How to Negotiate Salary (The Right Way)

Woman in business attire reaches out and offers a handshake

Knowing how to negotiate salary will help you when you’re starting a new career, interviewing for a new job, or due for a promotion within your current company.

This is standard practice in English-speaking countries and could determine a substantial sum of money over the course of your career.

Let’s look at this example of why you should negotiate salary, inspired by Stanford professor Margaret A. Neal:

You and a colleague start your career at the same time. Your colleague negotiated a starting salary of $40,000, but you settled for a starting salary of $37,000.

If, over the course of your 35-year careers, you received the same raises and promotions, it would take you an extra five years to be as wealthy as your coworker.

It may seem petty to negotiate for $3,000, but, over the course of a career, that amount could equate five years of work.

In this article, we will cover the basics of how to negotiate salary, knowing your market value, best practices, and asking for a raise.

What is a Salary Negotiation?

A salary negotiation is a discussion between you and a potential or current employer regarding the value you bring to a company. In this discussion, your aim is to receive a higher salary for your work.

Regardless of the time you’ve been with a company, you should know how to negotiate salary that compensates you properly for your time and effort.

In these types of negotiation, expect to do the following:

  • Present a case for your value
  • Face resistance
  • Create a compromise

Building a Case

When negotiating for your salary, be prepared to prove your value. Have specific examples that show your worth to the company and in-depth knowledge of your market value (we will cover this in the next section).

Face Resistance

Companies want to lower baseline costs. Even with the case for your salary, you will face resistance. If you don’t, it’s a good sign that you may not be asking for enough compensation in your negotiation.

Be prepared to answer questions when you present your case.

Compromise

Last, no one wants to work with someone who won’t compromise. Your negotiation won’t go well if you’re not willing to make some concessions. Be ready to accept some accommodations.

Knowing your Market Value

Before you go into your salary negotiation, you must know what people in your field are being paid. Remain objective with this figure and base it upon your location and experience.

Do Your Research

To figure out your market value, there are several online resources to help:

GlassDoor Salaries Function

Salary.com

Monster Salary Comparison and Salary Estimator

PayScale Salary Comparison Tool

SimplyHired Salary Estimator

Each of these sites can help you pinpoint the average salary for your career in your location. Also, many offer extra tools can help you personalize your salary estimate.

Once you know your market value, you can build your case and prepare to negotiate.

Preparing For a Salary Negotiation

There’s no reason to be worried or intimidated about your salary negotiation. Just be sure you have a realistic expectation of your salary and a plan to guide you through the process. Follow along these basic tips to learn how to negotiate salary:

Know Your Number

When we say know your number, it doesn’t mean an exact number. Instead, know a range in which you’re willing to compromise. Meaning, before you negotiate, set a reasonable high point and a low point value based on your market research.

As an example, we’ll use my career as a Blog Writer (Highly recommended career!) with a hypothetical location of Dallas, Texas and less than a year of experience.

The average salary for someone with less than a year of experience is $38,675. So, going into a negotiation, I would set a range with a low point at the average and a high point at $45,000.

Don’t Forget the Benefits!

In your negotiation, it’s important to remember the other factors besides baseline pay. What else does your company offer instead of actual cash?

Let’s say that you have student loan payments to make. If you consider continuing your education, find out if the company has a tuition reimbursement program. You should factor that into your negotiation.

Does the company offer training and other career development or certification programs? You can negotiate for those resources. If you have children, some companies offer childcare reimbursement or services to help you with your needs in that area.

Take into consideration your health and fitness needs. Does the company offer gym memberships or health and dental insurance plans? What will your schedule be like? Sometimes the ability to work from home or work while traveling adds significant value to a position.

Ultimately, all of these factors should be considered into your range so you don’t sell yourself short in the negotiation process.

Practice

Before you negotiate, practice presenting your case for your salary. Outline all the points you plan to cover and present them in front of a friend or even in a mirror.

Know how you plan to begin the conversation. Here are a few phrases that can help:

  • Can we discuss the details of the salary?
  • Is it possible to discuss the details of the salary (or compensation package)?
  • May I negotiate your offer?

A good indirect way to begin a negotiation is to ask:

  • How do you calculate your compensation package?

This question can help gauge how willing a company is to negotiate your salary.

If you’re not sure if the interviewer is the best person to speak with about salary, you can say:

  • I’d like to discuss the details of your compensation offer. Who is the best person to have this conversation with?

Be Humble… But Confident!

In your negotiation, it’s important to keep your tone courteous and professional. No matter how it goes, it’s good to show that you’re thankful and appreciate the opportunity.

However, during your delivery, show confidence in your abilities and value. You’ve done your research, practiced your pitch and know what your time is worth. Bring that confidence into your delivery.

You Don’t Have to Accept the First Offer

It’s okay to ask for a little time before accepting an offer. Take some time to evaluate what was offered, and within a day or two, schedule another meeting to present a counteroffer.

How to Negotiate Salary Increase

Just because you do well within a company doesn’t mean they will automatically offer you a raise. Sometimes, it’s up to you to present and prove your case.

Again, use your research to understand the market value of your position. You can also factor in the time and cost your company would have to spend to hire someone new.

Timing is everything

If you’re in taking on a promotion or a new position, there’s no better time to negotiate a pay increase.

However, if it’s been a while since your last raise, choose a moment when you’ve received a good report and your superior is in a good mood.

Follow the tips on how to negotiate salary from the previous section and go in with confidence!

As always, for more job tips for ESL learners visit our Magoosh Speaking Blog.

There, you can find content for job-seekers such as Questions to Ask During a Job Interview, How to Write a Job Interview Follow-Up Letter, What to Wear to A Job Interview, and How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions.

Whether or not you receive a pay increase, know that you took on a great task. More and more job seekers are learning how to negotiate salary, so it’s a growing trend in the current professional world. Be sure you’re properly compensated for the time and effort you put into your career!

Finally, if you’d like to find a highly qualified English speaking tutor help guide you on your language learning journey, visit Magoosh Speaking today to try an introductory lesson!

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