How to negotiate your salary
When an employer extends a job offer, they’ll usually present you with a package that includes a proposed salary. However, if you don’t feel the pay aligns with your education, career level, skillset and strengths you have to offer, you may choose to negotiate for more money. You may also suggest another form of compensation (such as equity or stock options) or additional perks (such as extra vacation days).
Knowing how to negotiate salary offers is a valuable skill that can increase your earning potential throughout your career and better ensure you’re fairly compensated for the work you do. However, like any skill, it takes preparation and practice to do well.
10 tips to prepare for salary negotiation
- Start by calculating your value
It’s important you know exactly how much value you can offer an employer before you begin the process of negotiating a salary. There are several factors that can influence your compensation, such as:
- Geographic location
- Years of industry experience
- Years of leadership experience
- Education level
- Career level
- Licenses and certification
When you begin your salary negotiation, be sure to reiterate why you’ll be a valuable employee and consider using the above factors to justify your desired salary.
- Research the market average
Having this data can help support a more successful negotiation. Knowing the market average can give you a good baseline for your salary request and can even be used as justification.
- What is the national average salary for the position?
- What is the average in your geographic location and in cities nearby?
- How much do similar companies in your area pay employees in this position?
- Prepare your talking points
As you’re developing negotiation notes, it might be helpful to answer the following question as a framework for your conversation: Why do you feel you deserve a higher salary than the one the employer is offering? Be sure to put together a few talking points before you contact the employer and be as specific as possible. Those details might include information like:
- Results you’ve achieved in previous roles, such as goals you’ve met, revenue you’ve helped drive or awards you earned. If possible, use actual numbers.
- Years of industry experience, particularly if you have more experience than the employer stated as a requirement.
- Skills or certifications, especially if they are in high demand within your industry.
- Rehearse with a trusted friend
Practicing your talking points can help you gain confidence and identify areas of improvement. The best way to practice would be in front of a trusted friend or colleague that can provide helpful feedback. Alternatively, you can try recording your conversation on a camera or speaking in front of a mirror.
- Be confident
Delivering your negotiation with confidence is as important as the words you say. The more confidence you convey, the more confident the employer will be in their consideration of your feedback. Remember you’re bringing an important set of skills and experience to the organization, and the pay an employer offers should account for the value you provide. If you feel the employer’s original offer is below the value that aligns with your skills and experiences, have done market salary research and have personal value data that supports your ask, have confidence in your decision to ask for more.
- Ask for more
One fundamental rule of salary negotiation is to give the employer a slightly higher number than your goal. This way, if they negotiate down, you’ll still end up with a salary offer you feel comfortable accepting. If you provide a salary range, the employer will likely err on the lower end, so be sure the lowest number you provide is still an amount you feel is fair.
- Share expenses you’re incurring
Another reason you may want to ask for an increased salary is to cover any costs you’re accumulating by taking the job. For example, if you’re relocating to a new city for the job, you’ll have to pay moving expenses as well as any costs associated with selling or leasing your current home. If you’re taking a position further away from home, you’ll have to factor in commute expenses such as train fare or gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. It’s not unusual for candidates to ask employers to adjust the salary to account for your expenses.
- Be flexible
Even if the employer is unable to provide the salary amount you want, they may be able to offer other forms of compensation. For example, you may be able to negotiate more stock options, extra vacation days or additional work-from-home days to combat a lengthy commute. Don’t be shy about asking for alternatives. In some cases, they may be just as valuable, or more valuable, than a paycheck.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away
In some cases, an employer may not be able to meet your minimum salary requirement or offer additional benefits that make it worth your while. Or the employer may counter-offer with a salary that’s higher than their first offer but not as high as your request. In this case, you’ll need to decide if the job is worth the lesser amount.
If it’s less stressful than your current position, is closer to home or offers you more flexibility or more free time, you may be open to taking a lower salary. However, if not, you should consider walking away and seeking other opportunities elsewhere.
- Express gratitude
Once you reach the job offer phase of the hiring process, you’ve probably invested a great deal of time and energy applying and interviewing for the position. The employer has also invested time in the process, so it’s crucial you recognize this and thank them for considering you for the opportunity. Be sure to share any specific reasons why you’re excited about the job, such as the culture or the product.
Even if you end up declining the offer, it’s important to do so in a friendly and professional manner. After all, you never know what opportunities they may have available for you in the future.
Salary negotiation example by email
Here is how you might approach the situation if you want to begin the negotiation process via email:
Thank you for sending over the job offer package for the Marketing Director position. I want to state again how honoured I am to be considered for this exciting position and appreciate you sharing these details.
Before I can accept your offer, I want to address the proposed compensation. As I shared with your recruiting manager, I have more than ten years of experience in digital marketing and have worked in leadership positions for the past six years. In my last role, I increased the number of marketing influenced leads by nearly 40% year over year and helped secure the company a 25% higher annual revenue. Given my experience and expertise, I am seeking a salary in the range of £80,000 to £90,000, which is slightly higher than your offer of £75,000.
I know I can bring a great deal of value to ABC Company and help you exceed your revenue expectations this year. Please let me know when we can discuss the salary further.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Salary negotiation example face-to-face or by phone
Here is how you might approach the situation if you are negotiating face-to-face or via phone:
“Thank you for sending over the job offer package for the Regional Sales Manager position. I am excited about the opportunity and would like to reiterate how grateful I am you’ve considered me for this role. I believe in your product and know I could help you drive even greater results.
However, before I accept your offer, I want to address the proposed salary.
As I shared during the interview process, I have more than twelve years’ experience in sales, including eight years of experience in medical equipment sales, and I have two more years of management experience than stated in the job description. In my last role, my team exceeded the monthly quota by 15% for two years in a row and landed three of the largest accounts in company history.
Given my experience and expertise, I am seeking a salary in the range of £80,000 to £90,000. However, I am open to discussing alternative compensation, such as opportunities for additional stock options or increased performance-based bonuses.”