Ainsley was generally content at her current company, but also concerned that she was ready for a promotion, but no roles were available… or coming available, anytime soon. She had started casually looking when a former colleague reached out with an opportunity that seemed perfect.
Ainsley interviewed with the company, and really liked what she learned.
“When they gave me an offer, I was thrilled. Then I started thinking about negotiating – I knew that exchange is riskier for women than men, and I needed help phrasing my asks to ensure we had a productive conversation.”
In addition to negotiating compensation, Ainsley also needed to think about her upcoming fertility treatments. Her current company offered a phenomenal fertility benefit that she had just started using. Since fertility procedures are extremely expensive, she was hoping the new company could offset some of the large out-of-pocket costs she would incur if she took their offer.
Initially, Ainsley didn’t disclose the details, instead saying “I’m leaving 50K in benefits on the table. Can you help make me whole on that, so that I can join the team next month?”. They came back with 10K in benefits, so she ultimately decided to share why she was pushing for a higher offer. Her hiring manager was incredibly understanding, and sharing gave him something tangible to go back to his leadership with, enabling him to go to bat for her.
Ultimately, Ainsley ended up with a 42% increase in compensation (between base and performance bonus) and a 20K signing bonus.
She says, “I was already excited about the job and the initial offer, so negotiating an even better offer took that excitement level from a 10 to an 11. I felt valued throughout the negotiation process — they heard me and did what they could to offer me the most compelling offer possible.
I also put myself in a vulnerable position by explaining the hurdle I was facing in relation to the fertility benefits. They met me with empathy and a shared desire to solve the problem, and thus I feel like I am entering the company with an initial baseline of trust established.”
Here is how Ainsley approached her negotiation, including the exact wording she used:
“I started by asking a lot of clarifying questions about the role & team. I had picked up pieces of information throughout the interview process but I wanted to chat through it holistically.
As part of the clarifying questions, I really wanted to get an understanding of performance evaluation, and of course, how that impacts comp. I made sure to frame those questions around me delivering value — less about ‘when do I get a raise’ and more about ‘how do we establish and measure evaluation criteria’. The annual raise info came out organically through the conversation.
The answers to my clarifying questions solidified my excitement for the opportunity, so I used that to segue into the negotiation:
‘I appreciate you taking the time to walk through all of that with me. It only reaffirms my excitement to join the team. The entire process has clicked from the beginning — I’ve enjoyed getting to meet everyone, and I’m genuinely energized by the team, the brand, and the company.
I believe we will work well together to grow and build this brand. I would like to discuss a salary of $xxxK, and I’ve also realized I will be leaving behind $50,000 in benefits this year if I accept this offer. I wonder if the company can help me close that gap via a signing bonus or other mechanism, because I am eager to take this job and get started as soon as possible.’
When they came back with an offer that was better, but still lower than I wanted, I shared the breakdown of the benefits I was walking away from. I said, “the $50,000 in benefits is comprised of $10,000 of profit share and $40,000 related to fertility benefits that I’m in the process of using but won’t be able to complete if I leave now. It’s a unique and really generous benefit that happens to be very important to me right now, and without it, this process becomes very financially burdensome. Can you revisit the signing bonus amount to help me offset this?”
Here’s what Ainsley would tell another woman who considering negotiating a job offer:
1. The company expects to negotiate, so you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.
2. Find the words that feel authentic to you. You’ll feel more confident, of course, but it also makes a capital-N Negotiation feel more like a conversation between two people trying to solve a problem together.
3. Recognize that the negotiation process is also an opportunity to validate if this is really a place you want to be. By disclosing what was important to me, and seeing how receptive this company was, I confirmed that this is a company I want to be a part of.