Monday, February 13, 2012


Recalled Transcripts of My Salary Negotiations

This series is brought to you by TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

"We'll pay you $8 an hour to hang out with our baby and then watch HBO until we come home."
"You don’t have to pay me! I'm your neighbor and friend!"
"Kid, take the money."

"We want you to babysit our daughter, who is well-behaved and will sit in the corner reading until she goes to bed by herself. Also, please help yourself to all of the treats in our house, including the tray of brownies I made for you and also every flavor of Capri Sun. What are your rates? ”
"The other family pays me $8 an hour."
"Oh, no. We pay $12."

"Please watch our three terrible children and two awful dogs. We're not going to talk about money at all now, but after we come home, we'll hand you a check which you'll wait to look at until you walk home, and the rate will come out to $5 an hour. Also, we don't have any good snacks."

"We can start you at $30,000 a year, which we know sounds like a lot of money to a person just out of college. Please don't take a moment to consider that $30,000 is $2,500 a month, before taxes, and that to rent a room in this city will cost you $800, at least. Also, please note that we will give you health insurance after three months, but the plan will have a $5,000 deductible and won't cover anything having to do with mental health, including any visits to a general practitioner during which you discuss and he makes note of your depression, which will be all of them, for reasons that will soon be clear, and you’ll pay for those all out of pocket. Also, you'll be eligible for a small raise after one year, but by then you'll have already realized that everyone else at this small company is making five bazillion dollars, so the the six-and-a-half percent raise we offer you will be a joke. So: $30,000."

"We think we'll be able to use you on positions that range from $8 to $16 an hour, though please note that this is Los Angeles and if you take any jobs on the lower end of that spectrum, you will probably spend at least half a day's wages on gas and time lost in traffic. Does that work?"

"We can pay $8.50 an hour base pay, with bonuses for sales and credit card applications, technically, but you won't actually sell enough to get any of those bonuses because we'll stick you behind a cash register most of the time, and also, the interest rate on our credit card is like, 25%, and as someone who knows how these things work, you will never actually attempt to get anyone to apply. So: $8.50 an hour?"

"We can't pay you."

"We don't have a budget."

"This will be for your clips, not for money."

"We can pay you $20 for a short post, and $50 for a longer one. Does that work?"
“Wait, what?”
“For your short write-ups, we’ll pay $20. Longer reviews get $50. Okay?”
“Yeah. Okay.”

“What would you charge for this project?”
“Um, what are you paying?”
“That’s not how this works. You tell me what you want, and I tell you if I can pay that.”
“But don’t you already know what you’re going to pay me anyway? Can we just skip this part?”
“Okay. I want, fifty … one … hundred? One-hundred? $100.”
“$100 what?”
“Um, per thing?”
“Per day or per article?”
“How about you keep track of your hours and we pay you $20 an hour.”

How all of those should have gone, and will go in the future
“How much money do you want?”
“One million dollars.”
“Well, we are offering you X amount of dollars.”
“I was thinking more like Y amount of dollars, actually.”
“Fair point. Let’s settle with Z amount of dollars.”

Logan Sachon takes what she can get.

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163 Comments / Post A Comment


This is great. I have had all 3 of those babysitting jobs in my life....and learned that I was willing to accept less money from a house that kept a constant supply of Tastycakes for snacks.


@WWVMD other people's snacks and other people's TV were what made babysitting glorious.


@WWVMD the not opening the check infront of the parents was me too. I don't think I would do it today--is it rude? I don't know!


@WWVMD The main family I babsat for would always show me where the Jim Beam was on top of the refrigerator, "In case you need a little treat yourself!". The kids were totally awesome/easy though so I never understood and didn't really drink in highschool anyway. Also most of my highschool New Year's were spent watching those children because they would pay me $100 to stay the night while they stayed out.


@beanie I still do that. I can't help it!

I have run the gamut from babysitting for people who paid me a minimum of a hundred dollars a night to having a high-maintenance patron at work come up and offer me $3 an hour to babysit her four kids on New Year's Eve.

I'm now a nanny and need to have a chat with my boss about a raise, since she just had a sweet baby girl a few weeks ago and my workload is now 33% more. I had NO problems asking for raises during my corporate days but the thought of doing it now makes me anxious. It's ridiculous.


@WWVMD Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes are a form of legal tender, according to me.


@DandelionTacy I get the sense that asking for a raise is much more acceptable in a corporate situation than any other context (nonprofit, nannying, education, etc). Not that I've actually ever had a corporate job, but I feel like all the advice about salary negotiation is based a corporate environment and does not work well in other situations.


@yamtoes I am the person whom you ask for more money, in a non-corporate job. And...you should ask! Ask! Don't be an a-hole about it, but ask! The worst thing that can happen -- really the WORST thing -- is that I'll say no. I won't think less of you for asking. Everyone should always ask. There's always more. No one ever makes an offer that is literally all they could possibly give, even if sometimes what they could give is non-monetary (flex time, summer fridays, whatever). I've never worked for a for-profit. This is always true.
Do your research, set your limit (the lowest amount you are willing to accept) and then ask!

Our nanny asked for a raise recently. It was sooner than I'd expected, so we negotiated. She got a smaller raise than she wanted but more paid time off. Everyone wins!


@Heidi Thanks, Heidi. I know my boss very likely feels the same way you do, and I know once we get the conversation going, it'll be easy. It's just the initial, awkward step that has me feeling weird. It hasnn't really been an issue just yet, I haven't worked much since the baby was born.
One more question- as the employer, would you be more comfortable if I approached you in person, or via e-mail and acknowledging the slight awkwardness in the situation?



WERE? Dude, I still do it (despite have a master's degree and a fairly well-paying full-time job). One family, two nights a month. They have snacks and tv (two things I do not) and pay me anywhere between $15 and $25 an hour. They have one kid who is in bed by 8:30. This sacrifice of two nights (sacrifice -- who am I kidding? -- legitimate excuse to be antisocial and play with Legos and watch movies) basically pays for my drinking habit and/or a big extra chuck of student loans each month, depending on how you look at it. It is amazing.


@WWVMD The one and only babysitting job I ever held, the couple paid atrociously, kids were a nightmare and snacks were never offered. Yet what offended me the most was that they were one of those "We don't own a television" couples. Which, fine. (Not fine) But the kicker - they never bothered to tell me they didn't have a television, so the first night I rolled up to their house without a book or homework or anything else to keep me occupied. It was awful.


@Heidi Thank you for this — especially the "I won't think worse of you for asking" part. I just about threw up when it came time to negotiate my starting salary for my most recent job, precisely because of this fear. (What if they haaaaaaaaate me for asking for too much?) In the end, it went down exactly like the last scenario in this post (minus the initially asking for one million dollars part), and I get to pat myself on the back for being brave.


@Decca one of my more steady back-in-the-day babysitting jobs was for an ueber-Catholic family that didn't have a TV or children with the capacity for imagination. I don't have a TV now, but you can be sure that if I ever have kids there will be a TV for those poor poor babysitters. Hell!


@Ka$hleen Right?! Rereading my original comment, I also want to clarify - these people weren't poor, hence the lack of television, snacks, decent hourly rates. They were both professionals, had a nice house, went on fancy holidays, their kids were dressed impeccably, etc. They just were a little odd. And I don't really care if someone doesn't have a tv, but I wish they would have mentioned it before I turned up at their house! Nor did they have any books or magazines lying around, and I hadn't been told I could use one of their laptops to go on the internet, so I was left just sitting on the couch in silence for the night. Upon sneaky investigation, I discovered they had two possible sources of entertainment:

1. A giant fuck-off fish tank
2. A collection of French comic books owned by the husband. The storylines of these comics all seemed to revolve around wise cracking little dudes and women with their tits hanging out. I read a bunch of them, despite limited French.


@DandelionTacy in person, for sure. I'd suggest that at a calm moment (um, with a new baby that might be hard?) you suggest that in the next couple of days you'd like to have a conversation about your contract (please tell me you have a written contract? Please? if not, ask them for one when you ask for a raise. It will be good for them to have too!).
I guess you could email to say that you'd love to talk to them about your responsibilities, but I think this is actually more awkward over email if it's someone you presumably see every day.
Anything that isn't an ambush should be fine. Good luck!


@plonk Bad snack houses were the worst. My regulars had a huge supply of Kudos bars. Yum.


@Heidi Thanks so much; it's helpful to get the other perspective. I anticipate things will go well, it's just that first awkward step I need to take!


@Heidi Awesome advice! The Hairpin should start an 'Ask a Boss' column because I would read it religiously!

I am in publishing but currently struggling financially at the moment. Would love to negotiate a raise but the thing that keeps me from doing it is I'm a freelancer/paid intern. I have been with the company for a year and a half (10 months part time as an MA student, 4 months full time fixed term salaried contract, now back to full time on minimum wage). I would ask for a higher wage (having lots of experience there and also now an MA) but the catch is there are two other employees in my same position doing the same work as me and making the same wage. Any thoughts on whether this is worth approaching?

On a positive note, the situation is motivating me to apply for permanent positions like mad. Anyone need a marketing assistant??


Oh man...the first one, under Office. That's my life. :(


@tortietabbie Mine too.


@elizabeast Thirded. Down to the salary and tax and raise and everything.


Wait, that's not a good thing? I'd aspire to not spending 80% of my income on rent.


@tortietabbie Mine too. Only I haven't even gotten a raise yet. And it won't be that much when I do. But that's my life.


@Inkcrafter This is my dream in life. How do we get out of these shitty-paying jobs? But more importantly, how do employers get away with paying so little in NYC???


I think suicide? And filling out paid surveys online?
My new dream job is to be someone who eats sample food that is mailed to me and fills out quality surveys on them. I saw it on Mary and Max and I want that life.


@tortietabbie Same. Ughgghhhhhhhhh
Also, so is the "writing" one but it makes me less depressed than the office one, because at least I enjoy writing.


@tortietabbie As someone who has definitely been there (publishing), my only answer was to obsessively apply for better jobs. Basically, think of all the skills you've learned at your job. Search the internet and find other, better-paying jobs that use those skills. Tailor your resume and apply to all of them. When you eventually get an offer (and you will! after months of sneaking around the office copier hoping they didn't see your resume come out of it), you can do one of two things. You can take the new job, or you can go to your boss with the offer and say "I'd really like to stay. Can we make this work?". Me, I took the other job. Then, I took another one, got fired, and then leveraged the skills I learned from the got-fired job into an even better job. It's all about the arbitrage.Especially check out fields you might not be familiar with - you'd be surprised how publishing can transfer to, say, academia or finance.


@jule_b_sorry Hahaha...I'm in finance and I'd rather be working in publishing! But, yeah, I do obsessively apply for every job I see, which leads me into fantasizing about how much better my life would be with THAT job, which leads to a lot of sadness when I inevitably don't get the job.


I actually took an online camgirl job during the summer, which was very rewarding. I made a good amount of money (and a long-distance friend!) through the site, which mailed me paychecks on time and never shorted me out. Also mostly people just paid to look at my feet or breasts and I would just chill and chat with them. Might go back to that?


@Inkcrafter Yes! This. I was surprised how rewarding doing the camgirl shindig is. I'm doing it to help pay for college, and as long as you laugh and have fun with it and don't take yourself too seriously, it's pretty awesome. :)


Ugh. This is my life right now. How much are you worth per hour? Apparently, I am worth negative dollars. I don't know how many. I don't really want to think about it.


@roadtrips Ugh me too.


(Brought to us by whom?)


The babysitting, office, and retail ones are EXACTLY my life for the past 5 years. Nothing sucks more than realizing that your co-workers at your small company make $8 jillion more than you doing almost the same things you do. UGH. Hence why I supplement my income with babysitting. Which, in Chicago, pays VERY well.


@olivebee Yes! I also babysit in Chicago and good babysitters are so valued. Ladies (and gentlemen, but parents seem less likely to hire men), if you have families that you've sat for who will vouch for you I highly recommend SitterCity as a way to break into the scene. Pay $10 for a background check, everything else is free, you can apply to families. I did it for a year, wound up sitting for about four families regularly, and then took my profile off because those few families contact me so often that I often have to turn them down. Most families like to have a few sitters in rotation.
I also wound up sitting for a handful of families I just wasn't compatible with. When they asked for me again in the future I just told them I had recently become really busy and probably wouldn't be a great resource for them in the future.


"We don't have a budget for this" is the bane of my existence. You want me to work for free? I can't pay me rent with exposure.



Gypsy Rose Lee did.


@atipofthehat You gotta get a gimmick.


Why is it that the people that pay the least also ALWAYS have the worst snacks AND "limited TV time" and other such babysitting annoyances? I mean, I can kind of connect the dots on the cheap people/bad snacks thing, but the rest still has me curious.


@HeyThatsMyBike Generous people are generous across the board. Ungenerous people are...dicks not.


@HeyThatsMyBike Yea, when I was a kid, and my mom got us babysitters, she understood that it was just as much a vacation for us (the kids) as the adults. So we used to stay up until 10 seconds before my parents were in the door, eating candy and popcorn and watching TV with the babysitter. Fun times.

There was one family I used to babysit for, they had me feed the kids things like Lunchables for dinner (!) the kids would be like "i'm still hungry!" afterwards and they would have no other food in the house. Like what kind of parents are you if you only have 1 beer and some ketchup in the fridge?


A good way to negotiate at a job you have and want to keep is to have a signed offer letter and say "I'd like to stay, if you can make it work."


@atipofthehat A good way to cut down on commuting costs is to be able to fly. If we're talking perfect worlds where we all have two good job opportunities.

Marquise de Morville

@gobblegirl Maybe the signed offer letter is meant to be a fake ;-)?



It really IS easier to get a job offer while you're employed. And, when you do, you can negotiate. This approach got me an amazing deal for a few years.


Yeah, this works, but every time I've given notice only to be offered a lot more money, I've turned down the stay offer, because it felt like I'd been undervalued for the time I'd been there!


@MoonBat Exactly. I know this strategy works (I've seen it work in my office). But I can't help thinking that the company that will offer me more money than I've been making just on the strength of a resume and interview is the better bet than the company who knows me well, has benefited from my work, and hasn't promoted me/given me a raise.



Honestly, I've had to leave and come back to have all of those good things happen -- but doing so did double my salary, so.


@atipofthehat The best advice I have recieved on negotating...
#1: You should always do it. You shouldn't just accept the offer carte blanche, even if it is a good offer. This sets-up the future dynamic between you and your boss (willing to accept whatever they throw at you).
#2: Always ask for 2 things. They can usually make one of them work, but not the other. If you ask for 1 thing, and they can't give it to you, and you accept the job, this also looks bad. The two things could be like more money (ha, right) and a better parking space (ok). You can build in quality of life issues into your negotiation, not just more $$.


@atipofthehat How do I GET a signed offer letter? Do they just... give it to you? It looks like I might be in this position soon and I want to know what to do!


@SBGBlogs I was in this position a few years ago. They wanted to keep me so they tried to counter, but I eventually decided staying wouldn't change any of the reasons I hated my job. You have to ask yourself if you do stay, if all the reasons you wanted to leave will change. I've seen people end up staying in jobs where they did get a nice counter offer, but the whole dynamic between them and the rest of the office changed, and not for the better.


@DrFeelGood (3:48 pm)

Agreed! And, if you are in the U.S.A.,



If you are interviewed in a company of any size, they will probably offer it to you. Ask if you can expect a formal offer letter -- it's a good way to do business for both sides.

Once I REALLY ANNOYED a company that gave me and a group of other people signed offer letters: we were quite far along in the process when an upstart company whisked us all away, offered us the same salaries and titles more of less, but topped it all with a "signing bonus" that made us ditch the first offer. But it was all done in good faith, and the company that made the better offer lasted longer.


@DrFeelGood Yeah, I got a better offer when I left my last job. But by that time I had done everything I could to make staying there a possibility for me, and they had shot me down every time. So once I'd made the really hard decision to leave a place where I loved the people and believed in the work, but was getting shafted... the decision was made.

It helped that part of their 'better offer' was to try to make me PA to the worst, most dramatic and demanding manager in the place. Hahahaha, no. That is not a better offer. That is all the reasons why I'm leaving.


@Craftastrophies Your first paragraph really resonated with me. It's hard for me to contemplate leaving a place where I've invested a lot, so when I do seriously consider it, it usually means that there isn't any turning back.


Wow, I only got paid five bucks an hour to babysit. I'm not THAT old, maybe people are just cheap where I lived?


@anachronistique I was 11 in 1989 and started my first babysitting gigs at $2/hour but they generally tipped, so it probably came out to be $3-4/hour until I found the jackpot family mentioned above.


@anachronistique Well, remember the BSC only got $1/hour. You were doing things that Kristy Thomas only dreamed of!


@anachronistique $12-16 in DC, I'm sure more in unnamed major-er cities.


I babysat for two families growing up. One paid $5 an hour per kid to babysit two freaking angels. One family paid $2 an hour per kid for the three worst behaved kids I've ever met.
Then one day the hell-beast children knocked me down and two sat on me while the other grabbed daddy's pliers to play "dentist" (I kicked like a mule and escaped with all my teeth)
After that story got out I was the only person who would babysit the kids, and my pay suddenly increased to $6 an hour per kid.


@klibberfish I remember even as a kid in the '80s thinking that the BSC were getting ripped off. The Kid-Kits and endless enriching activities should have bumped them up into a higher bracket.


When I started babysitting, my mom thought that my neighbors paid me too much and made me take some of the money back. They took that as a cue to not give me a raise during the entire 6 years that I babysat for them.

P.S. Please don't hate me

Haha, and then I bet your mom told the neighbors to kick back some of that refund to her!


@P.S. Please don't hate me It would not surprise me. My mom is basically the Vito Corleone of our sleepy corner of Boston.


@annepersand I would like to subscribe to her newsletter. Care to elaborate?


To all prospective employers: $50 bucks, unlimited condoms and a taco bell meal. That's all I need.


@nyikin Fifty dollar-bucks? You drive a hard bargain.



- "We'll give you twenty Zimbabwean dollars and one used condom instead."
- "Okay."


@figwiggin Personally, I only work if I can be assured of 50 healthy deer.


@figwiggin I guess this is one way of answering this age-old question.


My first job:

"We're excited to offer you this position at a salary of $26,000! (Which in this city means you will be lucky to live with fewer than three roommates)."
"Um, any chance it could be $27,000?"
"No, but we'll pay $700 towards your moving expenses."
"I'm 22, own no furniture, and my only moving expenses will be the gas it takes to drive the 300 miles down there. But...thanks?"

Next job:

"We're excited to offer you this prestigious one-year fellowship for a salary of $29,000!"
"Um, any chance it could be $30,000?"
"No, there's simply no room in our budget for that. (Because we have like eight vice-presidents who are all making six figures)."
"Oh, okay."


@yamtoes Wow - sounds amazingly like my first job!
"Congratulations - we would like to hire you for this (soul-suckingly awful) job! We will pay you $25,000."
"Uh, I have a master's degree in this field...could we get a little closer to $30,000 at least?"
"Ok, we can give you $26,000."

Later, when I get a different position at the same company:
"Congratulations on your move to an exciting new position! We're giving you a 16% raise! Now you make $30,000!"


This is so great. I still nanny (actress-new york-get paid under the table- it's a job), and I definitely have my "favorite" families who call me for date nights. The favoritism usually being based on how early I put the kids to bed and the quality of the food in the fridge. One Australian family leaves out wine for me.

I love all of my children.


Damn, if I got paid $20/short article, I would certainly put more effort into the dumb little articles I write at [website redacted]. $1/article is just not worth it.

Leon Tchotchke

I had a salaried staff writing gig where I told them I wanted a raise after my first year came and went and I had no review or anything, and experiencing a revolving door of coworkers who either quit or were fired. They told me it wasn't in the budget and instead offered me a monthly column that I'd be paid for on the side as a freelancer.

Great, I thought! My own column AND more money!

DON'T EVER DO THIS, LOOK FOR A NEW JOB IMMEDIATELY. The taxes... oh my god, aaaaaaaaaaaaaa, the taxes. If you're not a real, honest to god, full-time freelancer who actually has like legitimate freelance expenses that you can write off at the end of the year, it is SO BAD. (I guess I could have tried to like fudge a little and come up with some expenses, like declaring my home office as an expense despite it not actually meeting the criteria, but I'm terrified of the IRS.)


Ughhhhh, I'm getting paid minimum wage in IN ($7.25) right now as a copy/print person at an office supply store and it's the woooorrrrrsssst. It is so unimaginably stressful and kind of degrading (I've had 2 people THROW THINGS AT ME). I've been looking for a new job, but the town I live in is SO tiny that there really isn't anything open. :(

Ugh. UGH. I miss teaching private lessons for $35 an hour, and I don't even like kids! Those were the days.


@CurlsMcGirlypants Ooh, other Hoosier Pinners. At least living expenses in Indiana aren't nearly as bad as some places... that's what I keep telling myself when I think about how I work for $9/hour at the age of 25, with a bachelor's degree from a good school...


@whateverlolawants True enough (I used to live in Phoenix, so I know all about high costs of living). But when work won't schedule you more than 10 hours a week and your paying out-of-state tuition for the most expensive school at IU, it's a problem (I'm not bragging, I'm resentful, haha).


@CurlsMcGirlypants Oh, I hear you on that. It's still hard here- no minimizing from me! Who throws things at an office supply store?!


@whateverlolawants People who get angry at you for not having a bag that will fit giant post-it notes (something like 3'x 2.5') and people that don't give clear and specific instructions for type of paper they want something printed on (which doesn't sound hard, but people seem to have enough trouble with--they must think I can read their minds and know they mean ORANGE cardstock when they just say "cardstock" and I clarify if they want white and they say yes). Also people that get small power trips out of ordering store workers around?

I should have taken the job at B&N and the .25 cent raise that went with it--I bet no one throws things at the people that work there....


Right before I graduated, I read this booklet from the office of job placement or something. It said that 80% of men negotiate their first salary, but only 30% of women do. Fuck that!

When salary discussion time came at my first job, my boss offered 45,000. I said, "I can for sure get 50 working downtown" (his office was in the suburbs and the commute sucked). In the end I got 51,000.

Lessons here:
1) I should have gone higher!
2) Always negotiate. They're almost always low-balling you and if you just take it, you're screwing yourself out of money, or at least the possibility of more money.
3) Study engineering. Shit's stable and pays.


@starcrunch So important! I recently got offered less than my current salary to switch companies and I very politely told them I couldn't even consider it at that salary. They came back the next day with a number that was almost 25% higher. At corporations I think they look at non-negotiators as suckers - like, "really? You'll take that? I can't believe that worked!"


@starcrunch Yes! It kills me when people don't know how to negotiate. Ask for what you want, and at the very worst they'll say no but respect your efforts.
As an ind. contractor I took a job for a huge company and they asked me what I wanted to be paid hourly. I asked for a rate that I thought was really high and they agreed to it. Just ask!

Anchovy Cake

It's soooooo trueeeeeeeeeeeee. Lesson learned in regards to negotiating. I think I was so grateful to have a job upon graduating that nothing else mattered at that moment in time.

sugar cubism

I used to babysit pretty regularly for these borderline terrible kids (it wasn't their fault?) and whenever it was the dad's turn to pay me, without fail, he fumbled in his pockets and came up empty. It was either "Can I pay you later?" (no he wouldn't) or "We can go to the ATM" (a five minute drive with him in his minivan versus a ten minute walk home empty-handed). Every time! I went with him to the ATM twice, I think. Awkward.
BUT, my current job pays me a salary that's 1k higher than what I originally agreed to. Maybe there's some karmic balance for all those unpaid high school afternoons?


@sugar cubism Eurgh. I once had a family who wouldn't pay me because we lived in the same street so the kids were "my friends"... no, they were 8 and 10 years younger than me, and even if we had ever interacted before, they were asleep all night so it wasn't like I was being paid to hang out with them. Stingy parents are rude.


My brother pays me in a free dinner to babysit his kids. Since they are asleep by the time they leave I guess this is okay. Not that I would say no to a twenty...


Anyone else think that a six-and-a-half percent raise is luxurious as hell? Just me?

(Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to work for non-profits.)


@cherrispryte oh hayyyy fellow non-profit sufferer.

notwithstanding, the above described negotiation tactics are far more advanced than anything i have ever tried :(


@cherrispryte haha. In my last non-profit, when we did get performance raises (when) they were capped at 5%, and most departments were allocated no more than 3%, so you got usually around 1.5 - 2%, since they wanted to be "nice" to everyone. The most galling part was I had to go through a complicated self-eval and boss-led evaluation to get my fucking "performance" raise.


@DrFeelGood We've been on a pay freeze since 2009, and still have to go through an hour+ eval.


@cherrispryte ugh. That sucks.



I got a raise today! But not that much.


@atipofthehat Drinks are on you then, next pinup! And congrats! And Happy Valentine's Day.

Lily Rowan

@cherrispryte Oh yeah -- I've gotten an annual raise twice, I think, in my many-year non-profit career. I've gotten other bumps, but it's always a salary freeze for one reason or another.


In college, I was amazed that anyone would pay me $10/hr, then $12/hr, then $15/hr, to do elder care with absolutely no experience. Poop? I'll clean a lot of poop for $15/hr.


@figwiggin That's what we call hazard pay.

Porn Peddler

Get Rid of Your Cities Like LA, Seriously, They Sound Miserable.


You know, there are some really well-compensated individuals who read The Hairpin and The Awl, and I know this for a fact, and they are keeping so quiet right not.


@Tulletilsynet Well right now there are a bunch of people in Congress who want to negotiate my salary downwards, so I'd really rather not let them know how good I think I have it :/


I take it you are not a member of Congress yourself, then.


@Tulletilsynet I will say, that as a sergeant, I make pretty decent money, and I never have to negotiate! Pay scales and housing allowances published on the internet! Also, I did not have to go to college. And the military is sort of a non-profit? It was really weird to me to realize that I, the college drop out, was making more money than many of my friends with graduate degrees. Of course, they'll eventually out earn me.


@cuminafterall I don't know how Congressional staff (who are actually not that well paid - most of them make in the vicinity of $30-45k in a really expensive city - can work for bosses who call them leeches and want to cut government salaries across the board. Does the Congressperson come back to the office at the end of the day and say, "sure, THOSE guys are overpaid, but I didn't mean YOU, here's a ticket to a reception where you'll get free hors d'ouevres!" ?


@snuffleupagus The way my friends who work on the Hill tell it, yeah, this is pretty much it.


Oh man, the last babysitting one. I had that job in high school (with that exact amount of pay, and the check I didn't look at until later), only it was babysitting five children, all pastors' kids. It's true what they say, I think they were the worst behaved kids I ever watched.

And now I'm on office scenario #1, although at least with some coverage for counseling since it's a mental health job.


@Jenivere The absolute worst night of my babysitting experience: the three kids of my church's minister. Eldest was energetic to the point of hyper, oh, and had recently discovered that older girls had breasts that you could look at just by peering down their shirts. Middle kid was generally fine but that night she had a nightmare and, while I was comforting her, she peed on the floor. Youngest child (an infant) was teething. The parents knew that she was teething but neglected to mention this. The capper to the whole evening of horrors was that they'd told me the job was for 5 hours. They got home 2 hours later than expected (this was pre-cellphones). I was worried and frazzled but not exactly angry because, you know, stuff happens, traffic, whatever. But then, in front of me, the father reached onto the top of the fridge and produced the check that was already made out to me for the full 7 hours they'd been gone. That is, they weren't 2 hours late; they'd just led me to believe that they'd get home 2 hours earlier than they planned to.

one cow.

@datalass UGH, that makes me so angry for you. I had a similar experience wherein simultaneously one kid nearly succeeded in locking me out of the house while I was chasing after one of the others who had gone sprinting out the front door toward the street. Right when I caught the one & was diving toward the door to keep it from being slammed shut, the runaway wrapped his 3 year old arms around my leg & sunk his monster teeth into my inner thigh. He drew blood through my jeans. Then the dad called & was like, "Uhhh, I have another errand to run for like, 2 more hours." I called my mom in tears & she came over to help me, but she made me call the dad back and be like, "no, you're coming home now."


@datalass Oh, that is horrible. I remember one of the pastor's kids seriously trying to argue with me about why he couldn't throw a rope around the ceiling hook over the stairs and swing from it. Which, in retrospect is better than him just doing it.

I'm pretty sure I "donated" my time once or twice, too...or at least very close to it.


@one cow. Ugh! This is why even though I'm currently unemployed, I shudder to even think about babysitting. So many bad stories. The worst are people with more money, they think they can just throw money at you and you'll shut up. Usually works though. One summer in college, I was making good money to pick up a kid from camp and basically watch him play video games all afternoon while I did some light housework that the mom would ask me to do. But I was specifically not there to "pick up after him", even though I ended up doing it. She made me pay for gas even though that was supposed to be included, and being 19, I didn't speak up for myself. She also would do things like ask me to drive her to the airport on a Saturday (not included lady!)... So I finally started doing passive aggressive things like not picking up after him and then she would throw a hissy fit because they couldn't find his lunch box or somesuch. She'd call me and I'd say breezily "oh, he left it in the car". The kid was such an a-hole too, but I felt bad for him - the parents wouldn't get home until ~7 or 8 at night. This is how we make kids into future jerks, people!

The best feeling was when she called me the following semester and asked if I would like to pick him up from school over winter break so she and her husband could have a "break"... from parenting? Anyway, even though I could have really used the money, I took a very long pause and said "Hmmmm, No."


I've been in grad school for so long that I can't even imagine the luxury of making more than $20K/year. And since a friend just told me that her adjunct teaching job pays the equivalent of $8/hr, it looks like I won't have to.


@AniaGosia Maybe I should look into babysitting gigs ....


Oh geez, this is making my 30K/year baking job with only an associates look like Nirvana and Valhalla combined. It's a good thing I'm going back to school just for the kicks (and all that book learnin') because it doesn't look like I'll be getting any raises after. (Which I wasn't expecting, and I'll be working full time right through it -- you'll be prying my cushy health insurance-providing job from my cold, dead, oven-mitted hands -- but still. Bummer.)

P.S. Please don't hate me

Baking? You're a baker? That's still a thing?


@Bitterblue How difficult is it to find a job at a bakery? Do you need a particular skill set other than knowing the basics of baking? Do you need a degree? Culinary school? (sorry for the onslaught of questions)


@Shayna Haha, it's NP! In my so far limited experience, you need a degree from an accredited culinary school with a good baking and patisserie program; all of my coworkers and even the interns have at least that. I'm also extremely lucky in that I work for a fancy hotel that has ridic wages and benefits; most bakers just starting out are lucky to get 8/hr, which is just above min. wage here in IL, and what I got at my first job in "the industry". I got my job by being willing to work third shift, which you have to be a special kind of crazy to do. You also need to be willing to be verbally and psychologically abused by screamy French chefs. I also have a shit ton of student loans to pay off because culinary school is abominably expensive, especially considering how shitty the wages in the industry are.
Honestly it's the same as any part of the job market in the US right now; overwhelmed with clueless fresh out of school hopefuls that are flooding the market with degrees getting jobs for which we're ridiculously overqualified. You need to get lucky, network a ton, and catch a lot of breaks, and you'll still barely get by. But it's a living!


@P.S. Please don't hate me Yup! It's not just a profession in Panem. I can't speak for other places, but in Chicago it's a thriving industry. People like their bread here.


@Bitterblue I just read the hunger games on Saturday, so I can't quite put into words how happy this comment makes me.


@cherrispryte I love The Hunger Games! You can tell Suzanne Collins knows her bread, she describes all the different kinds in such loving detail.


We had salary negotiation training in school. I forget most of it, but the key that was drilled into us was: NEVER give the first number. EVER.

"How much would you like?"
"I have excellent experience and references, so should probably be at the top end of your anticipated scale."
"But what were you making at your last job?"
"After several years of raises, I was earning the top level for my position."

etc. Man was a genius with these comebacks.


@lolita I never had salary negotiation training, but I wish I had! It took me about 12 years to get it right.

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

@lolita My dad's version of this is "Whoever mentions money first loses." I negotiated like a BOSS for my current job (I'm a college prof, tenure-track position, so I know I'm better off than a lot of folks) and started out at a decent salary. But there is no paradigm here for negotiating raises: your contract, when it comes in the mail, stipulates your salary increase as a percentage, and since I've been here it's never been more than 4%. Plus, for the last 3 years, no raises at all! We were actually furloughed 2 days a month in 2009-10. (>_<) It's like "At least we have jobs!" is my dept.'s official slogan. Sigh.

[end rant]


@lolita Yup. I remember I had an econ professor who hammered that one home. Only really useful thing he taught me, but then, he was a Level Five Dickbag and I hated being in a lecture hall with him.


@Nicole Sauvage@twitter I have been on interviews/processes where it is the "official rule" that they will not proceed until you give them a $ amount. Dick. heads...


@lolita The problem with this is that now all of the job applications are online, and the really evil ones have an entry for desired salary, and you HAVE TO PUT A NUMBER IN OR IT WONT LET YOU SUBMIT AN APPLICATION.


@lolita My dad also had a kind-of/follow-up version of this: "When they give you a number, don't say ANYTHING for thirty seconds. Just sit there. They will go up. Trust me." I need to practice it at home (I have a terrible poker face) but I am excited to try it out.


@DrFeelGood No but seriously, I have very intense feelings about this ridiculous practice. I have not even had the opportunity to discuss with you what the particular position entails and you expect me to be able to accurately value the possibility of my work? No, they do not. They expect me to lowball my worth and save them the trouble of having to negotiate or pay people for the value of their work.

I sometimes contemplate puting in 1,000,000.00, because if they are going to be silly why shouldn't I? Then instead I research what similar jobs that do post salary ranges state and add about 8,000.00 Does this make sense?

Although maybe it will secretly work out for us, because I read that recent studies on negotiating show that it's actually better to throw out the first number if you know how to do it, because no matter what anyone says afterward they are using that first number as a reference point. You are creating the reference. The problem is that screws you if you understimate your value, so go ahead and overestimate. Yes?


I'm taking a lot of these responses and sticking them in my notes for later reference. I'm just putting together a cover letter to find internships, etc. ;_; The concept of pay is a daunting one (much less asking for more than offered....) Yeesh.
Going rate in my town is 8 bucks plus tip. Only works though if you aren't too busy too many consecutive times. I still see the kids I used to babysit at synagogue, but they never ask anymore because I'm always busy. >.< Don't let this happen to you?


@EVERYONE: I finally remembered where I'd found some awesome negotiation tactics and real talk (discussing putting out the first number, waiting, etc., among other things): Slate's Negotiation Academy podcasts. Listen and enjoy the awesome!
@MissMushkila YES.


@MissMushkila Sometimes you can get away with putting in zero. Obvs, you won't work for free, but it puts the salary thing off until you get an interview, at least.

If you absolutely have to give a number, give a range, tell them that it also depends upon the total compensation package (a slightly lower salary with great benefits and generous PTO might be better than more money and less or crappy benefits) and do not, DO NOT, low ball yourself. Most companies have some wiggle room when it comes to salary. It can be as small as 2K or as much as 15K+. You want to get as close to the high end of their range as you can. Have you ever worked with someone who did the same job as you but made more? It's probably because they asked for more. That's it!


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Reading the comments about not putting out the first number made me want to look for that Slate podcast! I really liked it. Sounded like research on negotiation suggests the opposite of the comments: that whoever names the first number has more power to set an anchor point that is hard for both sides to get away from. So they suggested putting out the first number to set the anchor really high. That still leaves the problem of knowing how high is high enough. :-/


"You'll get $10 an hour, I will take out taxes but not put you on the payroll so that when you file unemployment later you will not get it because of not having made the minimum amount, and I will abuse you emotionally and monetarily on a daily basis. In return you can drink all the diet Coke you can handle, and be glad you at least have a job."
"Cool, I have no self-esteem already."

(I am still bitter)

Frankie's Girl

I can't even remember what I got paid for babysitting, and I was a popular-with-the-kids one, so I got asked to babysit tons. (I would play games and do hide and seek and barbies and everything with the kids, so they loooooved me and frequently asked if I could spend the night - it was so cute!)

I do know in my early days, I got paid nothing... as my big sister (who hated kids but loved money) would bring me along and I would be the one playing with them, changing diapers (with pins even!) and general kid-keeping. I have no idea why I did that.

Now, I wonder if it is sad that I'd rather have more paid time off than $$?


One of my coworkers at my old warehouse job (I miss you, warehouse job, and your $15.35/hour paycheck) has a daughter about my age who, when I met her, was living with but not yet married to her kids' father. When wedding time finally came, I sat for the kids a few times during the process, including at the wedding. They paid me well, they had cable at their house, they would either buy me food or leave me money for food, and I was happy. This is the only babysitting job I have ever had. I do not want another one. I don't want to spoil the warm feelings I have about babysitting.

I have a retail job where I make $7.75/hour. It's really physical and I am always in pain. However, I do not work in sales -- I just receive the merchandise, put the merchandise out, sign the merchandise, price the merchandise, and get rid of the merchandise when it breaks/closes out/whatever, so, you know, NBD -- so I do not have to deal with credit card applications. I also do not get the worst of the customer transactions. I just get the ones who think that every item pictured in the catalog should be immediately available in the store. Never mind that the manufacturer of one of our recent special items is completely failing to make said item. Can't blame that on my company, though they all try to find a way. And then continue to shop with us FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.

In short, I do not get paid enough.

I'm currently job-hunting and have found some jobs that have great-looking salaries. I forget that they're not paying me to live where I currently live, which is not cheap but is cheaper than some of the places where these jobs are. Must bear that in mind.


Okay, question. My residual Catholic/Episcopal guilt makes me super uncomfortable with asking for money I can't justify the need for. So obviously even though I NEED to be making more than the bare minimum for rent/utilities/food etc. that I can justify with a spreadsheet, I worry that if I threw a big number out there they would ask "Why?" and then I would go all silent and clammy. (I mean, I am good at what I do and deserve to be compensated for it, but I haven't yet gotten to the point where I know what I'm worth, you know?)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher if it's mainly an issue with self-justification, i think reminding yourself about retirement and emergencies, etc will help. at this point, if you retire at 65 you'll have to live off savings and funds for 10-20 years along with all health associated costs you'll probably run into. my parents have all kinds of retirement plans in place, but it seems like they're still banking on using our house as a retirement fund.

so yeah, it's not just about covering what you need now, but also what you will need in the long term.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Basically, if you come in higher at the beginning, you will leave higher, propelling you to higher salaries for the rest of your career. I've read some pretty sobering statistics about the impact of negotiating versus not negotiating on long term earning potential, it is scary - you NEED to negotiate, the job of any hiring officer is to get you for as cheap as possible (in terms of salary and benefits), they are NOT looking out for you.

To psyche yourself up, you should start reading job descriptions and see what they pay, then compare your job and task list to these descriptions and see where you fall. Keep a list of your responsibilities, and keep a folder of completed projects to refer to when you're job searching. The Department of Labor puts out an excellent website of general info on salary and requirements for pretty much every single career out there. Also, if you are a woman, consider the fact that statistically, we're earning 70 cents on every one of our male co-worker's dollars, and that also, we are much more likely to duck out of the work force for a few years for children, taking care of parents, whatever. These two factors combined greatly lower our earning potential - so negotiation is absolutely essential. Chew on that for awhile :).


@cliuless @DrFeelGood THANK YOU. So much, both of you. I've been living paycheck-to-paycheck for pretty much my entire working life (since I was 16, now 23) so that whole planning ahead thing is new for me.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Another good reason to ask for more is that when you're scraping by, you're more susceptible to burnout. Earning a reasonable wage is more sustainable!


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Also, no one in an interview will EVER ask you WHY you need the money you're asking for (at least in my experience). It's pretty much an assumed fact that people need as much money as they can get, so don't worry about that side of things.


I am so scared to give a number. All of these job applications want me to propose a salary when I submit my cover letter. I'm applying for my first salaried position, coming out of graduate school but with decent experience. Do I aim high? Or do I go medium to make sure I'm not exceeding some cut-off? Do I make it clear I'm willing to go a little lower with things like 401K matching and dental coverage? How much lower? What is dental worth?!


@aitch Aim high. They might say, "hey, FYI, we can't pay you this," but they won't just throw your resume out. Talk to people in the field about where you might want to start (you don't have to ask what they make, just tell them what you're thinking and ask if they think it's reasonable). Glassdoor.com is sometimes helpful, depending on the field.


@Megoon Glassdoor, yes! OR Do a Google search with all the terms you can think of (Salary for position/company/industry/city) - or... do what I did... and swipe a pamphlet (meant for employers' eyes only... WHOOOOOPSIES) (not whoopsies, one of the best sneaky things I've ever done) from your local creative contracting agency and find out what the industry standard is for different experience levels, and calculate it based on where you live.


@aitch For my first job, this one professional I asked for advice insisted that i should low-ball, since HR will "throw you out" if they don't like the number you have. I think that is a load of horseshit, personally. Do your research, know the field, and aim high, but not too high. A good 10K over what you think they can offer is a good starting point. If they bring you down - you still have a bargaining chip for other increased benefits. Less cash for say, more vacation days.


@aitch I used to just write "negotiable" on the salary part.


Not to mention teaching - "Oh, here's 30,000 a year to teach spoiled kids at a charter school. You'll work 50 hours a week without lunch or any breaks, and you can answer disgruntled emails from parents all weekend long about why little Henry came home with a papercut on his pinky finger."


@hallu How do you not throw your computer out a window when you get those emails? The other option would be to drive to their house, ring the door bell, and then slap the email sendee.


@hallu Actually that's my husband's job and I think the answer is several beers and an artistic outlet. blah.


@hallu Your life is my life. I was JUST answering those emails, while staying at school until 9:30 tonight for curriculum night. Only I make 26,000 a year.

I have zero intention of being a teacher for life.


@MissMushkila dang. I don't know where you teach but that is one low salary. Do it for the kidz!


@MissMushkila fuck. what/where do you teach? please say you are part time?


@MalPal I teach two different world languages somewhere in the midwest, but I sort of have a unique position so that is as specific as I want to get on the internets.

I am technically .66 time and then work as a para the rest, but I am the only teacher of one of these languages in the district and it is a new program, so I am additionally responsible for developing all of the curriculum/lesson plans/assessments from scratch independently. I do not get compensated for the additional workload, and although every teacher I know works more than 40 hours a week, I put in about 60 a week right now. For funsies, I get to travel between multiple buildings in the district all day, and the travel time doesn't count as work time.

Also, I made 4,000 more working the same position (but for year 1 of the language) last year because I was contracted through the larger intermediate district. Now that the school hires me they count time differently, because that is apparently their contract policy.


I am saying waaaay too much on this thread. I just have a lot of feelings. About salaries and jobs and negotiations! So many feelings!


my current job (i think) made a mistake when hiring me, so now I make $10 more an hour than I was told at my initial interview...but I get no vacation time. but nonetheless, can't complain, dumb luck > negotiations


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"You have the job!"
"We'll pay £18,000."
"It's what everyone who starts get. It's the going rate."

In a recession you can't really bargain.


@FickleMoon That's been my experience. I envy the people who at least have the option of negotiating.


@whateverlolawants True enough (I used to live in Phoenix, so I know all about high costs of living). But when work won't schedule you more than 10 hours a week and your paying out-of-state tuition for the most expensive school at IU, it's a problem (I'm not bragging, I'm resentful, haha).

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