15 Tips for Negotiating Salary

There is one conversation topic no one ever wants to talk about: money. In any circumstance, the topic is uncomfortable for most. So one can only imagine how uncomfortable it is to discuss salary when applying for a position.

According to a survey performed by PayScale, 57% of people have never negotiated a salary. Among those, millennials and females were the least likely to negotiate. However, the same survey found that 44% of the people who asked for higher pay received the amount they wanted. So how does one go about negotiating salary? Here are Prepory’s best tips:

1.Never ask about salary in the first interview.

There are great questions to ask during an interview that will impress interviewers. Great questions keep you in the running for the position. Then, there are questions that may reflect poorly on you. Asking about salary on the first round interview is not perceived well. For more information on the best questions to ask during an interview, check out our blog!

Your first interview should be about proving your interest and experience in the company and role. Companies want to hire someone they believe will be an ardent supporter of the company, its mission, and its values. Similarly, the second round interview isn’t a great time to ask either because the company is still getting to know you.

2. Avoid the salary question, if possible.

It may seem counterintuitive; but, you want companies to feel as though you care more about the position than the salary. If a company directly asks you about your desired compensation, stress your interest in the role rather than the salary.

If they continue to push you about salary, state that you would like to be compensated similarly to employees in similar positions. Try to avoid a concrete number as much as possible. Providing a high salary number may cause employers to dismiss your application because your expectations are too high. Providing a low salary number may cause employers to pay you less than they normally would.

3. Wait until an offer is on the table.

The best time to discuss salary is when you know the company already wants you. Hiring managers know how difficult it is to find the right employee for a position. They have to read through hundreds of resumes, call dozens of people, and interview multiple candidates— often more than once. Finding a suitable fit is exhausting. You have beaten all the odds and they are impressed with your abilities. An offer in hand gives you leverage; they are far more likely to bend a little because they know how time-consuming it would be to find another suitable candidate.

However, be smart about your salary negotiation. You never want to push too much that they would be okay going through the process all over again.

4. Take some time.

If a company waits until they offer you the position to mention the salary, don’t say yes immediately. After they provide the salary amount, ask for it in writing. If there are other perks (benefits, time-off policies, etc.) to the position, ask for those as well.  Once you have been offered the position, ask for time to think about the offer. You may say you need to confer with your family first. Use this time to perform research to ensure you’re getting the best offer possible. Or, you may even use this offer as leverage for another company offering you a position.

5. Do your research!

It is difficult to think you will invest so much time interviewing with a company without knowing the position’s salary. We suggest doing some research. Websites like Glassdoor and PayScale provide salary amounts for various positions at many large companies. Use these websites to get a good picture of the amount of money you will be making at the company. If companies insist that you provide a salary number, you can use these websites to inform your answer.

For example, a Financial Analyst at Wells Fargo makes an average $69,841 a year with an average bonus of $5,495. So, if a hiring manager at Wells Fargo asks your desired compensation, you can confidently say $67,000 a year. You know that number is well within their range.

6. Know your worth.

Whether negotiating a salary for the first time or the fifth, it is important that you come prepared. You cannot ask for a high salary just because; you need real proof that your skills are valuable to the company and you should be compensated for them. Websites like PayScale, Salary.com, and Glassdoor have salary calculators that provide a lot of information about how much money you should be made in reference to other employees within your field.

While these salary calculators are helpful in providing some figures, you know your worth and the position more than a calculator does. Do research outside of these calculators to learn about industry averages and trends. Take into consideration the cost of living where you are. The average salary of a position in Nebraska City will be vastly different than one in Chicago. If you are living in a metropolitan area or a city with a higher cost of living, you can use it to your advantage.

Will you have to relocate for this position? If so, consider asking for additional money to offset the cost of moving.

Additionally, think about the context of the company you’re working for. If your company recently landed a huge account, you will likely have more responsibility or work. Use this to your advantage as you should be compensated appropriately for your work. Conversely, if the company recently took a financial hit or closed out a poor fiscal year, you may not want to ask for a salary outside of their financial capabilities.

7. Speak in terms of the company.

When negotiating salary, speak in reference to the company. You want to ensure that every asset you mention can be utilized by the company in some way. If not, you are simply boasting about your experiences. You cannot say, “I have a master’s so I deserve a higher salary.” Instead, discuss why your master’s degree may be helpful to the company. Perhaps your Masters of Business Administration helped you successfully restructure the company. Perhaps your ability to speak two languages opens up a larger market for the company, increasing revenue. Speak in terms of bottom-line about your skills, certifications, etc. that the company would find profitable.

8. Start higher.

Once you have determined a number commensurate with your skills and industry standards, reach a little bit higher. Ask for a salary higher than what you expect. Add $1,000 – $5,000 more than what you expect to make. For example, if you are fine making $55,000 a year, you may ask for $60,000 a year. It is customary during salary negotiations for the employer to negotiate down. Whatever number you offer, ensure you leave room for flexibility within your offer. While it is unlikely, they may even accept the higher offer you request!

9. Consider other benefits.

Consider other means to boost your benefits, especially if you don’t get the offer you wanted. For example, ask about paid-time-off opportunities, equities in the company, 401k matching, or other employee benefits.

You should also consider these benefits when weighing options for other job offers. Think about other factors such as company culture, benefits, job flexibility, opportunities for growth, etc. While one job may pay more, it may not have a great company culture. You want to consider all factors when thinking about your desired salary at any company. For example, you may be okay with a lesser salary at a company that you believe is a better fit or that has better benefits.

10. Be assertive but aware.

If the salary negotiation isn’t going the way you planned, know when to walk away. This is especially important if you were just offered a position. The last thing you want to do is come off as too pushy. If you are sensing pushback or an adamant hiring manager, take the salary for what it is. Then, make the right decision for you. You never truly know what companies are open to negotiation, so you must be perceptive to the hiring manager. If they don’t seem happy, you may not want to proceed. Pay attention to how they react to your salary negotiation request.

11. Express gratitude.

Asking for more money can be interpreted as being unhappy with the offer or your current standing in your position. If you are accepting a position, express gratitude for the offer and the opportunity. Transition by saying you have done your research on the company and would like to negotiate the salary package. If you are asking for a salary increase, express your gratitude that the company has trusted you to take on so much responsibility. Then, explain how you would like your salary to match your increased responsibilities.

12. Be respectful.

People are more likely to help you or fight for you if they like you. You don’t want a potential supervisor to walk out of the room unhappy or annoyed. They are unlikely to find any way to help you earn more money if that is the case. Maintain respect and remember that some of the negotiations may be out of their hands. You would never want to negotiate yourself out of a job. Balance confidence and persistence with intuition.

13. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

It is important you come into salary negotiations very prepared. As we mentioned, money isn’t always the easiest topic. Therefore, you must be prepared and ready to answer hard questions. Companies don’t often want to give away more money if they don’t have to. You want to be as fact-focused and logical as possible. If you need to, bring your research that highlights average salaries in your industry or market trends. This will give you talking points and help provide a compelling argument for your salary increase. The more you prepare, the more professional and polished you will appear as you ask for a higher salary. Practicing will also make you feel calmer when the real moment happens.

14. It’s okay to walk away.

While it may be scary, sometimes you must walk away. If a company is not willing to work with you in any way on your salary it may be a sign that they aren’t employee-focused. Weigh all of your options before making a final decision. Always consider that there could be a company out there willing to pay you your desired salary.

15. Always negotiate.

Even though the negotiating salary may seem like a daunting or scary task, always do it. In fact, 84% of employers expect you to negotiate your salary. You never know how much employers are willing to pay you more if you simply take the first offer they provide. Even if they say no, it does not hurt to ask!

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