Woman shares journey of $138k pay rise over eight years

Not negotiating salary can limit potential earnings, Charli Prangley says.
Not negotiating salary can limit potential earnings, Charli Prangley says. Photo credit: YouTube.

Ignoring the taboo around people disclosing what they earn, a Kiwi-born web designer has revealed her earnings at various stages of her career. 

On her YouTube channel 'CharliMarie TV', ex-Xero employee Charli Prangley reveals what she was paid for the last eight years, in the hope that more people get paid what they're worth.

Having learned the importance of negotiating salary upfront, Prangley said that as pay rises are often based on a percentage of the existing salary, taking the first offer on the table can limit future earnings.

"The higher that you can negotiate for that initial salary to be, the more you'll get in your raise," Prangley said.

"Not negotiating when you first start out can limit your potential earnings at the company as a whole."

Currently working remotely as a marketing designer for US-based company ConvertKit", Prangley said that money talk shouldn't be a thing that people avoid.

"Money and salaries and paychecks...it's all very taboo, isn't it?

"The more we talk about how much we earn, the more we can help each other to be paid what we're worth."

Spanning eight years across different countries and currencies, Prangley revealed her salary at each job-change and lessons she learned along the way.

Lesson one: Negotiate the salary

In November 2011, fresh out of university, Prangley's first full-time job was in New Zealand as a graphic designer with a reseller of Mitsubishi Electric products, where she was paid NZ$35,000 - a figure she didn't negotiate. 

"I was just thrilled to be earning a full-time living doing design work.

"After I'd been there a few months, they gave me about a 14 percent raise (to NZ$40,000)," Prangley explained.

Prangley's next big jump in pay was when she started at Kiwi tech giant Xero a year later, where she based her salary expectations on what she wanted to earn rather than what she was worth.

"When they asked me my salary expectations, I said that I wanted to make 'over $50,000'.

"What they offered me was $60,000.

"I was obviously under-valuing myself and I appreciate that Xero didn't take advantage of that," she said.

Lesson two: Research the cost of living before a transfer

Throughout her three-year tenure at Xero in Wellington, and before transferring to their London office, Prangley said she was given a couple of pay rises through performance reviews.

"I ended up being paid $73,000 by the time I left New Zealand and moved to London."

Although the transfer was orchestrated by her, Prangley said that she treated the move like the company was doing her a favour rather than that she was filling a vacant role.

Although relocation costs weren't covered, understanding that the cost of living would be higher, her employer upped her salary.  In hindsight, Prangley pegged the cost at around 27 percent higher.

"For the same job that I was doing in New Zealand, they [Xero] offered me £42,000 (NZ$82,626) as my starting salary - about a 15 [12] percent increase from my salary for the same role in New Zealand," Prangley said.

Lesson three: Don't disclose current salary

When she left Xero to start working at a London-based tech company, Langley said the mistake she made was answering the question of current salary.

"When they [a potential employer] asks you what you're earning - or what you want to earn - it's always a good idea to ask them for 'what the range is for this role', then you can give your answer based on that," Prangley suggested.

"Don't be the first one to say a number," Prangley added.

Lesson four: Weigh up the total package

Starting at US-based ConvertKit in December 2016, Prangley said her salary jumped by "just a few thousand more", although benefits such as a vacation bonus, profit sharing and work/life balance made her decision feel worthwhile.

"I ended up getting an 8-to-10 percent raise every six months until the company introduced standardised salaries [industry-based market data based on different levels]."

In September 2018, Prangley said she was officially announced as a "level three web designer" and her salary increased by around 10.3 percent, to US$80,500 (NZ$121,119).

While negotiation hasn't been apparent in all her roles, in July 2019 - seven-and-a-half years after taking on her first role - Prangley advocated that she be moved up a level.

"I took a look at what the level four [skills and responsibilities] were, made a case for myself and talked to my manager and he agreed it was time to move me up a level.

"This resulted in a [30] percent pay increase [to US$105,000, NZ$157,982)," Prangley said.

Late last year, as the market rate for Prangley's role had increased, her salary rose again.

"Right now [in November 2019] my salary is US$115,000 (NZ$173,028) - a 9.5 percent increase on what I was earning previously," Prangley said. 

With total pay rises of around NZ$138,000 in eight years, Prangley's career could be called a success - and it could be said that she's learnt a thing or two along the way.

For people starting out, evaluating pay, looking to move jobs or embarking on a company transfer, Prangley's story illustrates the importance of negotiating pay upfront, then building on that success.