18 Expert Tips on Salary Negotiation 

18 Expert Tips on Salary Negotiation 

Salary negotiation can be a difficult skill to learn. For most employees, negotiating salary only happens in the 5 -7 times they change jobs in their career. Whether you’re just starting our or looking for your 6th job, consider the following 18 best practices and salary negotiation tips to help you get paid what you’re worth: 

1. Be likable. 

This tip is pretty simple—hiring managers don’t want to hire someone that will be hard to work with. Instead, they’re looking for a new hire that will fold easily into the team. When you’re in the middle of a salary negotiation—and at every point in the interview process—remember that you are constantly evaluated. If you act like a jerk, you’re rude to the front desk staff, or come off aloof, you risk your offer getting rescinded. 

The salary negotiation tip: Show interest in the hiring manager, the HR recruiter, and anyone you interact with at the business. Don’t be entitled and always be gracious. In your salary negotiation conversations, always express gratitude for the offer and the opportunity. 

2. Know your worth.

Don’t go into a salary negotiation conversation—whether it’s verbal or over email—without understanding exactly what you’re worth. Before you even apply to the job, you should be clear on these facts: how many years of experience you have, what wins you helped create at your previous role, the current market value for the position you’re applying for, the national and local averages for salary, and how much similar companies in the same city or area pay employees in this role. 

The salary negotiation tip: To truly know your worth, or the worth of the role you’re applying for, you need access to accurate salary data (not data that’s available for free online). Employers pay for employer-only datasets that give them access to verified salary data, giving them a leg up on what fair market value is for your role. Join the FairComp waitlist to get access to verified, anonymized salary data

3. Understand how the employer views compensation and your role. 

Most businesses operate with a company-standard compensation philosophy. This helps them negotiate with new hires and standardize their pay across the org. For most businesses, this looks like selecting a specific percentile, as it compares to the current industry market value for each role. If the company is focused on highly productive, highly tenured talent, their compensation philosophy will likely be higher than others and they will pay in the 80 - 90th percentile for top talent. 

The salary negotiation tip: Ask for details about the company’s compensation philosophy. Once you have this information, you can understand how your salary number compares to the salary number you can expect from the new employer. 

4. Get clear on how the company ranks your role. 

For most businesses, using a leveling system for each role helps them define a salary range and banding for each position. This comes in handy when it’s time to offer raises or when employees are newly hired. If your salary ask is at the high end of the band, you need to know what you’ll need to do to get a promotion to break into the next level. 

The salary negotiation tip: Ask about the salary level and banding for the role you’re applying for. The level can help you understand how much room you have for growth at the business. 

5. Prove your worth. 

Prepare a highlight reel of your accomplishments, showcasing how much you added to your previous role. Detail the wins and the impact you made, reiterating that you can do the same for the new company. This highlight reel can be a bulleted list on your resume that you reiterate in your salary negotiation conversations or something you bring up verbally throughout the interview process. 

The salary negotiation tip: Get clear on how much value you bring to the company and remind the hiring manager about these details when you negotiate your offer. 

6. Show that you want the job. 

No business wants to hire someone that isn’t enthusiastically interested in the new role. Employers are looking for new hires that want to be there and want to help the business grow. Show this throughout your job interview process, but make sure it’s abundantly clear in your salary negotiation discussions. 

The salary negotiation tip: Tell the employer you want the job. Be specific and be clear. By communicating that you want the job, you’re showing the hiring manager that you’re confident you’re the right fit and you are excited to get started. 

7. Ask for time to review the offer.

It’s very appropriate to ask for time to review the offer after you receive it from the recruiter or hiring manager. But beware—asking for too much time can show a lack of respect for everyone’s time. Instead, ask for 24 hours and be specific and clear about when you will have an answer. 

The salary negotiation tip: Ask for 24 hours to review the offer and give a hard deadline when you will have your answer. Letting the employer know you’ll get back to them by 2:00 p.m. the next day is a great way to give yourself time to review the offer and show respect for the hiring process. 

8. Ask for an exact number.

Because most employers expect you to negotiate the initial salary offer, they come in with a lower offer at the beginning. As you negotiate your salary, you have a few options. You can ask for a range that’s 10 - 20% higher than the initial offer or ask for a specific number. We recommend asking for a specific number. 

The salary negotiation tip: Even though the salary negotiation tactic we recommend is to ask for a specific number, it doesn’t mean we don’t think you should account for the low range of the initial offer. Instead, ask for a number that’s slightly higher than the salary you are willing to accept. Example: If you’re willing to accept an offer of $110,000, ask for $115,000. Expect that the employer will come back slightly lower than the number you ask for in the negotiation. 

9. Be kind and firm. 

Just as it’s critical to showcase excitement for the role, respect for everyone’s time, and how likable you are, it’s just as important to show that you are kind, but confident in your salary negotiation conversations. 

The salary negotiation tip: Don’t waver on your counteroffer, but don’t be rude when ask for more. Be kind and firm with your answer. One way to do this is to verbalize how excited you are for the role, how much you can’t wait to get started, and if the employer can match your desired salary number, you can sign paperwork by the end of the day. 

10. Roleplay or practice your response. 

Practice makes perfect. This strategy is just as true for salary negotiation conversations. Don’t go into the conversation blind or without a little practice. Hiring managers and HR recruiters negotiate multiple times a week, month, and year, giving them much more experience with these conversations than most employees. Don’t let this hinder your success. 

The salary negotiation tip: Practice, practice, practice. If you have a friend or a colleague you can practice with—do it. If you don’t, practice in the mirror and outloud. The more you roleplay these conversations, the better you’ll be at showing gratitude, kindness, and confidence in your requests.

11. Read the room. 

It might seem obvious, but it’s important to know (and try to read) who you’re negotiating with. If most of your conversations are with the hiring manager, they might be more inclined to negotiate higher to get you on the team (after all, they’re the ones that will benefit from having you join the team and contribute to the team’s workload). If you’re negotiating with a recruiter, you might get a little more insight into the company processes for negotiation, but you might have a harder time getting them to break from the norm. 

The salary negotiation tip: Adjust your style based on who you’re talking to in the salary negotiation discussion. If you’re talking with the hiring manager, focus more on your value to the team. If you’re talking with HR, still include your value to the team, but try to get more insight into how the company negotiates salary and offers (for example, you might have better luck negotiating vacation days or other perks with HR than you would with a hiring manager).  

12. Prepare for tough questions. 

Salary negotiation conversations often come on the heels of a background check or with questions about other offers you might have on the table. Don’t shy away from these tough discussions. Instead, prepare your answers ahead of time (and practice what you’ll say). 

The salary negotiation tip: If something is going to come up in your background check, be prepared to address it. Lying won’t give you any more points in your salary negotiation talks, so be honest. And if the recruiter or hiring manager asks if you have other offers on the table, be honest about this as well. Even if you do have other offers, show the new employer that you want to work for them (and remember to never take more than 24 hours to reply to a job offer, even if you have others that are coming in).

13. Review the entire offer.

When you get an offer, don’t just look at the base salary of the offer. Instead, review the entire compensation package. For many companies, this includes a base salary, bonus, equity, benefits, and perks. As you negotiate, consider how you can negotiate in each of these areas to get to the total comp number you’re looking for in a counteroffer.

The salary negotiation tip: Don’t forget to review the entire offer. While hitting an appropriate base salary amount is critical, the total compensation is what’s most important. If the employer won’t budge on the base salary, ask for a higher bonus, more equity, better perks, or more vacation days. 

14. Consider asking for a sign on bonus.

After you review the total offer and you’ve tried to negotiate on benefits, equity, a bonus, or other perks without success. Consider asking for a sign-on bonus. This is another way to get your total compensation number up without adding to annual commitment from the employer.

The salary negotiation tip: Even if the business is firm on the total compensation offer, you may be able to negotiate a sign-on bonus. Most businesses expect you to negotiate the initial offer, so it doesn’t hurt to ask (especially if you do so with respect and kindness). 

15. Ask the right questions. 

If you find yourself in a negotiation situation where the hiring manager or the HR recruiter is surprised by your counteroffer, don’t consider the situation a failure. Instead, ask the right questions. 

The salary negotiation tip: Don’t let a stalled negotiation discussion get you down. Be prepared with the right questions. Those could include—what other information do you need from me to help you make a decision on this counteroffer? Do you have any areas in this compensation plan that are negotiable? 

16. Follow up in writing. 

After every negotiation conversation, follow up in writing via email. Capture the details you discussed over the phone or in person in writing to make sure everyone has the same documentation. It’s possible that the recruiter or the hiring manager will do this as part of their process, but if they don’t, make sure you take the initiative. 

The salary negotiation tip: Always follow up any counteroffer or agreement in writing. This simple tip can help you if you get a counteroffer back with details that are different from what you discussed verbally.

17. Don’t negotiate because you think you have to.

Even though most organizations expect you to counter an offer, it doesn’t mean that you always have to negotiate. If you receive a great total compensation package that aligns with your experience, the market value of the job, and your expectations, it’s okay to accept the offer as is. 

The salary negotiation tip: Know what you want in total compensation offer so if you receive it initially, you can accept the offer. It’s possible that you’ve had great salary conversations throughout your time interviewing with the new employer and they’ve matched all of your requests. If this is the case, don’t negotiate after receiving an offer that matches what you want. 

18. Know your limit. 

It’s possible that even with all of these salary negotiation tips, practicing your answers, researching your salary, and positive conversations with the potential new employer, they may not be able to match your counteroffer. If this is the case, it’s important that you understand your limit and know when it’s time to walk away. 

The salary negotiation tip: Get crystal clear on your bottom line and know what priorities are important to you. If the base salary isn’t close to what you want to see (or it doesn’t excite you to walk away from your current job), it’s going to be harder to get it to that number after you take the job. Know what your limit is and when to say it’s time to say negotiations are over and you’ll look somewhere else.

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