one; being underpaid and carrying that forward is a cycle that will take you time to get out of. I still feel that I haven't caught up to the market rate for a tech company (which typically have higher salaries) after that low initial salary and it's my fault for not researching, but I also think that some companies take advantage of younger people not knowing how to negotiate.
Best salary advice: If you don't ask, you don't get. My mum always taught me that growing up, but it can be awkward to have those conversations when it comes to salary. Preparation is your best friend. If you can validate your ask, you'll be in a much stronger position. I recently negotiated a pay rise by researching our own company's salaries on Glassdoor, noting down the respective salaries of three similar companies, and gathering examples of good work I'd done. I wrote myself a little script, brought it up at the end of a review and said, "I think that I'm underpaid and here's why...". I know that if I didn't have my thoughts in order, I'd have rambled and my reasons wouldn't have been as impactful.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series