Career Advice

How to Negotiate Your Salary After a Job Offer

Congrats on landing the job! The next step is negotiating your salary. Find out the best tips for securing the right pay for your position here.

Michael Yan
Published: (Updated: ) - 7 min read

Photo by PiggyBank / Unsplash

Ever been offered a great job only to be disappointed by the salary they’re proposing? It happens all the time, but it doesn’t need to be the end of the conversation. Until you’ve signed on the dotted line, things are still negotiable. Resist the urge to accept an offer just because you’re excited to receive one. Take a beat, look things over, and if you feel you’ve been lowballed, it’s time to start planning a negotiation strategy.

Do Research into Your Industry

Before you even step into the interview process for a job, you need to have a strong sense of what the salary range is for that position, specific to the context that you’re dealing with. Secretaries, for example, don’t earn the same across all industries. They may get a higher offer from a big law firm in a major city than they would from a small-town doctor’s office. Also, salaries may vary based on skills and years of experience. Research the industry, the area, and the job description to get a better idea of what your worth is going in.

The industry and exact area you’re in, not just the state, need to shape your research if you want your data to be accurate. The worst thing to do is to come in with a wildly unreasonable ask, with nothing to back it up. That would only waste your time and likely damage your chances of still taking the job offer if negotiations don’t go your way.

The more knowledgeable you are about what the market rates are, the better you'll be able to judge if the offer you’ve gotten is fair. To gather this information, talk to as many people in your field as you can. Researching through friends, colleagues and other business contacts will help you get the most relevant information, far more so than looking at online salary averages. However, online job ads will sometimes include a salary range that you can use to get a sense of what different companies are offering.

Tip: Talking to people in your field and researching job ads will provide you with the most accurate salary range data to back up your negotiation strategy.

If you know anyone in recruitment, reach out to them for their opinion. They’ll probably have some great advice on general salary trends, what people have successfully negotiated for and what’s most reasonable for you to ask for. If you’re nervous about reaching out to people or worried about how to word questions about money, here are a few phrases to practice:

  • What would you expect this position to pay at a company like X?
  • Can you tell me what the salary range for this job is at the moment?
  • Would you consider a salary offer of X fair for a company the size of
  • Would you be comfortable talking to me about what you received for a similar position?

Emphasize Your Skills and Experience

Your education, skills, and experience are all major factors in a salary negotiation. Making sure that your interviewer or the manager you’re speaking with understands exactly what value you can provide is crucial, especially if you're worried there are aspects that they may have overlooked. Try to speak about your expertise in terms of the success they can help bring to the company you’re dealing with. You need to be able to answer the question of why you and your skills are worth them paying more money for.

We spoke about context before in terms of research, but the qualifications you present also need to have context. For example, if you’re applying to work in accounting at a retail brand, the fact that you did a summer job in a store or assisted with the books for another retailer gives your accounting degree that much more value in their eyes. Not only are you qualified for the job, but you’re also qualified to do it in their specific industry.

In whatever way you can, emphasize those connection points when you’re negotiating your salary. Those are the things that set you apart and make you worth paying more. It’s not about being arrogant or boastful, but of being quietly confident in the value that you bring.

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Tip: In order to negotiate your salary effectively, it is important to be able to demonstrate the specific value you can bring to the organization by providing examples of your skills, education and experience, and how they have led to success in similar roles or industries. 

Consider the Company Perks and Benefits

Look at the entire package you’re being offered, not just the money. There may be benefits and opportunities available to you as well that go beyond a paycheck. If it seems like a higher salary offer just isn’t an option for the company, explore other ways in which they could compensate you better such as more flexible hours or more vacation time.

If you have dependents, a few work-from-home days a week could be more valuable to you than extra money. The point is that how you’re paid isn’t just a matter of finance, but your overall treatment at a company. Some choose to offer lower salaries but great benefits that make up for it, while others do the reverse. You just need to have a good understanding of which benefits are important to your life so that you know exactly what you’d want to negotiate for or, what you might be willing to accept for the sake of health insurance and other benefits.

Another tip to keep in mind when negotiating your salary is to be open to non-monetary compensation. For example, if a higher salary is not an option for the company, you can explore other ways to be compensated such as stock options, bonuses, or professional development opportunities. These forms of compensation can be just as valuable, if not more so, than a higher salary.

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Rehearse Beforehand

Sometimes a salary offer and negotiation will occur at the end of an interview, with little warning. While you always have the option to ask for a day to think things through, you may choose instead to take the opportunity at hand. That’s why it’s so important to have a good idea of market rates, what’s important to you in terms of benefits, and what you think you’re worth paying before you even step into an interview.

That said, if you have the opportunity to take some time before coming back to an offer, it’s worth rehearsing what it is you’d like to ask or say. Confidence is key in these scenarios and rehearsing gives you a chance to get clear about how you’re going to make your case for a better salary package. If you have the data to show that what you’ve been offered is below average, practice saying that and asking for the amount you think is fair. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get what you ask for, but the better you’re able to communicate, the more likely it is that you’ll be heard.

What are some points you can raise during a salary negotiation?

  1. Relevant Work and Education: Bring up any experience and/or education you have that is relevant to the job and why you are a valuable asset to the company.
  2. Accomplishments and Projects: Talk about any successes or projects you have been involved in that demonstrate your capabilities.
  3. Work Schedule: If you are asking for more money, make sure to address what you will be able to do with the extra money.
  4. Negotiable Phrases: Use phrases such as “This is what I think my skills are worth” or “This is the salary I am looking for” to open up a negotiation without squashing the conversation.
  5. Expectations: Explain any expectations you have in the job and how you think the salary should reflect that, or if you have any other expectations such as benefits or vacation time
  6. Deadlines: If you have a deadline for when you need an answer and can’t wait too long, make sure to mention that to make sure neither party fails to follow through.

Don’t Drag it Out

Wasting a manager or interviewer’s time won’t get you anywhere. Try to keep negotiations short, clear, and to the point. This isn’t a hostage situation, it’s just a conversation. Our previous tip on rehearsing beforehand and having a plan in place will help ensure that you don’t drag things out unnecessarily.

If there’s an awkward silence, try to resist filling it. It will only make you sound nervous and in a negotiation that’s all about showing that you’re worth paying more, you want to appear calm and collected. There’s a chance you may not get what you’re asking for and if you still be able to work for that company, negotiations need to be kept cordial.

Finally, be clear about your expectations — both in terms of the number you’re looking for and when you’d like to have an answer. An employer should respect your request for time to consider their offer, but it’s only respectful for you to reciprocate and inform them about when you’ll have a response or when you’d like to continue the conversation.

You’re Worth It

Getting the salary that you want can feel intimidating, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you are worth it. You’ve worked hard for your achievements and market research has shown that you’re in the right ballpark for what you’re asking for. That said, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and to negotiate in a respectful and persuasive way. If you do it correctly, you may be surprised how far it can take you.

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