Written By: Jennifer Herrity
Updated February 16, 2023
Published January 22, 2021
When an employer offers you a job, they often present you with a compensation package in writing or in person that includes a proposed salary. If you believe the proposed salary doesn’t align with your experience, skill set, career level and education, you may negotiate for more money. Knowing how to negotiate a salary offer is a valuable skill that can help ensure you’re paid fairly for the work you do. In this article, we discuss a few salary negotiation strategies that can help you lock in the compensation package you deserve.
13 salary negotiation strategies
Negotiating a salary can be a challenging endeavor, especially if you don’t have a firm grasp on the compensation package that a potential employer is willing to pay. Here are a few strategies that could help you get the salary you desire:
- Research the national average salary
Knowing the national average salary for a particular job can help support a more successful negotiation. It can provide you with a good baseline for your salary request. You can even use it as a justification. To determine the national average salary for the position you’re applying for, you can use “Indeed Salaries”. This online tool uses salaries listed from present and past job postings on Indeed. If you want to get a free, personalized salary range based on your experience, industry and location, you can use Indeed’s salary calculator.
- Compare salaries
Compare the salary the hiring manager offers you to the data from your research. Once you get an offer, they’ll likely provide you with the compensation package and salary they’d like to start you out at. Make sure to compare their salary offer to the industry standard. This gives you a sense of how much more you can ask for.
If the salary offered is below the industry standard, you’ll have solid data to support your argument for more money. If the hiring manager’s offer is more than the industry standard, it could be an indication that your research was a bit off or that you’re worth more than you think.
- Pitch to justify your desired salary
Prepare a pitch to justify your desired salary based on your research. If you’re offered a salary below the industry standard, make that your primary focus.
You may also point toward your background, experience or a unique perspective you have in order to increase your chance at higher pay. Try saying something like, “I’m coming from a company that operated in a more competitive market, and I think this experience is valuable,” or “I believe my experience in this industry is valuable enough to warrant a higher starting salary.” However, if they are firm on their offer, either accept it if you can live with it, or consider applying to another position.
- Adjust your salary
Adjust your salary based on the schedule, company culture and location. If you’ll be working at an inconvenient location, your schedule is a bit tough or the employer asks you to travel for work, the job may be worthwhile if they increase their salary offer. Likewise, if you have an easy commute, flexible hours and the company treats you well, it may be worth it for you to accept offers that are a bit under the industry standard. Take these personal preferences and elements into account when considering the pay you want.
If you are relocating, calculate the cost of temporary housing, moving expenses and travel or airfare. You can either ask the employer for a relocation package or a signing bonus. Also, make sure to take the geographic location and cost of living into account when assessing your worth. For example, a job in San Francisco, which has one of the highest costs of living in the U.S., may pay more than that same job in Las Vegas, which is a less expensive city to live in.
- Prepare to deal with different kinds of negotiators
Prepare yourself for negotiating with both hard-style and soft-style negotiators. A “hard-style” negotiator is firm and likely to say “no” to everything. A “soft-style” negotiator is very agreeable and will try to work with you.
If you’re negotiating with a hard-style negotiator, calmly state your reasons to justify the amount you’re asking for. Make sure to keep your tone positive, even if the negotiator counters your argument.
If you’re negotiating with a soft-style negotiator, focus on what’s best for you, not on getting the negotiator to like you. Negotiating a salary offer with a soft-style negotiator can be a bit challenging, especially if you already know each other. For instance, the negotiator may be your boss and you’re negotiating a salary increase. You may prioritize your relationship with your boss instead of focusing on getting the salary you deserve.
- Decide on your salary range
Effective salary negotiation requires you to know both your target amount and the lowest amount you’re willing to accept. First, negotiate for your desired salary. If the employer cannot meet it, negotiate the least amount you would settle for. If the employer still cannot meet the lowest salary you can accept, you may need to stop negotiating.
Make sure to maintain the value of your worth. Review the average salaries in your location and field, and consider what unique experiences or skills you can bring to the company that increases your worth.
- Consider other negotiable benefits
When negotiating for your salary, consider any trade-offs that you might settle for. For instance, you might be willing to consider a slightly lower pay for increased benefits or perks. Ask for a breakdown of the full compensation package, including whether you’ll receive a company phone, vacation or paid time off or medical and life insurance. Once you have this information, make sure to include increases to these benefits as part of your counteroffer. Keep in mind that sometimes asking for non-monetary compensation can give more leverage when you make a counteroffer.
- Delay salary negotiations for as long as possible
If possible, hold off on discussing salary until after the employer has offered you the position. Wait for them to bring it up. Of course, the process doesn’t always work this way. It’s a little more random, so you have to be prepared with information on how to deal with every situation.
If the employer asks you to name your salary requirement in a resume or cover letter, do so. It may be the criteria used to narrow down qualified candidates. Follow the employer’s directions to make sure your resume gets shortlisted. Specify a reasonable range, such as $45,000 to $55,000 a year, depending on the position’s responsibilities.
If the hiring manager brings up salary before you’re prepared to discuss it, you can sidestep the question. You can say something like, “Before we get into that, I’d like to know more about the role.” You can then ask them about the responsibilities of the position.
- Let the hiring manager make an initial offer
If the hiring manager offers you the position, let them name a figure first to make sure you don’t give a salary figure that is too low or too high. If the hiring manager asks you what your desired salary is, you can counter in several ways, such as:
- Asking what the typical salary range is for employees in the company with that position
- Asking what the company’s budget is for the role
- Saying you’ll accept any reasonable offer
- Saying that they’re better informed to estimate how much you’re worth to the company than you are
Once you receive the salary offer, make a counteroffer by asking for your ideal amount. Hiring managers expect a negotiation, so their initial offer usually includes some room for them to move up. For example, if your desired salary is $55,000 a year but the initial offer is $45,000, then you can reasonably ask for $50,000. The hiring manager is not going to move up to $55,000 on their own. You have to be prepared to ask for it.
You should also provide a few reasons for why you feel you deserve more. Highlight your strengths, detailing how your experience and skills will benefit the company’s bottom line. Also, be straightforward. If you want more money, then ask for it. Instead of saying something like, “Well, I just purchased a new house, so my expenses are really high,” say, “I need a higher salary” or “I need more than that.”
- Disclose your previous job’s salary
Disclosing the salary you received at your previous position could be a useful salary negotiation tool, especially if your previous employer gave you a higher compensation than the compensation that’s being offered by the employer you’re considering at present. You can say, “In my previous position, I made about $50,000 per year. I understand that the offer is for $45,000, but I’d like to consider salary offers around $50,000 and above.”
- Discuss current job offers from other companies
Disclose information about other job offers that promise a higher salary. Make sure to discuss this information in a positive tone, and emphasize your desire to work for the company. For example, you can say, “Another web design agency offered me $60,000 per year to redesign several SaaS websites, but your company’s passionate employees and welcoming environment are keeping me from accepting that offer. Is there any flexibility you can provide in terms of salary?”
- Choose an appropriate time
Negotiations about salary are more likely to be successful during certain times of the day, days of the week and stages of the hiring process. If possible, schedule your negotiation during one of these optimal times so you and the hiring manager are best prepared.
You can meet in the early afternoon, which is usually more suitable for scheduling, as the hiring manager has likely settled into their workday and had time to prepare for your meeting. You can also meet in the second half of the week, as the hiring manager is more likely to be completing important work.
You can also ask for a higher salary at certain stages in your career, such as after obtaining professional certifications, completing advanced education and training or adding leadership responsibilities to your job duties. If you’re currently employed, you can ask your employer for a salary increase if you’ve earned workplace recognition or achievements, reached a company anniversary or have proof that you helped the company meet its goal. If you’re a new employee, discuss the accomplishments and experiences you mentioned during the interview process in terms of salary value at their company.
- Be confident
Negotiate with confidence. After you’ve done your research, you know that the salary you’re asking for is reasonable. If the hiring manager can’t meet the amount you ask for, then you may need to pass on the job. However, make sure not to issue ultimatums. For instance, instead of saying, “This is my last offer”, say, “I need at least $45,000 to make the change in jobs work for me.”