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Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Asking for a Raise and Negotiate Your Salary”

How a pro does it — My friend Rachel made $1,000 an hour negotiating a new job

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[I was featured on Yahoo Finance and the Huffington Post. New readers, click here for a 1-page introduction / list of my most popular articles.]

Here’s what my 25-year-old friend Rachel just negotiated:

“I got a 28% raise in base salary which comes out to more than $1000/hr based on how much time I spent. Plus stock options, which at least allow me the luxury of dreaming about being a gazillionaire :)”

How? I asked her to write up how she did it…

“I’ve applied to, and been ignored for, many many job openings – more than I care to share. Despite this I decided to jump back into the job market a few months ago after doing marketing for a large hotel in San Francisco. I found a marketing manager position on a site called VentureLoop (Craigslist for start-ups) and through it I sent in a resume which snagged a phone interview, which was followed by an in-person interview, which was followed by an offer letter.

Sounds like a cakewalk, right? Actually, the VP of Marketing told me that I had the least experience of anyone she was interviewing – then she hired me anyway. I can’t pinpoint exactly why I was so successful in getting this job in contrast to all of my past attempts, but I can think of a few things that probably made the difference. My strategies weren’t rocket science but they involved time and effort, two things which definitely make a difference separating you from the pack.

1. I broke down their job posting line by line and wrote down projects I’d worked on or skills I possessed that directly related to their description.
2. I researched their website extensively, read media articles about the company, and looked up the management teams’ backgrounds so that I could speak knowledgeably about the company and why I was a good fit.
3. I prepared a spiel about my somewhat eclectic resume, which can look unfocused if not set in the proper context.
4. I called an expert on start-ups, finance, bargaining and a half-dozen other things to get some outside counsel. Ramit gave me some key advice, including “tell them you want to get your hands dirty,” and “suggest three things you would do to improve/enhance their marketing efforts”. Yes, he does talk just like he writes on his blog.
5. I actually took Ramit’s advice, which is where a lot of my work came in. I dreamed up three proposals for generating greater interest at tradeshows, better responses to direct marketing campaigns, and increased name recognition in the general population.”

Wow! So the interview must have gone really well, right? Not quite…and Rachel’s description of what she did is a classic case in turning a missed opportunity into a chance to win.

“I never actually found a good opportunity to mention my ideas (this despite a four-hour interview). I emailed the proposals to my potential boss instead, using them as a way to continue self-advocating even though I was no longer in her office. I then individually emailed every person I spoke to that day to thank them for their time. Might have been overkill, but then again, my email flurry may have been the tipping point for my hiring.

My references later told me that the VP had been impressed with my energy and intelligence, and had decided she would rather train someone with potential than hire a more experienced, and perhaps less flexible, individual. Three weeks of sustained research and planning paid off with an entirely new career – a pretty stellar return on the investment of my time.”

Just notice how this is the exact embodiment of everything iwillteachyoutoberich stands for. Rachel eliminated barriers and carefully researched her options, took action by applying for a job, reached out to experts for advice, and came in with a presentation that was better than everyone else’s (so much so that she didn’t have to negotiate much). And when she didn’t get a chance to show off all of her presentation, she sent it by email — even though some people would think that was “weird.”

She came to play.

Getting rich isn’t about one silver bullet or secret strategy. It almost never happens by sitting in a room coming up with an idea. It happens through regular, boring, disciplined action. Most people only the results of all this action — a winnable moment, or an article in the press. But it’s this behind-the-scenes work that really makes you rich.

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20 Comments

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  1. Interestingly enough I had the exact same thing happen to me. I ended up getting a 60% raise over my previous position…mostly due to the research I completed on the company and the presentation that I prepared.
    Deja Vu for me!
    Great story!

  2. I did this to get my dream job at a University that I had wanted to work at for some time. Unfortunately, the University closed this extension campus I worked at 2 years after I got there, but the point is that this strategy works!

  3. On a related anecdote, I interview a lot of intern candidates. One kid I interviewed was looking for an internship off of my usual hiring period. I was insanely busy at the time and wasn’t really sure I needed interns. He emailed me every other day until I hired him.

    Moral of the story: Be persistent! You may think you have been denied, but many times you just have a slow bureaucracy working against you. There has never been an easier or cheaper time to command someone’s attention, so do it.

  4. Hi! I’m new to this website and LOVE it. I would like to know more about #3: a spiel about a somewhat eclectic resume. Any pointers?

  5. Great article with solid tips. I am applying now and will definitely use some of these tips. On a side note, years ago when I got my current job, I did send a thank-you note to everyone I talked to AND also sent in work samples to my potential boss. I got the job even though I was changing fields so it does help to show enthusiasm and initiative.

  6. To be honest, a lot of the problems that I’ve seen and heard from friends is the idea of entitlement. When you’re going into an interview, you’re there to impress and wow the employer. You have to do everything in your power to make them feel that you’re the best candidate, even if you are the best on paper.

    I’m 3 years out of college, but have moved up and received great jobs just because I go the extra mile. I’ve been in a hiring position now for a while and it amazes me how many people graduate and feel their diploma is enough to get them a good job and thus don’t do anything more for the interview.

    Here is a quick rundown of what I did for all of my interviews (out of around 15 interviews, only 5 did not extend an offer to me):

    1. Research the company. Find out their weaknesses, their competitors, their market, their goals, etc.
    2. With this research, formulate 2-4 plans you think should be implemented to meet their goals, fill a weakness, break the company into a new market, whatever. Just come with discrete and detailed plans.
    3. If you’re unable to go through all of your plans, email it to your recruiter + your potential boss.
    4. For that matter, get business cards from everyone to speak with. Email them the later that same day discussing what you went over in the interview. This also gives you a chance to remedy an answer you gave which didn’t go over to well. But even if you don’t do this, email them all and thank them for their time. They DID take time of their work day to interview you, you know?
    5. This is pretty old school, but I do it anyway. I send a typed, old school mail, letter to the recruiter + potential boss, thanking them for taking the time. I know, sappy, but I remember getting hired at my first job and seeing it on my boss’ desk the first week, so I know he got it at least.

    I think some of these tips overlap above, but I think all taken together, it really puts you in a good position to get the job. Just don’t be lazy and/or entitled. 🙂

  7. I badgered this bunch of weirdos who had a wiki farm until they felt they’d lose their minds if they didn’t give me the time of day. I won them over by performing a profanity-laced interpretation of Euripides’ The Trojan Women using hand puppets and modern dance.

  8. Impressive. Hard work and Audacity can make a hell of a difference.

  9. LOL, sounds like me! i talked to ramit about getting a merchandising position even though i have no finance background whatsoever, and here i am! i didn’t negotiate my salary though…i guess that will have to be on the agenda.

  10. I’m glad I came across this article. I’m in the process of searching for a job now and this article was really inspiring. I too have an eclectic resume!!

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