16 Expert Tips on Salary Negotiation: Here’s How To Gain Ground

salary negotiation

Wondering how to negotiate salary after a job offer? You’ve come to the right place.

Surprisingly, 58% of Americans accept an initial job offer without attempting to negotiate. Yet, 85% of Americans who countered on salary, total comp, or other benefits got “at least some of what they asked for.” 

That’s to say that you’re right to negotiate, and there’s a good chance you’ll gain some ground.

Here are 16 tips for your upcoming salary negotiation to increase your odds of getting what you want.

First: Prepare

First, let’s start with preparation.

Tip 1: Know Your Value-Add

Before beginning the salary negotiation process, get closely in touch with what you bring to the table. Consider the following factors:

  1. Years of experience
  2. Career level
  3. Education level
  4. Location (if you work remotely, your location, not the company’s, influences salary)
  5. Hard or soft skills (make a list and provide examples of when you demonstrated these)
  6. Licenses or certifications 

From here, conduct research on how those factors influence your salary worth.

Tip 2: Conduct Market Research

To properly negotiate your salary, conduct market research. Consult Glassdoor, Payscale, Indeed Salaries, and anyone in your network in a similar role who’d be open to sharing their earnings.

Answer the following questions in your research:

  • What’s the average salary for this position?
  • What’s the average salary in my location for this position?
  • How do education level, years of experience, skills, and career level influence salary?
  • What do similar companies pay for this position?

Tip 3: Talk With Your Recruiter

If you have a recruiter helping you with this process, chat with them about salary negotiation. Their job is to help people like you find jobs, so they’re in touch with what experience translates to what salary.

Tip 4: Know Your Range and Exact Number

Based on your research, come up with a range you’ll use to negotiate your salary. Ensure this range is at least a few tens of thousands in bounds, such as $120k – $160k. 

From here, decide the lowest number you’d be okay with.

Tip 5: Be Comfortable Walking Away

Since you know your range and lowest figure, high on our list of salary negotiation tips is to be okay walking away. 

Being comfortable walking puts you at an advantage during the negotiation because you’re more likely to drive a harder bargain, not fearing rejection. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish from this confident position.

If the company can’t pay you what you deserve, there are always other opportunities, so don’t settle.

Related: All About Accepting a Job Offer, Plus 3 Steps to Take After

Second: Set Up The Conversation

Now that you’ve prepared, it’s time to set up the negotiation.

Tip 6: Schedule For Thursday or Friday

Research suggests that people are more open to giving raises on Thursdays or Fridays. By the end of the week, professionals want to finish their work before the week ends, so they’re more likely to compromise. 

So, cool trick: schedule that salary negotiation for the end of the week.

Tip 7: Be Confident and Likeable

Use whatever you need to boost your confidence, whether that’s pump-up music, a workout, or an inspirational TV show. Get in the mindset and remember your worth.

Remember also to be likable. Show gratitude, smile, and listen to the other party.

Tip 8: Make Clear You’re Really Considering

For a salary negotiation to be productive, the company has to know you’re seriously considering them. Yes, make clear that you’re considering other offers, but explain that there are conditions where this company is your first choice. 

If the company feels you’re fielding too many offers or aren’t serious, there’s no need for them to compromise on salary.

Tip 9: Ask Questions, Demonstrate Worth

Ask thoughtful negotiation questions, including probing questions. Doing so will demonstrate your interest and help you prepare for the upcoming negotiation.

Questions can include:

  • What is your biggest priority right now?
  • Can you be more specific about X?
  • Clarifying questions (it sounds like you need Y, is that right?)

Third: Ask and Negotiate

Now, the salary negotiation really begins!

Tip 10: Say Your Number

Start negotiating your salary by stating your number. The number you give should be on the high end of your range so there’s room to, well, negotiate.

Tip 11: Giving a Range? Or Not?

Mike Hoffman, previously editor at Inc.com, suggests in his article on negotiation that you should avoid giving ranges. By offering a range (“I’m seeking a salary between $150k-$160k), you show the other side what degree of compromise you’re open to.

On the other hand, ranges can make you appear more flexible. Ultimately, use your best judgment based on the questions you’ve asked. Is firmness or flexibility more critical to the other party? 

Tip 12: Be Kind But Confident

Lead with kindness, but be secure in your position. Remember your worth, and use it to flank the ask. 

State your gratitude and that you’re excited about the opportunity, but based on your experience/education/etc., you’re seeking a salary of X (or give a range). 

Glassdoor gives a good breakdown of how to phrase certain parts of the conversation.

Tip 13: Focus on Value, Avoid The Personal

Throughout the salary negotiation, focus on your value add and the research you conducted earlier.

While it can be tempting to bring up what the salary will do for you personally, the other party likely doesn’t care, and this can appear unprofessional.

Your best bet for a salary increase is to focus on what you offer the other party.

Tip 14: Listen Closely

While you negotiate your salary, listen closely to the other party. How they respond provides insight into their needs and degree of flexibility. You can use this knowledge to strengthen your argument.

If you gain information that changes your understanding of their needs, feel confident deviating from the plan you had going into the conversation, whether that be asking for more, being more or less firm, or anything else appropriate.

Tip 15: Don’t Fear Rejection

Although we’re wired to fear rejection, negotiating a salary begins when someone says no. You’ve already said no to the proposed salary, and it’s possible the other party will reject your newly proposed salary.

Accepting that rejection can (and will very likely) happen is critical. Embrace it, see what you can do with it, and be okay with saying no and walking away.

Tip 16: Be Flexible

Sometimes, a little flexibility is necessary. Depending on how much you want this job and what it can offer you besides salary, perhaps other forms of compensation can work.

In your salary negotiation, consider pivoting to ask for more equity, time off, a sign-on bonus, or work-from-home days.

Need Help? Ask Us

If you’re still looking for that perfect job offer or need insight on senior-level salaries, Jennings Executive is happy to speak with you. With over two decades of combined experience filling senior positions, our firm is the expert in salary negotiation. Learn more today!

We hope this article helped prepare you to negotiate your salary. Remember, focus on value-add, be confident but kind, and be willing to walk away. Best of luck!

Related: Adding Value as an Employee: 8 Actionable Tips to Increase Your Value Today

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