How to Negotiate Salary Like a Pro (and Win Big!)
Do you want to make more money at work? Have you ever had to ask for a raise and it didn’t go as planned? Salary negotiation can be a difficult subject to approach with your employer. You may feel that the proposed salary in a job interview doesn’t meet your personal standards considering your level of education, experience, or skill set. It’s not uncommon to feel anxious when planning to ask for a pay raise, but it’s important for your quality of life to do so.
The annual salary increase in the United States is 3 percent, so if you were to settle for a salary that’s 10 percent below what you feel you deserve, it could take years to gain back those earnings.
In this article, you will learn how to negotiate your salary like a pro — and reap the rewards!
Why Should You Negotiate Your Salary?
A recent survey found that 58 percent of responders claim to never or rarely ever negotiate their salary. If the idea of discussing a pay raise or negotiating a starting salary in a job interview intimidates you, take solace in the fact that 70 percent of managers expect candidates to negotiate salary upon job offers. This means that most employers will offer you a lower amount of compensation than they’re willing to give because they anticipate salary negotiation.
Make your strong suits known and assert your value! Why settle for less than what you’re worth? Know what your skills are worth and propose a number that you feel is deserved.
When Should You Negotiate Your Salary?
If you are still in the interviewing process, it’s best to wait until you have received a job offer to negotiate your salary. Trying to negotiate while other candidates are still involved could harm your chances of receiving an offer, and you’ll also have the most leverage to negotiate payment once you have solidified that you are the best option for the job.
It’s also worth noting that one or two counters should be the maximum, and you should avoid contesting a salary amount that you have already agreed upon. Also make sure your employer feels that you respect their time, so wait for the right time and keep counters to a minimum.
Negotiating a salary can cause some anxiety — and that’s okay! If the offer is presented over a phone call and you feel you need some time to process the offer, that’s totally normal, and your employer should respect that. However, it’s best to give them an answer after no more than 48 hours. If you’re struggling to have that conversation over the phone, send an email. The important thing is that you are prepared.
How Should You Negotiate Your Salary?
There are several guidelines to follow to ensure you successfully negotiate your salary with your employer. These tips will give you confidence and prepare you for anything your employer may counter during the job offering process.
Evaluate What You Have to Offer
When evaluating your value as a job candidate, keep these things in mind:
Geographic location. Take the cost of living in your area and factor that into your salary proposal. The cost of living can differ from cities like Denver and Raleigh.
- Experience. If the job asks for 3 to 5 years of industry experience and you meet that requirement, factor that into your proposed salary as well.
- Level of education. Bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, or specialized licenses in your field may be cause for a higher salary.
- Skills. If you possess any specific or technical skills that take time to master, you may want to ask for a salary that meets those skills. As Dan Lok has shared, “Action takers are money makers.” Taking time to master new skills can always benefit your salary.
Keeping all of these things in mind when planning your salary negotiation will ensure that you receive a payment that reflects your abilities and the time you have committed to your industry.
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Know the Market Average
It’s sometimes difficult to find out what other people in your field are paid. This career salary calculator from Indeed gives you a free estimate of what your salary should look like based on your experience, location, and education.
Understanding the market average for your field will allow you to propose a salary that will suit your specific experience level and match the standard in your industry. If your employer offers a salary lower than what you feel you deserve or even lower than average, you can use the market average as justification to ensure you are being compensated fairly.
Be Prepared and Rehearse
Did you share the universal school experience of presenting a speech in front of your class? If you did, you probably spent a ton of time preparing and rehearsing in front of a mirror or a friend. The importance of preparing your talking points and rehearsing them cannot be understated.
Take time and write out all of the points you want to make during your negotiation. Make them clear and concise, and have research to back up your points if necessary. Not only will this make you feel prepared to propose the salary you deserve, but it will go a long way in making you appear confident to your employer. Confidence is essential when negotiating salary because employers have been shown to give employees more money when they bring confidence to the table. Don’t sell yourself short — you deserve to be paid well!
Being prepared also means knowing what to say to tough questions your employer may ask. “Do you have any other job offers at the moment?” “Are we your first choice?” are great examples of questions that may come up. Prepare your own answers to difficult questions and be confident with them.
Begin with Gratitude
You have probably invested a great deal of time into the interviewing and hiring process, and you can be sure that your employer has done the same for you. Begin your conversation by expressing thanks and gratitude for being considered for the job and get specific on certain things you may be looking forward to in the position.
It’s vital that if you turn down the job offer, you do so in a friendly and compassionate manner and express thanks for the opportunity. Life is full of surprises, and you never know what opportunities may be offered to you down the road!
Never Underestimate Likability
This may sound basic, but people will only want to hire you if they like you. Not only that, but they’re much more inclined to hire you over another candidate with the same qualifications if you are more likable.
This goes beyond just being polite and responsive. It is important that you can ease any tension that may arise during salary negotiation. The last thing you want is to come across as greedy or seem ungrateful to your employer for their time and effort.
Rehearsing your negotiation with a friend plays a big role here because you can gain insight from someone on how to ask a certain question in the right way or whether your persistence is coming across as pushy.
Make Yourself Seem Available
No one is going to pursue hiring you if they anticipate the answer will be “no.” There may be some merit to letting your employer know that other companies may want you or even that you have multiple offers on the table, but be careful to not project yourself as unavailable or too good for the job. If you plan to use other job offers as leverage during your negotiation, make sure you follow it up by stating you would be more than happy to turn the other offers down in favor of this position.
Understand Where They’re Coming From
Suppose your prospective employer really does like you. They might even think you deserve the salary you’re requesting, but certain constraints won’t allow them to give it to you. This could be for a number of reasons, like a company salary cap that your employer has no control over. In this case, it’s best to explore other options that don’t directly relate to your salary, such as sign-on bonuses or paid time off.
You may also be interviewed by a representative from HR instead of your potential boss. In this case, try to save the negotiating for your direct employer rather than HR because your employer may be more inclined to have your back and vouch for your salary.
What if the Answer Is Still No?
It’s possible that you may face a rigid, unwavering employer that will flat out refuse any negotiation you attempt — that’s okay! Part of learning to negotiate with an employer is knowing when the fit isn’t right. If you feel like the employer isn’t respecting your wishes even though you have made valid points, remain positive and confident. Then move on to your next prospect with your head held high.
You know your value, and now show that value to your employer and win big! Take your skills and experience and earn the salary that you deserve!