How to Successfully Negotiate Your Salary

Everyone wants to get paid more. It’s a no-brainer. However, wanting something is not the same as doing the work to earn it. Salary negotiation demands the same focal intensity and practice that is required to build any form of skill or habit, practice makes perfect. This guide will get into the nitty-gritty of how to tackle job offer negotiations and amplify your salary range with unflattering confidence.

While salary negotiation is uncomfortable, it’s important to remember that the prospective employer, hiring manager, and recruiters expect some degree of job offer negotiations.

At this level of the interview process, the prospective employer acknowledged that they want you on board. You have leverage, and the necessary skill-set required to do the job effectively. The contrast between choosing to negotiate or not is a potential 10-30% boost in the salary.

Studies have proven that the varying forms of negotiation that people partake in truly pivot the success of salary negotiation. Researchers identified that there are five types of negotiating strategies i.e. collaborating, competing, accommodating, compromising, and avoiding.

Regardless of the power stances and titles at the table, the tactics of effective negotiation boost the proposed current salary by at least a couple of thousand dollars a month. The most effective tactic was competing and collaborating. The strategies that weren’t linked to salary gains were compromising and accommodating. 

So, whether this is your first job or sixth, you’re male or female, this is for you. If you’ve been offered a position or your current position is ranking you at a lower pay scale than your job title deserves, it’s time to sharpen your salary negotiation tactics.

This is your chance to get paid for what you’re worth and set your financial trajectory for years to come. The market makes room for those who can skillfully negotiate terms and conditions of employment. 

Let’s dive into the top expert tips to win at salary negotiations.

Avoid these phrases

In the book Fearless Salary Negotiation, the author, John Doody, terms salary negotiations as “collaborations.” He emphasizes that the key component of that collaboration is undoubtedly communication. He warns to steer clear of “ambiguity” which would serve as a negative spiral and possibly even halt the negotiation altogether. He warns of the following tendencies in any salary negotiation:

Don’t share your current salary or salary expectations 

This information is something the company does not know, sharing that information will set a cap, and affect your salary negotiations later on. Share that you are not comfortable sharing that information. Differ the conversation to a shift to amplifying the values you could add to the potential company instead. Clarify that you are looking to make this shift to expand in responsibility and payment. 

Don’t be apologetic

Due to the discomfort in negotiations, often people pleasers resort to being endlessly apologetic. This magnifies your insecurities and sends subtle signals that you are willing to back down. This is a form of self-sabotage. Don’t do it. 

Avoid negativity

Elevate your stance by maintaining a positive demeanor and communicating effectively. Intentionally craft positive forms of any statement you wish to communicate. It helps to consider the perspective of the other. 

Don’t be overly agreeable 

Don’t be overly agreeable and conform to the first opportunity that jumps at you – regardless of how impressive it is. Instead, form a counteroffer to gauge just how much you could amplify it.

Do not procrastinate 

Push through the parts of the negotiation that you are uncomfortable with before you sign a contract. Some things are negotiable while others are not. Remember that if you differ from asking, the answer will always be “no.” 

Don’t be passive

Do not opt for passive words instead, be assertive. Say what you want. Ask for what you need. 

Don’t use broad terms. 

Be specific. The prospective employer needs to understand what you are comfortable with. Ask for a specific number. Avoid lukewarm words such as “could,” “more” or “try.” 

Eliminate “want” from your vocabulary 

The word “want” does not serve you. It embodies entitlement. Instead, embolden with “I deserve” and set the premise. Use numbers, evidence, and data. Focus on your value.

Get out of your way

In the process of job offer negotiations, we sabotage ourselves. We could miss out on opportunities to negotiate, amplify weaknesses, and second-guess ourselves before the negotiation even begins. If you are the anxious type, it may be a good idea to outline your insecurities, and plan ahead to compensate for them.  

According to professional career coach David Wiacek, there is a stigma aligned to negotiation that causes people from all career levels to accept less money than they know they deserve.

When you don’t know your worth, you steer the conversation to serve as a disadvantage to you. It is almost as though you are affirming and assigning a lesser to yourself. 

Remember that unless you are aggressive and unprofessional, there are no actual downsides to negotiating your potential salary. The spurred result will either be positive or neutral. The result will set a foundation that could potentially boost your financial trajectory.

If you are basing your request on objective data and research, employers begin to think highly of you. It proves that you know your value. It proves that you are assertive and willing to do proper research to be informed about the economics of the field.

If you made it this far in the interview process and earned a job offer, effective salary negotiation will boost your chance of getting what you want and deserve.

Your salary negotiation skills prove or disprove your competence and confidence. Hiring managers are looking to hire those who are assertive and decisive. This skill will serve you greatly – be at the company or in your own life. 

Don’t overlook the value of likability

It may seem elementary, but it’s pivotal. The hiring manager won’t fight for you unless they sense a degree of likability. That said, what you do in negotiations that could tally against you will decrease your chances for a better offer.

Regardless of the tension, maintaining a positive demeanor and being polite will always serve you. Asking what you deserve without opting for greed, pettiness, or aggression. Ask a friend to schedule you in for a practice interview, use the feedback to adjust your talking points assertively.

Talk about your value 

Before any salary negotiation, understand the values you have to offer the company, what your value is and how you plan to articulate that to the prospective employer.

Consider the many terms that could contribute to a boost in compensation package such as helping increase profitability, reduce costs, save time, be recognized as a strong performer, etc. It is important to gather every piece of evidence that affirms why you’re worth and what you’re worth. After you make your list, clearly explain them one by one. 

The factors that influence salary are location, experience, leadership experience, educational level, career level, skills, licenses, certifications, and recognition. 

Write down your discussion points. 

  • Using numbers, talk to the prospective employer about the goals you’ve met, the revenue you’ve driven, awards, and recognition earned. 
  • Discuss your years of industry experience, especially if you exceed their required amount. 
  • Emphasize your competitive advantages such as your skills and certifications. 
  • Refer to the average salaries offered by similar companies. 

Know the national average salary

While tallying your value, it is important to know the median salary of someone with similar credentials, and levels of experience. Use many multiple resources to determine your value such as talking to recruiters, co-workers, loved ones with similar experience, and peruse Google (with caution).

Ensure that the salary range is for other professionals in your current geographical region. This data will set the foundation, give you the confidence to ask for the salary range desired, and help you navigate accordingly.

The keywords to look for are the national average salary, the average salary respective to each region, and the salary range offered in similar companies for your allotted position. Finally, determine an average value for yourself to reasonably expect.

Give a specific number

When the prospective employer asks you how much salary you expect, most candidates worry about giving a specific number. They end up giving a wide-span. This is faulty for a couple of reasons. When giving a salary range, it is almost certain that the hiring manager will opt for the lower number because you indicated that you were open to it. It’s better to give just one solid number.

To a recruiter, this roots in poor decision-making skills which isn’t attractive. It is as though you are asking them to decide for you. That’s not the way to go about it.

Instead, give just one number that is fair, deserving, and lines up with what the market is paying. You need to outline and keep two numbers in mind i.e. your ‘ideal number’ and ‘willing to settle number.’

An ‘ideal number’ is a salary that would make you feel ecstatic because you know it’s significantly higher than what you think someone with your level of experience and skill-set is worth (at least for now).

Your ‘willing to settle number’ is the number you feel is justified as per your career level, skills, and experience. It is the number that you shouldn’t accept any less than.

That is the number that you’re worth. The golden rule of each negotiation is to set a higher figure than your goal. This sets the stage for you to the number you actually want after negotiations settle. 

Another aspect that could influence your salary is discussing job-related moving expenses, relocation, commute, etc. It is fairly common to ask employers to adjust their salary to cover the piling expenses related to accepting the position.

Consider timing 

Regardless of the stage of the interview, it is never a good idea to bring up salary expectations unless an employer prompts the discussion. Steering the conversation that way prompt that you are only there for monetary gain.

It could occur at the start of the interview, middle or end – either way, allow the conversation about salary negotiation to spark organically. 

If you’re looking to get promoted or ask for a raise, it’s optimal to wait for performance reviews.

You could utilize the result of your performance reviews, your value-added contrast, as well as the results of your market research to boost your case. Managers are expecting conversations of this sort to spur in those meetings.

Dress for success

Even if you are the most brilliant candidate, your prospective employer might not consider you for your ideal job. Studies have shown that 37% of bosses choose not to hire candidates based on the way they dress. 65% of hiring managers say that clothing choices are a deciding factor between two similar candidates. 

The psychology of power dressing gives us the power to influence people effectively. This is because the way you dress speaks volumes about your personality, profession, and social value.

Those dressed for success appear to be more confident, successful, trustworthy, flexible, and a higher earner. People react more positively to those who look better and take the time. Being dressed for success has other perks too. Those who are dressed for success will get promoted quicker as well.

Yoon-Hee Kwon, a researcher from North Illinois University, made a study on this endeavor. He found that men or women neatly dressed in work attire are perceived as brilliant, competent, and trustworthy. 

New York stylist Elsa Isaac affirms by saying that there’s no better way to communicate who you are, and the ideas you want to convey than with fashion. It is an effective medium where you can showcase personality and creativity. Your choice of clothing heavily influenced the impression you make and a powerful tool of communication.

Whenever possible dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Always opt for elevating your style. Own class pieces of clothing, statement pieces, and start continually evolving your wardrobe with the latest trends. Steer away from outdated clothes. Take the time to look neat and put together. 

Be influential

A company doesn’t negotiate, it’s the people behind the titles that could potentially. Before you could ever influence the person sitting across the table, you need to try to understand them. If you understand them, you could influence them to sway the offer in your favor. While a hiring manager could potentially bend the rules, an HR representative probably won’t. 

To be influential, you must pull from emotional intelligence. Try to understand the person from across the table rather than tainting them as your enemy. Be sure to listen and communicate effectively.

The most effective negotiation tactics require a win-win approach. Be solution-oriented and bring optimal proposals to the table. Set a standard that will premise your discussion. Be willing to compromise with a set bottom line.

The more you believe you are worthy of the salary negotiation, the more influenced the prospective employer or manager will be. The less you believe you are worthy of the salary negotiation, the less influenced the prospective employer or manager will be.

Saying you believe you deserve a salary boost does not necessitate that you believe you do. Even the slightest discomfort from having that conversation hinders the employer from believing that you do. A belief in self-worth is embodied in proper posture and clear communication.

A lacking belief in self-worth is embodied in posture and second-guessing yourself. Observe your body language and maybe even make a few power poses before you make the call will help you communicate more effectively. Remember that 93% of communication is non-verbal. 

Negotiate in good faith 

Do negotiate in good faith. Be genuine, courteous, and respectful. Know your value. Don’t shy away from it. Attempt salary negotiations from an informed and integral place.

Be prepared beforehand with the holistic knowledge of the pay scale others receive in the same field with your degree of experience, skills, and education. Make a case around that. Use references and evidence to support your reasoning. 

Ultimately, the holistic purpose of salary negotiation is to communicate your value and worth to employers by justifying why you’re worth what you’re worth. It’s not about arrogance and greed.

Justifying why you’re worth what you’re worth. Keep in mind that sometimes you could be a phenomenal negotiator, but still opt-out. When in the stage of the job-seeking, always lean into the career that will complement the life you want to lead, and the end goal you want to conquer.

Be flexible 

Some fail to see the big picture. Job offer negotiation and salary negotiation are not synonymous. Possibly more than salary, the things that will satisfy you from the job will be the value-added benefits.

Understand that sometimes even if an employer likes you that there are standard limitations, constraints, and salary caps. Look at the whole offer. The tasks, location, flexibility, travel, hours, benefits, growth possibilities, support for education, and much more. Sometimes you could even capitalize on more perks such as vacation time, signing bonuses, etc. 

Be willing to walk away  

Be willing to walk away. If you have the wriggle space to be selective about various job offers, use it as leverage. If you know the value you could bring to the company, the employer should be willing to compensate you for it.

If it comes to it and the final offer doesn’t seem to be worth the effort, don’t be afraid to walk away. The right company will pay. If a recruiter is only looking for a “good deal” then, you shouldn’t want any part of it anyway. Remember that there will be more opportunities. Keep negotiating and you’ll get the number you want.

Show gratitude

At the final stage of the interview process, it’s important to be gracious. Both, you and the employer, invested much time into it. Thank them for their time and consideration. Share reasons you are excited about the job. If you end up turning it down, do so with grace and professionalism. In this way, the prospective employer will keep you in mind for future opportunities.