You’ve done it — after countless informational interviews, phone calls with recruiters, and interviews with hiring managers, you finally received an offer for your dream job.
But before you accept it, you need to know how to negotiate your salary.
Being able to negotiate now effectively won’t just affect the next year or two of your life. Instead, it will create a snowball effect that could result in significant losses.
However, negotiation can feel awkward and intimidating, mainly if you’ve never done it. Here, we will explore how to negotiate a salary to ensure you receive what you deserve.
How to Negotiate Salary: 15 Steps
Whether you need to negotiate your salary in person or over the phone, the following tips will mainly apply to either situation.
However, avoid negotiating over email.
A HubSpot tech recruiter, Olivia Chin says, “I usually strongly prefer phone or in-person over email or writing because there’s a benefit to on-the-fly adjustments and questions — it makes for a more fluid conversation.”
Take a look at the following tips and the sample script to learn how to negotiate your salary.
1. Do your research.
First, research the salary range for the type of role you’re offered.
Ensure you know how much you can earn on the job market by considering all compensation factors, including industry, experience level, and location.
While many companies are remote or location-flexible, the cost of living is still a factor that can influence your salary. You must also ensure you’re researching salary in the correct industry.
A social media manager for a non-profit will have a different salary range than a social media manager at a major software company, so you must focus on the salary range for roles in the correct industry.
Additionally, look for information regarding salaries at your new employer. Use sites like Glassdoor to understand what people in your role or similar roles are making at the company.
Pro tip: You want to convey to your employer that your data is grounded in reality. Begin each statement by saying, “Based on my research… ” so the employer knows you’re not just asking for a higher salary for the sake of it.
2. Understand your value.
To successfully negotiate your salary, you must come to the meeting prepared with various business-related reasons you’re worth a certain amount.
You must seriously weigh the worth of the skills and experiences you bring to the table to emphasize them during the negotiation.
As career coach Brittany Hayles shares in the video below, “Sell your value, not your expectations.”
Hayles suggests that “at the end of the day, [the employer is] a business and two things are top of mind for them: profit and saving resources.
The best way to sell your value when negotiating your salary is to tell them how your being hired will save them money or resources.”
Listen to more of her salary negotiation tips below:
For instance, let‘s say you’ve received an offer letter for the social media manager role at a software company that offers the same starting salary as your current role.
However, you‘ve significantly exceeded expectations in your current position: Rather than increasing the company’s Instagram traffic by 50%, you increased it by 125%.
This information proves you’re worth the additional investment to your new employer. Or, let’s say you earned your last company an additional $50,000 through a new campaign you spearheaded.
Your new employer might see the necessity of offering you an extra 5% on top of your current offer.
Know how to communicate your value and what you bring to the role so you can confidently negotiate the salary you’re looking for.
Pro tip: Write down any valuable talking points you made throughout the interview process and use them to emphasize your skills and experience during negotiation.
3. Prepare your talking points ahead of time.
Once you’ve researched and know what number you want to ask for, prepare your talking points before your meeting.
Having everything outlined ahead can help you stick to your main points and avoid coming up with responses on the fly. The last thing you want is to forget a significant number or value when presenting your case.
Pro tip: If you’re nervous, writing your talking points down can help you stay on track.
4. Practice the conversation.
If you need to prepare more for the conversation, practice what you will say to someone you trust.
Saying your talking points out loud not only helps you work through them, but it can also help build your confidence — and confidence is critical when negotiating.
Practice your talking points with a friend, a family member, or anyone you trust and are comfortable around.
Bonus points if they’re familiar with the role or industry you’re interviewing for so they can offer specific tips for your talking points.
Best for: Practicing your talking points is especially important if this is your first time negotiating.
5. Come to the meeting with a collaborative attitude.
A negotiation is not an argument or a chance to offer an ultimatum.
Instead, negotiation is an opportunity for a productive, collaborative conversation to reach a compensation package that feels fair to you and your employer.
Exercise gratitude and come prepared with your non-negotiables, but remain flexible on the final result.
For instance, if the company can‘t match your highest-range salary, you’ll accept additional vacation days or 100 more units of Restricted Stock allotment.
Best for: If you’re set on accepting this job offer, consider additional benefits you could ask for.
6. Have a salary range in mind.
The key to landing a job that aligns with your ideal salary is having a salary range rather than a set number. It can be challenging to get to a particular number, so come up with a range you’d be comfortable with.
Luckily, due to recent salary transparency laws, many job postings disclose a salary range now.
This works in your favor as a job seeker because not only does it help you decide whether or not to apply for the role in the first place, but it puts you in a better negotiating position.
When it comes time for your negotiation conversation, ask for the number at the top of your range. This is a crucial negotiating practice, not just in the job search but also in business settings.
The benefit of doing this is two-fold. If you ask for a number higher than your ideal salary, you might receive it. But even if the employer counters with a lower number, it will most likely be close to the compensation you’re aiming for.
What we like: It’s no surprise that 2 in 3 employees prefer to work at a company that shares pay information. As salary transparency becomes more prevalent, salary negotiation will become more transparent for job seekers.
7. Ask questions.
Instead of making statements like “I need” or “I want,” ask questions to keep the conversation going. Try saying, ”I would be more comfortable with X. Is that number flexible?”
It can be a turn-off to employers if you begin the negotiation with solid statements like, “I need 5K more.“
You must handle the conversation with tact. An employer will be much more open to the phrase, ”I would be more comfortable with an additional 5K.”
To further demonstrate empathy for your employer, add, “Is that number flexible?”
This phrase allows the employer to tell you how much more they can offer or alternative benefits they might increase while maintaining a sense of collaboration, which is crucial.
What we like: Asking questions and being flexible helps turn negotiation into a conversation rather than an ultimatum.
8. Be open.
Your employer doesn‘t want an endless negotiation, and neither do you. Determine your stopping point and say, “If you can offer X, then I’m on board.”
Using the phrase “then I’m on board” signifies to your employer that if they offer you something, you’re willing to accept the role, and negotiations can end.
Of course, you want to be fair to your employer.
If they tell you they can‘t offer you 60K, you don’t want to say, “Offer me 60K, and then I’m on board.”
Instead, you might say, “I understand the best you can do is $55,000. If you can do $55,000 and an extra week of paid vacation each year, then I’m on board.”
Best for: If you’re set on securing this job, then be open to different perks and benefits that can compensate.
9. Remember your worth — regardless of gender.
According to a pay transparency survey by Glassdoor, 68% of employed women have tried to negotiate their pay.
While 59% reported being successful in their negotiations, there are still hesitations employed women have around negotiating pay. Common fears include the potential of being denied or losing their job altogether.
To reduce these fears, it helps when you‘re negotiating to consider how you are an asset to the company. If you focus on reminding the company how you’ll support the organization and help them, you can make the conversation feel less about you.
Pro tip: Come prepared with as much market research and data as possible. Being equipped with research can help you confidently negotiate without having to come up with as many qualitative points.
10. Prepare to make a counteroffer.
Remember, making a counteroffer is expected, so be prepared to do it. Consider what your counteroffer will be ahead of the conversation for a successful negotiation.
While you’re interviewing, you should already have an idea of what your ideal salary is. Bring that number to the negotiation and be prepared to counter with that number if the initial offer is lower than your target.
Pro tip: Once the negotiation has started, it’s not uncommon to go back and forth a few times. To help speed up the process, have a final number in mind that you will accept.
11. Don’t commit to a number during the interview process.
Do your best to avoid verbally committing to a set salary during interview conversations.
If you‘re asked directly about your expected salary during the interview, say you’re open based on the predicted range shared in the job listing.
Not committing to a specific number during the interview stage leaves room for negotiation if they give you an offer.
If you want even more ideas for what to say in this situation, career coach Cass Thompson shares detailed advice on how to answer this question in the video below:
Pro tip: You shouldn’t have to negotiate salary in an interview, but if you’re pushed to answer, provide a range so you don’t get stuck with a specific number.
12. Keep it professional.
Keep the conversation focused on the value you bring to the role. Don’t use personal financial needs like student loans as your reason for negotiating. Instead, use your resume to exemplify why you deserve a certain amount.
Pro tip: Focus on the value you bring to the role and how it benefits the company. When you position your expertise as a value-add, rather than making it personal, you’re making a better case for why you deserve the salary you’re asking for.
13. Consider other things to negotiate.
You can negotiate more than your salary. Consider which employee benefits and perks might be negotiable if the pay isn’t.
Aside from money, here are some other things you negotiate:
- Vacation days.
- Work schedule or location (asking to be remote or hybrid).
- Stock options.
- Moving expenses.
- Professional development.
Pro tip: Consider what you value the most and whether or not you’d be willing to accept a lower monetary offer if it came with one of these perks.
14. Take your time.
Negotiating can be nerve-wracking. While you may want to accept whatever they offer just to get the conversation over with, don’t feel pressured to respond immediately if unsure.
It’s okay (and often expected) to ask for 24 hours to think it over.
Take your time thinking about what they’re offering and if it aligns with the salary and benefits you had in mind.
After considering it and researching, you may find a few more things you’d like to negotiate to come to a package that works for everyone.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to return after 24 hours with a counteroffer. Come to the conversation prepared with your talking points and have a final number in mind.
15. Thank them for the conversation.
Regardless of how the conversation ends, you must thank your employer for taking the time to negotiate with you.
This conveys professionalism and shows the employer you respect them and their time — which is more likely to get you what you want and be the right thing to do.
How to Negotiate Salary: Sample Script
Whether you’re negotiating your salary over the phone or by email, here’s a complete script to get you started:
Thank you so much for the offer. I’m very excited about this opportunity. Over the phone, you offered $50,000. Based on my research, the salary range for this role in the industry is typically between $55,000 and $65,000.
Additionally, I feel I can offer unique value to your company. I earned my company an additional $10,000 in my prior position with a campaign I launched.
For these reasons, I would be more comfortable if we could settle on $60,000. My qualifications and experience reflect this salary.
I’d be eager to accept if you can move the pay to $60,000.”
Remember that if you offer a range, you want to start at the higher end of the range, but you should expect the employer to try to meet you more in the middle.
Responding to the script above, an employer might say, “Okay, how about $55,000?”
If they counter with a little less than what you’re asking for, you might respond with the following statement based on an employee benefit or perk you feel is essential to you:
“I understand the best you can do is $55,000. If you can do $55,000 and increase the Restricted Stock Unit allotment to 100 units, then I’m on board.”
Lastly, if you need to decide whether to accept the offer, it’s acceptable to say, “Great. Do you mind if I take 24 hours to think it over?”
Knowing how to negotiate your salary is a valuable skill that can help you throughout your career. Follow these steps to negotiate confidently and secure compensation that matches the value you bring.