It was June 2006. I was about to head in for my second — and final — job interview at TheStreet.com. The position: senior video correspondent.
I had a strong feeling that this was the meeting where we’d discuss money. At the time, I was earning around $45,000 at NY1 News as a producer and sometimes-on-camera reporter. And, crazy as it sounds, I wanted to double my salary with the new job.
An anchor at NY1 whom I confided in directed me to aim high. “The best way to earn more is to leave,” she said. Her negotiating rule of thumb: Ask for double what you’re making now.
To leave room for negotiating, I decided I’d ask for a cool $100,000.
A voice in my head told me I was crazy. But then I also knew how grossly underpaid I was at NY1. I had asked the human resources manager for my salary range a couple months back, only to learn that my position had the potential to earn up to $85,000.
I had been there for close to three years — going way above and beyond my job description — and had a pretty flat salary year over year. How long would I have to wait to earn at least 50% more?
(And by the way if you work at a company, you should ask HR for your salary range if available, as well. It’s valuable intel that you have every right to know.)
I also knew that TheStreet.com had a healthy balance sheet and that they were eager to launch a video channel as soon as possible. They had no one on staff to write, produce, report, shoot and edit stories. I was prepared to do all of that and more, the work of at least three people combined.
So, really, when you did the maths, my contribution had an easy six-figure valuation.
“We’d like to offer you $75,000,” said the man at the other end of the boardroom table.
“I was actually hoping to double my salary,” I replied with my heart racing. “I’d like to earn $100,000.”
I folded my hands.
I remembered to smile.
The man smiled back and didn’t even ask me to substantiate my request. (Though trust me, I was ready to bust out a power point presentation if needed. Or, at least explain how I came to my valuation.)
“How about we settle at $85,000 and revisit getting you to $100,000 in six months or so?” the man offered.
“How about we agree to $90,000 right now and I don’t bother you in six months?” I replied quickly on my feet. I knew full well that we’d never revisit my salary in six months. Better to get what you want then and there, I’d been schooled.
Next thing I heard was, “All right. We’ve got a deal. Welcome to TheStreet!”
We shook hands and in that moment, in that single meeting, I managed to earn a 100% raise.
Six months later, I negotiated a two-year contract earning $10,000 each additional year, bumping me to my first hundred grand.
Like I always preach, “You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.”
My initial trepidation fleeted after that one handshake nine years ago. Speaking up and asking for more has only gotten easier since.
Farnoosh Torabi is a financial expert, bestselling author and host of the award-winning So Money podcast. To receive her top financial hacks and secrets to wealth from her interviews with Tony Robbins, James Altucher, Robert Kiyosaki and other financial luminaries, click here.
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