5 Tips to Negotiate Salary

Whether you are on the prowl for a new job, or looking forward to your annual raise discussions at your current place of work, the ability to negotiate salary is a necessity. We all know we should be negotiating. We also all know that one should never accept a first offer. If you have never negotiated your salary, for whatever reason, it’s time to sharpen your negotiating skills.

If you haven’t been brave enough to negotiate salary, you’re not alone. In fact, a survey by Salary.com revealed that only 37% of people always negotiate their salaries, and a low 18% never do. Even worse, 44% of those surveyed never brought up the possibility of a raise during their performance review. I may only have just over a decade in work experience, but I can tell you that you don’t get what you don’t ask for! Start negotiating your worth now! I’m sharing 5 tips to help you negotiate salary from this day forward.

First, what does negotiating a salary entail?

According to The Balance, “salary negotiations involve discussing a job offer with a prospective employer to negotiate a salary and benefits package that’s in line with the market (and hopefully, that meets or exceeds your needs). The most productive salary negotiations occur between people who realize that they have a common goal: to get the employee paid appropriately for their skills and experience.”

That means, before you even begin prepping for the salary negotiation, you should already understand what you are worth and what you should be paid. Do some research on websites like Glassdoor and Career Contessa to see what people in your similar position are earning. You can also reach out to recruiters to get an idea of what people in your field should be earning, based on experience. Once you know what you should be earning, you can start prepping for the negotiation.

#1 Timing is Everything

Thinking about negotiating your salary during your next performance review? Think again. Most managers, especially at larger companies, already know what they are going to reward you in the form of a raise months before your actual performance review takes place. Instead of waiting until your performance review, start discussions with your boss 3 to 4 months earlier. This will let your boss know that you are seeking a higher salary.

If you are in the interview stage, timing is also everything here. The best time to start negotiation talks is when your prospective employer makes you an offer. Some recruiters will ask what your minimum is before the formal interviews take place, if this happens, state that you would like to discuss the responsibilities of the job before discussing pay.  If the recruiter persists, or if you want to set a minimum boundary, throw out the average of what people in the job currently are making, plus 10%. Also, stipulate that other factors (like benefits, vacation time, etc.) can be taken into consideration and adjust that minimum.

#2 Be Prepared to Walk Away

If your position at the company is contingent on the raise amount you receive, you must identify a minimum amount. Whatever the minimum amount is, if your employer is not willing to meet above it, you should be prepared to walk away. Preparation can come in the form of having another offer on the table with a different company, or a large enough savings to find another job. Of course, you can always accept what they give you, but if you aren’t happy at the place of work, a bump in pay below your minimum won’t help. Read 7 Signs It’s Time to Change Jobs and 5 Questions to Ask Before Quitting for more insight.

If you are in the interview phase, it may be a lot easier to walk away from an offer that doesn’t meet your worth. Not sure way your minimum offer amount should be? The Muse suggests it “could be based on financial need, market value, or simply what you need to feel good about the salary you’re bringing home.”

#3 Get Ready to Brag About Yourself
A final preparation activity will be writing out all of your accomplishments, awards, customer and/or co-worker testimonials and reviews, and milestone projects. The purpose here is to show your boss that you are an incredibly hard worker who is worthy of a raise. It’s easy to forget all of the great things you do when you aren’t prepared. So, instead of coming up with your accolades on the spot, have them written down ahead of time.

The same applies in the interview stage. There is always a question around what you’ve done in the past and how it can help in the position you are applying for. Have all of your accomplishments and milestones thought out ahead of time. Get ready to brag about yourself! You are a valuable asset and any company would be happy to have you.

#4 Be Confident

When it comes time to negotiate your offer, whether during the interview or while talk with your manager, one key component is confidence. You must be confident in what you are asking for. You must believe that you are worthy of what you are asking for. You must have your minimum worth defined and be willing to walk away if it’s not granted. This can be a scary conversation, but your confidence must outweigh the fear. Practicing and covering possible question scenarios ahead of time can help you feel more comfortable and confident during the actual discussion.

#5 Ask Questions

Something that I never did in the past, but can understand the value of during salary negotiations, is ask appropriate questions. The purpose of asking questions during the negotiation talk is to understand the wants, needs, and desires of your company. Professor Leigh Thompson at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University says that 93% of all negotiators fail to ask “diagnostic questions” in circumstances where getting them answered would significantly improve the outcome of negotiations.

When you ask diagnostic questions, you are seeking out exactly what your employer prefers, fears, and puts as a high priority. When you know this information, you can offer up solutions. You can showcase how you can help or how your past experience can assist.

Related: 5 Reasons You Didn’t Get a Raise


Remember, negotiating a salary can be scary, but what’s the worst that can happen? You can’t get what you don’t ask for, so go in prepared and ask away! Have you ever negotiated your raise or salary? What tips can you share with me and other CGS readers? Post a comment below to share your tips and experiences!

The CGS Team



4 thoughts on “5 Tips to Negotiate Salary”

  1. This is an interesting article. I’m currently an intern at a current company and they offered me a permanent position with the company. I was excited about the offer as I could stop my job hunting and know that I was comfortable where I was at. However the salary was not what I was expecting. I was getting offered less than individuals in my same position who also started as interns.. Another thing to note was they they had less education than me, one having a GED, the other an associates. I had a bachelors. I asked for 50 cents more, just so that I could be even with them. They refused, even after I pointed out the discrepancies, and withdrew the job offer. My whole perspective of the company changed over 50 cents.

      1. They withdrew the offer, so the only thing I can do is to continue my internship as I agreed to do. So I will be moving on. I’ve had people telling me I should have just accepted despite not getting paid equally and I blew a whole job over 50 cents. But to know when that you have gone the extra mile to ensure your success and to not get paid the same as others who haven’t bothered me. And to know that a company wouldn’t raise my salary by 50 cents says a lot about them and how they value their employees.

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