How to Negotiate Salary

When accepting a job offer, don’t shy away from negotiation. In the words of Drake: 

Drake quote .png

Receiving a job offer can be so exciting because it can mean more money, less problems, new lessons, and all the amenities. If an employer offers you some great benefits and an improved salary, it’s hard to resist immediately accepting the offer. Before you say yes, you should always take time to evaluate the offer and negotiate.

Three out of five Americans accept the first salary they are offered. This lack of negotiation adds up, though, as an individual who fails to negotiate a first full-time salary stands to miss out on more than $500,000 by age 60. Glassdoor also lists minorities, especially women of color, as the least likely to inquire about their salary.

People often avoid negotiation because they don’t want to rock the boat or appear greedy. Though these fears are justifiable, it is important to recognize and highlight your value upfront. The vast majority of employers expect you to negotiate salary, so lean into it!

So, how can you successfully negotiate?

  • Ask for more time to review the offer if you need it. Some recruiters may give you a 24-hour window, but it’s okay to take more time. We recommend asking for an extra day or two if you need more time to make a counteroffer or otherwise think about the opportunity.

  • Research, research, research. To determine if you are receiving market rate, check online to see how much people in similar positions, industries, and regions are making. Websites with awesome salary comparison tools include Salary.com, Payscale.com, and Glassdoor.

  • Identify your accomplishments. Remind the hiring manager about the applicable skills and experience you have. Give examples of how you have been valuable to companies in the past and how you can make an impact on their team.

  • After conducting market research, signify flexibility by providing a salary range. You can ask for 10 to 20% more than you are currently making, but make sure the range hovers around market rate. Also keep in mind that realistically, the average company can only budge about $3,000 to $5,000.

  • Negotiate more than salary. If there's no wiggle room there, you can ask about:
    • Vacation time
    • Flexible scheduling or remote work
    • Reimbursement for tuition, professional development, fitness costs, or childcare
    • Learning development or mentorship opportunities
    • Signing bonus
    • Stock options
    • Job title
  • Keep personal circumstances private.  Avoid bringing things like your bills or other financial responsibilities into the conversation. Chances are, your co-workers (or maybe even your hiring manager themselves) are dealing with similar situations. Instead, allow your boss to see your worth by focusing on your performance, achievements, and potential.

  • Be positive, not pushy.  A successful negotiation is more likely when the conversation is framed in the positive. Be sure not to forget your enthusiasm and gratitude for the offer.

Because of the complicated nature of negotiating your salary, we encourage you to have the conversation over the phone - you will be able to guide the conversation more and adjust your talking points based on the employer’s reaction. You can use this email template to get the conversation going:

Dear Laura,

Thank you for for the offer to join your company. I am thrilled about the opportunity and I look forward to diving into the work.

For the starting salary, I’m looking for closer to [specific desired salary], as [insert a few short reasons why.]

I’d be happy to discuss in more detail over the phone, and thank you very much for considering.

While negotiation can be uncomfortable, it is paramount to your career trajectory and sets you up to earn more over time. Because salary negotiation is an art, practice is required, and it’s never too soon to start!

Skillist values transparency in hiring, which is why many of our partners share their expected salary ranges on our platform. Browse jobs on Skillist now.

Rizel Bobb-Semple