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  3. Feeling nervous? 7 salary negotiation tips for maximizing your earnings
Feeling nervous? 7 salary negotiation tips for maximizing your earnings

Feeling nervous? 7 salary negotiation tips for maximizing your earnings

  • How do you politely negotiate salary after receiving a job offer?
  • 1. Do your research
  • 2. Know what your goals are 
  • 3. Be prepared to do a little counter-negotiation
  • 4. Have your strategy written down
  • 5. Demonstrate your value
  • What should you say in a salary negotiation?
  • 1. If you’re speaking to the hiring manager on the phone
  • 2. If you’re sending an email 
  • Are there things you shouldn’t say in a salary negotiation?
  • Do you negotiate salary before or after accepting a job offer?
  • 7 Salary negotiation tips for maximizing your earnings (and calming your nerves)
  • Key takeaways

Did you know that you don’t have to take the first salary that a potential employer offers? It’s true—even if you’re nervous, you can negotiate! We’ll provide you with the salary negotiation tips you need to get the salary you deserve.

Depending on where you are in your job search, you might be tempted to accept the terms of any job offer that comes your way. But that might be a mistake. According to a 2022 study done by Fidelity, “58 percent of young professionals accepted their current job offer without negotiating, yet for those that did negotiate, a resounding 87 percent got at least some of what they asked [for].” You actually have more leverage than you think, and focusing on your skills, knowledge, experience, and the value you’d bring to the company, along with our salary negotiation tips, will help you get the salary you desire.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • How do you politely negotiate salary after receiving a job offer?

  • What should you say in salary negotiation?

  • What should you not say during salary negotiation?

  • 7 salary negotiation tips

How do you politely negotiate salary after receiving a job offer?

If you’ve received a job offer, you probably have a million questions running through your head. If the offer was everything you were hoping for, great! But chances are there are a few things you’d like to improve upon. And that’s okay, and actually expected by the vast majority of employers—they’re not going to think you ungrateful if you request to negotiate. But it still takes a bit of finesse so that the company doesn’t rescind the offer, and it has to be done professionally. It might be as simple as asking, “Can you offer (your desired salary)?” They may just say yes. But just in case they extend a counteroffer, it will pay (possibly literally) to be prepared for a little back-and-forth with these five tips:

1. Do your research

Hopefully, you did some info digging on the company and the position before your interview, but now that you have an offer, you’ll want to take a deeper dive. You’ve got the power of the Internet at your fingers, so use it. Look at job forums and review sites to get an idea about salary ranges, and take note of those numbers. Career.io also has a great Salary Analyzer tool to help you get a good idea of how much your skills are worth in today’s market.

2. Know what your goals are 

Salary is probably top of mind when you’re considering negotiating, but there are other options to consider as well. Things like your start date, schedule, PTO, signing bonus, or stock options can also be negotiated if you’re not sure the company will budge on the salary amount. Don’t ask for all of these things; however; just pick a couple that are the most important to you.

3. Be prepared to do a little counter-negotiation

If the only reason you're considering leaving your current employer is the salary, you can use the offer you received from another company to see if they'll make a counteroffer. Or perhaps you received a better offer from another company you interviewed with and would like to see if your first choice will match it. If you have more than one option on the table, don't be afraid to be bold—professionally, of course—and make it known that you'll go with the company that can meet your "asks."

You might be wondering how high your counteroffer should be. In your research, most salaries will provide a range, based on experience and geographical location. In general, you can consider a counteroffer of 10-20% higher than the offered salary, based on your level of experience and where the original offer falls within the range.

4. Have your strategy written down

Just like preparing your interview answers ahead of time, you’ll want to have your negotiation tactics all mapped out in advance; this is not the time to "wing it." You'll have to play both sides of the negotiation and do your best to anticipate what the other person might say and how you might respond to any roadblocks they throw out. The better prepared you are, the less likely you are to be flustered.

5. Demonstrate your value

After doing your research, you may find that the company’s offer isn’t in range with similar positions. In this case, it would be helpful to illustrate why you’re worth what you’re asking for. Show them your data, and then explain what value you’d bring to the company, whether it’s your experience, skills, client relationships, or knowledge.

Expert Tip

What is the #1 rule of salary negotiation?

There is a "golden rule" when it comes to salary negotiation, and it really comes down to this: Know your worth. There's really only one "you" out there, so it is important to speak with confidence about why you’re the best candidate and what value you will bring to the company. Also, remember the other Golden Rule: treat others as you’d like to be treated. If you approach the negotiations with professionalism and mutual respect, it will go a long way toward getting the salary you desire.

What should you say in a salary negotiation?

You’ll want to have something planned in advance when asking to negotiate your salary. Don’t hem and haw or beat around the bush; you need to state exactly what you’re looking to have happen. If you need a script, consider the following two examples, which you can modify for your individual situation. 

1. If you’re speaking to the hiring manager on the phone

When speaking to someone directly, make sure you express your appreciation for the offer, and tell him or her you’d like to discuss the salary before making a decision.

"Hi, Ms. Anderson, it’s nice to speak with you. Before we get started, I want to tell you how thankful I am to receive your offer to be the sales director of XYZ Company. This is a great opportunity, and your company has a stellar reputation in the industry. But before I officially accept, I would like to talk about the salary that’s been offered. Taking into consideration my X years in the industry, my sales achievements, my education level, and my advanced certifications, I believe a higher salary would be a better fit for the role. In my most recent position, I led a team of sales representatives for six years. During that time, my team consistently exceeded the target sales goals and signed a record number of new clients. Based on this, I am looking for an offer of a base salary between $72,350 to $75,225 with no cap on sales bonuses. I would also like to discuss additional benefits to offset the increase such as more PTO and additional stock options."

2. If you’re sending an email 

If your offer was made via email, you may want to respond in the same way, depending on the hiring manager’s preferences. This will also work if the company prefers to communicate via “snail mail” letters.

“Dear Mr. French:

Thank you for offering me the role of Director of Community Outreach. XYZ Company would be an excellent opportunity for me to share my commitment to housing equity with the ABC community.

Before accepting this offer, I would like to continue our discussion about the salary and benefits package the company has offered. I have over 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector. I founded a program that supported the education of unhoused children in shelters and organized a free health and wellness clinic in three local underserved neighborhoods that provided health education, resources, and medical services to those who don’t have regular access to a health provider. I also oversaw $50,000 in fundraising over the last three years

Since this is a senior-level position within XYZ Company, I feel that my expertise requires a higher salary. I am looking to increase your offer of $80,000 plus 10 days of paid time off (PTO) to $95,350 plus 15 days of PTO. Please let me know if this is something that we can discuss because it would be a privilege to work for a corporation that places such importance on serving the local community.

Thank you,

Julie Farmer”

Are there things you shouldn’t say in a salary negotiation?

Salary negotiations can be nerve-wracking, and you might be afraid you’ll blurt out something you’ll regret. Or, accidentally give the company making the offer the upper hand to lock you into a number. While it's important to know what to say, there are also a few things you'll want to stay away from:

  • Don’t tell them what you’re currently making, especially if they haven’t made you a salary offer yet. Avoid sharing your desired salary, as well.

  • Don’t apologize. True, negotiations can be awkward, and you might have the tendency to try to be nice at all costs. But apologizing or saying “sorry” might show the hiring manager that you’re not secure with your counteroffer. Plus, negotiation is not an uncommon thing, and you need to look out for your best interests. You have nothing to be sorry for.

  • Don't say, "We can discuss that later." You'll have a lot less leverage once you're working for the company and possibly locked into a previously agreed-upon salary.

  • Avoid using the word “want.” To be blunt, no one cares what you want. It’s all about what you deserve. If you’ve done your homework, you can come to the bargaining table armed with data and numbers to make your case. Remember, your focus should be on how you can meet specific needs that the company might have. This will be a better way of showing your value rather than just saying “I want X salary.”

  • Don’t say “yes” right away. Ask for some time to think it over, and request that they send you the offer in writing (email is fine). Even asking for 24 hours is enough to consider their offer, and decide if it will work for you.

Statistical Insight

Research has shown that women, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and people of color are often paid less than the average for their work. Women, for example, still make 16% less than men, earning 84 cents for every dollar a man earns. 

This happens even though The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that “[t]he laws enforced by EEOC prohibit employers from paying employees differently based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (40 or older), or genetic information.” It might be tough to prove salary discrimination, but it’s another reason why it’s important to go into a salary discussion knowing your worth.

Do you negotiate salary before or after accepting a job offer?

You’ll want to wait until you have an offer before attempting any salary or benefits negotiation. Doing so before you have an offer might make you appear presumptuous or entitled. Once you have an offer, you know that they want to hire you, and that will give you a little more leverage. It will also give you the data—and time— you’ll need to make an informed counteroffer.

7 Salary negotiation tips for maximizing your earnings (and calming your nerves)

  1. Don’t negotiate one thing at a time. Take those top priorities that you have on your list and let the other person know what you’re planning to talk about.

  2. Be patient. Chances are the company won't make a counteroffer on the spot and may have to run it by someone higher up on the ladder. Let them get back to you, and don't pester the hiring manager with emails and phone calls. 

  3. Confidence is the key to success. Remember, you’re good at what you do and you deserve to be compensated fairly.

  4. Remain professional and demonstrate gratitude. Even if you decide not to accept the job, you don’t want to burn any bridges. And keep your discussion based on facts and data, not feelings.

  5. Give a specific number, such as $65,760, rather than $66,000. According to a study published by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, when you use a specific number you’re more likely to get an offer closer to what you’re looking for, as the hiring manager will believe that you’ve done your homework to come up with that number.

  6. Be prepared to walk away from the negotiating table. Have a “deal breaker” point, which is a final offer by the company that is just too low, based on your financial requirements or what’s standard in your industry, or simply a number that you can’t live with in good conscience.

  7. Practice your pitch ahead of time to eliminate any nervousness you might have. You can practice with a friend or family member, or record yourself.  The more practice you have, the more confident you’ll feel.

If you need some help with your job search, check out Career.io’s Job Search Strategy tool, which will help you develop a career roadmap, optimize your search efforts, and give you the tools you’ll need to stand out in a competitive job market.

Key takeaways

  1. Salary negotiations are expected, but not many people take advantage of them, as only 58% of job candidates accepted the first offer given to them.

  2. When preparing for a salary negotiation, do your research, have your goals written out, prepare for a counter-negotiation, and know your value.

  3. Wait until you have a job offer before attempting to negotiate your salary.

  4. Be patient, professional, and confident, have a specific number in mind, and be prepared to turn down the offer.

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