How to Negotiate Your Salary

The biggest mistake you can make when negotiating your salary is not negotiating at all.


The average salary negotiation has a 75% success rate for obtaining some increase.


If an employer has extended a job offer to you, they want you for the position. Employers expect candidates to negotiate their salary, and often they offer lower than the salary cap for that position.


Negotiating is uncomfortable for many people, but we are here to help you.


We’ll walk you through every step of negotiating your salary.

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Prep Work

Choose the appropriate time

Salary negotiations should take place after you’ve interviewed and received a job offer.


If possible, avoid conversation about salary before you’ve received an offer.


In some states it is legal for an employer to ask your current salary, but this does not mean you have to provide it. You should be paid based on your worth, not based on your salary at your current job.


Be prepared with an answer, but avoid giving a direct answer if possible.

Identify what is important to you

Before negotiating your salary and benefits package, identify the things that are most important to you.

Consider non-financial benefits such as time off, schedule flexibility, and commuting distance.

Identify the things that are most important to you in the negotiation.

Do your research

Your salary negotiations should be data driven, not opinion driven, and the only way to do this is to research in advance.


Research salary ranges for similar positions in your geographic area. There are many websites dedicated to tracking compensation information.  

Consider your qualifications, work experience, skills, and past performance. These will have a positive or negative impact on the compensation you should expect.


Be Objective

Your case should be based on fair pay for the position based on your qualifications - Simply wanting a higher salary is not a good reason to ask for more money.

Determine a salary range based on your research with a minimum you would expect and some compelling reasons why.

Base your expectations on fair pay for the position with your qualifications.

The Initial Offer

The employer will normally make the initial salary offer along with the job offer.

Once you have an offer, you have some work to do.


Determine the value of your offer

There is a lot more to your total compensation than just your salary.


When calculating the total value of your compensation, you should also incorporate all the benefits you use or are likely to use. 

Calculate total compensation with benefits - not just salary.

Your benefits may be clearly financial (bonuses, retirement contributions, etc.) or they may offer time savings or flexibility.

Learn more about calculating the value of your offer.

The Counter

In response to a job and salary offer, your next move is to counter. This can happen a few different ways.

Reject the Offer

If you are no longer interested in the position or company, you may decide to reject the offer.


Here is a sample way to respond:


“I appreciate your consideration of me for this position. I am unable to accept the role at this time.”

You do not owe a further explanation, but can provide one if the potential employer follows up to ask you for more details.


Accept the Offer

You could choose to accept the initial offer.


We HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you do NOT do this.


You should at least try to negotiate.

You should at least try to negotiate.


Present a Counter Offer

When presenting your counteroffer, highlight the value you bring to the position. You want the employer thinking about the money you are going to make them or save them.


An effective way to highlight your value is to say / write something like the following:


“I am very interested in this position. Based on my background and skills in …, I know I can bring a high level of value to [company].”

You should not talk about why you NEED more money. The focus is on what you bring to the table and why this warrants a higher salary / better benefits.


Show how you can contribute to the companies objectives.

Focus on what you bring to the table and why this warrants a higher salary / better benefits.

Now, it’s time to make your counter. It is ok to shoot a little high here, but do not expect to double the initial offer, or anywhere close to it.


“The pay is  somewhat beneath where I was expecting given my experience and skills. Based on my understanding of the position, I would expect to be paid $x.”

You could also (or alternatively) negotiate benefits or bonuses.

You may go through this counter offer process several times. Stick with it, but be reasonable and flexible if necessary.


Your counter should be based on facts, not feelings. Make sure you understand your worth, the fair market value of the position, and the benefits you value the most.

What tactics will you use to negotiate your next offer?