Why you should always aim high
At one point in the middle of my tech career I was deeply unhappy with a career move I’d made and was desperately seeking a transition out of the industry into the world of advertising.
I’d just been headhunted from a lucrative role at Amazon to an early stage startup with the promise of more responsibility and a juicy IPO (that’s tech speak for when a company floats on the stock market, it can turn ordinary equity holding employees into millionaires overnight). Turned out the startup’s culture was too toxic-tech-bro for my liking and so I wanted out.
I worked my network and got connected to a friend of a friend who was hiring in her agency. Her MD was excited by the fact I had tech experience - he was pitching to new clients in this space and could use my expertise. I showed up for a coffee date and soon realised it was an interview! Thankfully, I was able to regale stories of successful projects I’d completed in past roles. Suddenly - he asked me my salary expectations.
Caught off guard but aware that advertising paid well, especially for senior roles like the one he was pitching me, I cheekily popped £20k on top of my existing salary and threw that number out. There I was thinking I was playing it smart. Without hesitation, he said yes. “When can you start?” he exclaimed. My heart sank - his enthusiasm at what I thought was a hefty price tag made me realise that it was in fact well below what he would have been willing to pay. Lesson learned - the way someone reacts to your preferred number is a very telling sign of where it falls in their budget.