How I Nailed a Raise in a Wage Freeze

Celebrating Victory

A year ago, I was offered the job of social media editor for my city’s newspaper. It was a significant promotion, but the raise was meager.

I was making $32,500. I deserved more, but recent cutbacks and a long-standing wage freeze made me scared to ask., which told me a typical salary for the position in my area was $40,000 a year—$7,500 more than I made. I knew whatever amount I negotiated would be one I likely would have to live with for several years, so I had to be successful in my bargaining.

I practiced asking for $37,000, watching myself in the mirror until I felt I was asking with a firm tone and confident demeanor.

My boss called me in on a Saturday to offer me the job and a small pay increase—less than $2,500. I took a breath and said the words I had rehearsed. My heart was racing. I knew we were both leaving for vacation the next day—and she wanted an answer.

Although I could feel the pressure, I said it would be hard for me to take the promotion for less than $36,000, and I’d have to think about it.

That was tough to do because I consider my boss a friend, and I felt like I was letting her down personally. Still, I left our meeting without accepting or rejecting the position.

The next day my boss called me with an offer of $35,500 plus a monthly cell phone stipend of $75, bringing the total to $36,400 annually. I accepted.

I’m not quite making what I deserve yet, but counting the increase I got two years ago (when a competitor offered me a job), I’ve boosted my income by $7,900 during a wage freeze.

It really does pay to know your own worth—and to let your boss know that you know it.

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