How to Negotiate Your Salary

By Chinue Ellis

Last updated: Mar 10, 2023

    Table of contents

In this guide, we will share some tips that you can use to negotiate your salary before or after accepting a job offer or promotion.

Negotiating a job offer

From filling out the job application to going back and forth with recruiters to the endless panel of interviewers – for many job seekers, it can sometimes feel like there is no end to the anxiety-inducing interview process. But ironically, getting to the final stage of interviewing can often be the most stressful part of the job-seeking process. So many questions and doubts run through our heads: Will I get the job? What if the salary is lower than what I want? How do I know if I’m being compensated fairly? Will they take back my offer if I ask for too much?

If you have ever felt this way during the offer stage, know that it is completely normal to feel hesitant about giving a counter-offer. According to a study conducted by Indeed, 58% of candidates claim to never or rarely negotiate their pay. Fortunately for applicants, it is becoming more common for companies to be upfront about their compensation to encourage a workforce that is more transparent and equitable and makes more effective candidate sourcing. By May 2022, New York City will pave the way for wage transparency, as many New York City-based employers will soon be required by law to include the salary range for all job postings.

But regardless of whether you already know the salary range, knowing how to counter an offer is a useful skill to have if you want to ensure you are always receiving the compensation you deserve. In this guide, we will share some tips that you can use to negotiate your salary before or after accepting a job offer or promotion.

When to negotiate your salary

Typically, it's best to negotiate a salary after you receive a job offer. That is when you have the most leverage as a candidate. This way, you already know that you were the organization’s top pick for the role and that they would be scared to lose you as a potential employee. If you attempt to negotiate before being offered the position, it could come across as solely being interested in the position for the money, and it would give the hiring team reason to dismiss you from the process early on while they still have other options.

However, switching companies is not the only time that you can negotiate your salary. If you are offered a promotion or a raise at your current job, it might also be a good idea to ask for more money. Studies show that employees who leave their current roles for a new opportunity can see a 10 to 20% pay increase, or in extreme cases, even up to 70%. So be sure to negotiate with your current employer before blindly accepting the opportunity to take on more work for less pay than is fair.

How to negotiate your salary

1. Don't share your salary expectations too early in the process

Occasionally, recruiters might ask for your salary expectations before you’ve even started the interview process, partially to see if your expectations fall within the company’s budget. However, giving the recruiter a number too early can seriously impact your earning potential because you might ask for far less than what the organization may be able to offer you.

Instead of answering the question outright, let the recruiter know that you would need to learn more about the role and the company before you feel comfortable sharing your expectations. This way, you give yourself more time to compile information on fair compensation and you save yourself from being dismissed from the process before they've measured your candidacy.

2. Do your research

To properly negotiate your salary, you need to familiarize yourself with how others in your industry and at your level of seniority are being compensated. One of the best ways to do this is by reviewing up-to-date salary audits on websites such as Payscale, Glassdoor and Linkedin.

Another great way to determine what salary you should be asking for is by staying abreast of current market trends. In recent years, the Great Resignation and the inflationary economy have had an outsized impact on the job market, putting more control in the hands of job seekers. Informed applicants are able to leverage market insights to negotiate their job offers and as a result, organizations must fight to stay competitive.

3. Know your worth

It's hard to make a compelling case for why you deserve more money if you don't seem confident in yourself. Remember, if you’ve made it this far in the process, the organization already wants to hire you — you just have to remind them of why. So when negotiating your salary, be sure to reiterate all that you bring to the table that makes you worthy of higher pay. Whether you are a C-level executive or an individual contributor, we all offer a unique perspective, accomplishments and set of skills gathered from our past experiences.

In addition, it's a good idea to inform the hiring team of why your lifestyle might necessitate a certain salary. For example, if you have children or your current job pays more than what they offer, a lower salary would make your life far less comfortable.

4. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket

When it comes to negotiating, sometimes a little healthy competition helps to seal the deal. It is important to not put all of your faith into one job offer — not only because it can fall through, but because you can leverage your other offers to get higher pay. When giving a counteroffer, be sure to let the employers know that you have received more competitive offers and if they want you badly enough, they will be willing to raise their price. This will also allow you to negotiate multiple deals at once.

Successfully doing this might mean slowing down your interview process with one company, while moving it along with another so that you can have multiple offers coming in at the same time.

Make it clear you want the job

In contrast to the above, even though you may have a lot of options, you should never make a potential employer feel like they are your last choice. If you intend to negotiate for a better package, be sure to convey that you are serious about wanting to work there and remind them of your reasons. Additionally, when using your other offers as leverage, make it clear that this is the position you really want but if the compensation package doesn't meet your requirements, you will (reluctantly) have to accept an offer somewhere else.

6. Consider the whole deal

In the case of most job offers, the base salary is just one part of the package and it is equally as important to examine the company’s perks and benefits. Here are a few other forms of compensation or attractive assets that an organization can include that might make it a winning deal overall:

  • Bonuses
  • Equity
  • Retirement savings plan
  • Comprehensive benefits package
  • Perks such as remote work, health and wellness stipends, ample vacation and parental leave, and more
  • Support for continued career development, growth and education

Although it is important to know your worth, money isn't always everything. Sometimes, it is better to focus on the value that an organization can offer as a whole and recognize that investing in your future can be worth more than a paycheck.

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