How to negotiate a salary offer is oftentimes the most dreaded aspect of a job interview.
But it also is one of the most crucial parts.
A lot depends on it.
How satisfied will you be at your job?
How satisfied will your employer be with your performance?
Much of these two important questions rests on the success of the salary negotiation process, not to mention the amount of money you will be getting in the coming months and years.
So, here we are to prepare you for the moment when you are asked, “What are your salary expectations?”
(For additional interview questions, see our article 50 Top Job Interviews Questions and Answers.)
Salary negotiation can take place in person, over the phone, or via email.
It may take place during the interview rounds you are facing with the potential employer.
However, it mostly occurs after the initial interview phase is over.
If you do well in the interviews with the company’s decision-makers, you are likely to get an offer from them detailing your new job responsibilities and compensation package.
It can happen during one of the interviews or via email or phone in the course of the next few days.
That’s when the salary negotiation process begins.
Even when your new employer's offer is the one you are satisfied with, you should pause a bit and consider making a counteroffer if an increase seems possible.
In this manner of offer and counteroffer, a salary negotiation generally takes place.
Salary negotiation can also happen between you and your current employer for a raise or promotion.
Negotiation for a raise or promotion usually takes place during the yearly performance review period.
You may also start a negotiation whenever you have solid grounds to request a raise or promotion.
Based on the statistics, it seems that most of us are not aware of the importance of negotiating our salaries.
A recent survey found out that only 55% of American workers negotiated salary with their last job offer.
But the cost of not negotiating your salary can be enormous.
If you do not negotiate your first salary, you may lose about $1,000,000 throughout your career!
What is more interesting is that most hiring managers, in fact, 70% of them, expect candidates to negotiate the salary offer.
It is a mere lack of awareness and awkwardness related to the task of salary negotiation that bars most of us from asking for a more worthy salary.
You should never shy away from a potential salary negotiation.
And we know that’s exactly why you're here, so we will get right into it!
If you are looking for the quick tips version of how to negotiate a salary offer, we have summarized the information below. We highly recommend that you continue reading for more tips and details, including email samples.
First, let’s begin with the details of the negotiation process itself.
We will talk about how to prepare for a salary negotiation later in this article.
Whether you are negotiating a salary offer via phone or email or having the initial conversation during an in-person interview, we have got you covered.
Here, we will discuss all possible scenarios of salary negotiation, including email samples and conversation starters.
Let’s get started.
Don't Tell, Show Your Worth
During the salary negotiation process or anywhere during the interview rounds, whenever you get the opportunity to showcase your skills, expertise, and past performance, you should make the most out of it.
However, instead of directly telling that you are the best in this or that, you should show your worth with real examples and numbers.
Hint at your achievements and explain the tangible results you accomplished at your previous jobs.
Make your potential employer see what they will miss if they let you go by showing them the numbers relating to your previous job success.
Here is an example of how to start a salary negotiation conversation by leveraging your previous experience:
“Thank you very much for your offer. I would love to be a part of your team, but can we discuss a bit more about the salary package?
It is a bit lower than what I would be comfortable with and compared to my level of experience in the field.
At my previous job, I successfully helped the company to surpass all industry benchmarks and have continued to grow the department beyond expectations.
I am confident that I will be able to bring a lot more value to your business/company/ organization.”
For new graduates, if it is the first job, leverage any part-time jobs you had or any extracurricular activities that you took part in.
Reiterate the relevant skills you have and the impact those will have on your performance.
As a new graduate, you could say something like this:
“Thank you very much for your offer. I would love to be a part of your team, but can we discuss a bit more about the salary package?
It is a bit lower than what I would be comfortable with and compared to my level of skills and academic performance.
Although I am a fresh graduate, I worked part-time as a front-desk executive with an excellent track record of client satisfaction rate. So, I know the pulse of people.
Besides, my skills and academic training in management will have a positive impact on my job.
I am confident that I will be able to bring a lot more value to your business/company/organization.”
Ask for a Salary Range
Generally, by now, you will already have an idea of the possible salary package of the job.
From the initial job offer that you received or from the job post.
However, there are situations when you may be asked about your salary expectations without the employer making any prior revelations.
What should you do then?
When the question is asked of you, don’t answer right away.
Most of the experts and psychologists believe that it is always better to have them present you with the first numbers.
So, instead of answering the question, you should ask what they have in mind. Or you could request a salary range.
You can use this example to ask for a salary range in an email or face-to-face:
"I am glad that you asked me this question. But I am open to discussion about the salary package.
Could you please let me know what you have in mind? Then, we can find a way to work it out together."
Don’t Disclose Your Current Salary
In the process, if they ask your present salary before an offer has been made, don’t disclose it.
Say that your current employer wants it to be confidential or you are not comfortable with sharing the information.
You certainly don't want your current salary to have a negative impact on the amount you can achieve.
You want to be evaluated based on industry standards and your true worth.
The question about your current salary is even banned in some states from job interviews.
Here's an example of how to answer a question about your current salary:
"Thank you very much for your interest and consideration.
But my current employer doesn't want their salary structure to be revealed. It is a part of my employment agreement with them.
Let's tackle this aspect using industry standards for now."
Aim for the Higher End of the Range
This is an important tip.
If their offered range is similar to your numbers, aim for the higher end of the range.
Your response could sound like this:
"Thank you for giving me an idea of your salary range.
I believe, 120K would be a very good package for me to start with.
When do you want me to start working?"
If the Offer Is Lower Than Your Minimum
This is yet another important tip.
Frankly request your target amount in a collaborative manner.
Here is an example of salary negotiation counteroffer email or what to say in an interview:
"Thank you for your offer and I would love to join your esteemed company.
But the compensation offered is quite below what I was expecting. What can we do to bridge the gap?"
You may also tell them about the market value of the job and hint that your headhunter friend told you that the minimum pay is $120K.
Don’t be afraid of being politely realistic.
Start by pitching one of the higher numbers from your predetermined range.
Here is another great way to respond to a low offer:
"Thanks a lot for sharing with me the numbers. I really appreciate your cooperation.
Is there any option for further discussion?
The range is a bit lower than what I would be comfortable with.
Can we somehow approach numbers above $90k?
That would be a good motivating start for me.
Please let me know how we can bridge this gap in a way that would benefit both of us."
You may also refer to the industry standards and your level of expertise.
You could add to the email or conversation something like:
"The usual salary for this position also ranges mostly above $90k in the industry.
Moreover, with my level of experience and track record, I will be able to add much more value to your organization, going beyond industry benchmarks."
Leverage Other Benefits
One of the very important aspects that we often tend to forget is that the salary package should be viewed in light of all the other benefits, compensation, funds, and perks that the job has to offer.
Getting the maximum out of these additional benefits can have a significant impact on your overall compensation package.
- Ask about the company's contribution to your retirement funds.
- What about the yearly increment packages?
- The possibility of bonuses?
- Any ownership of the company stocks?
- How inclusive are the health and other insurances?
- What is the leave and time off policy?
- Is there any possibility to work from home some days?
All of these benefits should be factored into your salary negotiation process.
If you are not getting enough leverage from the actual salary amount, but you still want the job, try to make it up with these added perks.
Talk About Raises and Promotions
It is a good idea to have these issues sorted out at the very beginning.
- What is the company's organizational structure?
- What are the performance indicators for a possible promotion?
- When can you expect your next raise?
Ask these questions.
Apart from giving you an idea of what to expect when you start working at the company, it will also let your future employer know that you are serious about your work and progress.
Ask for Everything in Writing
It is the usual formality.
The company most likely already has its way of handling these formal aspects. But it won't hurt to make sure.
Once you are done with the salary negotiation and have reached a settlement, ask them to include all that you have agreed upon in the final offer letter.
That way, there will be no confusion by making sure that both parties are on the same page.
When to Stop Negotiating a Salary
Knowing when to stop salary negotiation is important because you don't want to seem greedy or desperate, right?
So, stop in any of these situations:
1. When your potential employer says that it is their best offer.
Hiring managers usually spell it out when they really mean it. So, look out for this phrase.
2. When your potential employer seems annoyed.
Do they seem happy to accommodate your request? Or do they seem annoyed? Don’t push it!
3. You have already made a few rounds of counteroffers.
If two was not enough, then you have probably hit the ceiling.
4. You just can’t reach your minimum salary expectation.
Let's face it.
You won't accept the job as long as it pays under the minimum you are comfortable with. So, it won't hurt anyone to keep trying to see if you can get there.
In this case, you can keep going even after they say that it is their best offer or you have already made several counteroffers.
But if it still doesn't work, then it simply was not meant for you.
It is time to stop and resume your job search.
The process of negotiating your salary for a raise or promotion with your current employer, however, is a bit different. It's all about timing: knowing when to ask for it, and then, how to ask for it.
Read on to find out more.
A majority of tips and strategies that apply to the salary negotiation for a new job also applies to the process of negotiating a raise or promotion in your current job.
Salary negotiation tips like the following work for both a new job offer and a raise or promotion:
- Doing Your Research
- Having Your Numbers Ready for a Salary Negotiation
- Showing Your Worth
- Leverage Other Benefits
All these also apply when you face the need to negotiate your salary with your current employer.
But the crucial difference lies in knowing when and how to ask this time.
When to Ask for a Raise or Promotion
Usually, the best time for asking for a raise is during the yearly performance review process.
Just before the process is to start, you may give a heads up to your manager via email, detailing all your glorious achievements of the past year.
You can also do that right after the yearly raises have been announced but you are not satisfied with what you got.
Reach out to your manager and schedule a chat.
How to Ask for a Raise or Promotion
The best way to do it would be first asking your manager in person and then with a salary increase request email.
If you often get to meet with your manager or supervisor, you can request some time, or schedule a meeting to have the discussion.
You can ask to schedule a meeting like this:
“Tom, I would like to have a chat with you about the possibility of a salary increase sometime soon.
It won’t take more than five minutes.”
Before the scheduled meeting, you should have all the research done and all the numbers ready.
Start your meeting with the following:
“Since my last promotion, I have been performing lots of additional duties and have increased the overall productivity of my team to 15%.
I believe it's time to find a way to increase my package.
Would you please help me with this?”
If it is a yes, let him know that you will send a formal salary increase request letter via email.
Salary Increase Request Email Sample
Here is a sample email you can use for an internal raise or promotion. You can also download this salary negotiation email template below.
Subject: Salary increase request from John Meyers
In regard to our earlier discussion, below is my salary increase request.
Since my last promotion, I have been performing many additional duties and have increased the overall productivity of my team to 15%.
I was also nominated as the employee of the month twice and received the award once during the last 6 months.
In light of these developments and the prevalent salary ranges in the industry for my current position, I was hoping for a salary increase to $100,000 per year.
I believe you will take the necessary steps to facilitate this salary increase to ensure my continued growth.
You can also apply these same tips and salary negotiation sample scripts when you already received a raise but think that you deserve even more.
On the other hand, if your manager declines your initial in-person request for a raise or promotion, you should start laying the ground for future.
You can ask them about the possibility in the future, what you should do, and what are the performance indicators you should work on to get what you want.
Now that we have covered everything about how to negotiate salary, let’s get started with the practical tips on how to prepare for a salary negotiation.
Knowing how to prepare yourself is essential to doing well during the actual negotiation.
Here, you will learn everything from theory to practice.
Competing and Collaborative Salary Negotiations
The most essential element of salary negotiation is perhaps the negotiation style and the psychological approach behind it.
Researchers at George Mason University and Temple University found out that there are five types of salary negotiating styles or approaches:
- Collaborating: Talking like you want to help both the parties by having a salary package that works for both.
- Competing: Negotiating like it is a must for you to have an increased salary or it will simply not work for you.
- Accommodating: Giving your employer’s interests the first priority.
- Compromising: Similar to collaborating but willing to give more away than gaining.
- Avoiding: You just simply don’t want to negotiate at all.
But surprisingly, only two of these approaches really work in favor of the employees: competing and collaborative approaches to salary negotiation.
According to the study, using competing and collaborating strategies to negotiate salary may increase your starting pay by an average of $5,000.
On the other hand, the study found out that the other approaches did not contribute to salary increases at all.
So, to have a successful salary negotiation as an employee, you must adopt these two techniques of competing and collaborating negotiation.
The Psychology of Salary Negotiation
As we have already seen, the best psychological approach to salary negotiating is to be either collaborating or competing.
How can you get into this winning mindset for a salary negotiation?
1. Get rid of self-doubt.
You need to rid yourself of all the self-doubt that you may have about the true worth of your skills, expertise, and services.
Most often, it is because of this debilitating self-doubt that many of us simply avoid salary negotiation.
2. Build your confidence.
If you can conduct the negotiation process in a calm and confident manner, a win is almost certain.
3. Communicate in a clear, concise, and composed manner.
Use short and simple sentences. It will make you seem like you know what you want and you are sure about it.
4. Always make the employer be the first to put a number on the table.
If you are asked first, reply with phrases like “it’s competitive" or “negotiable”. Then, ask for a range.
5. Respond with positivity.
Start with phrases like, “I am very interested,” or “I am eager to but would like to discuss more.”
Applying these simple psychological tricks will make you feel in control as well as give you an advantage over the other negotiator.
Do Your Research
While being competitive, you also must be reasonable.
So, do as much research as you can.
Try to find out the industry standards and highest prevalent salaries for the position you are vying for.
Ask your friends and family members who are familiar with the trends.
If you know a headhunter you can pick their brains, even better.
As a last resort, do some online research to get some ideas.
Have Your Numbers Ready Prior to a Salary Negotiation Interview
After you have done your research, it is time to match it with your own preferences.
What is the minimum you are ready to accept?
What would be the most desirable amount?
What are the possible numbers in-between?
Having these numbers sorted out will make you feel anchored instead of blindly plunging into the negotiation game.
You will know what you have to ask when the time comes.
Negotiation of any kind is very subtle.
There are many pitfalls and mistakes that are very easy to make.
So, you must remain alert and make yourself familiar with all the possible blunders that you may make.
1. "I need" or "I want"
Stay alert during the whole salary negotiation process.
It can be very tempting and easy to say that you need or want a certain amount and make the conversation personal.
But saying these words will undermine the reality that you also actually deserve that amount.
Be super alert to avoid negatives.
Never say no directly to any of their questions or offers.
Always start with a thank you.
Let them know that you appreciate their interest and support.
Instead of a no, phrase it like: "It would be better" or "I would be more comfortable with...".
3. "A lot of companies are after me"
Saying such things emit a vibe of arrogance.
Yes, you must leverage the point, if you really have competing offers in front of you. But it has to be in a more professional manner.
Just let them know that you have better offers waiting for you but you would prefer this company more if the gaps can be bridged.
4. "I will work very hard"
This is a classic.
We often tend to say that we will work our butts off if we get a raise.
But it actually is a foolish thing to say.
It goes without saying that you must work hard. It is the first and the most basic thing that employers expect.
5. "I am the best"
Simply saying that you are the best doesn’t really prove anything.
Rather, it makes you seem vain.
Instead of just spelling it out, lead with your actual accomplishments and the numbers that prove your successes.
Simply put, you just have to be politely professional and collaboratively competitive during the entire process of salary negotiation.
Remember that you are here to help the organization and you are in this together.
Okay! Suppose you had a successful salary negotiation and got the job or promotion.
Take some time to celebrate your success.
New responsibilities and higher expectations lie ahead.
Prepare for the New Position
Be ready to face new challenges.
The management will keep tabs on your performance to see whether you are truly what you said you were.
So, make sure to make a lasting impression from the very beginning.
Get to know what the new position will be and make yourself familiar with all the new job responsibilities.
Don’t hesitate to ask more senior peers or management for all the help and information you need.
Asking for help only means you are eager to learn and grow.
What to Do If the Negotiation Doesn’t Go Well
Never lose heart.
There will be more opportunities in no time.
Cherish the lessons learned and apply them to your next big moment.
Part ways with positivity and gratitude.
You can use the message below:
"Thank you very much for considering me for the position and for all the time that you have given me.
I really appreciate all the support and cooperation.
Hopefully, we will get future opportunities to work together in the future."
In both cases of an internal raise or a new job, you can use this final message as a way to get more information about what could have made them accept your offer/request.
"Please don't mind me asking this, but what would have made you accept my counteroffer/ salary increase request?
What other skills, expertise, or performance indicators were you looking for?"
Knowing about these aspects will enable you to be better prepared for the next time.
A win is sure to follow!
We sincerely hope that our efforts in bringing together all the most effective information, tips, strategies, and examples on how to negotiate a salary offer will help you in getting your new salary to the amount that you truly deserve.
Meanwhile, if you need further assistance on growing your career or negotiating your salary, don't hesitate to contact Find My Profession. Our Career Coaches take on the tasks of your job search for you, which includes preparing you for interviews and discussing salary negotiation tips.