How to Negotiate Your Salary
By Rachel Seitz
As a general rule,
negotiations are hard. Add to that the additional pressure of negotiating with your employer over your salary, and it can seem nearly impossible. So, whether you’ve just been hired or are asking for a raise, we’ve got seven pieces of advice just for you.
Do your research
Before knowing what you should ask for, you should look into industry standards for your role. Websites like Salary.com, Indeed, Payscale, and Glassdoor all have information on various job roles. Caroline Ceniza-Levine also suggests in Forbes discussing salaries with people, either someone who used to work in your role or someone who works in your role at another company. This way, you won’t ask for more than is reasonable or too far below what is standard.
Have an idea of what you want
Once you’ve put together a picture of the average salary for your role, you’ll want to figure out your specific goals. Be ready with actual requests beyond “I would like a higher salary.” It’s much easier to get what you want when you know what it is.
Use a specific number, but know your range
Vague requests give more flexibility to the other person in a negotiation. According to researchers at Columbia Business School, using a very precise number (e.g. $70,250) rather than a round number (e.g. $70,000) is more effective when negotiating salary. This gives the other person the impression that you’ve done research on what your salary should be, and they’ll be more likely to agree to a number closer to your initial request.
At the same time, you’ll need to know what your upper and lower limits are. Start your negotiation at the top of that range, and keep in mind how low you’re willing to go.
Consider other benefits as well as salary
While salary is of course important, it’s not the only approach you can take. Many companies offer other benefits—like retirement contributions, health insurance, schedule flexibility, or even discounts to movies or gyms. Consider requesting some benefits and perks in addition to a salary increase.
Know the right time to make your request
Before asking for a raise, you’ll want to be sure the timing is right. If you’ve been at the job for at least a year, have taken on additional responsibilities, or have had successes on major projects, it may be a good time to talk about a salary increase. (Bonus: compiling these points into an organized, bulleted list will help you make your case for why you deserve a higher salary or more benefits.)
And while many people think yearly reviews are the best time to talk about a raise, HR professional Suzanne Lucas told LearnVest that this might be too late: “Start talking to your boss about getting a raise three to four months in advance.” In many cases, “[t]hat’s when they decide the budget.” Get a head start and begin the discussion before decisions have been made.
Just like with job interviews, practice makes perfect. Hone your conversation style by working with a friend to practice negotiating or by watching yourself in front of a mirror. This way, you’ll feel more comfortable with what you’ll say and will have more confidence when making your points.
Don’t make threats
Finally, don’t make threats—you want to avoid potentially burning bridges. Saying you’ll quit if your salary isn’t agreed to can strain the relationship between you and your employer, or they may even call your bluff and say you should take that other job. Be firm and assertive, but not aggressive or threatening.