7 min read

The best strategies for negotiating salary at a new job

Rounding it up

  • Negotiating your salary is almost always necessary to ensure you’re fairly compensated for the value you will bring to the company.

  • Always lead with gratitude and your desire for more money or greater benefits will be better-received.

  • Benefits are an important part of overall compensation, so don’t leave them out of salary negotiations.

  • Confidence is key. Know what you’re worth and don’t be afraid to ask for it; it will only help you in the long run.

The Best Strategies to Negotiate Salary During Hiring

The hiring process is an exciting time! You’re on the verge of a new beginning at a new company with new coworkers and you’re taking a big step in your career. It’s easy to let all that excitement cloud your judgment when the offer hits your inbox. You’re thrilled this company chose you, and you’re ready to hit the ground running! But being adequately compensated with both pay and benefits is critical to maintaining or, hopefully, improving your quality of life. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a job if it means you won’t be able to afford your mortgage, make the necessary payments on your debt, or work towards your goals.

Negotiating your salary doesn’t have to be scary. If you’re currently going through the hiring process or plan to soon, follow these tips and strategies to negotiate salary and benefits before you sign on the dotted line.

6 Strategies to Negotiate Salary

Before we start, we want to emphasize how important it is to always enter the conversation around salary on a positive note. Express your appreciation for the offer, your genuine excitement about the role, and how much you look forward to working for the company. If you enter into salary negotiations by first setting a positive and excited tone, your asks will be better received. Once you’ve done that, these are the strategies you can use to walk away from the conversation feeling accomplished.

1. Support Your Number with Research

The number one tip you should take before you even receive your offer is to do your research. You need to know what the average salary is for someone in this position at a company of this stature. In general, senior roles are going to pay more than junior roles, and big tech companies are going to pay more than small businesses. Keep this in mind while doing your research.

It’s pretty easy to find a range for similar positions with a simple online search. Sites such as Glassdoor not only provide statistics on salaries, but also on hourly wages and benefits, and even reviews on plenty of companies to give you an inside look at the company culture and what it may be like to work there. Once you have a range, you will know right off the bat whether the offer you’ve received is too low or on par with the average for the position and you can use this information to ask for more.

2. Know Your Value

Knowing a salary range for the role you’re interviewing for is step number one, but the range can be wide and it doesn’t take into account your specific company or your unique work experience. For instance, if you have a Master’s degree, you may be able to add a significant amount to an average salary, depending on your field. According to a government study, master's degree graduates make, on average, 40% to 47% more than those with an undergraduate degree. Niche experience is also in high demand: those with an apprenticeship certificate in a skilled trade earned 31% more than those with a high school diploma in 2015. It’s important to know the value of your education, training, certificates, and licenses so that you’re fairly compensated for them.

It’s also important to research the company and the role before negotiating. If your skills and experience meet all the qualifications they’re asking for (or more) and you believe you can provide value to the team in x, y, and z ways, it’s a good idea to negotiate and bring all of these points into the conversation.

3. Leverage the Competition

When it comes time to actually negotiate your offer, the best leverage you have is a competing offer. If you’re interviewing for multiple roles at once, don’t shy away from pitting the companies against one another – tactfully, of course. Express that this role is your number one choice, but you do have another offer that is meeting your salary or benefit requirements in this way. If you already have an offer in hand from the company you are negotiating with, which you always should have before negotiating, the hiring manager will want to do what they can to close the deal and not re-enter the hiring process.

4. Don’t Only Focus on the Number

While your base pay is extremely important, it’s not the only valuable piece of your offer. In some cases, great benefits can outweigh great pay. Take a good look at your benefits package before negotiating the offer. Does it cover medical expenses, include a great pension plan, or allow you all the time off you could want? Don’t overlook these valuable pieces of the overall compensation package; they can be worth well more than a few thousand extra dollars a year in traditional pay.

You can also discuss more than just pay during salary negotiations. If it’s important to you to have a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home, consider asking for this in lieu of asking for more money; or, if more money is your priority, ask for additional benefits as a compromise if the company can’t meet your number.

5. Set a Time to Reevaluate in the Future

Entering into salary negotiations doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get the number you ask for. If you do, great! But, you will likely come to a compromise with your employer somewhere between what you’re asking and what they’re offering. It’s important to know this going in so you aren’t disappointed. If you don’t think the total compensation package is suitable, or your employer comes back with “it’s just not in the budget,” it’s not the end of the road. Thank them for considering your number, discuss other potential benefits i.e. more PTO or the ability to work from home, and finally, ask if you can set a time in the future, for example, six months or nine months from now, to talk about your performance and reevaluate your salary.

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This is also a good time to ask about the trajectory of your role. Is it possible to be promoted in a timely manner? Does the company hire more senior roles from within? Asking these questions shows that you plan to stay with the company for the long haul—if there is good potential for growth. The answers will also tell you whether a raise could be in your near future.

6. Be Confident

This is the final tip but it may be the most important. When that offer comes in, don’t be intimidated by negotiating. This may be particularly important for women who, in the past, have associated negotiating with feelings of being over-assertive, rude, and unbecoming. This stigma is changing worldwide and now more than ever it is especially important for women to negotiate for what they’re worth and close the gender pay gap.

Regardless of gender, it can feel difficult or intimidating to walk into a conversation with your future boss and ask for more money, but hiring managers actually expect you to negotiate. They will anticipate the topic of salary to come up, and if you take one or all of the strategies for negotiating your salary we shared above, you will be well prepared to have that conversation. So walk into it with confidence; negotiating is about achieving what both you and your employer deem fair and right compensation for the work you will be doing. It’s not about outwitting each other to see who will surrender more money.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Remember this: Negotiating doesn’t only help you earn more in your present role. It also helps you earn increasingly more in future roles and a lot more over the course of your life. If you negotiate your salary now, you will set a higher baseline for your salary moving forward and be more likely to negotiate your salary in the future (because you’ve done it before!).

Follow these strategies and enter salary negotiations with confidence — you’re worth it. Then, start putting that extra cash into investments and earn even more. By the way, congratulations on the new role!

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Ally Streelman

Ally Streelman is a storyteller whose work spans money, wellness, travel, and more with the chief goal of empowering readers. When she’s not stringing together sentences, you can find her immersed in a new city, cookbook, or novel or encouraging women to take hold of their financial journey.