As the old saying goes, if you don’t ask — you don’t get. The problem is many people don’t have the confidence to ask or negotiate salary. In fact, studies show failing to negotiate salary when accepting a job offer costs over a staggering $600,000 in salary throughout a typical career.
Taking what you’re offered and not what you deserve means you’ll be severely underpaid in that role for all of the skills and experience you bring to the table. The problem often stems from a lack of confidence in speaking up and negotiating higher pay or not knowing the correct approach for a better chance of success.
Although salary negotiation can be a scary prospect, here are 30 valuable tips to help you prepare for that conversation.
1. Will a raise make you happy?
Are you happy in your current position and company? Ask for a raise here before you apply to other jobs in other companies. If you dislike the company, you won’t be happy in the long run.
2. Know your worth
Before the interview, research what the typical salary is for your position in your area. The hiring manager is likely to know this, so it’s essential not to go overboard or risk lowballing yourself.
3. Speak to headhunters and recruiters
If recruiters and headhunters are reaching out to you about available positions, ask them the salary range, so you know what other organizations are offering.
4. Be realistic
You won’t get everything you want. So, highlight your dealbreakers and the realistic minimum you’re willing to settle for before heading to the interview.
5. Research for more than the salary
Salary is one thing (as vital as it is), but extend your research further. Is the company performing well? Are the employee reviews good? Do you think you’ll fit in? Your salary might be fantastic, but your happiness is equally as important.
6. Make a list
What’s your biggest priority? Salary? Location? Vacation time? Create a sheet of what you value and memorize it so you know to lead with salary.
7. Know the exact number
Research shows you should ask for a specific number rather than rounding up or down. When you’re precise, you’ll likely get a salary offer close to what you were hoping for, as it shows you did your research.
8. Know when to walk away
What’s your dealbreaker? Highlight the lowest figure you’re willing to accept and coach yourself into the mindset that if the hiring manager can’t meet it, it’s time to look elsewhere rather than settle.
9. Are you genuinely ready?
With a clear mind, consider whether you’ve done enough for a raise. How long have you been in this role? Have you taken on more responsibilities? Have you gone above and beyond time and time again? If you can answer yes here, you’re in a better position to negotiate salary.
10. Ask on a Thursday
Believe it or not, Psychology Today suggests you’re more likely to get a raise if you ask on a Thursday. Set the meeting or interview for this day as you’re likely to speak to someone more accommodating and flexible later in the week who might be willing to meet your salary demands.
11. Exude confidence
If you’re slumped and not energized, it won’t be an inspiring conversation. Walk in with confidence and positive body language to start the salary negotiation on the right foot.
12. Start with a sell
Before you dive into the numbers, explain what you’ve achieved, what you’re capable of and where your skills lie. Highlight instances where you’ve gone above and beyond to show the interviewee or your manager that you’re worth investing more in.
13. Ask questions
As important as your salary requirement is, start the negotiation by asking questions to understand what the company needs from you. By asking them their priorities and conditions, you can tailor your answers to reflect yourself positively.
14. Offer your salary figure first
Don’t let the other party reveal their figure first, as it’s likely they’ll come in with a low offer. As you negotiate, the final proposal will probably still be inadequate. Be the first in the conversation to mention a number, so you control the negotiation.
15. Ask for more than you’ll settle for
Even though you need to be realistic, inflate your salary requirements slightly. This is because when the negotiation begins, the company will assume they’re getting a great deal when they talk you down from your original number.
16. Be firm but not aggressive
Even if the salary negotiation isn’t going in the direction you want it to, stay positive. Hold firm as long as you’re realistic but don’t be so aggressive and wound up on your number that the other party loses interest in hiring you.
17. Don’t reveal your current salary
During the negotiation, the person interviewing or speaking with you wants to know what you earn so they can offer you a low salary. You can provide an inflated range but don’t share the exact number. Instead, counter with what you’re looking for, not what you currently earn.
18. Stay positive
Keep your mood positive and bring the conversation back around to the value you bring to the company. You never know; hearing your skills and experience in more detail with quantifiable results can convince them to give in to your salary demands.
19. Prioritize your requests
You’ll likely be asked what matters to you the most. If it’s salary, lead with that. Rank ordering your priorities will help the other person understand what you value. If you start with flexible working, vacation time and then salary, they’ll assume the pay isn’t your biggest priority.
20. Keep it professional
Don’t bring your personal life into it. They don’t need to know about rent, student loans or other expenses. Focus on your professional achievements to have a better chance of securing a larger salary.
21. Don’t make threats
If you’re asking for a salary increase in your current company, don’t threaten to leave. You want to maintain a good working relationship. Don’t bring in other interviews or jobs, especially if this person will be a reference one day.
22. Bring up the market
If you’re going back and forth on the salary, this is where your research comes in useful. Bring up the fact that similar jobs in the area are offering the particular salary you want. Although it isn’t a threat, it’ll make the person realize they’ll need to match them to secure their hire.
23. Listen carefully
A salary negotiation can get you worked up. Try not to let that happen, as getting distracted might mean you miss out on crucial comments. For example, if thoughts are racing in your head, you might not hear the negotiator saying they’ll increase your salary after you pass the probation period. Always listen to what they have to say.
24. Don’t track back
If you have a number and you feel it was too high, don’t track back. This makes you seem less confident. Even if the negotiator tells you it’s too high, stick by your salary figure and continue negotiating until you land on a figure that suits you.
25. Keep asking questions
Don’t let adverse reactions deter you. Keep asking questions and keep the conversation flowing. This suggests you want the role for more than the money, which the interviewee will appreciate, showing you’re eager to work together and iron out this salary situation.
26. Stall if you need to
If the negotiation isn’t going positively, don’t feel pressured to react right away. Give yourself time to think and formulate an answer before responding. When there’s silence, the other person may crack first and up the offer when they sense hesitation.
27. But don’t drag it out
But don’t keep the conversation going for too long. If you’re at a standstill, it’s clear they don’t value you enough to offer you the salary you want. Don’t give in to demands you don’t deem acceptable and move on.
28. Negotiate via email
If you need some time to think about it, tell them. Highlight that you’re still interested, but you need to evaluate their offer and need a few days to think about it. Then, follow-up via email with either your negotiated figure or your final answer.
29. Negotiate for other perks and benefits
Salary doesn’t have to be make or break. If they’re refusing to budge, you can negotiate for flexi-time, extra vacation time, a senior job title or the pick of new projects.
30. Understand your leverage
Your negotiating power varies depending on your current employment situation. Are you unemployed and searching for jobs after a year out of work? Chances are you won’t have much room to negotiate. But if your resume is full to the brim with impressive accolades, enviable results and it’s clear you’re in demand, you’re in control of how the negotiation goes.
Whatever happens, you’ll gain negotiation skills for the next time you’re in this situation. To maintain the power in salary negotiations, start working on your resume, so it reflects you in the best light. For more career advice, check out our blog.