Okay, when I say "totally fucking rocked" what I actually mean is "got ever so slightly over the target." But I am still really, really proud of myself. Not necessarily because of the money (although it is going to feel really good to make a comfortable wage), but because I made my goal by negotiating an 10% increase in salary, and I did it with class.
Okay, when I say "did it with class" what I actually mean is "freaked out for two days straight."
It was actually really hard, and there were several times when I got really down on myself. See, I was excited to negotiate, and I had a whole plan. I was pretty sure I was going to get an offer because I kicked serious bootay during my phone interview and they called my references an hour after talking to me. I thought I was going to be negotiating with the HR woman, and I figured I would see what they offered and then ask if I could have some time to think and respond.
But then, what actually happened is the director of the program called me to offer the job while I was cleaning my own vomit off of my car's upholstery.* As I wandered around in my parking lot, writing on the back of our road atlas, he offered me something less than I was expecting (although it was still decent). And when I asked "Is that negotiable." He said "Well let's talk about it...right now." And I wasn't prepared. I mean, I knew what I wanted, but I should have taken a deep breath and asked for some time. Instead I stuttered out a few sentences about why I thought I deserved more and stated a counter number that was little over my goal. (D$ pointed out later that it was about a 10% increase, but that, uh...wasn't something I was aware of at the time). Mr. Director came back with a number that was $200 below what I had asked for (because of the way that government jobs work you have to move up in "steps" and he moved me up two steps). He said he would have to check with HR about some things,** but asked if he could get me that number "Would that be okay?" And I said, "Yea, that would be great."
We hung up and I immediately started to doubt myself. Was that too easy? Had I sold myself short? Had they low-balled me? I spent the two days until he got back to me googling salaries for similar jobs and going back and forth between chastising myself and feeling good about things. D$ tried to tell me that I had done well, but I was having a hard time accepting it.
The day that Mr. Director was due to call me back I frantically g-chatted my friend A who works in finance, telling her the numbers we had negotiated and asking if I had for too little. Her response boils down to, "WTF are you mental, you did great!" She reminded me that a 10% increase when unemployment is at 10% is sort of amazing. And that the government doesn't usually even negotiate salaries. And that he had moved me up TWO PAY STEPS.
Later, the Mr. Director called me back and offered me exactly what we had talked about and I joyfully accepted. That night as we walked to meet friends to celebrate*** A called, saying she had made some calculations and figured out that I just made myself $200,000 over the course of my career.
Negotiating the salary was stressful and really emotional, but it was worth it. Both for my increased earnings ability and for the pride and confidence that I feel about having gotten what I wanted simply by being assertive enough to ask for it.
*What? That isn't normal?
**This part is actually cool. What he wanted to check on was this other person they hired previously whose salary is lower than what I was asking for. He didn't want to give me more and have that guy be underpaid in comparison so he had to see "what he could do" for that guy. I think it is a good sign that he was concerned with equity and with this employee's well-being. Also that guy had better be nice to me when I get there.
***Cue massive hangover