Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
Posted February 25, 2021

How to negotiate salary: your complete guide to get a better offer

Negotiating your pay is daunting, but many employers expect it. Learn how to negotiate the salary you deserve.
Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
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How to negotiate salary: your complete guide to get a better offer
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You did it! You made it through the job hunt. Hundreds of applications and dozens of interviews later, you’ve received an offer from an employer.

Now comes the final challenge: your pay.

How much do you want to earn? Believe it or not, you can negotiate the starting salary your employer offers.

Everyone talks about job interview tips, but too few discuss ways you can pull off a successful salary negotiation in your new job. For this, we’ve put together a guide to negotiating a better offer from your soon-to-be employer.

Apply theses salary negotiation tips below and you may be able to significantly boost your wages.

What are salary negotiations?

Salary negotiation is the process in which you negotiate your compensation for your new job with your employers. Salary is the main event here, as well as commissions for sales jobs.

However, you can also negotiate your benefits package, vacation days, and other job-related perks as part of this process.

Why are salary negotiations important?

So many candidates are too intimidated to negotiate, so don't even try. In fact, a Robert Half survey found that only 39% of candidates negotiated their salary for their most recent job offer.

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Many candidates are worried about competing against tons of other applicants who may be willing to work for less.

Fortunately, these fears are mostly unfounded. Even amidst the pandemic, about 36% of employers say they're more willing to negotiate with candidates than they were last year. Candidates are often concerned that talking about money might be awkward and could even lead to their offer being rescinded (taken back) — which is no joke in the current job market.

This attitude may be more prevalent among younger employees or candidates competing for entry level jobs. They may not value their own skills enough to ask for what they’re worth.

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So don’t be afraid to ask for the salary you deserve.

How do you negotiate your salary?

Follow these tips for smooth salary negotiations.

1. Don't (necessarily) accept the first offer

Many candidates jump on the first salary offer the employer gives them, and it’s easy to see why.

The interview process is grueling. By the end of it, a job seeker might just accept whatever’s offered to cause minimal trouble for the company and to get the thing over with.

It's a mistake. The majority of employers are expecting negotiations.

Instead of taking that first offer, ask the employer for a day or two to think it over — even if it’s a good offer. Don’t take too much time (of course), but feel free to consider.

If you come back and think you could do better, follow the next tip.

2. Know your value

Piggybacking off the last tip — don’t sell yourself short on salary or wage.

You have a valuable skill set, and not just because we say so. The employer offered you a job because they see your potential as an employee for their company.

If you have trouble justifying higher pay to yourself, take some time to consciously recount your skills, abilities, and work experience. You may notice that you do deserve the job, and you do deserve a higher salary with it.

3. Talk to a recruiter

Before you get to the negotiations, it might be worth your time to talk to a recruiter. They’re experts in knowing the value of your skills and experience, so talking to a few of them can help you prepare for negotiations.

There are directories online, such as Recruiterly.com, where you can find some recruiters to speak with.

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4. Have a salary or wage range in mind

Part of negotiating salary is knowing what dollar amount is right for the position. Do some research to find the average salary for the position and your area beforehand. That way, you can come in with a number in mind. You can also give them a $5,000-$10,000 salary range if you aren’t sure of an exact number.

That said, give a range that has your desired salary on the low end, if possible. That way, you get the salary you want in the worst case. In the best case, you’re getting paid more.

To do your research, hop on a site like Payscale and browse for your job title and area.

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5. Be willing to walk away

The key to doing well in negotiations? Abundance.

Being able to walk away is a powerful negotiation tactic. If you don’t have other options, you’ll be more willing to take whatever offer they recommend.

Having options, on the other hand, makes you feel less dependent on this job. You’ll feel less pressure to take a poor salary.

Keep in mind that the company wants you. They gave you an offer. They won’t let you go so easily — especially if they spent time and money recruiting you — so demonstrating you have other opportunities might make the employer more accommodating.

But what if you have no other options?

You may have to be more subtle. This is where asking for a couple days to think about it can pay off. Taking time to mull the decision over signals to employers you have options elsewhere — even if you don’t in reality.

6. Build your case

You persuaded this employer that you have the ability to do the job on your application and during your interviews. You’ll have to do it one more time during your salary negotiation.

To build your case, brush up on your top few skills and past achievements most relevant to your new job. The more value your future employer believes you’ll bring to the job, the more they’ll pay you.

7. Practice your pitch

Once you’ve built your case for a higher salary, practice your pitch. Do it in front of a mirror, and have some friends or family members observe you if possible. This will give you a confidence boost, and your friends and family can help you improve areas of your pitch.

8. Be kind but firm in your negotiations

Above all else, remember to be kind but assertive when negotiating. Express your interest in the position, but don’t be afraid to push a little higher.

For example: “I’m really excited to join the team, and I’m ready to bring value to the firm. I appreciate your offer of $X, but based on my skills and experience, I was expecting $Y. Can we look at a $Y salary for this role?”

That example is respectful, but at the same time, it doesn’t apologize for asking for a higher salary.

What if your employer doesn’t budge?

You followed the tips and gave negotiations your best effort, but your employer seems unwilling to budge.

That’s okay. It happens. You now have two options.

1. Continue interviewing with other companies

This option is especially viable if you’re in a booming industry and you’re highly sought after by companies. For example, if you’re in the trucking industry and you have a long-standing and reliable record, finding a new offer won’t be hard.

If you don’t have employers banging down your door, though, you might dread going back out into the job search.

In this case, consider the 2nd option.

2. Negotiate other terms

If they don't accept your requested salary offer, the employer may make concessions in other areas.

Here are some perks and benefits you can try negotiating instead of pay:

  • Work-from-home days or flexible work arrangements
  • Paid time off (PTO)
  • Student loan assistance or tuition reimbursement
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Child care cost coverage
  • Health benefits
  • Professional or personal development budgets
  • Stock options

And more.

Don’t try to negotiate all of these at once. Pick the one that’s most important to you and negotiate. Make sure, of course, that the benefit you negotiate isn’t “non-negotiable”.

Tools like salary.com come in handy for benefits research.

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Don’t be disheartened if you weren’t able to get the salary you wanted. In many cases, working hard and showing your value to your employer will earn you recognition and potentially a salary increase.

Get paid what you deserve

Approaching a salary negotiation can make even the most experienced employees feel nervous.

After all, many people find it awkward and even “selfish” to talk about money

But keep in mind that salary negotiations are commonplace — companies expect them.

Follow the tips laid out above and most importantly, be confident in your abilities. The employer has made it clear that they want you for the job, and they should be willing to pay you appropriately for your talents.


Looking for more tips and advice for your job search? Visit the Jobcase Getting Hired Resource Center.

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