How I Raised My Marketing-Director Salary to $125,000 Over 5 Jobs – Business Insider

I’m a 30-year-old Asian American woman living on the West Coast and working as the director of influencer marketing at a small media company. I’ve been there one year, and I make $121,000, plus a bonus of about $4,500. I don’t know whether there is such a thing as a “dream job,” but this one comes pretty close for me.
Day-to-day, I manage a small team that works with food and lifestyle influencers on TikTok and Instagram. I love my colleagues, and my job is fun and challenging.
It’s been a long road, though. I’ve worked in toxic environments, I’ve had my fair share of bad bosses, and I’ve been the lowest-paid director on the team — which, as the only woman of color at the company, grated me. I feel lucky to be where I am now.
Here’s my salary journey over five jobs. 
Editor’s note: Insider has verified the source’s pay and identity with documents for their current or most recent job. 
My first full-time job out of college was in the Northeast at a large media company. I was young, naive, and desperate for a job. I started as an hourly worker, and I was brought on full time after a three-month trial period. 
I enjoyed the job, but the work environment was terrible. My boss pitted me against my coworkers, and when she was upset, she’d throw things.
I stayed a couple of years. By the time I left, I’d been promoted to marketing manager and gotten a bump up to $50,000.
I was so eager to leave my last job that I didn’t negotiate my salary at the next one. After the fact, a friend told me that whenever a recruiter asks you what you want to make, throw the question back to them and say: What is the value of the role?
My next job was really cool. I got to work on big accounts and travel to food conferences in far-flung locations, and the benefits were amazing — the company even had a chiropractor come into the office once a week to help us with our alignments. Unfortunately, promotions and raises were practically nonexistent.
I got laid off after a year. 
I was back looking for a job but couldn’t find anything that interested me. I had a lot of contacts from my old job, so I decided to give freelancing a try. I focused on brand strategy and talent management for food influencers, and I worked on social-media campaigns for a food brand.
Business was slow at first, but I managed to get monthly retainers for a couple of clients. That steadied my cash flow. Plus, my boyfriend and I moved in together, so rent was cheaper, and I used Obamacare for health insurance.
I liked freelancing, but I didn’t like the constant hustle and the paperwork. After two years of working for myself, I decided to go back to a company.
Next, I took a remote job managing influencer campaigns at a small Los Angeles agency where I’d done some freelancing. The base salary on offer ($75,000 — I didn’t negotiate) wasn’t as much as I’d been making, but I was eager for stability.
The agency was all women, but I was the only woman of color. Once I learned that I was the lowest-paid person at my level — all of the company’s financials were available on Google Drive — I was really upset.
Separately, there was a lot going on in the world, and in my personal life, at the time: My boyfriend — now fiancé — and I had moved to the West Coast, my mom was sick, the pandemic was raging, the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum, and Asian hate crimes were becoming increasingly common.
I told my boss that I was exhausted and burned out. She told me she was offended that I said that.
I got promoted to assistant director for brand partnerships after a year, and I requested a week off work. This should not have been a problem, as we had unlimited paid time off. But my boss asked me if I could take a day off instead. I knew then I needed to leave.
I now work remotely at a small media company. I started a year ago with a salary of $90,000. I asked for $95,000 initially but was told that salary bands were in place and there was no room for movement. 
Once I was in the position, I soon realized I was doing much more than was listed in my job description. I had heard mention of “salary adjustments” on TikTok and looked into that. They’re not annual raises but out-of-cycle pay increases that get you where you need to be based on your role and responsibilities.
At the six-month mark, after doing some salary research, I went to human resources and explained that the market value for the job I was doing was more than I was making. Not long after, my company adjusted my salary to $110,000.
I love it here. I feel valued and respected, and the work is exactly what I want to be doing. At my first anniversary last month, I got a 10% raise and a bonus.
If you are interested in submitting your salary journey, please email [email protected] All submissions are kept confidential.
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