Many of my clients hesitate to negotiate their salaries in fear of losing the job offer, upsetting the hiring manager, or because the idea of salary negotiation invokes their anxiety.
Generally, the need to negotiate a higher salary may arise in two situations:
- You’ve received a job offer but the salary is lower than your expectations.
- You’ve been working at a company happily for a couple of years and you want to step up now in terms of salary. You can see that your peers are receiving more than you and the numbers quoted by recruiters are also fairly higher than what you receive.
To tackle the above-mentioned situations, I’m sharing 13 tips on salary negotiation below that will help bump up your annual earnings.
However, while you prepare to negotiate a higher salary in 2022, you should steer clear of these common mistakes I’ve seen my clients make.
Here’s a step-by-step outline that you can use to initiate and manage salary negotiation conversation without any fear whatsoever:
Always Make a Counteroffer
It is rare that employers will put their best offer first. Hence, those who negotiate salary have a chance of earning more than those who don’t. By negotiating a salary raise, you do not come off as an ungrateful person. In fact, employers expect the candidates to negotiate and extend a counteroffer. According to a survey by salary.com, 84% of employers expect job applicants to negotiate salary during interviews.
However, you shouldn’t give your number first. This is because you may unknowingly give a low salary. If the employer asks your salary expectations directly, you can answer that you’re open based on the range they have to offer. Here’s a script to help you answer when asked, “What’s your expected salary?”
“Based on my skill set and experience, I’m looking to step up in terms of both salary and responsibility. However, I’m flexible based on the range you’ve to offer after we’ve discussed the details of this role.”
If the range shared by the hiring manager is lower than what you expected, you can say:
“Though I’m fairly flexible, given my strong track-record, this is slightly below my target range that is $180,000 per year. Is there any way we can fill this gap?.”
or you can say:
“Based on my research for similar companies and positions, this is slightly below market range, which is $180,000 per year. Is there a way we can match that?”
If they’re willing to accept your number, great! If not, you can try negotiating for non-salary perks, as described in this later segment..
Do Your Research
You must first do your own research to be able to know and ask for what you rightly deserve. Before you ask for a salary raise, you should remember that salaries depend on a number of factors which include the following:
- Years of experience: Take a look at how much people “like you” are being paid in the industry.
- Skillset: If you have an advanced skill set, you can leverage it as a justification to ask for a better salary.
- Job Industry: What are the national average salaries in your job industry?
- Average salaries in your locality: Different regions within the United States have different average salaries. Checking this will help you come up with a number suitable for your region and nearby cities. Moreover, you can research how much similar companies in your area pay employees in this position.
- Company size: Looking at the number of employees in the company will help you assess the cushion you have with your demand. Most start-ups often offer lower salaries but balance out the overall package with equity share. This can result in significantly higher compensation for successful startups. On the other hand, large companies are often more flexible with salaries compared to their benefits packages. You might want to keep this in mind as you research your employment offer.
- Company policies: Some companies have a strict no salary negotiation policy, such as some local government bodies. In these situations, consider weighing the benefits you receive from these jobs against what you would achieve in the private sector.
You should supplement your research by asking others in your field, especially recruiters specializing in your industry; this rings doubly true for senior executives, whose pay scale varies greatly from one company to the next. A CEO for a five-person company has a totally different salary than one for a 500-person company. So, it’s important to network and do research by asking people directly. Make sure that you ask both men and women about their salary in order to avoid falling into the gender pay gap.
Don’t Use a Range
Pick a number using online tools like Payscale.com, Salary.com, and Glassdoor’s salary tool. Finalize two numbers:
- your ideal salary
- your “walkaway” number – if you are offered this number or anything lower, you walk away from the negotiation.
Note: It’s important to give the tools I listed above as much information as possible; that way, the range they give you will be nice and small.
Negotiate for Other Benefits
While you prepare to negotiate for a higher salary, consider the complete package. Remember that you can always negotiate more than just money. Other benefits you can negotiate for include:
- more paid time off
- flexible working hours
- reduced working hours
- support for continued education or certification
- sign-on bonus
- relocation bonus
- bonus for travel and office supplies
- stock options
- additional work-from-home days
- health insurance coverage
If offered a salary above your “walkaway” number but below your “ideal” salary, quantify the difference with paid leave, paid training, healthcare, and other benefits that are important to you. You can ask your interviewer something like,
“While that’s fair, this is a bit lower than what I had anticipated. Are you able to offer me an additional paid week off and dental insurance to compensate for the difference?”
Know When to Walk Away
If offered a salary below your “walkaway” number, let your interviewer know that this range is below what your research indicated to be fair for your role. Let them know you will not be pursuing the opportunity given that particular salary. This may result in a higher counter offer.
Prepare for Tough Questions – How to Answer “How much did you make at your last job?”
A lot of the job seekers I work with are scared of the salary question.
“How much did you make at your last job?”
If you don’t do your homework, you’re going to face this question with a lot more anxiety.
When asked “How much did you make at your last job?” your answer should be something like:
“My duties at my previous job were slightly different than this one; I was initially hired to ____ and upon doing so successfully, I was given the additional task of _____. As we discussed in our interview, I also completed these additional projects successfully. I understand that a fair salary for the role I hope to interview for is $ (your ideal salary) given my (specialized skills like A, B, and C). Is this salary in line with what you are offering for this role?”
Note: If pressed, you can say something like, “In addition to my salary, I was given financial bonuses, 401k, stock incentive plans, vacation time, paid professional training, and the option to work from home two days a week. These incentives grew with my role. My understanding is that $ (your ideal salary) is fair for this role, but I am willing to negotiate on that and the other financial incentives.”
Prepare a Brag Sheet to Back Up Your Arguments
If you’re currently employed and looking for a raise, before you set a time to talk to your manager, ask yourself, “Why do I deserve a raise in salary?” This will make you think about your contributions to the company and help prepare a list of your achievements. You can further probe into your achievements by reading this. Did you save the company money at some point? Did you make anything faster or more efficient? Or did you iron out any gaps in the marketing processes? Don’t simply ask for a raise; show them why you’re worth the raise.
Also add any awards you received during your career so far to your brag sheet. Do not forget to include any role-specific courses and certifications you took. They will strengthen your case and reinforce your commitment to work.
Plan the Right Timing
If you’re the best performer in your team, have been over exceeding your targets, and bringing in tons of results, and still do not time your salary negotiation well, there’s a chance that you might fail. Don’t wait for performance reviews to roll out to start the salary negotiation process. Instead, make the first move. Generally, the right time to plan a salary negotiation conversation is three to four months before performance reviews. That’s when the budget is being decided.
Maintain Your Confidence
Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest football coaches in American history, once said that confidence is contagious, and so is the lack of confidence. Therefore, the more confident you are in putting forward your choices, the more confident your employer will be in considering your options. Your confidence has the ability to persuade others to do what you want them to. However, you must maintain a positive outlook and not approach the situation arrogantly.
This is important because lack of confidence will make you over-explain things and apologize for your demand, neither of which is helpful in negotiating a higher salary. Instead, confidently request for your researched number and back it up with strong reasons. Don’t be afraid of the silence – let your manager think it over.
Are you having a hard time feeling confident? You can ground your nerves by changing the lens a bit.
You must realize that your skills and expertise will bring benefit to the company. Hence, the compensation offered by the employer should come at par with the value you bring.
If you’re negotiating a salary raise for a new job offer, show your interest in the job and express your gratitude for the opportunity. Thank the employer for the time they have invested in the process and for choosing you for the role.
If you’ve been with the company for a while, appreciate the opportunities for personal and professional grooming you’ve received there. Your demeanor should display that you are grateful for the skills you’ve learned in that position and that you’ll continue to give your best no matter what the results of the negotiation are.
Practice, Practice, and Practice
No matter how good your salary negotiation skills are, practice will make you perfect. Practice the whole conversation in front of a mirror. Practice it with a friend. Record yourself on the phone and watch the recording. All of these will help you find and fill the gaps in your pitch.
Use Email Where Appropriate
If you find it difficult to make this conversation in-person or are unable to do so due to logistical arrangements, compose a strong email to get your point across. I’ve added one such salary negotiation email template below.
If you’ve just received the offer:
When you receive a job offer, you can request the hiring manager for some time to consider the job offer. This way, you can smoothly move the conversation from phone to email. After evaluating the offer, here’s how you can negotiate the salary on email:
To: [Hiring Manager’s email address] Subject: Follow up on __ offer Hi [Hiring manager’s name] Thank you for extending me the offer for [job title] at [company name]! [company name] seems like a great company and I’m really excited to contribute towards [company name] achieving [company need]. It is also a great career growth opportunity for me. However, based on my research, I’m a little concerned about the compensation being somewhat low for a role of this level. This is an exciting opportunity but I’d also like to be compensated fairly for my skills and experience. Please let me know if there is a way to improve this offer so I can consider it. Thank you for your time and patience. Yours Sincerely, [your name]
If you’ve been working at the company for a while:
To: [Your manager’s email address] Subject: Requesting a Raise Hi [Your manager’s name] I hope you’re doing well. As you may know, I’ve been working as a ___ since ___and my current salary is ___. I think it is a good time to discuss a raise in my compensation with you. Since __, my workload has grown and my responsibilities have increased. I enjoy working here and appreciate the opportunities I’ve received here to grow professionally. I think it’s high time to review my salary. In my opinion, a salary of [proposed amount] is more in line with my experience and responsibilities. I’ve been working very hard to prepare for this opportunity, and I think I am ready. Here are some of my accomplishments over the past several months: • 1st Accomplishment • 2nd Accomplishment • 3rd Accomplishment And here is some feedback I’ve received from clients and co-workers over the past several months—their feedback speaks louder than anything I could say: • Client or co-worker name—“Quote” or general feedback documented in email or survey • Client or co-worker name—“Quote” or general feedback documented in email or survey • Client or co-worker name—“Quote” or general feedback documented in email or survey I believe the accomplishments and feedback above show that I am ready for this move, and for greater responsibility and compensation. I would love to work with you to put together an action plan and timeline to continue this discussion and make this happen. Thanks again for your time and consideration! All the best [Your name]
Don’t Take It Personally
Once you decide to start the salary negotiation conversation, don’t make it about yourself. This is a professional matter and needs to be dealt as such. Focus on the unique value you bring to the table. Leverage your skills and achievements to get the raise you deserve. It’s okay even if you get a no from your boss.
Asking for a salary raise or a promotion is difficult but you can achieve it with these tips on salary negotiation. If you’d like to get one-on-one brainstorming help with your salary negotiation plan, schedule a one-on-one brainstorming session with me here.
I recently helped a client negotiate a 19% higher salary and he walked away with an offer that was $51,000/year bigger than his original offer!
I was able to help him highlight his achievements to his managers in a way that showcased what value he can bring to the company in the coming years.
In this session, we’ll create a plan of action just for you. You will learn:
- The specific techniques that will work for your unique personality.
- What will work for your unique corporate structure after we discuss your bosses and reporting hierarchy.
- How to anticipate your bosses’ and HR’s moves before they make them. This will help you go into the negotiation process fully prepared and with a cool head.
- How to evaluate your own performance to determine the amount of raise.
- Where to do your research on market value and salary trends.
- How to document the value you have added to the company and prepare a script.
I’ll walk you, step-by-step, on how to ask for a raise, including setting up the meeting.
We will also discuss what to do if the decision-maker says no and how to request them to revisit their decision. We’ll also work together on your “ask” script.
So work with me on Friday, talk to your manager on Monday, and get yourself that raise by Wednesday!