How to negotiate your salary: Many people are hesitant to ask for more money after a job search ends, fearing that the offer will jeopardize their opportunities. The 2023 Salary Guide From Robert Half highlights that hiring has reached pre-pandemic levels in many markets, leading to increased competition for top talent and higher salaries. Negotiating a better salary is crucial for everyone, as the value of work may not be reflected in the compensation received. Many people underestimate their leverage and power, leading to feeling underpaid.
To negotiate a better salary, it’s essential to approach the issue objectively, build an evidence-based case, and arrange for it. If the pay doesn’t align with your education, career level, skill set, and experience, consider alternative forms of compensation, such as equity or stock options or additional perks.
This guide will cover the basics of salary negotiations, how to find out your objective value from job market data, best practices for salary negotiations, how to negotiate a raise and what you should do after a salary negotiation.
What are Salary Negotiations?
Salary negotiations involve discussions between an employee and a company representative to secure a higher salary. Whether you’re a long-time employee or a new hire, it’s important to feel empowered to negotiate for a better salary. To negotiate, build a strong case, face resistance, and strike a balance between firmness and flexibility. Be prepared to answer questions and compromises, and be prepared to go back-and-forth during negotiations to ensure the agreement is acceptable.
Negotiating salary during the initial job interview is crucial for obtaining a better pay offer and a better understanding of the company’s expectations. It is similar to dating before making a serious commitment, as it allows you to test the waters and gauge the employer’s response. However, there are certain situations where you should not negotiate salary, such as after a firm offer, during the first interview, or after accepting an offer. It is essential to maintain professionalism and confidence in your contributions to the workplace.
Why It’s Important to Negotiate your Salary
It’s important to understand that negotiating your salary is a perfectly normal part of the employment process and that getting the salary you deserve is part of advancing in your career.
Your salary is more than a deposit to your bank account: it’s how your company shows you that they appreciate your work and value you and your skills.
Negotiating your salary during the hiring process is crucial for several reasons, including increased earnings, improved reputation, and improved appearance. Over 80% of employers expect job applicants to negotiate during interviews, and nearly 90% of employers have never rescinded a job offer due to negotiations during an interview. Negotiating can also make you look better, as advocating for oneself in a salary negotiation can be perceived positively. Demonstrating negotiation skills, such as people skills, is essential in negotiating your salary.
Your salary is more than just a deposit to your bank account; it shows your company appreciates your work and values your skills. It also supports your work-life balance, with career development, work flexibility, and health-related perks. While dollar signs are important when negotiating your salary, these forms of compensation should be considered before taking a new offer or re-signing on a dotted line.
How to Find Out What You’re Worth
Before you go into a salary negotiation, it’s crucial that you find out, objectively, how much someone in your position, with your experience and in your location, should be paid.
Salaries range greatly by industry, seniority, and geography, and getting the salary you want will depend on asking for a realistic compensation package.
1. Define Your Range and Do Online Research
First, you need to find out what people in your position, with your level of experience, are making in your area.
Being an office manager in Nigeria for instance, yields a different average salary than being an office manager in San Francisco does.
After researching the compensation range for the job, the next step is comparing the average compensation with your market worth.
Once you have a ballpark for your market worth, you’ll be able to compare that with what the average salary for the position you’re vying for is.
How to Negotiate your Salary After a Job Offer
Salary negotiation doesn’t have to feel uncertain or intimidating.
As long as you’ve done research to learn a realistic salary range to ask for and have a plan in place for navigating the negotiation, there’s nothing to worry about.
Following these tips will also help you to have effective salary negotiations.
1. Evaluate what you have to offer
Before negotiating a salary, it’s crucial to understand your value to the employer. Factors such as geographic location, industry experience, leadership experience, education level, career level, skills, and licenses and certifications can influence your compensation.
Geographic location, industry experience, leadership experience, education level, career level, skills, and specific licenses and certifications can all impact your compensation. Reiterating why you’re valuable and using these factors to justify your desired salary can help you negotiate a fair and competitive salary.
2. Research the market average
You should at least have an idea of the market average salaries for your position. Utilize several resources like Indeed Salaries to find market average salaries for a successful negotiation. This tool uses salary data from past and present job postings and anonymous data submitted by users. Consider national averages, geographic location, and similar company pay for the position.
For a realistic view of the compensation landscape, consult the Robert Half Salary Guide, which provides the going rate for your position and experience level, and adjusts national figures for your geographic area. Pay attention to the “hottest jobs” and “most in-demand skills” sections to respond confidently if you’re in the running for a hot job.
3. Prepare your talking points
When developing negotiation notes, ask for additional compensation by providing one to two solid examples from your past to persuade the hiring manager to increase your income. In addition to income, negotiate benefits, time off, or other valuable perks.
Gather specific talking points, such as previous achievements, years of industry experience, high-demand skills or certifications, and average salaries offered by similar employers for similar roles. Remember to avoid asking for more money without understanding the value of the product.
4. Have a salary range rather than a single figure
To negotiate a fair salary, give the employer a slightly higher number than your goal. This ensures a comfortable acceptance of the lowest number. If you provide a salary range, the employer may err on the lower end, so make sure the lowest number is fair.
Offer a range based on others’ earnings rather than a single fixed number, as having an acceptable range helps negotiate and find compromise more easily.
5. Practice your pitch at least once before the actual negotiation
Practice talking points to gain confidence and identify areas for improvement. You can do this in front of a trusted friend or colleague, recording the conversation on a camera or speaking in front of a mirror. Asking a friend or mentor to practice with you can project confidence and answer unexpected questions. Repeat the delivery multiple times, writing down the desired message, and practicing to a mirror, video, or friend until comfortable in the conversation. Much of a successful negotiation boils down to feeling comfortable and practiced.
6. Be confident
It’s extremely important to put on your game face when the moment comes for negotiation. Bring confidence to the delivery of your pitch and in the negotiations that follow.
Confidence is crucial in negotiations, as it increases the employer’s willingness to consider your feedback. It should not be confused with arrogance or over-explaining. Instead, state your requested salary confidently and concisely, including a brief summary of your reasoning.
Visualizations and affirmations can help you enter meetings with a clear head. Visualize a soothing river, let nervous thoughts dissipate, and repeat affirmations to boost your confidence. Remember that you are capable of anything, strong, experienced, and talented, and can stay calm in tough situations.
If you’re at all worried about coming across as demanding or ungrateful, there’s a very simple solution to that: be gracious. No matter the outcome, be understanding, appreciative, and thankful for the opportunity.
During the job offer phase, it’s crucial to acknowledge the employer’s investment in the hiring process and express gratitude for considering you. Share reasons for excitement, such as the company culture or product. Be courteous and cautious when requesting additional compensation, as you don’t want to appear entitled or offend them. Even if you decline the offer, maintain a friendly and professional demeanor to avoid future opportunities.
8. Prepare to answer tough questions
Recruiters and hiring managers often ask intimidating questions to understand motivations. It’s crucial to remain honest and avoid being rattled by these questions. Expect questions like the company being your top choice, accepting a salary increase, and considering other offers.
9. Ask questions
Maintain confidence and calm when negotiating with someone who seems surprised or rejects your counter. Use open-ended questions to gather information and keep the conversation going. Examples include asking about the position’s budget, requesting information for decision-making, and exploring other negotiables beyond salary.
Asking these questions would put you in a better perspective about the offer:
“Can I negotiate this offer?” Make sure to start off by asking if the offer is negotiable in the first place.
“Besides the base pay, what other benefits are negotiable?” This can include medical insurance, support for education and training, paid leave, vacation time, moving expenses, and 401(k) contributions, just to name a few.
“How did you calculate this number?” By asking this question, you’ll be able to see if the number you’re being offered is a hard cap or a potential springboard for negation.
“What’s the outlook for salary raises or promotions?” Whether or not your salary offer is negotiable, it’s important to know what the future potential is for a raise or promotion.
“What metrics do you use to evaluate the success of employees?” This is an important follow-up question to ask in salary negotiations and, if you end up working for the company, this information will help the next time you’re back at the negotiating table.
“Can I get the salary offer in writing?” Verbally settling on a negotiation in your favor is great, but it doesn’t mean anything until it’s on paper.
10. Know when to wrap it up
A reasonable employer won’t withdraw an offer just because you tried to negotiate. But dragging out the salary negotiation can frustrate the hiring manager and start out your relationship on a sour note.
If the company can’t meet your requirements after a few discussions, respectfully withdraw and focus on opportunities that better match your compensation expectations.
How to Negotiate a Raise
Even if your manager understands the value you’re adding to your company, it doesn’t mean they’ll proactively offer you a raise — you have to prove your case for a raise just as surely as you have to prove your case for a higher starting salary at a new job.
1. Leverage internal moves
A new role in your company provides a great negotiation opportunity. If you are considering a promotion or new job with your current employer, don’t buy the argument that management’s hands are tied and pay growth is capped.
Use market data to lay out what it would cost the company to try and hire off the street, and ask for it. You will likely find resistance, but be firm in your stance.
2. Choose your moment
Maybe it has been a while since your last pay increase, but you still need to pick a good time to negotiate for a raise if you’re serious about getting it.
A great time to bring up the subject of a raise is when you know your manager is impressed with your performance and/or in a good mood.
3. Be firm and persuasive when stating your case
Confidence and persuasiveness are essential for successfully negotiating a raise.
What to Know After a Salary Negotiation
Whether you’ve just negotiated successfully or unsuccessfully, it’s important to already start thinking about the next salary negotiation so you can set yourself up for success.
1. Your responsibilities will increase
A salary increase with a new job title is considered a promotion rather than a salary negotiation. Even if you maintain the same job, your responsibilities may increase if you receive a pay raise. To prove your worth, you must prove your deservingness for more pay. Your boss expects more from you, and exceeding their expectations is crucial for a promotion. If you haven’t received a written letter or email, ensure you receive the details of the new role and know when your job changes, whether immediately or at the start of the next quarter.
After a successful salary negotiation, your boss may trust you more and ask for your input on bigger decisions. This confidence and view of work performance will likely lead to greater respect. A successful discussion sends two positive messages: you have plans to stay at the company and are focused on the value of your work. This directness and negotiation prowess will be respected by your boss.
3. You’re not done negotiating
After a salary negotiation, it’s important to know that it wasn’t the last. Your job might become harder if you end up taking on new responsibilities, or you might find yourself with a promotion next year. A lot can happen in the next year or two, so it’s important to consistently make sure that you’re being paid fairly for the amount of work you’re doing.