Salary Negotiation Case Study – 20 Minutes for $25,000

November 28, 2016

by Ravi Raman

What if a few minutes of your time and a little courage during a salary negotiation could earn you tens of thousands of dollars or more?

Negotiation is a high leverage activity. It doesn’t need to take a long time but can result in a massive payoff.

Surprisingly, most people don’t negotiate their salary (or anything else really!). If they do, they leave money on the table. A survey by revealed that only 37% of people always negotiate their salaries whereas 18% never do.

The top reasons why most people aren’t negotiating their salaries?

  1. Fear
  2. Lack of skill

We all want fair compensation for the job we do. Negotiating helps you educate others on what you believe to be your genuine value. It is also a practice that can help you determine the appropriate level of compensation for a job. Experts agree that most companies expect new employees to negotiate their job offers.

Therefore, why not do it?

Like any other skill, negotiation can and should be learned and practiced if you expect a successful outcome. As they say, practice makes perfect. With even more practice, you will also be less fearful to apply your negotiation power!

This rest of this post will share a story of a client I worked with who successfully negotiated a higher salary in a new job, applying just a few techniques I coached her on. Through our coaching we also practiced negotiating a few times, to work through any hesitation or fear.

Good news and bad news

A few months ago a visitor to my website applied for a complimentary career coaching session.

During our meeting, I learned that this individual, let’s call her “Alice” (not her real name), recently left her Silicon Valley job as a Product Manager. Her company was relocating to the MidWest of the United States, and she decided not to move from San Francisco, taking severance instead.

Alice ended up hiring me to help her find a new job. Her own efforts were not working out well. She was getting attention from recruiters, and even a few interviews, but no offers.

Frustrated and running out of patience, she hired me.

Within three coaching sessions, she was able to identify her ideal job target and fix major issues with her resume, LinkedIn profile and most importantly, massively improve her interviewing style and confidence.

The responses from recruiters were more and more frequent, and she was getting more onsite interviews than before.

After a month, she had an offer from her dream company, a tech-focused firm in the music industry. Her job, as a Product Manager, would be to reimagine their mobile application experience. All was looking good.

Then, she received the offer!

Uh oh. It turned out to be a “good news and bad news” situation.

The good news was Alice was getting a job offer from a company in an industry she loved – being an avid artist and music fan – in a location she loved, San Francisco. The bad news was it was less than Alice previously made. Alice was nonetheless ready to accept the offer right away, worried that any delay might cause the company to change their mind.

Good thing she reached out to me first.

Alice the (Senior) Product Manager

I asked Alice what she would be super happy with regarding her offer. She mentioned that she would be satisfied with an offer that matched her previous job. I asked if she felt she was an excellent Product Manager, to which she replied without hesitation “absolutely, I am great at what I do!”

We then researched the typical roles and job titles for someone with her level of experience (7+ years of design and product management experience). It became apparent that the offer they made to her for a Product Manager position, was not significant enough given her experience and strong track record.

Alice clearly qualified for a Senior Product Manager role. This wasn’t something she had considered before as she wasn’t familiar with the various “levels” or variations job positions have, to delineate people who have different levels of experience and skill.

With some coaching, and a carefully crafted email and follow-up phone call, Alice informed the recruiter that she was incredibly excited to work at the company, however, the title and position she is capable of excelling in would be a “senior-level” role. The recruiter pushed back, saying that the role was scoped to be a standard Product Manager role.

Alice countered (in negotiation, you often have a few rounds of offers and counter-offers!), asking if they would consider a broader scope for her that would justify a Senior Product Manager offer. Alice reiterated that she had the experience and results to back up her request, and she was confident that she would do very well as a Senior Product Manager.

This last point was key. Alice wasn’t just asking for more money, she was asking for a job that matched her real level of skill, experience, and proven results.

one does not simply ask for more pay


Alice then asked if the recruiter would mind discussing this with the hiring manager. The recruiter obliged, and after a 24 hour period, Alice heard the results of their conversation.

They agreed!

It was clear that Alice was a good fit for a Senior-level role, and the hiring manager felt that there was enough of a breadth in scope for the job to account for it. It was obvious they really wanted Alice at the company and didn’t want to short-change her experience. With the new Senior Product Management title and level, the offer was also revised.

20 minutes for $25,000+

What do you think the new compensation was?

Let me share that with you…

The original offer as a Product Manager had a base salary of ~$100,000 (plus signing bonus and stock).

The new offer, achieved after a few emails and a single 20-minute conversation, had a based salary of $125,000 (plus a larger signing bonus and much more stock). Not to mention, the “senior” title and job level meant that Alice’s progression at the company was just moved forward 2+ years (the average time it takes for top performers there to get promotions).

We’re talking about a +$25,000 increase in salary (not to mention a bigger bonus and stock grant) and a big bump up in title/position at the company. All it took was a little effort and confidence applied to the situation!

I’m sharing this story to illustrate that negotiation is a crucial skill and step in the job search process. While not all negotiations work as favorably as Alice’s, you will never know unless you try.

Salary negotiation lessons learned:

1. Everything is negotiable “mindset”

When you receive a job offer, adopt the mindset that everything is negotiable. Salary, bonus, benefits, and more. Most companies will have limits to how much can be negotiated, but there is often some wiggle room. It also depends on lot on the recruiter you are working with and how much the hiring manager wants to advocate for you.

2. Gain your information advantage

Negotiation works when you have a strong understanding of your own value, experience and skill-set related to the job you are applying for. Site likes,, and (for tech industry jobs) can help you understand what average compensation levels are for the job and market you are interviewing for. The more information and research you do ahead of time, the better your negotiation will go. You have no excuse for not having a clear understanding for what a fair offer is going into a negotiation.

3. Start with mutual respect and empathy

Negotiation should always be done with mutual respect and empathy. Never make crude demands. Always be grateful that you have an offer, and understand the position the person on the other end of the negotiation is in. The stronger your ability to empathize with the recruiter (and hiring manager!) the better your negotiation will go.

4. Be prepared for rejection

The final result of a negotiation might be a strong “no.” Not all negotiations work in your favor. Understand that if you negotiate well, you might get what you wish for (or more!) but be prepared for the other side to refuse. This might require a few back-and-forth offer and counter-offers. A compromise might be in order. Regardless, when done with respect and empathy, both parties in a negotiation will end up respecting and valuing each other more.

5. Practice is crucial

If you can hire a coach to help you with salary negotiation discussion, do so – it can be the highest return-on-investment you will ever get for your money. If you aren’t able to do that, run through the scenarios in your mind a few times. How will you respond if a recruiter says “no, we can’t do that” to your request? What if they counter your ask with something you aren’t happy with? Even better, find a friend to practice. I’m biased, being a coach and all, but I think hiring a pro will be your best bet!

I hope this post inspires you to commit to negotiating your next job offer. Move past the fear and take action to get paid what you are worth in the marketplace.

If you have further questions, leave a comment to this post or apply for a complimentary coaching session if you are interested in learning how I can help you negotiate a job offer, find your next (best) job and take your career to the next level.


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