How to negotiate your job offer or how to get the salary you want and need!
In today’s dynamic job market, the process of landing a job doesn’t end once you’ve passed the interview stage. One critical aspect that many job seekers overlook, or even fear, is the art and science of salary negotiation.
How to act after a job interview
While the topic of money can be uncomfortable for some, understanding the importance of negotiating your salary can have a significant impact on your long-term earnings and job satisfaction.
This article delves into why you should never shy away from negotiating your salary and provides practical strategies to help you navigate this crucial phase with confidence and poise.
Why Should You Negotiate Salary?
Money is the most apparent reason to negotiate your salary, but you should talk numbers during the hiring process for several other reasons. The workplace is competitive, and if an employer has already gone through the hiring process with you, it is in their best interest to seal the deal.
You should negotiate your salary because:
- You can earn more money: One Glassdoor study found that the average American could make about $7,500 more per year if they negotiated their salary at the time of hiring.
- They’re expecting it: Recruiters are prepared to talk about money and usually don’t feel offended by potential hires who try to negotiate. They likely already have a salary range and are trying to get you to agree to the low end, but you can convince them you deserve the higher number.
- There is less risk than you think: You will unlikely lose a job offer just because you try to negotiate. In a survey of 1,000 companies, nearly 90% of employers say they have never rescinded a job offer because of negotiations during an interview.
- You could look better: People who advocate for themselves in a salary negotiation can be perceived more positively. You may seem like a go-getter who knows their value! By researching, clearly communicating your needs, and making a compromise, you demonstrate the exact skills the company is looking for.
Start the salary negotiation process after you get an offer.
Once they have extended a job and salary offer, it is time to talk numbers via phone or email.
After several interviews, the company is already quite invested in you. This is the point when you have the most bargaining power. You have already built a personal relationship with them, and they have spent a lot of time and money on the interview process.
Hiring managers usually prepare for this discussion during the job offer.
How to negociate: The conversation may go one of two ways:
The phone negotiation:
Employer: “We are happy to extend you this offer for $ salary.”
You: “Thank you! I am excited about this offer, but it is slightly less than I had hoped. Is there any wiggle room?”
Employer: “Yes, we are willing to negotiate. What pay range are you looking for?”
If you’re already ready, this is the time to dig right into the negotiating strategies below.
The “let me get back to you”:
Employer: “Hello, we are excited to offer you X job for $ salary.”
You: “Thank you so much for the offer. I am honored that you have considered me. I will get back to you within X days.”
If you aren’t ready to negotiate yet, this response buys you some time to do more research and consider your next move. Ensure your response is quick, so they don’t offer the position to somebody else.
This is a scenario where you need to use the counteroffer resources below.
The Power of Being Liked:
Have you ever tried getting cookies from someone? You know you’re more likely to get them if that someone likes you. Being liked can make doors open!
This sounds basic, but it’s crucial: People are going to fight for you only if they like you. Anything you do in a negotiation that makes you less likable reduces the chances that the other side will work to get you a better offer.
This is about more than being polite. It’s not just about saying “please” and “thank you,” but about managing some inevitable tensions in negotiation, and also about not coming off as too pushy or bossy.
Think about how you talk to your friends and how you want them to see you. That’s a good start!
Know how to communicate your value
It’s not enough for them to like you. They also have to believe you’re worth the offer you want. Simply put, people need to get why you’re a big deal. Imagine buying a car just because it looks good without knowing its features. Same concept.
Always pair your requests with reasons. Don’t just state your desire (a 15% higher salary, say, or permission to work from home one day a week); explain precisely why it’s justified (the reasons you deserve more money than others they may have hired, or that your children come home from school early on Fridays).
Want a salary bump? Give solid reasons why.
If you have no justification for a demand, it may be unwise to make it.
Whenever possible, try to show rather than tell. Interviewers love candidates who can give specific examples of their skills. Instead of saying, “I have a positive mindset, and I’m a team player,” you can say, “When my last company was severely short-staffed and stressed, my boss regularly thanked me for showing up with a smile and motivating my colleagues with friendly reminders.”
Remember to sell yourself as more than just a cog in the machine. Show how you can add value to the company and help them achieve their goals (so they can help you achieve yours). This will justify why you deserve a higher starting salary.
Evaluate what you have to offer
There are several factors that can influence your compensation, such as:
- Geographic location: Consider the cost of living in your geographic location. For example, you might require a higher salary in the UK than in Romania for the same set of responsibilities because it generally costs more to live there.
- Years of industry experience: If the job description requires three to five years of experience and you meet the higher requirement, it might warrant a higher salary.
- Years of leadership experience: Similar to industry experience, if the employer prefers or requires leadership skills and you meet or exceed their expectations, it may be justification for higher pay.
- Education level: Relevant bachelor’s, master’s, PhD or specialized degree programs can impact your compensation depending on the role or industry.
- Career level: In general, you might expect a higher pay range as you advance further in your career.
- Skills: Niche or technical skills that take time to master may attract higher salaries.
- Licenses and certifications: An employer may require or prefer that you have specific licenses or certifications. If you already have them, you might be in a good position to request greater compensation. When you begin your salary negotiation, be sure to reiterate why you’ll be a valuable employee and consider using the above factors to justify your desired salary.
Confidence is key
One of the most important things when it comes to applying for jobs and negotiating a salary is to have confidence.
Believe in your experience, skills, and abilities. Confidence is something many of us struggle with, but it has no place at the negotiating table.
If you don’t stand up and say – hey, I’m worth it! Who will?
Think about that hiring manager on the other side of the table. Do they want to hire someone who is unsure of themselves? No. They want someone on their team who knows what they’re doing and is confident in the job they are doing. So, if you struggle with confidence, that is totally understandable, but check it at the door when you’re negotiating for your career.
Research the market average
Having this data can help support a more successful. Knowing the market average can give you a good baseline for your salary request and can even be used as justification.
You can check on Glassdoor, or for our Romanian readers Unde Lucram, where you can see how much is earned for various positions within the company.
Here are some questions to consider as you begin your market research:
What’s the national average salary for the position?
What’s the average in your geographic location and in cities nearby?
How much do similar companies in your area pay employees in this position?
Ask for the top of your range
One fundamental rule of salary negotiation is to give the employer a slightly higher number than your goal. This way, if they negotiate down, you’ll still end up with a salary offer you feel comfortable accepting.
If you provide a salary range, the employer will likely err on the lower end, so be sure the lowest number you provide is still an amount you feel is fair.
Play Hard to Get, but Not Impossible to Have
Have you played hide and seek? It’s fun when you’re a little tricky to find but not impossible. That’s how you should be in negotiations.
People won’t want to expend political or social capital to get approval for a strong or improved offer if they suspect that at the end of the day, you’re still going to say, “No, thanks.”
Show them you’re interested, but also let them know they need to make an effort to have you. If you intend to negotiate for a better package, make it clear that you’re serious about working for this employer.
Sometimes you get people to want you by explaining that everybody wants you. But the more strongly you play that hand, the more they may think that they’re not going to get you anyway, so why bother jumping through hoops?
Think of it like dating. Show interest, but make sure the other party knows they can, with some effort, win you over.
Understand Your Opponent, Not Just the Game:
You know how when you were a kid you had different games with different friends because they all liked different things?
The same goes for negotiations.
Companies don’t negotiate; people do. And before you can influence the person sitting opposite you, you have to understand her.
For example, negotiating with a prospective boss is very different from negotiating with an HR representative.
HR may be responsible for hiring 10 people and therefore reluctant to break precedent, whereas the boss, who will benefit more directly from your joining the company, may go to bat for you with a special request.
Crack the Company Code:
They might adore you, but sometimes, hands are tied. Recognize their limitations. If they’re hiring multiple people, they might not want to play favorites with pay. Why? Because they may have certain ironclad constraints, such as salary caps, that no amount of negotiation can loosen.
Your job is to figure out where they’re flexible and where they’re not. If, for example, you’re talking to a large company that’s hiring 20 similar people at the same time, it probably can’t give you a higher salary than everyone else. But it may be flexible on start dates, vacation time, and signing bonuses.
On the flip side, a smaller organization might be open to tweaking some offer aspects.
The better you understand the constraints, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to propose options that solve both sides’ problems.
Be prepared for tough questions.
Tough questions are like pop quizzes – always lurking. Prepare yourself for the ‘unexpected’ questions: Do you have any other offers? If we make you an offer tomorrow, will you say yes? Are we your top choice? If you’re unprepared, you might say something inelegantly evasive or, worse, untrue.
Lying is a no-go. Always. Not only is it a one-way ticket to Trouble Town, but it’s also just not cool.
The other risk is that faced with a tough question, you may try too hard to please and end up losing leverage.
The point is this: You need to prepare for questions and issues that would put you on the defensive, make you feel uncomfortable, or expose your weaknesses. If you have thought in advance about how to answer difficult questions, you probably won’t forfeit one of those objectives.
Your goal is to answer honestly without looking like an unattractive candidate—and without giving up too much bargaining power.
Dive Deeper Than the Surface Question:
Sometimes, it’s not what they ask, but why they’re asking. Often the question is challenging but the questioner’s intent is benign.
An employer who asks whether you would immediately accept an offer tomorrow may simply be interested in knowing if you are genuinely excited about the job, not trying to box you into a corner.
Don’t jump to the worst conclusions when faced with tricky questions. Instead, try to gauge what’s behind the question and address that.
A question about whether you have other offers may be designed not to expose your weak alternatives but simply to learn what type of job search you’re conducting and whether this company has a chance of getting you.
If you engage in a genuine conversation about what he’s after, and show a willingness to help him resolve whatever issue he has, both of you will be better off.
Look at the Whole Package, Not Just the Wrapping:
A wrapped gift is exciting, but it’s what’s inside that really counts. Sadly, to many people, “negotiating a job offer” and “negotiating a salary” are synonymous.
When looking at a job, don’t just focus on the money; think about the value of the entire deal: responsibilities, location, travel, flexibility in work hours, opportunities for growth and promotion, perks, support for continued education, and so forth.
Salary isn’t the only goodie in the offer bag. Job roles, work culture, growth opportunities, and other benefits often hold more weight in the long run.
Ask yourself, “Is this non-negotiable?” or, “Would I be willing to compromise for a lower salary if I received this benefit?”
Potential perks include:
- Stock options
- Paid vacation days
- Extra vacation time
- Flexible hours and schedule
- A higher job title (for example, manager level rather than assistant manager)
- Free lunches
- Tuition reimbursement
- Gym membership reimbursement
- Professional development
- Signing bonus
- Opportunities for promotion
- Remote work reimbursement
When a company is unwilling to budge on its salary range, you can get a leg-up by advocating for non-monetary compensation as part of your benefits package.
Schedule a time to discuss
Reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager to set up a time to speak over the phone. While it’s acceptable to negotiate over email, it’s highly encouraged for the conversation to happen over the phone.
Speaking over the phone, in a video call, or in person allows you to have a back-and-forth conversation, express gratitude, and clearly communicate your requirements.
Put All Your Cards on the Table at Once:
Imagine you’re trading cards. Instead of showing one card at a time, lay all your favorite cards out at once. This gives a clear picture of what you want and can speed things up.
Don’t say, “The salary is a bit low. Could you do something about it?” and then, once she’s worked on it, come back with “Thanks. Now here are two other things I’d like…” If you ask for only one thing initially, she may assume that getting it will make you ready to accept the offer (or at least make a decision).
Also, if you have more than one request, don’t simply mention all the things you want—A, B, C, and D; also signal the relative importance of each to you. Otherwise, she may pick the two things you value least, because they’re pretty easy to give you, and feel she’s met you halfway.
Then you’ll have an offer that’s not much better and a negotiating partner who thinks her job is done.
Share job-related expenses you’re incurring
Another reason you may ask for an increased salary is to cover any costs you’re accumulating by taking the job.
For example, if you’re relocating to a new city for a job, you’ll have to pay moving expenses as well as any costs associated with selling or leasing your current home.
If you’re taking a position further away from home, you’ll have to factor in commute expenses such as train fare or gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.
It’s not unusual for candidates to ask employers to adjust their salary to account for expenses related to accepting the position.
Don’t Negotiate Just for the Sake of It:
It’s like arguing over who gets the bigger piece of cake when both pieces are nearly the same size. Everyone wants the bigger slice, but sometimes it’s okay to let it go and enjoy what you have.
Negotiation isn’t a sport, so no points for unnecessary haggling. Sure, fight for what truly matters to you, but don’t bicker over the small stuff just because you can.
Fighting to get just a bit more can rub people the wrong way—and can limit your ability to negotiate with the company later in your career when it may matter more.
Timing, Timing, Timing:
At the beginning of a job hunt, you often want to get at least one offer in order to feel secure.
This is especially true for people finishing a degree program when everyone is interviewing, and some are celebrating early victories.
Ironically, getting an early offer can be problematic: Once a company has made an offer, it will expect an answer reasonably soon.
Imagine juggling job offers. It’s cool when they’re all in sync. So, manage the timings to see all your choices side by side.
Don’t be afraid to slow down the process with one potential employer or to speed it up with another, in order to have all your options laid out at one time.
This, too, is a balancing act: If you pull back too much—or push too hard—a company may lose interest and hire someone else. But there are subtle ways to solve such problems.
For example, if you want to delay an offer, you might ask for a later second- or third-round interview.
Ultimatums are like someone saying, “Play with me, or I won’t be your friend.” Nobody likes that. So avoid giving ultimatums. Sometimes we do so inadvertently—we’re just trying to show strength, or we’re frustrated, and it comes off the wrong way. Your counterpart may do the same.
Even if you receive one, be the bigger person. Address the concern, not the threat. If someone tells you, “We’ll never do this,” don’t dwell on it or make her repeat it. Instead, you might say, “I can see how that might be difficult, given where we are today. Perhaps we can talk about X, Y, and Z.”
Pretend the ultimatum was never given and keep her from becoming wedded to it. If it’s real, she’ll make that clear over time.
Remember, They’re Not Out to Get You:
Sometimes when you’re waiting for something, it might feel like everyone’s against you, but they’re not. If you’re far enough along in the process, these people like you and want to continue liking you.
Maybe they’re just busy or have other reasons. A delay in getting an offer letter may just mean that you’re not the only concern the hiring manager has in life.
Always give them the benefit of the doubt. Stay in touch, but be patient. And if you can’t be patient, don’t call up in frustration or anger; better to start by asking for a clarification on timing and whether there’s anything you can do to help move things along.
Persistence Pays, So Stick Around:
Remember, the word “No” isn’t written in stone. Circumstances and viewpoints can change. A rejected request today might be open for discussion later on.
Suppose a potential boss denies your request to work from home on Fridays. Maybe that’s because he has no flexibility on the issue. But it’s also possible that you haven’t yet built up the trust required to make him feel comfortable with that arrangement.
Six months in, you’ll probably be in a better position to persuade him that you’ll work conscientiously away from the office.
Be willing to continue the conversation and encourage others to revisit issues that were left unaddressed or unresolved.
Big Picture Perspective:
Always keep an eye on the larger goal. You can negotiate like a pro and still lose out if the negotiation you’re in is the wrong one. It’s not just about one successful negotiation, but about ensuring that the job and the company align with your long-term goals and happiness.
Experience and research demonstrate that the industry and function in which you choose to work, your career trajectory, and the day-to-day influences on you (such as bosses and coworkers) can be vastly more important to satisfaction than the particulars of an offer.
Example of negotiating email:
“Hello [Recipient’s Name],
First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for extending the job offer for the [Position Name] role at [Company Name]. I am genuinely enthusiastic about the prospect of joining your esteemed team and contributing to [specific project or objective mentioned during interviews].
Having gone through the details of the offer, I’d like to discuss certain aspects of the compensation package. With my [specific years] years of experience in [specific field], especially my recent achievements at [Previous Company Name] where I [specific accomplishment, e.g., “drove a 30% increase in customer engagement through targeted campaigns”], I believe that a salary adjustment would be in line with the industry standards for someone with my background and results.
While the proposed salary of [$ offered amount] is appealing, based on my experience, skills, and the value I’m confident I can deliver to [Company Name], I was hoping for a salary in the ballpark of [$desired range, e.g., “$90,000 to $95,000”].
I am certain that with my expertise and dedication, I can produce impactful results that align with [Company Name]’s growth objectives. I am hopeful that we can find a mutually beneficial arrangement regarding the compensation.
Could we potentially set up a time to discuss this further? I believe we’re on the cusp of an excellent partnership, and I’m eager to iron out these details to ensure a smooth start.
Thank you once again for this opportunity. I await your response and remain open to any questions or discussions.
Look at this VIDEO where we explain how to make a great resume that will get you hired!
Don’t be afraid to walk away
Turning down a job offer is a delicate process that requires a thoughtful approach. Here’s how you can do it without severing ties:
It’s essential to handle a job offer refusal with gratitude, clarity, and tact to maintain professional bridges for future opportunities.
Express Your Appreciation:
Always start with a heartfelt thank you.
Acknowledge the time and effort the hiring team invested in reviewing your profile and conducting interviews.
E.g., “Thank you for considering me for the role and for the insightful discussions we had.”
Provide a Clear Reason:
Offer a concise explanation without diving into too many details or personal emotions.
Avoid discussing any negative aspects or specific perks of other offers.
Possible reasons could be:
“I’ve chosen a role more aligned with my long-term goals.”
“I believe it’s not the right time for me to leave my current position.”
Emphasize Future Connections:
Highlight the importance of staying in touch and fostering a professional relationship.
E.g., “I hope our paths cross in the future” or “I look forward to potential collaborations down the line.”
In essence, the aim is to be respectful and open to future opportunities while being clear about your current decision.
This approach ensures that you decline the offer with grace, leaving the door open for future possibilities.
Salary negotiation is more than just a financial discussion—it’s an avenue to demonstrate your worth, understand your prospective employer, and align your career trajectory with your aspirations.
By effectively negotiating, you not only position yourself for better financial outcomes but also foster a positive foundation for your tenure with the organization. Remember, every negotiation is a two-way street.
While you want the best for yourself, employers are also eager to onboard talent that aligns with their vision and goals.
With the insights and strategies provided in this article, you’re better equipped to approach salary negotiations as an empowered professional, ready to secure a package that reflects your value.
Being Likable Matters: Being liked facilitates negotiation success. It’s not only about being polite but also avoiding appearing too forceful.
Communicate Your Value: Justify your demands. Use specific examples to highlight your worth and pair requests with valid reasons.
Evaluate Your Worth: Consider factors like geographic location, years of experience, education level, skills, and certifications when gauging your value.
Confidence is Vital: Believe in your abilities and experience. This belief communicates assurance and capability to potential employers.
Research the Market Average: Knowing the average salary for your role provides a base for negotiation.
Negotiation Strategy: Aim high in your initial ask so there’s room for negotiation.
Be Desirable but Attainable: Show interest in the position, but also let employers know they need to offer something enticing.
Understand the Negotiator: Recognize who you are negotiating with and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Recognize Company Constraints: Understand the company’s limitations in terms of salary and benefits.
Prepare for Tough Questions: Anticipate challenging queries and devise answers that don’t sacrifice your position or honesty.
Understand the Question’s Intention: Often, the underlying reason for a question is more important than the question itself.
Look Beyond Salary: Consider the full package, including benefits, work culture, and growth opportunities.
Communicate Directly: It’s advised to negotiate over the phone or in person, not just via email.
Present All Demands Simultaneously: It’s efficient to lay out all requests at once, highlighting their relative importance.
Factor in Job-related Expenses: Consider additional costs like relocation or commuting when negotiating.
Negotiate Purposefully: Don’t haggle over insignificant details. Prioritize what truly matters.
Manage Timing: Coordinate your job offers so you can evaluate all opportunities simultaneously.
Avoid Ultimatums: They can backfire, damaging your position or the negotiation’s progress.
Assume Good Intentions: Delays or challenges don’t necessarily indicate disinterest or opposition.
Be Persistent: Stay open to revisiting negotiations and evolving terms.
Big Picture Perspective: Ensure that the job aligns with your long-term aspirations and happiness, not just the immediate offer.
How to Decline a Job Offer: Refuse offers with gratitude, clarity, and tact to maintain professional relationships.