Adriana Herrera, PayDestiny Founder

This How to Negotiate Salary: Ultimate Guide provides steps, scripts, tips, and more to maximize your pay.

For even more help to ace your salary negotiation click here.

How to Negotiate Salary: Ultimate Guide (2023)

by | Last updated Apr 19, 2024

How to Negotiate Salary (Icon)

Do you want to learn how to negotiate salary like a pro?

If so, you’re in the right place! This ultimate guide will teach you everything you need to know about negotiating your salary. You’ll learn what the salary negotiation process consists of, what you can negotiate in a job offer, and how to negotiate a higher salary. You’ll get sample salary negotiation scripts, the best answer for salary negotiation, learn tactics employers use in salary negotiations, and more!

By the end of this guide, you’ll also have answers to common salary negotiation questions like “How to ask to negotiate salary,” “How to negotiate salary offer,” “How to negotiate salary in an interview,” and “When not to negotiate salary.”

A salary negotiation can feel daunting, but with the right tools and strategies, it doesn’t have to be. With this guide, you’ll be able to confidently ask for more money and get the salary that you deserve.

If you’re ready to learn how to negotiate salary then bookmark this page and keep reading!

Text for help. 408-899-8562
How to Negotiate Salary (Icon)

This content is permitted for use for non-commercial purposes only. Commercial use of this content is prohibited by PayDestiny’s Terms of Service. Prohibited use includes but is not limited to: repurposing content on social media without crediting PayDestiny, repurposing content for use in publications and online articles without crediting PayDestiny and linking back to this content, and repurposing content for use in books, courses, videos, or applications. Unauthorized use of this content may be subject to criminal or civil penalties for violation.

How to Negotiate Salary (Negotiation Preparation)

How to Negotiate Salary (Negotiation Preparation)

1. Learn and master the job description: A successful salary negotiation includes clearly communicating your experience performing the duties and responsibilities of a job description as well as skills that highlight your potential to excel in performing the duties and responsibilities of a job description (even if you’ve never done them). In order to be able to communicate your abilities, and value, in relation to the job description you must take time to learn and master the job description.

To master your job description take time to read the overview, duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and requirements. Break the job description into individual requirements so that you can relate your quantified achievements to them. Doing this will help you build talking points for your salary negotiation and boost your confidence to negotiate for competitive market rates.

2. Make a list of your quantified achievements: Use your knowledge of the job’s duties and requirements and your quantified personal performance data to make a list of quantified professional achievements that clearly communicate your ability to complete, and excel in, the job’s duties.

If you don’t have a log of quantified personal performance data you can reflect on your work history and build one. To do this effectively you want to quantify successes that relate to the job’s duties. To do this identify how success of each job duty and responsibilities is measured using a metric.

If the job description you’re negotiating includes “Overseeing client happiness and success” and you’ve successfully overseen “client happiness and success” your quantified achievement should communicate this using metrics.

For example…

Quantified Achievement Example

“In my last position as Account Manager I had 100% client retention and increased the average contract value by 328% I did this by automating personalized touch points that made my clients feel valued and streamlining team processes to remove bottlenecks which generated great outcomes resulting in happy clients that increased their contracts.”

The metrics of “100% client retention” and “increased the average contract value by 328%” clearly and directly communicate success.

To support a successful salary negotiation make a list of your quantified achievements as they relate to the duties and responsibilities of the job you are negotiating.

Do you want help to create your own impressive list of accomplishments?

Create a FREE PayDestiny account to create a log of your achievements using our fill-in-the-blank templates. Then when you’re ready use them to help analyze a job offer and/or your current pay.

Deposit an Achievement

 

3. Ask questions: To efficiently and successfully negotiate salary you must first act like a detective and ask questions to find out how the company determines compensation, what is negotiable, and if there are duties and responsibilities you should be aware of that need to be included in your negotiation.

Examples of questions to ask prior to a salary negotiation include:

  • What is the company’s formula to determine compensation for this role?
  • What city does the company use to baseline/determine salary?
  • What is negotiable?
  • What does the company have budgeted?

Once you have mastered the job description and asked questions to ensure you know what is negotiable and that no job duties were left out of the job description you are ready to perform market research to know what the market is paying.

4. Know what the market is paying: Perform market research before you negotiate salary for a new job offer, promotion, performance review, salary adjustment, or other salary negotiation meeting. Find out what other people in your field with your experience, skills, and qualifications are making at a similar stage company.

When performing research, compare the base salary, equity (if offered), benefits, job perks, and potential for career advancement. To do this, look at the job descriptions:

  • Experience requirements
  • Skill requirements
  • Education/certification requirements
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Compensation

Once you have a good idea of what other people in your field are making, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate your salary.

5. Schedule time for a focused discussion/negotiation: Once you’ve mastered the job description, quantified your achievements, asked questions, know what the market is paying for your skills, have received an offer, and have reviewed the offer you’re ready to schedule time for a focused discussion/salary negotiation.

To schedule time for a focused salary negotiation you must first ensure the offer is negotiable. If the offer is negotiable, request to schedule time to discuss the compensation and to ask “Does anyone else need to be included in the conversation?”

Typically for entry-level roles and mid-level roles where the job function isn’t viewed with high importance you’ll only negotiate with one person. Mid-level roles where the job function is viewed with high importance, senior-level roles, and C-suite roles may require a salary negotiation with multiple people, but not always.

Rather than accidentally have a decision-maker left out of the salary negotiation or have to rely on the person you’re negotiating with to correctly communicate what you say to another person, confirm who needs to be in the salary negotiation and schedule the salary negotiation at a time that works for everyone.

If you choose to send the request by email, clearly communicate what you want to discuss in the subject line and body of the email.

Communicating what you want to discuss and scheduling time for the discussion ensures the employer isn’t taken off guard. Taking an employer by surprise with a salary negotiation can result in placing them on the defensive, causing them to be annoyed, and/or having them rush through your negotiation all of which reduce the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

6. Never share salary history: In the United States 21 states have made it illegal for an employer to ask questions about salary history in order to use the data to benchmark what they will pay you. In states where it is not illegal it may be illegal in your city or county for every employee, businesses of a certain size, or employees of the federal government.

If asked for salary history it’s best to state something to the effect of…

Salary History Response (Example)

“In order to establish equitable compensation for this position it’s best that we look at what the market is paying for the duties and responsibilities.

 

In addition, it’s important to me to maintain the confidentiality of my former employer’s compensation practices.

 

I do not want to violate that confidentiality by disclosing their compensation information.

 

What do you currently have budgeted for the position?”

This statement makes it clear that you are looking for equitable compensation and will maintain company confidentiality for an employer. In addition, by asking a question about what the company has budgeted for the position you turn the conversation around and give yourself an opportunity to gather information to determine if you are willing to accept the position based on the salary range.

Employers that ask for salary history tend to be employers that intentionally make low offers. They want the data to use as an anchor to make an offer slightly above what you were making.

The practice of asking for salary history reveals a lot about the employer, their employer salary negotiation persona, and compensation practices.

Questions about salary history are generally irrelevant. It is very unlikely that you performed the exact same job duties and responsibilities in a previous role and that the company’s compensation practices are identical to the company you are negotiating with.

Even in the small chance that the job duties and responsibilities are identical and that the companies have the exact same compensation practices using salary history as a data point for future compensation results in the use of outdated data. This is because your salary history reflects what the market was paying for the skills, experience, and track record of success you had at the time you accepted the offer.

Since accepting the offer, and performing the duties and responsibilities of the job, you accrued new skills, experiences, and achievements. Your professional growth needs to be accounted for in all salary negotiations.

In the case that you publicly share salary history on social media an employer can legally use that information to set your base pay. Many companies are now using automated social media screening software to tap into a plethora of information on people, including posts about former employers and salary.

People frustrated with the wage gap who want to help others negotiate equitable salary and total rewards packages are posting their full compensation packages and salary history on social media. This action can backfire and can negatively impact earning potential.

When you make your salary history public employers can legally use it to benchmark future salary. This can result in lower compensation offers from new employers.

It’s best not to post salary history online in a format that can be associated with your name. If you choose to share salary history there are a number of Websites that collect self reported salary data from anonymous users to help other people benchmark a salary offer.

7. Know the company’s culture: Every company has a different culture when it comes to salary negotiations. Some companies use subjective negotiations while others use standardized formulas to calculate compensation. Use information from the questions you ask to understand the company’s salary negotiation culture. This information will help you to strategically plan for a successful outcome.

8. Know what you want: It’s important to know what you want before entering into any negotiation:

  • What is your market competitive “moonshot” salary goal?
  • What are your minimum base pay requirements?
  • What are your benefits and job perks must-haves in a job?
  • What are your benefits and job perks nice-to-haves?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you be more confident and prepared when negotiating your salary.

Use data from your market research and your professional history to determine what you want. While you may feel inclined to factor in your personal financial needs, try not to. When personal finances enter the equation, it’s easy to get emotional and make decisions you may later regret. Instead, focus on what you’re worth in the market. If you’re not hitting financial goals, skill-up to increase your value (there are a number of free resources to help).

9. Know your WATNA: Your salary negotiation WATNA is your “Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.” In other words, what’s the worst possible outcome if you don’t reach the agreement you want in your negotiation?

Knowing the worst possible scenario, and being okay with it, helps to alleviate salary negotiation anxiety and build your confidence.

WATNA: Unemployed and Negotiating Salary (Example 1)

If you’re currently unemployed and concerned about paying bills, your salary negotiation WATNA might be accepting the job regardless of the pay so that you can pay bills knowing that you will keep looking for a job that pays you a competitive market rate and quit once you do.

WATNA: Unemployed and Negotiating Salary (Example 2)

If you’re currently unemployed and have ample savings, your salary negotiation WATNA might be walking away from the job offer and continuing your job search focusing on a securing position with a company that will pay you competitively.

WATNA: Employed and Negotiating Salary (Example 3)

If you’re employed, your salary negotiation WATNA might be staying at your current job, continuing to excel in your duties, starting to look for other higher paying job opportunities, securing a higher paying offer, and renegotiating with your employer using the leverage of a competitive offer which you will accept if your company doesn’t match or exceed it.

Your salary negotiation WATNA is dependent on your circumstance and what you’re willing to accept. Every person will have their own WATNA.

Prior to engaging in a salary negotiation, establish your WATNA. It will help you:

 

  • Determine how much you’re willing to compromise
  • Have courage and confidence to negotiate for what you want without fear of what happens if you don’t reach an agreement
10. Know your audience: The person or people you’re negotiating with will play a big role in how successful your negotiation is. Their job function, employer salary negotiation persona, and salary negotiation tactics all influence your outcome.

You won’t be able to identify their employer salary negotiation persona or salary negotiation tactics until you’re actively in a salary negotiation. There are, however, things you can learn about the person or people you’ll negotiate with prior to your negotiation by using professional networking sites like LinkedIn to learn about them.

Do your research and find out as much as you can about who you’ll be negotiating with. Researching and answering the questions below will help you understand what lens they may view the negotiation through, their priorities in the salary negotiation as they relate to their job function, and how well you are likely to be perceived by them at the onset of the negotiation.

Questions to answer to help you know your audience prior to entering a salary negotiation:

 

  • What is their title and role at the company?
  • What are they likely to be thinking about?
  • Do you have a relationship with them? If so, how can your relationship help or hurt your negotiation?
11. Be aware of potential bias: It is important to be aware that when you are negotiating compensation there is direct and implicit bias that can impact the results of your salary negotiation.

For example, a Yale study of 30,000 workers found that on average the performance of women workers is rated higher than men’s but their potential is rated lower (despite the women having demonstrated their abilities in their work performance). What this study found is reflected in the increasing gender pay gap.

There is a plethora of research and data to support that women and underestimated Black and Latine professionals are statistically underpaid compared to White male colleagues with the same experience (or less) performing the same job duties. The White House states the gender gap is a trillion dollar economic problem. To increase the likelihood of a successful salary negotiation outcome it is important to be aware of potential biases in order to utilize tactics to negotiate around them.

12. Know what you’re going to say: Once you’ve done your research, have set your goals, know your must-haves, and who you’re negotiating with, prepare what you’re going to say to:

  • Open a salary negotiation
  • Make counteroffers
  • Clearly and persuasively communicate a data-driven case for competitive compensation

When preparing what you will say make sure to account for various scenarios. Prepare different points to make at different times in the negotiation. Once you prepare what you will say, practice what you will say so that it comes across friendly, confident, and clear.

13. Know when you’ll walk away: There will be times when the negotiation doesn’t go the way you wanted it to. Rather than put yourself in a place to make an emotional decision, intentionally think about when it is appropriate (if ever depending on your WATNA) for you to walk away from a deal/offer. Use your market research, information from the company, your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and WATNA to set parameters on when it’s appropriate, and in your best interest, to walk away entirely from the salary negotiation.

How to Negotiate Salary (7 Steps)

How to Negotiate Salary (7 Steps) | How to Negotiate Salary

Now that you have a grasp on how to prepare for a salary negotiation, let’s dive into how to negotiate salary, specifically seven steps to successfully negotiate a salary offer.

 

How to negotiate salary (7 Steps)

  1. Confirm that an offer is negotiable
  2. Negotiate for precise and specific dollar amounts
  3. Use data to your advantage
  4. Use data-driven word economy to clearly communicate your value in counteroffers
  5. Use tactics to overcome bias
  6. Confirm that the “final” offer is equitable
  7. Get all details of your offer in writing

1. Confirm that an offer is negotiable. A detrimental mistake many people make when negotiating salary is engaging in a salary negotiation without confirming that an offer is negotiable.

Prior to negotiating salary it’s important to confirm that an offer is negotiable in order to set the stage for both parties to enter into a salary negotiation. If you start negotiating and take the other person by surprise depending on who you’re interacting with, and in the case the offer is not negotiable, their response can be anything from defensiveness to anger.

While offers that are not presented as “best and final” or “non-negotiable” are typically negotiable it’s important to always confirm that the offer is negotiable before making a counteroffer. If the person you’re negotiating with forgot to say the offer is “best and final” or “non-negotiable” or untrained to state that the offer is “best and final” or “non-negotiable” but went out of their way to present you with a competitive offer they thought you’d be very happy with you can offend them by trying to negotiate more. On rare occasions this can result in an offer being rescinded.

To successfully negotiate salary make sure to always confirm that an offer is negotiable before opening a negotiation and making a counteroffer.

2. Negotiate for precise and specific dollar amounts: Use the qualitative and quantitative market data and personal performance data you’ve collected to set:

  • A specific “moonshot” dollar value goal to negotiate for
  • Your must-have base pay minimum
  • Counteroffer dollar amounts

Research conducted by Columbia Business School professors found that salary negotiations are more successful when a person is very precise with the amount that they want and does not round the number.

For example, when a person asks for an annual salary of $77,814.00 they are more likely to be successful than a person who negotiates for $78,000.00. This is because there is an illusion that the person has done their homework.

A person who negotiates for a precise amount is perceived “as better informed, the person on the opposite end believes there is less room to negotiate.”

To increase your chances of a successful negotiation do not round dollar amounts but ask for very specific values based on what the market is paying for someone with your skills, experience, education, and track record of success.

3. Use data to your advantage: One of the best ways to have a successful salary negotiation is to use data to your advantage.

Types of data points to use in your salary negotiation include:

  • Qualitative data you get from the company regarding how they calculate compensation
  • Market research on what the industry is paying someone performing the duties and responsibilities of the role with your experience, skills, education, and track record of success
  • Research on the person or persons you are negotiating with
  • Your quantified professional achievements as they relate to the duties and responsibilities of the position

Data roots your negotiation in logic. When you use data to explain what the market is paying for your skills, experience, and abilities as well as what you can contribute to the company you are perceived as reasonable and fair, not emotional or entitled.

Data is a valuable bargaining tool that helps you get the salary you’re looking for. It’s very difficult to outright say “no” to someone who uses data to create a persuasive argument while being polite, friendly, gracious, and professional.

Do you want data to support your salary negotiation?

Get a free Job Offer Dashboard! Get data to understand if your offer is low, what you should ask for, and more.

Salary Negotiation Data | Job Offer Dashboard

4. Use data-driven word economy to clearly communicate your value in counteroffers: When negotiating your salary, it’s important to use data-driven word economy. This means using as few words as possible while incorporating data into what you say to clearly communicate your value.

When a person uses less words to communicate they are perceived as knowledgeable, as having clear thought processes, and to have leadership traits.

In a salary negotiation data-driven word economy helps to overcome direct and implicit biases held by the person or persons you may be negotiating with. When you’re able to overcome biases you increase the likelihood of a successful salary negotiation.

Let’s contrast examples of negotiating compensation with and without data-driven word economy.

In our examples a potential new hire is negotiating the base pay for a project management position. In Example A the new hire uses no data-driven word economy to negotiate their pay. In Example B the new hire uses data-driven word economy to negotiate their pay and communicate a persuasive argument.

No Data-Driven Word Economy Used (Example A)

“I’m worth $121,814.00 because I have four years of experience.

 

I was loved by everyone in my first job, where I learned time management skills and used those skills to keep projects on schedule.

 

In my second job, which was my most recent position, I was often asked to schmooze clients because they loved my personality.

 

This would result in them spending more with the company. In my last job I would also lead project meetings to keep projects on track.”

Data-driven Word Economy Used (Example B)

“This position requires efficient team leading and client management skills.

 

In my last position I increased my team’s productivity by 15% and client spend by 38% resulting in an additional $388,400.00 in annual profit.

 

An annual salary of $121,814.00 best reflects my ability to implement efficient processes that increase team efficiency and client happiness to yield profitable results.”

In Example A the person negotiating does not clearly communicate how their skills impacted the company. Their choice of words are “fluffy” and leave room for doubt.

In Example B the person skips fluffy details and focuses on correlating the job’s duties and responsibilities with quantified work achievements that reflect their abilities and monetary value.

When negotiating salary the use of data-driven word economy makes a significant difference. Using data-driven word economy puts you in a position to “speak business.” Meaning you empower yourself to clearly communicate your ability to contribute to the bottom line of the business. This is important when negotiating salary because the person you are negotiating with wants to know that there will be a fair exchange of value. The exchange of value being the business paying you $X and you using your skills and potential to excel in the job’s duties and responsibilities to help the business achieve its short and long-term goals.

The use of data-driven word economy in the workplace can also position you to be viewed as a leader and position you for promotions and pay raises.

5. Use tactics to overcome bias: Everyone has bias. Biases can be explicit and consciously held or implicit and unconsciously held. Gender bias, racial bias, and sexual orientation bias are common biases that can result in offers that are lower than what the market is paying.

Depending on who you are, the biases of the person or persons you are negotiating with can help your salary negotiation or create a challenge you need to overcome.

To overcome bias in a salary negotiation it is important to:

 

  • Ask questions about how the company calculates compensation in order to create accountability
  • Use data-driven word economy to clearly communicate your value
  • Never share salary history or salary expectations and allow an anchor to be set
  • Increase your likeability and thereby persuasiveness by expressing gratitude throughout a negotiation

6. Confirm that the “final” offer is equitable: In order to not leave money on the table it is important to confirm that a “final” offer is equitable. To confirm if an offer is equitable you want to ask three questions:

  • How was this base pay calculated?
    • Was the same calculation used for every employee in this position?
  • Where does a base pay of $X fall on the compa ratio for this position?

The answers you receive to these three questions will tell you if the offer is rooted in what the market is paying for someone with your skills, education, and level of experience, if the offer is rooted in a perception of your value based on who you are, or a blend of both.

How was this offer calculated?

If the employer cannot detail how the offer was calculated using (weighted) variables the offer is likely based on a perception of the value of your skills and experience and highly influenced by the employer’s salary negotiation persona.

If the employer can easily detail how the offer is calculated and shares the formula used then it is a good sign that the offer you received is equitable. The use of a standardized formula to calculate every employee’s compensation makes it very difficult to allow direct and implicit bias to influence compensation decisions.

Depending on the answer you get to the question “How was this offer calculated?” you may want to ask the question “Was the same calculation used for every employee in this position?” This follow up question provides insight into the standardized application of the company’s compensation formula and its authentic commitment to equitable compensation.

Where does this offer fit on the compa ratio?

The third question you want to ask is “Where does this offer fit on the compa ratio?” This question lets you know if your offer is less than the median pay for the position at the company, equal to the median pay for the position, or higher than the median pay for the position.

What is a compa ratio?

A compa ratio is a tool used by HR to compare an employee’s salary to the median salary of others in the same position at the company or within the market. A compa ratio may be communicated in decimals or percentiles.

In decimals the compa ratio scale is from .80 to 1.2. In decimals the number one is median pay.

To create some level of pay standardization many companies will organize role-specific decimal compa ratios as follows:

  • 0.8 – 0.9 is for new or entry-level hires and/or poor performers
  • 0.91 – 1.10 is for mid-level employees with some experience and/or good performance
  • 1.11 – 1.20 is for senior-level employees with significant experience and excellent performance

In percentiles the compa ratio is from 80% to 120%. In percentiles one hundred percent is the median pay. A company’s compa ratio scale in percentiles may look like the following:

  • 80% – 90% is for new or entry-level hires and/or poor performers
  • 91% – 110% is for mid-level employees with some experience and/or good performance
  • 111% – 120% is for senior-level employees with significant experience and excellent performance

Compa Ratio in Decimals

An individual’s compa ratio is calculated by dividing their annual pay/salary by the median annual pay/salary for their position.

The formula to calculate in decimals where your offer fits on a compa ratio scale is:

  • Base salary offer/Median salary for the position

Let’s walk through a couple of examples…

Compa Ratio (Example 1)

If you received an offer of $102,000.00 and the median salary for the position was $119,420.00, the compa ratio would be 0.85. The calculation is as follows:

 

  • $102,000.00/$119,420.00 = 0.85

Compa Ratio (Example 2)

If you received an offer of $64,000.00 and the median salary for the position was $67,500.00, the compa ratio would be 0.95. The calculation is as follows:

 

  • $64,000.00/$67,500.00 = 0.95

Compa Ratio (Example 3)

If you received an offer of $84,000.00 and the median salary for the position was $70,000.00, the compa ratio would be 1.20. The calculation is as follows:

 

  • $84,000.00/$70,000.00 = 1.20

A compa ratio of 1.0 details that your offer is equal to the median pay for the position. A compa ratio higher or lower than 1.0 details how your offer compares to the median salary for the position.

The closer to 1.2, the top of the compa ratio scale, the better your offer. If your offer is above 1.2 the offer is hyper-competitive.

Inversely, the closer your offer to 0.8, the worse the offer is in comparison to the average salary for the position.

Compa Ratio in Percentiles

The formula to calculate compa ratio in percentiles to compare an your offer to the pay of others in the same role is:

  • (Base salary offer/Median salary for the position)*100

Let’s use our examples above and calculate the percentile compa ratios.

Compa Ratio (Example 1a)

If you received an offer of $102,000.00 and the median salary for the position was $119,420.00, the percentile compa ratio would be 85%. The calculation is as follows:

 

  • $102,000.00/$119,420.00 * 100 = 85%

Compa Ratio (Example 2b)

If you received an offer of $64,000.00 and the median salary for the position was $67,500.00, the percentile compa ratio would be 95%. The calculation is as follows:

 

  • $64,000.00/$67,500.00 * 100 = 95%

Compa Ratio (Example 3c)

If you received an offer of $84,000.00 and the median salary for the position was $70,000.00, percentile compa ratio would be 120%. The calculation is as follows:

 

  • $84,000.00/$70,000.00 * 100 = 120%
In a salary negotiation the question “Where does this offer fit on the compa ratio?” is very powerful. The compa ratio is a calculation from the company that lets you know how your annual pay/salary offer compares to the pay of other people in the role.

A compa ratio data point lets you know very clearly how equitable your offer is within the company (and market):

  • Below 0.79 or 0.79% is underpaid
  • 0.8 – 0.9 or 80% – 90% is at the low end of the pay scale
  • 0.91 – 1.10 or 91% – 110% is median pay
  • 1.11 – 1.20 or 111% – 120% is at the high end of the pay scale
  • Above 1.20 or 120% is hyper-competitive pay

It’s important to note that just because an offer’s compa ratio is competitive for a company it does not mean the offer is competitive for the market.

To calculate how competitive an offer is for the market you can use the following calculations:

  • (Base salary offer/Market salary for the position)
  • (Base salary offer/Market salary for the position)*100

Ask where your offer falls on the company’s compa ratio for the position to gain clear insights into how equitable your base pay offer is.

7. Get your offer in writing: Once you reach mutual agreement on your base pay and other variables that make up your total rewards make sure to get your offer in writing. If a detail you agreed to in your negotiation is not written into your Employee Offer Letter that gets signed by you and the employer it does not need to be upheld.

Even if you trust the employer and company to uphold what they agreed to in your salary negotiation, still get every detail in your Employee Offer Letter. Your employer/direct supervisor/person you negotiate with may leave the company, get fired, or go on maternity or paternity leave resulting in a person replacing them trying to force practices or processes outside of the bounds of what you agreed to in your salary negotiation.

For example, let’s say as part of your total rewards to increase your productivity and long-term success you negotiated the ability not to take meetings (in-person or via phone/video) on Fridays. You’ve been at the company for eight months and your supervisor leaves the company. You get a new supervisor who is trying to have you take meetings on Fridays like everyone else.

Rather than have a back and forth about what was said in your salary negotiation all you have to do is provide your new supervisor a copy of your dually signed Employee Offer Letter that clearly states a condition of your employment is that you do not take meetings on Friday so that you can increase your productivity on that day.

Without the “No meeting on Fridays” details written into your Employee Offer Letter you would have been on the losing end of a battle with a new supervisor.

To ensure what you agree to in a salary negotiation is always upheld by the company, have the details written into an Employee Offer Letter or other employee agreement that is signed by you and a representative of the company.

How to Negotiate Salary (Tips):

  • Be careful not to disclose salary history
  • Be confident, yet humble
  • Be honest
  • Be open to compromise
  • Be positive and energetic
  • Be prepared and practiced
  • Be prepared to walk away if your must-haves are not met
  • Don’t accept the first offer (unless it’s presented as best and final and meets your expectations)
  • Don’t be entitled
  • Don’t bring up personal finances and bills
  • Don’t give an ultimatum
  • Don’t make threats
  • Express gratitude throughout the process
  • Have leverage via competing offers
  • Know your must-haves
  • Know your nice-to-haves and what you can be flexible on
  • Negotiate the whole job (i.e. make sure you truly understand the job’s duties and responsibilities)
  • Negotiate beyond base pay, negotiate the total rewards package
  • Think about the long-term win-win
  • Use personal data and market data to communicate clear persuasive (non-emotional) negotiation points
  • Use silence to your advantage
  • Use word economy to communicate precisely
  • View a salary negotiation as a collaboration

How to Negotiate Salary in an Interview

How to Negotiate Salary in an Interview | How to Negotiate Salary

If you’re getting ready to negotiate your compensation as part of an interview process then this how to negotiate salary in an interview section is for you!

What Are Your Salary Expectations Best Answer

The process to negotiate salary in an interview starts when the first request for your salary expectation is made. A salary expectation request can be made even before you interview for a job. Most employers now include a field in their job application that requires you to submit your desired salary in the application.

If you enter a specific dollar value in the salary expectations field it will set an anchor for your salary negotiation making it harder (though not impossible) to negotiate a higher salary. If possible, it’s best to enter “Negotiable” into the field. Entering “negotiable” allows you to run your salary negotiation process without the additional hurdle of overcoming a salary anchor that you’ve set.

If during the interview process you’re asked for your salary expectations it’s best to say something like…

What Are Your Salary Expectations Best Answer (Example)

“I’m excited about this position and to learn more about its job duties and requirements.

 

I don’t have enough information to answer the question at this time.

 

What is the salary range budgeted for the position?”

This statement helps you express your interest in the position while gathering information for your salary negotiation without setting an uninformed salary negotiation anchor. Not providing a specific dollar amount to a question about salary expectation helps to minimize the likelihood that you will be lowballed.

Ask Questions to Negotiate Salary in an Interview

The process of learning how to negotiate salary in an interview includes acting like a detective. You want to collect information to understand salary negotiation parameters.

At appropriate times during an interview you want to ask questions about the position, it’s duties and responsibilities, and the company to ensure:

 

  • All job duties and responsibilities are listed in the job description
  • You understand what resources are available to you to perform the duties and requirements of the job (i.e. will you have the tools you need to support your success and help you excel or will you have to put in extra work and hours to be successful)
  • You understand how the company determines base pay and creates total reward compensation packages
  • You have the details you need to research the market and establish data-driven salary and total rewards compensation goals

How to Negotiate Salary in an Interview (Suggested Strategy)

As a job interview progresses and the employer expresses interest in hiring you they may make a verbal offer. If you receive a verbal offer, express your gratitude and enthusiasm, ask for the offer in writing, and ask for time to review the offer.

Fuse together the details in the job offer with the information you collected to compare your offer to what the market is paying for your skills. Use the information to set your must-haves and nice-to-haves and then follow up with the employer to see if the offer is negotiable.

If the offer is negotiable make specific counteroffers ensuring not to forget to negotiate for things like job perks, stock options, income impacting variables, and variables that will contribute to your overall happiness and total rewards.

Once you reach a mutual agreement make sure all the details of your salary negotiation are included in your Employee Offer Letter.

How to negotiate salary in an interview:

  • Express your gratitude and enthusiasm
  • Ask for the offer in writing
  • Request time to review the offer
  • Compare the offer to what similar companies in the market are paying for someone with your skills, education, experience, and track record of success
  • Set your must-haves
  • Set your nice-to-haves
  • Ask if the offer is negotiable
  • Make specific counteroffers to negotiate your total rewards
  • Ensure all final negotiation details are written into your Employee Offer Letter

How to Ask to Negotiate Salary

How to Ask to Negotiate Salary | How to Negotiate Salary

Asking if an offer is negotiable is critical to setting a positive tone for a salary negotiation. It is also one of the most overlooked parts of a salary negotiation.

Not asking if an offer is negotiable and beginning to negotiate salary can have detrimental consequences. These consequences can range from the employer having a defensive attitude (which doesn’t help you in your salary negotiation) to having a job offer rescinded (a rare extreme response).

To avoid these consequences it’s important to learn how to ask to negotiate salary. The process of asking to negotiate salary is simple. Here is an example:

How to Ask to Negotiate Salary (Example)

“Thank you for the offer!

 

I appreciate it and am very excited about the opportunity to join the company.

 

I know I can excel here.

 

I am wondering, is this offer negotiable?”

The three sentence “How to Ask to Negotiate Salary” example above:

  • Expresses gratitude
  • Shares excitement
  • Clearly asks if salary is negotiable in a direct yet soft manner

The employer will either respond with a “Yes” and ask you what you had in mind or they will let you know that the offer is not negotiable. If the offer is not negotiable you can either accept it, decline the offer, or ask when they need an answer and continue the interview process and use the offer as leverage to negotiate starting salary.

How to Negotiate Starting Salary

Once you’ve confirmed that an offer is negotiable you’re ready to negotiate your starting salary. To negotiate your starting salary what you say should:

  • Be gracious
  • Be rooted in market research data
  • Rooted in quantified personal performance data
  • Confident and friendly
  • Express enthusiasm to accept the position

Below is an example of how to negotiate starting salary.

How to Negotiate Starting Salary (Example)

“Thank you for being open to negotiating. I’m really excited about this position. The offer of $130,000.00 was lower than anticipated.

 

The primary focus of the position is to support the Chief Marketing Officer in organic customer acquisition via the creation of long and short form content.

 

In my last position I created and promoted 72 pieces of SEO optimized content that resulted in a flywheel that continues to generate an average of 723,500 new monthly unique visitors, the annual acquisition of 42,410 new customers, and $3.1 million in new annual recurring revenue.

 

Based on my research of similar positions and companies at the same stage the market is paying a base salary of $186,488.00 for someone with my skills, experience, education, and track record of success.

 

If the company can come up to this market rate I could, and would love to, get started in two weeks on Monday, September 8th.

 

What do you think?”

The how to negotiate starting salary example above:

  • Expresses gratitude for the ability to negotiate
  • Shares excitement
  • Clearly states the offer is lower than expected
  • Provides a data-driven word economy persuasive statement that connects their value to the duties and responsibilities of the job
  • States they have done market research
  • Makes a specific dollar ask
  • Adds a level of urgency and finality by providing a date that they would start if the company agrees to the specific dollar ask

Following this process to negotiate a starting salary increases your likeability, roots your negotiation in data, increases your credibility and perception of fairness, and communicates you want to quickly come to a mutual agreement so you can get started in the position. All of these details increase the likelihood of a successful salary negotiation outcome.

Best Answer for Salary Negotiation

Best Answer for Salary Negotiation | How to Negotiate Salary

The best answer for a salary negotiation is tailored to the details of each negotiation. The best answer for a salary negotiation is not a templated script or response. It is one that utilizes market data, personal performance data, and your must-haves as well as your understanding of the employer’s salary negotiation persona, BATNA, and company variables that may limit outcomes.

For example, if you are negotiating a new job offer versus a salary adjustment at a current job the employer’s BATNA is different. This makes what you say to negotiate the best outcome different for each situation.

As a potential new hire a BATNA for the employer could be hiring the second best person for the job. In this case the best answer for a salary negotiation takes into consideration the employer’s BATNA and how easy it may be for them to end the salary negotiation and offer the position to another person.

The best answer for a situation where a potential employer could end the salary negotiation and offer the job to another person should include:

  • Quantified work data that relates achievements to the duties and responsibilities of the position
  • Quantified work data that communicates your achievements and abilities to relation to the bottom line of the company (i.e. Why you are worth more and the better option to a “cheaper” hire)
  • Areas of expertise in which you require no training and thus save the company money
  • Information on how quickly you can begin to make an impact, especially compared to new hires that require substantial training (which make less experienced applicants a larger financial investment to hire)

If you’re negotiating pay and total rewards with your employer and you’re a valued employee if you don’t come to a salary agreement the BATNA for the employer could be running a costly and time sucking process to hire and train someone because you resign to work at another company that will pay you more.

In this case the best answer for a salary negotiation takes into account the leverage of being a valued employee and how much time and money the company would lose replacing you.

The best answer for a salary negotiation in which you are a valued employee could include:

  • Quantified work data that relates your on-the-job achievements to the duties and responsibilities of the position
  • Awards and recognition you’ve earned for the company
  • What the market is paying for your skills and contributions
  • How long it would take to hire and train someone to replace you
  • How long it would take someone to get up to your level of productivity

The best answer for salary negotiation is specific to the situation and well-formulated. It is a clear and concise response that leaves no room for interpretation or doubt.

How to Negotiate a Higher Salary

How to Negotiate a Higher Salary | How to Negotiate Salary 

The process to negotiate a higher salary is part art and part science. The art resides in building rapport with the person with whom you are negotiating. The science resides in understanding what needs to be communicated and in what format to make a persuasive case for a higher salary.

Before we get into the art and science of how to negotiate a higher salary, let’s cover variables that can cap your salary, make it harder to negotiate a higher salary, or make it easier to negotiate a higher salary.

Variables that influence how flexible a company will be with a salary negotiation include:

  • What the market is paying for similar positions
  • What the market is paying someone with your skill level and experience performing the duties and responsibilities of the position
  • The budgeted salary range for the position
  • The company’s processes to set salary (are processes standardized or not)
  • The type of company and its stage (e.g. Public company, Series C stage, Seed Stage, Non-profit, SMB, etc.)
  • What city the company uses to calculate base pay for your position (and is it the same city for every person in the role regardless of location or does the city where the work is performed impact base pay)
  • The position’s level (e.g. Entry level, Mid level, Senior Level, or C-Suite)
  • If the position is a leadership role responsible for leading the success of a department, team, and/or others
  • If the position is an individual contributor with no leadership responsibility
  • If the position directly contributes to revenue generation or not (e.g. a Chief Product Officer, a User Experience Designer, Marketer, or Sales Engineer versus Payroll, Accounting, Human Resources Representatives, Administration)
  • How important the position is to the company (e.g. An international snack food chips company hiring software developers will likely pay less for a software developer than a funded Series B or Series C technology startup. This is because a global snack food company’s view of a software developer is to support the manufacturing and distribution of its snack chips whereas a technology software startup views the function of a software developer as critical and very important to the company’s success.)
  • How much the company wants to hire you
  • If you have salary negotiation leverage such as competing offers

These variables can contribute to your ability to negotiate a higher salary. Keeping these variables in mind will help you set salary negotiation goals that are well-informed (and realistic).

How to Negotiate a Higher Salary (The Art)

When a person feels a connection with you and they feel appreciated they are more likely to go out of their way to help you. Building rapport is key to unlocking “the art” of negotiation.

Below are some tips on how to build rapport with the person(s) you negotiate with:

  • Be genuine and authentic
  • Naturally use the name of the person(s) with whom you are negotiating
  • Sincerely express gratitude at appropriate times throughout the negotiation process
  • Make small talk, if appropriate, and try to find something in common
  • Mirror body language (without being creepy)
  • Keep your body language open, never fold your arms
  • Lean in slightly when listening and speaking
  • Nod your head (at appropriate times when the other person is speaking)

In addition, to building rapport with the person(s) you negotiate with to negotiate a higher salary you should:

 

  • Show passion
  • Believe you deserve the highest base pay possible (just make sure the base pay you believe your deserve is rooted in data)
  • Be confident and friendly
  • Listen intently, salary negotiations are extremely nuanced it’s important to listen more than you speak
  • Stay the course, when you say something and expect a reply from the other person and they don’t say anything wait for them to respond, silent pauses can work in your favor
  • Be persuasive not argumentative
  • Be flexible, but not too flexible

How to Negotiate a Higher Salary (The Science)

The science of a salary negotiation is understanding the process, what needs to be communicated, and how best to communicate it. In order to negotiate a higher salary you must:

 

  • Ensure you understand salary negotiation terminology such as: total compensation, total rewards, and “desired compensation type” versus “desired salary range” (if you are unsure that you and the person(s) you are negotiation with are using a term in the same way or if you are unsure what a specific term means it is critical that you ask to avoid a costly salary negotiation miscommunication or mistake)
  • Research the market
  • Account for variables that will increase or decrease the company’s negotiation flexibility
  • Get salary negotiation leverage such as multiple competing offers
  • Never share salary history
  • Ask questions regarding the company’s budget for the position
  • Ask questions about the job’s duties and responsibilities to ensure you negotiate compensation for all duties and responsibilities
  • Set personal must-have goals based on market data and personal achievement data
  • Confirm that an offer is negotiable
  • Negotiate for your base pay goals plus benefits, job perks, other monetary incentives such as stock options, as well as variables that make up your total rewards
  • Counteroffer using data-driven word economy to clearly communicate your value
  • Ensure every detail of your salary negotiation is included in the Employee Offer Letter, if a detail is omitted the company does not have to uphold the detail

How to Negotiate a Higher Starting Salary

Now that you have a good understanding of how the art and science of a salary negotiation work together to increase your salary, let’s dive into how to negotiate a higher starting salary. To negotiate a higher starting salary you need to: 1.) confirm the offer is negotiable, and 2.) clearly communicate your value.

To clearly communicate your value what you say should:

  • Reference a job duty or responsibility from the job description
  • Use metrics to highlight how you have previously achieved positive outcomes for the job duty or responsibility or similar to the job duty or responsibility
  • Counteroffer using a specific (not rounded) dollar value

Below is a template to help you learn how to negotiate a higher starting salary:

How to Negotiate a Higher Starting Salary (Template)

“I appreciate your offer and I’m very excited about the position.

 

Understanding the job’s duties and responsibilities I see the position requires XYZ.

 

I have previously [Insert what you achieved using metrics] by [Insert how you achieved the results].

 

The market is paying [Insert specific dollar value] for someone with these skills.

 

If you can come up I can get started on [Insert date].”

When you use this format to negotiate a higher starting salary you leverage your personal performance data and market data to make a counteroffer. The counteroffer is based on data. When you fuse factual points with tactics from “the art of a salary negotiation,” such as gratitude and likability, you increase your chances of negotiating a higher starting salary.

Salary Negotiation Conversation Example

Salary Negotiation Conversation Example | How to Negotiate Salary

It’s not often that we negotiate salary. Most people only negotiate salary a handful of times in their life. Not knowing what to expect in a salary negotiation can make the idea of negotiating scary, especially if you’ve never done it before.

One of the best ways to learn how to negotiate salary is to see a salary negotiation conversation example. By seeing how a real-life salary negotiation could play out, you can get a better sense of what to say (and what not to say) when it’s your turn to negotiate.

Below is an example of a salary negotiation conversation example. In it you will see:

  • How to graciously open a salary negotiation
  • How to make a counteroffer
  • How to use market data to support your salary negotiation
  • How to use personal performance data to support your salary negotiation
  • How to be flexible and compromise

Every salary negotiation is nuanced but in general they follow the same salary negotiation flow:

 

  • Offer
  • Seeing if the offer is negotiable
  • Back and forth counteroffers
  • Compromise
  • Mutual agreement

Salary Negotiation Conversation Example (Dialogue Part 1 of 3)

Employer

“Hi, we’re excited to offer you the job. Here’s our initial compensation package.”

Potential Employee

“Thank you for offering me the job! I’m happy to be considered, but I’m not sure this is the right fit for me.

Can we discuss the base pay?

It is lower than what the market is paying for someone with my skills, education, and experience.

Is the offer negotiable?

Employer

“We usually don’t negotiate salary for this position, but I’ll go ahead and see what I can do. What are you looking for?”

Potential Employee

“I’m looking for a salary that’s in line with my experience and skills.

I have ABC which has XYZ. This shows my ability to excel at 123 job duty.

I also have ABC which has XYZ. This shows my ability to excel at 123 job duty.

I believe $X to be an equitable base salary based on the market and my proven abilities.”

Employer

“That sounds like a lot more than what we’re offering. We usually start new employees at $Y.

Let me see what I can do. I may be able to bump you up to $Y, but that’s probably the best I can do. Will that work?”

Potential Employee

“That’s not quite what I am looking for, but I’m excited about the position and appreciate your offer. I’ll think about it and get back to you.”

Salary Negotiation Conversation Example (Dialogue Part 2 of 3)

Potential Employee

“Hi, I wanted to follow up on our previous conversation about base pay.

After some further research on what the market is paying for my skills and experience, $Y is low.

Would you be willing to increase the salary to $Xa?”

Employer

“I understand where you’re coming from, but we have a limited budget for this position. We can’t go any higher than $Y.”

Potential Employee

“I see. I’m really excited about this role and the potential of growing with the company.

To get me to $Xa would the company be open to:

  • Increasing my stock options by Q%,
  • Providing a signing bonus of $Z,
  • Implementing a monthly transportation stipend of $150.00 for travel into work for the two required days, as well as
  • A monthly work from home stipend of $75.00 to cover the internet upgrade I’ll have to make?

If we can do this then I can confirm that I can start on AB/AB/ABAB.”

Employer

“Let me look into this and see what we can do.”

Potential Employee

“Okay, thank you for considering my request. I really hope we can figure this out.”

Salary Negotiation Conversation Example (Dialogue Part 3 of 3)

Employer

“We are able to:

  • Increase your stock options by Q% vesting over four years with a one-year cliff,
  • Provide a signing bonus of $Z to be paid out in 12 equal parts during your first year of employment, and
  • Provide both your requested monthly transportation and work from home internet stipends.

Does this work for you?”

Potential Employee

“It does!

I really appreciate all your efforts and that the company recognizes my value.

I look forward to hitting the ground running on AB/AB/ABAB.

What are the next steps?

Employer

“We’ll write up an offer letter. Then once you sign it we will get everything ready for you to start on AB/AB/ABAB.”

Potential Employee

“Sounds great, thank you again!”

This is a salary negotiation conversation example. As you can see, it’s important to:

  • Confirm that an offer is negotiable
  • Know your must-haves
  • Root your negotiation in market research
  • Root your negotiation in quantified personal performance data that clearly communicates your abilities and value to the company
  • Be assertive but not aggressive
  • Be willing to find ways to compromise

Remember, as long as an offer is not presented as “best and final” or “non-negotiable” you’re not obligated to accept the first offer. If the offer isn’t what you’re looking for, be prepared to negotiate. With these tips in mind, you can confidently negotiate your salary.

When Not to Negotiate Salary

When Not to Negotiate Salary | How to Negotiate Salary

A part of learning how to negotiate salary is learning that there are appropriate and inappropriate times to negotiate salary. It’s important to be aware of when not to negotiate salary. Negotiating salary at the wrong time can have detrimental repercussions.

When not to negotiate salary:

  • At the beginning of an interview. If you enter a job interview and begin negotiating salary, it sends a red flag to the employer. If a potential employer has not signaled they are interested in hiring you and you start negotiating salary they may think you’re not interested in the details of the job or that you’re only interested in money.
  • When you are underperforming at work. If you are not performing well at work, it’s not the time to negotiate salary. Your employer may find the conversation off putting and use the situation to highlight your lack of performance. This can result in being placed on probation or even fired.
  • When you are emotional. Emotions can run high if you discover you’re underpaid or that you’re being lowballed. Your emotions may prompt you to want to jump into a salary negotiation. Entering a salary negotiation when you are emotional can have negative consequences. If you are emotional, it’s difficult to think rationally and make logical arguments. You might even make unintentional threats or give an ultimatum that loses you a job opportunity or gets you fired. When you’re emotional, it’s best to wait until you’ve calmed down before negotiating salary.
  • When you are unprepared. Successful salary negotiations are rooted in preparation. If you’re not prepared, it will be difficult to make a strong case for why you deserve a higher salary. Do your research, prepare what you’ll say, and practice what you’ll say in different scenarios. This preparation will help you negotiate in a friendly and confident manner and boost your chances of success.

If you’re unsure about when to negotiate, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and wait until after you’ve received a job offer, are performing well at work, or when you are level-headed and well-prepared.

How to Negotiate Salary Reddit (Beware of Bad Advice)

How to Negotiate Salary Reddit (Beware of Bad Advice) | How to Negotiate Salary

Given that resources to learn how to negotiate salary have been limited (until the creation of PayDestiny 😄💵) many people have sought salary negotiation advice in online forums like Reddit.

Unfortunately, this is very dangerous since most people are unfamiliar with the salary negotiation process from the perspective of the potential employee or employee and all employer roles that could participate in a salary negotiation.

In addition, a person offering advice may have “credentials” but offer advice from a limited and/or biased perspective. This can result in bad advice that harms the success of a salary negotiation and long-term earnings.

When seeking salary negotiation advice online people often search “‘How to Negotiate Salary Reddit.’ The top search engine result links to a forum thread where most of the advice is bad.

The thread starts with someone asking the question “How to negotiate a (better) salary?

Reddit Logo

How to negotiate a (better) salary? (Reddit Forum Question)

“I am in the market for a career change and have little idea what my skills are worth a little outside my current profession. If a prospective employer wants to discuss salary, how do I find out the maximum they are willing to offer?

Also, I know I should not throw out the first number, but how do I avoid it when they ask directly (ie What is your current salary? What are your salary requirements? etc…)

Thanks for your help.”

As of the time of writing this guide the question “How to negotiate a (better) salary” has been upvoted 822 times.

The top comment, out of 381 comments, is:

  • 10 years old
  • Written by someone who states they are an executive recruiter
  • (Very dangerously) Upvoted 638 times

Of the nine key points the top comment makes eight of them are bad and harmful to a salary negotiation.

How to Negotiate Salary Reddit (Reddit Response) | How o Negotiate Salary

How to Negotiate Salary Reddit (Beware of Bad Advice)

Let’s dive into the key points of the top response to the question “How to negotiate a (better) salary?”

🚫 (Bad) The top comment is from an executive recruiter whose lens on the salary negotiation process is very different than a team lead or owner who are the best employer personas to negotiate with. This makes the advice limited in scope and biased based on the individual’s job function as a recruiter, their limitations, and job goals.

✅ (Good) The top comment says “…decide for yourself what you want. Decide in your head as early as you can…” This is good advice if you have done market research to support the development of your base pay minimum, base pay “moonshot” goal, must-haves, and nice-to-haves.

🚫 (Bad) The top comment does not recommend the use of market research or personal performance data to determine your base pay minimum, base pay “moonshot” goal, must-haves, and nice-to-haves.

🚫 (Bad) The top comment gives the following instructions: “When asked what you want (it is inevitable), tell them “I would really like $T (target) but I could be flexible for the right opportunity.”

This advice helps recruiters gain salary expectation information that helps to set an anchor that can result in lowball offers. While the recruiter may seek to understand where you fall within their hiring budget the question still results in setting a salary negotiation anchor.

They could simply not ask for your salary expectations and share the salary range for the position instead. This would allow you to determine if the budget for the position is inline with what you’re looking for.

This advice benefits the job function of a recruiter more than the outcome of a potential employee or employee’s salary negotiation.

Rather than provide a dollar value that results in setting a salary negotiation anchor you could say something like…

Best Answer for Salary Expectation in an Interview

“I’m excited about this position. Unfortunately, at the moment I don’t have enough information about the duties and responsibilities.

 

What is the salary range for the position?

 

{You’re given the range}

 

Alright, let’s set [$X, the top of the range] as a placeholder for now and we can work together to figure out the absolute right number when the company knows more about my skills and experience and how they relate to the job’s responsibilities and when I know more about the position.”

🚫 (Bad) The top comment states, “Depending on the strength of the company, they will either a) give you what you want or b) give you a bit less — in my experience it’s never usually more than about 10% less than what you stated.”

The recruiter confirms that sharing a salary expectation results in the creation of an anchor used by the company to benchmark and decide what base pay they will offer you.

In addition, they state “in my experience” but do not share what market they recruit for, the job family they recruit for (i.e. role seniority), and/or the demographics of the people they typically recruit. Demographics shouldn’t matter but they do. If the person is typically hiring White men and saying the company will offer 10% less than what is asked for then this advice is only relevant to White men as Women, Black, and Latine professionals are statistically paid less than White men.

It is dangerous to give blanket statement salary negotiation advice when many variables factor into a salary negotiation.

🚫 (Bad) Advice to make a counteroffer is given but they do not mention the need to confirm that the offer is negotiable. Making a counteroffer without confirming that the offer is negotiable can surprise the person you are negotiating with and even cause them to be placed on the defensive. In extreme circumstances, if the offer was hyper competitive and/or the person went out of their way to present an offer they thought you would appreciate, the offer can be rescinded.

🚫 (Bad) The top comment’s advice to counteroffer is to target the “middle point.” This is very bad advice especially if an offer is not standardized and not calculated using a formula. An unstandardized offer can be biased resulting in the recipient making a counteroffer on an offer that is low based on a perception of their value rather than their value in the market based on their experience.

The middle point on an offer can be very different depending on gender and race. Statistics demonstrate women, especially women of color are paid less than White male peers performing the same job duties. If a person who receives a low offer applies this advice they will end up being paid below market.

The appropriate dollar value to counteroffer is based on the company’s formula to set base salary (i.e. using the city the company uses to benchmark compensation) and what companies at the same stage pay a person with your level of skills, education, experience, and track record of success to complete the job’s duties.

It is very reasonable to use market data and personal performance data to make a counteroffer that is higher than the “middle point.”

🚫 ❌ (Very Bad) The top comment advises “accepting a lower salary gives them more room to give you raises in the future…” You should never accept a lower salary to give room for raises. In this case, this advice favors a recruiter trying to place you into a position and fulfill their job duties “under budget.”

The salary you accept should reflect what the market is currently paying. Whatever raises you receive down the road should reflect what the market is paying at that time for someone with your skills, experience, and the value of your contributions to the company.

In the case that the company has a poor pay raise policy where all employees get X% of a pay raise then accepting a lower salary upfront will result in you always being underpaid. This is very bad advice.

🚫 ❌ ⚠️ (Bad and Potentially Illegal Advice) The top comment says to share your salary history. The response states “And I wouldn’t recommend lying about your last salary either — I have had clients ask for W-2’s to verify your previous salary, so my advice would be to not risk it.”

It is illegal to ask for salary history in 21 states. Moreover, sharing salary history creates an anchor that will result in a lowball offer.

If you are asked for your salary history you can professionally decline to share your salary history without derailing your salary negotiation. For example you could say something like…

Salary History Answer (Example)

“I believe it’s very important to maintain the confidentiality of my current and former employers. I’m not comfortable sharing my salary history.

 

In addition, the job functions are not the same and the company type and size are different. Any comparison would be apples to oranges.

 

On the topic of salary, I’m interested to learn how the company calculates pay. What formula do you use to calculate base pay and annual pay increases?”

In this statement you are presenting yourself as professional by wanting to maintain employer confidentiality. Additionally, you flip the question to gain information on how the company “calculates base pay” signaling you’re looking for a company that has equitable compensation practices.

As outlined above when searching for things like “How to negotiate salary Reddit” it’s important to use the information you’ve learned in this guide to filter out outdated, biased, and generally bad advice.

How to Negotiate Salary (FAQs)

How to Negotiate Salary (FAQs)

How to Negotiate Salary (FAQs):

What is a reasonable amount to negotiate on salary?

A reasonable salary amount to negotiate for is the dollar value difference between what you are offered or currently paid and what companies at a similar stage are paying someone with your skills and experience to perform the same job duties and responsibilities.

If the offer is low or you’re underpaid this amount may feel like a lot but if the amount reflects the difference between what you are paid and what the market is paying then it is reasonable.

Let’s walk through an example.

In this example:

  • You work as an entry-level Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer in San Diego, CA
  • Your company determines salary using markets rates from San Diego, CA (not another city where the company is headquartered)
  • The average current salary for an entry-level QA role in San Diego, CA is $74,900.00
  • You’ve been at the company for 1 year and 2 month
  • You’re base salary is $69,400.00
  • You overhear a conversation in which the entry-level QA engineer with no experience is being compensated $75,560.00 (above market average)

To prepare to negotiate a reasonable amount you want to factor in:

  • The difference between what is paying paid to new entry-level roles without experience $6,160.00 ($75,560.00 – $69,400.00)
  • What companies at a similar stage are paying for a QA Engineer with 1 year of experience
  • What the market is paying for someone with your skills, experience, and achievements

Continuing on in our example, let’s say after we do our research we determine that companies in San Diego, CA at the same stage as our current company are paying $82,125.00 for someone with our skills (including bilingual contributions), experience, and achievements.

The reasonable base amount to negotiate for is $12,725.00. The formula for this amount is:

  • $6,565.00 + $6,160.00
    ($82,125.00 – $75,560.00) + ($75,560.00 – $69,400.00)
    The difference between what companies are paying for someone with 1 year of experience and your skills, experience, and contributions plus the difference between what the company is paying new entry-level hires in the same role as you minus what you are earning.

If you discover other people with equivalent skills and experience hired at the same time as you were paid more you could also negotiate for back pay and frame it as “correcting oversight.”

It is absolutely reasonable to negotiate for any amount, even if it seems high, if the amount can be supported with market research data and personal performance data.

How do you counter offer a salary?

To successfully counter offer salary:

  • Research what companies at a similar stage are paying for people with your level of experience to perform similar job duties and responsibilities
  • Confirm that an offer is negotiable
  • If an offer is negotiable make a counter offer by expressing your enthusiasm for the position and your gratitude for the opportunity to negotiate
  • Present a specific dollar value counter offer
  • Present quantified reasons as to why the specific dollar value amount reflects your value in the market
  • If there are budget constraints be prepared with areas of compromise such as additional paid time off (PTO) or a larger signing bonus
  • When you reach an agreement make sure to get all details in writing

How to negotiate salary sample

Negotiating salary is not something we do often. To help you become familiar with the process here is a how to negotiate salary sample:

“I’m very excited about the potential of starting as the new Executive Assistant for Ms. De Leon and Ms. Escobedo at Unicorn Company. The role aligns well with my skills, experience, and career goals. Thank you for the offer!

 

Based on my research of the market and other similar roles at companies that have raised a Series C round of funding, the offer of $102,500 is lower than I expected for someone with my experience.
In addition, the position requires the same Executive Assistant duties for two senior executives, not just one.

 

The position also requires drafting both of their internal and external presentations. I have created monthly stock report presentations for Fortune 100 CEOs by using my data analytics skills to analyze performance and accurately set projections.

 

Job duties also include managing travel logistics. In my past role I saved the company an average of $52,000.00 quarterly while upgrading accommodations by implementing a workflow of how travel is booked through the use of specific credit cards and companies.

 

A salary of $164,350.00 most accurately reflects what the market is paying for someone to be dual Executive Assistant and who has my skills and track record of success.

 

If you’re able to meet this number I can confirm that I can start next Monday, September 5th.

 

What do you think?”

In this how to negotiate salary sample:

 

  • Enthusiasm is expressed
  • Gratitude is expressed
  • The persuasive argument is rooted in market data and personal performance data
  • A specific dollar amount is asked for
  • A start date is provided to add a sense of urgency to help facilitate a mutual agreement
  • An open-ended question is asked regarding the counteroffer provided

A successful salary negotiation is dependent on the variables above. Each variable strategically helps to confidently and professionally negotiate salary.

Is it rude to negotiate salary?

No. It is not rude to negotiate salary. In fact, it is expected that you will negotiate salary when you are offered a job. In a 2021 survey of 324 organizations 90% of employers said they are willing to negotiate salary.

Employers are open to negotiating salary and many make intentionally low initial offers expecting a salary negotiation. Unfortunately, despite the expectation of a salary negotiation 58% of people accept job offers without negotiating. This results in leaving upwards of a million dollars on the table over the course of a career.

It is not rude to negotiate, companies expect a salary negotiation. Just make sure to graciously confirm an offer is negotiable before making a counteroffer. Confirming that an offer is negotiable and getting the green light to negotiate sets the foundation for a positive salary negotiation.

How do you respond to a low salary offer?

If you receive a low salary offer the process to negotiate a higher salary is to:

  • Thank the employer for the offer and request time to review it
  • Research what other companies at the same stage are paying someone with your skills, experience, education, and track record of success to complete the job’s duties
  • Create a list of your quantified achievements as they relate to the duties and responsibilities of the job
  • Use data from your market research and personal performance data (i.e. list of quantified achievements) to set a base pay “moonshot” goal to negotiate for, your must-have base pay minimum (i.e. the minimum dollar value you will accept or you will walk away from the offer), must-have benefits and job perks, and nice-to-haves
  • Confirm that the offer is negotiable
  • Present a counteroffer using data-driven word economy
  • Use your nice-to-haves to work with the employer to find a mutual agreement
  • Get all agreed-to final details written into your Employee Offer Letter
  • Thank the employer

The best way to get a higher offer is to use data to make logical counteroffers while being gracious and friendly. Each of these actions increases your credibility and likeability which help to facilitate a positive outcome.

What happens if you ask for too little salary?

If you ask for too little salary and don’t correct the error you will end up leaving a lot of money on the table over the course of your career.

It is not impossible to fix the error however it can be difficult based on the personality of the person you are negotiating with and their employer salary negotiation persona.

If you realize that you asked for too little salary, be honest and let the employer know you would like to revise what you asked for based on new market research data.

To fix the error of asking for too little salary you could say something like…

“I’m really excited about this opportunity and would love to get started on [Insert Date]. I previously asked for $X however based on new market research I’d like to revise that ask to $Y. This number better reflects what companies at a similar stage are paying for someone with my skills, experience, education, and track record of success.”

Should I accept the first salary offer?

Unless an offer is presented as “best and final” or “non-negotiable” you should never accept the first salary offer. Most employers expect a salary negotiation and 90% of employers say they are willing to negotiate salary. On average making just one counteroffer increases an offer by 7.4%. Accepting the first salary offer is a mistake that can result in leaving $1 Million on the table over the course of a career.

How do you negotiate more money after accepting a low salary?

Negotiating more money after accepting a low salary is not impossible to do but it is difficult to do. It can cause the employer to become annoyed and defensive. In the worst case scenario they may even rescind the offer you accepted.

Negotiating more money after accepting a low salary is very delicate as the employer already thinks “the deal” has been made. To negotiate more money after accepting a low salary offer it is important to be honest you could say something like…

“I’m really excited about this position and to start on [Insert Date].

 

In my excitement I overlooked some data that reflects what companies at a similar stage are paying for someone with my skills, experience, education, and track record of success.

 

My starting salary has been set at $X however based on new market research I’d like to revise it to $Y.

 

$Y better reflects what the market is paying for someone with my experience. Can we revise my starting salary to better reflect what the market is paying?

 

I apologize. I let my excitement get the better of me and appreciate it if you would be open to working with me on this. Is this something we can do?”

 

This statement:

  • Expresses excitement to start the job
  • Shares that you made on error
  • Communicates you have data that supports the revision of your base salary
  • Is humble
  • Is gracious

It is important to note that it may not be possible to negotiate a higher salary once the job has been accepted. In this case it is important to consider if you are willing to accept a job in which you will be underpaid (and the employer is aware that you are aware that it is underpaid).

Can negotiating salary backfire?

Yes, a salary negotiation can backfire. The two top reasons a salary negotiation backfire are:

  1. Not being prepared
  2. Being argumentative not persuasive

There are a few things you can do to prevent a salary negotiation from going awry and backfiring:

  • First, do your homework and come to the negotiating table armed with data about salaries for comparable positions in your industry. This will give you a realistic sense of what you should be earning, and it will help you to avoid over- or under-shooting your target number.
  • Second, make sure that you communicate your qualifications and value to the employer before entering into salary negotiations. This will help to prevent the employer from low-balling you, as they will already be aware of your skills and experience.
  • Third, confirm that the offer is in fact negotiable. By having the employer say “Yes” you are setting the stage for a negotiation that you are both aware you are in. If you start negotiating and the offer isn’t negotiable it can cause the employer to become annoyed, angry, and defensive.
  • Finally, don’t get emotional during the negotiation process. Never make threats or give ultimatums. Try not to get too attached to a particular number. This can lead to tunnel vision and not allow you to see other ways to negotiate total reward variables like stock options that get you to the compensation number you want.

By following these simple tips, you can help to ensure that your next salary negotiation goes smoothly – and doesn’t backfire.

Does hiring manager decide salary?

A hiring manager can be a person who decides salary. Who ultimately decides salary in a company depends on the company’s processes. Some hiring managers have complete autonomy while others may need to get a department head and/or HR to sign off on an offer.

If you’re unsure who makes the salary decisions for your role – ask. You can ask something like “Who in the company is involved in the salary decisions for this position?” The answer to this question will help you clearly understand if the hiring manager decides salary.

Do recruiters expect you to negotiate salary?

Recruiters may work internally for a company or be an outsourced third-party vendor. A recruiters expectations regarding salary negotiation will depend on how a company uses its recruiters. Some companies will use recruiters as an intermediary and point of contact to make job offers while others will just use recruiters to fill a pipeline with qualified potential hires.

A recruiter may not expect you to negotiate salary; they will however expect you to share your salary expectations. Sharing your salary expectations greatly impacts your salary negotiation outcome.

They will expect you to share salary expectations because it’s their job to fill the new hire pipeline with applicants that meet certain parameters, a defined salary range is one of these parameters.

A recruiter will use salary expectations to: 1.) see where your expectations fall within their hiring budget, and/or 2.) set an anchor for a salary negotiation (that is conducted by someone else using information they share, they help facilitate as a go between, or that they conduct).

To prevent setting an anchor that can result in a low offer it’s best to never communicate salary expectations with a recruiter. Rather ask the recruiter for the budget for the position or the position’s salary range.

Questions? Leave a Comment.

Now, I’d like to hear from you!

Did you find this ultimate guide helpful?

Did something surprise you?

Let me know in the comment section below.

Also, feel free to share this ultimate guide so other people can use it too! Thanks!

PayDestiny

PayDestiny | Tools to reach your career goalsWant to maximize your pay?

Get everything you need to ace your salary negotiation.