This 29-Year-Old Marketing Manager Was Told She Was "Too Young" For A Raise

Illustrations by Hannah Minn.
In our series My Salary Story, 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 eight years, and interested in contributing your salary story? Email us here.
Previously, we talked to a 35-year-old department supervisor in film and television who learned late in the game that she could negotiate in her industry. Today, we hear from a 29-year-old product manager who says she was denied a raise based on her age.
Age: 29
Current Location: San Jose, CA
Current Industry & Title: Senior Product Marketing Manager, Tech
Starting Salary: $33,000 (2011)
Current Salary: $170,000 base with a $15,000 yearly bonus
Number Of Years Employed: 8
Biggest Salary Jump: $50,000
Biggest Salary Drop: $0 (Technically, I was making more hourly in college, but I was not working full time.)
Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: "Letting management tell me my age was the reason I couldn't get more money."
Best Salary-Related Advice: "Work really hard, build a reputation, and then fight for the money you are worth. I am still blown away by the fact that I am making $185,000/year at the age of 29. However, I have come to realize that building a reputation within your company and the industry you work in as a whole adds major value. I am proud of my journey over the past eight years and will continue to strive to be the best at what I do. Dedicate yourself fully to whatever role you are in (or want to be in), educate yourself to get ahead, and don't be afraid of hard work and standing up for yourself."
1 of 8
"I was recruited into this job out of college because of my involvement in my department's honor program and graduation status. At first, they offered me $15/hour to work as a contractor (with no benefits, job security, etc.), but I countered with a request for a full-time role with benefits — though I did not ask for a specific dollar amount.

"My prospective manager agreed and offered me $33,000 for a full-time salaried position with benefits. I accepted because I was excited to start a career!"
2 of 8
"I came into my position with absolutely no technical background. During my first year, I dedicated myself to learning both the technology and my role with help from two different mentors. I worked my butt off (60-80 hours per week including worldwide travel) and knew that I needed to ask for more money. I had also acquired a few industry certifications and more advanced technical knowledge.

"I did not come into my review looking for a specific dollar amount, so when my manager offered $45,000, I accepted."
3 of 8
"By this point, I had earned a great reputation at my company and was constantly asked to help in the field, speaking at industry events and sales meetings. I discussed a title change and raise with my manager prior to annual reviews and she offered me $60,000 with a $5,000 spot-bonus. I accepted."
4 of 8
"From 2013 to 2014, I continued my hard work and traveled almost every week for business. My already small team had dwindled to two people (including myself) and the team's workload did not decrease as members left. I was extremely overworked and getting burned out.

"Around this time, I found out that a male colleague on my team who had recently left had been making $20,000 more than I was. He was also offered $40,000 more than me to stay after he put in notice. I was extremely disheartened by this and immediately raised my concerns with my manager. My concerns were escalated up the chain and I was told that I was 'too young' to receive more money.

"My male colleague was only three years older than me and I had far more technical knowledge and success in the role than him. I continued to raise the issue and was promised a new specialized role and more money. Months went by without any change, so I put out feelers in the industry for a new job.

"The director at another company contacted me and asked me to come in for an interview. After an additional series of interviews, they asked how much I was making in my current job. I told them I was looking for a base salary in the $100,000 range, and they offered $90,000 base, a $10,000 yearly bonus, and a $15,000 signing bonus. After doing research on the role and company, I countered. This time, they offered a $100,000 base, a $10,000 yearly bonus, a $15,000 signing bonus, and stock options. I giddily accepted and was so proud of myself for standing firm."
5 of 8
"Once again, I worked extremely hard to build a reputation at my new company, and after my first year, was offered a $20,000 raise with a promotion to a senior title, a $10,000 bonus, and more stock. I accepted."
6 of 8
"After another successful year of output and continued technical education on my part, I requested another $20,000 raise with more stock and it was granted. I found out that I was making the same amount of money as the older colleagues on my team.

"I am extremely lucky that my manager believes in me and fights for my worth with upper management. I never expected to be making $150,000 (if you include my $10,000 bonus) before I was 28 years old."
7 of 8
"At my annual review, I was offered a $10,000 raise. Although I was happy with a $160,000 base salary and a $10,000 bonus, I had been getting a lot of recruiting offers from competitors over the previous six months — and had even done a few interviews to keep my skills sharp. (It is important to practice marketing yourself to other companies and testing your skills and ability to answers interview questions, so you don't get complacent in an existing role.)

"Two of those companies gave me verbal offers of ~$180,000-$200,000 with bonuses and title changes — but I never felt like a move was the right fit. Before I interviewed with anyone else, I always mentioned that I was happy in my existing role and not explicitly looking to change companies. (That made me more comfortable backing out of the process at any time.)

"I feel that I have a very good relationship with my manager, and brought these offers up. As I learned from my previous company change, you often have to leave an organization to get a larger salary bump or promotion. After a tough negotiation, I was able to get up to a base salary of $170,000/year with an annual bonus of $15,000. I was also given a larger stock grant than in former years."
8 of 8
"As if I didn't have enough to do, I also accepted an offer to tutor a neighbor's child in math for $25 per hour. This only amounts to ~$200 extra per month, but I feel better about spending that extra money on self-care."

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