How to Negotiate Salary: Easiest Method Explained (+ Example Emails & Tips)

how to negotiate salary

Learning the proper ways on how to negotiate salary can be a significant step toward more salary, overall compensation, and more happiness at work for many job seekers. A job seeker who receives a job offer lower than they were expecting and chooses not to negotiate their salary often ends up leaving their positions earlier than expected. For the hiring manager, employer, and job candidate, this is an outcome neither wanted.

Negotiating salary is a good skill to gain for both yourself and your employer. If a small marginal difference in starting salary means you’re happier at work, your employer will appreciate that you asked. But for a candidate, it can be hard to determine what compensation you should be asking for as your base salary from your prospective employer.

Before You Begin Negotiating

Before you start the negotiation process, it’s important to perform research. Using tools like Salary.com and PayScale.com, you can quickly determine the average salary or median salaries for your job title and geographic location. This can be helpful in understanding where your salary range should be. Though, this isn’t always the case for all jobs, especially those with a significant track record in driving results.

Knowing the average salary ranges for your job title can give you an idea of what you should expect to ask for or whether or not your potential employer is giving you a low offer or a high offer.

If you’re using average salary data to determine what salary you should expect from a new job, always go toward the upper end of the average range. Asking for a higher salary is always a better idea since you can drop it lower if the employer isn’t receptive to the initial offer.

If you’re using your salary history or previous salary to determine your new pay, an easy trick is to give yourself a raise. Add an 8% salary increase to your previous salary or base salary from your current employer, and that number is what you should be asking for.

Where Negotiations Take Place

Now that you have a general number in mind to ask for or to expect, it’s important to consider the places where salary discussion can occur. This will change your salary negotiation methods and techniques.

In general, your salary negotiation may happen during or after:

The time and place your salary negotiation takes place will help to determine how you negotiate politely and what methods to use. Using varying methods based on the time and place you discuss salary can lead to a higher chance of salary negotiation success.

Tip: Gender pay gap can be eliminated by simply being mindful of your situation. For example, women negotiating their salaries often ask for lower compensation when the firm’s representatives are men. If you’re speaking with a male, be sure that you ask for higher salary than you might expect so the employer can lower it and you can decide whether or not you’re comfortable with that outcome.

Salary Negotiation During a Phone Interview

If your employer asks you about your salary expectations in your phone interview, it’s important to have a range in mind. Since this is acting as an initial salary offer but not a strict job offer, in this place and time, it’s okay to provide a range of salary you would be expecting.

The reason for this is that you simply want to move forward in the interview process and determine the appropriate exact salary amount at a later date.

Here’s what you would say in your phone interview:

I’m glad you asked me about my desired salary. Looking at the median average salary for this position across the US, I would be expecting somewhere in the $85,000 to $90,000 range. Though if we were to continue moving forward in the interview process, I would have a specific number for you.

The interviewer will ask a question to prompt this response. Something like, “What is your salary expectation or salary requirement for this position?” From here, your employer will either inform you of the compensation package they are offering for the role. If it fits within your range, you’ll move forward. If it does not, the hiring manager or recruiter will inform you on the spot.

Salary Negotiation During an In Person Interview

If your employer asks you about salary during the in-person interview, you would answer similar to the way you would answer during a phone interview. But since you’re in person, you should alter your presentation slightly. Let’s say you have a strong resume, with a long history of career accomplishments that speak to your abilities to succeed in the role. Here is what you would say:

I recognize that the average salary for this position is roughly $80,000 to $90,000. Though I have a long history of driving success in this position and I am a more senior hire because of that. I’m adding 8% to my current salary to make a total number of $94,500 to ask for in salary. Let me know if that is feasible.

Salary Negotiation in a Job Offer

When receiving a job offer, this is the hardest place to talk about salary. Mostly because the salary has already been discussed without you present. The HR department and hiring manager have chosen this salary range based on your job interview and the other job applicants. It is much easier to negotiate salary earlier in the interview process.

If you receive an offer with a lower salary than you were expecting, you should send an email to your hiring manager and say the following:

Hi John —

I’m truly honored to receive your offer and I want to know how humbled I am. Regarding salary and compensation, is it possible to bump the base salary up by 8%? This would align more with my initial expectations going into this role and make sure I’m set up for success.

Thank you so much John,
Patrick

Asking for a percentage increase is the best method for negotiating your salary package and compensation package. Your employer might come back and allude to the employee benefits you would receive. If that changes your mind, then you should accept the offer. If it does not, you should reply and say that you would still prefer to focus on base salary.

If you have multiple job offers and you would like to use this as a tactic for salary negotiation (a method that is not advised by a career coach or other career professionals), you should say the following:

Hi John —

I’m truly honored to receive your offer and I want to know how humbled I am. While this is the company I really want to be at, I do have another offer with a better salary. I would love to find some middle ground, though. Is there any chance of bumping up the base salary by 4%?

Thank you so much John,
Patrick

Using a competing offer for another better offer is not recommended since your hiring manager is not going to appreciate that as much. It feels aggressive. It is better to leave the other offer off the table and simply ask for more compensation. Then choose which offer you prefer the most.

Salary Negotiation Tips

Job Seeker FAQ

Questions regarding salary and compensation

Can you lose a job offer by negotiating salary?

It's uncommon for an employer to take back their job offer when you ask for more salary. It is more common for them to simply deny your request for additional compensation.

How much can you negotiate your salary?

In terms of percentages, your potential employer will never go over 12% of what the initial offer was. If your expectations are higher than 12% of the upper end of the salary range your employer mentioned, you should move onto another company and interview process.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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