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I Negotiated My Salary For The First Time (And Got P12,000 More)

I wanted to do the job to the best of my abilities but without compromising myself.
How I negotiated my salary
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK
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It’s been a while since I had a steady income. When I decided to pursue my graduate studies in 2019, I left my full-time job and started freelancing. As any freelancer would know, projects could come sporadically or all at once and you’re never really sure when the payment will finally reflect on your bank account.

So when a chance came up to handle the social media accounts of a local group of restaurants, I jumped on it. I had a few good reasons: (1) it was well within my experience in digital content creation, (2) it would be a great addition to my resume, and (3) most of all—it would finally be a source of consistent and regular income. My friend had been offered the position by one of his friends but he was busy working full-time. He knew that I was keeping an eye out for part-time jobs so he kindly recommended me instead.

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I sent my resume and portfolio, got on a call with my friend’s friend the same day, and had a Zoom interview with my potential boss the next. We talked about my professional and educational background, what I had in mind for the brands, and my availability. I was also transparent about my short-term and long-term plans so he knew what to expect from me if ever I got the job. I was waiting on other career plans to push through so I could only commit a month at a time.

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It was a part-time position and I was expected to work only around two to three hours a day. As a busy restaurateur managing multiple brands, he just needed help with handling their social media presence. It all aligned with what I was looking for.

A few days after the interview, I was offered the position and I gladly accepted. We had a meeting and talked about plans for the brands. I again gave updates about my career plans for the upcoming months. We ended the meeting in agreement: I’d do all the responsibilities as we discussed and I’ll give a heads up if my other career plans will keep me from doing my role. 

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We had another meeting to discuss how we were going to start. It was a hectic day—before our meeting, I attended an event for a freelancing gig and I had to fulfill orders for my small business. And so my brain didn’t fully comprehend when he asked me, “Are you okay with the position, responsibilities, and everything?” I just said yes. It was only after the call as I closed my laptop that I had a sudden realization: “OHHHHHH—he was asking about the pay.”

I was so excited at the thought of finally getting a regular income that I didn’t stop to think if I was getting paid what I was worth.

Truth be told, I never thought about how much I was being paid—just that I needed to be paid because I had a lot of expenses but no income to level it out. I was so excited at the thought of finally getting a regular income that I didn’t stop to think if I was getting paid what I was worth. So I looked back at the initial offer and job description then compared it to my plans and the consequent effort and time it would take to see through. Needless to say, they didn’t match. What I had in mind went more than just simply posting on social media. It involved planning, strategizing, and creating content—essentially a digital marketing plan for six brands. And as anyone in the field would know, that takes more than two to three hours of a day. (Or even one person.)

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Nevertheless, I was eager to take on the challenge of the position. I really was passionate and excited for the job but I also wanted to be compensated properly for it. I asked for advice from a friend who has restaurant concepts of her own. She told me that for what I had in mind, I should be paid at least P12,000 more than what I absent-mindedly agreed to.

I then double-checked with my friend who first recommended me to see if what I was about to ask for was reasonable. After all, he was offered the position first. He said it was fair, but like my other friend, he also suggested listing down everything I was planning to do. This list would become my reference for negotiation.

I listed down everything I was willing to do if I was paid P12,000 more than the initial offer. This included all the plans I had already that went beyond the initial job description. But I also considered that they might have a limited budget for my position, especially considering that the F&B industry is still dealing with the effects of the pandemic. So I made a shorter list of responsibilities that I could do for an additional P7,000, which is P5,000 less than my other proposal.

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I then asked a third friend who’s also handling social media for another local restaurant group. I wanted to check if our responsibilities aligned and if my list of tasks were reasonable and doable on a day-to-day basis.

I gave my reasons: I would essentially be creating digital marketing plans, they would still be able to use what I create and the connections I make well after my time, and most importantly, I would effectively be logging in more hours than expected. 

A few hours after our meeting, my employer emailed me some files I needed for the job. This was it—I had to speak up now before I start on any serious work. I replied saying I would look them over and I also offered my proposition in the same email. I started by first apologizing for only bringing it up then. I explained I wasn’t able to think it over properly before I haphazardly accepted. I then proposed for the position to be for Social Media Manager with a pay of P12,000 more than the first offer. I gave my reasons: I would essentially be creating digital marketing plans, they would still be able to use what I create and the connections I make well after my time, and most importantly, I would effectively be logging in more hours than expected. I also brought up the less expensive +P7,000 proposal.

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My employer replied the next day, agreeing to the P12,000 proposal but asked if I could commit to a minimum of six months. I spent the weekend thinking over the responsibilities and time commitment. Then we had another Zoom call where we listed down all that I was going to do. I couldn’t commit to six months but I could do three months then discuss the next three months when it comes up. Thankfully, he also agreed. A contract was soon drawn and everything was signed.

It was a situation wherein transparency helped both parties in terms of pay and expectations. Since it was my first time negotiating a salary, I had self-doubt and wondered if I was just being selfish. But then I considered that aside from my work experience, I had just earned a master’s degree and would be applying what I’ve learned in my new role. Aside from having an itemized list of responsibilities and set timeframe commitment, it was also helpful to ask around to know what industry standards and practices are for reference.

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If I was going to take this job—or any job for that matter—I wanted to do it to the best of my abilities but without compromising myself.

I could’ve chosen to stick with the initial offer but that would rob me and the company of the potentially great work I could be doing. If I was going to take this job—or any job for that matter—I wanted to do it to the best of my abilities but without compromising myself. I realized that being paid more means I would put in more time and quality work, which in turn, would also benefit the company in the long run. It was a win-win negotiation that helped me help the company and vice versa.

MORE MONEY MATTERS:

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