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Top 10 Tips for Negotiating Your Salary

By The ZipRecruiter Editors

Negotiating your salary can be nerve-wracking, but it's all about being prepared. Before dealing with your potential employer, do your research and understand what you're worth.

Once you accept a position, it may be months before you can negotiate for a raise. It's worth taking the time to secure a reasonable salary and benefits for your experience and industry. Here are 10 tips to help you negotiate your salary and benefits once you have a job offer.

1. Research Industry Salary Trends

Knowledge is power. You don't want to walk into a salary negotiation expecting to get your dream number without understanding what your skills and experience are worth to the company. Be sure to do your research, so you know salary trends.

Look at the national average salary for your occupation and industry-specific data for your geographic area. This way, you'll have numbers to back up any proposal you make and will be able to confidently advocate for yourself by making an informed argument.

Once you've found some reliable data sources, check out their methodology statements and identify anything that might bias their findings (like using only self-reported salaries). Then use those sources as starting points when researching other sites and resources. You can also speak with recruiters about salaries in your field.

2. Identify the Salary Range and Go for the Higher Number

As you're doing your research, it's essential to know the going salary for someone with your experience and education level. Let's say you have a degree in business administration and have been working as an entry-level assistant at a large company for three years. Your base pay is $45K, and you receive another $5K in bonuses annually.

You've been applying for jobs and got an offer with more responsibility at a similar firm for $57K a year. Initially, that may sound great since it raises your salary from $50K (with the bonus) to $57K.

However, when you look at what other companies are paying for employees with similar qualifications as yours, you see the most common annual salary range is between $60K and $65K per year. While you may be happy accepting a salary close to $60K, in your negotiations, aim initially for the $65K top end of the range.

Naturally, these numbers may change if the company offers excellent benefits.

3. Perks and Benefits When You Negotiate Salary

Your salary is just one of several things to negotiate. Benefits and perks can be just as valuable as money.

Ask about vacation days, insurance benefits, company events like happy hours, or team-building activities—any additional benefits that might help you stay at the company for longer and enjoy working there.

4. Be Prepared with Numbers and Facts to Support Your Case

Once you receive the job offer with a proposed salary, don't just counter with a higher number. Instead, provide a rock-solid argument supported by your research.

There are two types of information to include in your argument: industry research and what you bring to the job.

Industry Research

Industry research may include supporting your request with published statistics about what people with this job title make. It can also include numbers of the hours you've spent on projects over time to demonstrate how much productivity and cost savings you bring.

Your Skills and Experience

Highlight for them the skills, experience, and strengths you bring to the position, how the company will benefit, and why that warrants your counteroffer.

If you are negotiating in person, prepare your argument in advance. Write down examples that illustrate how your experience will benefit the organization. Include any special training or certifications you have and relevant past achievements.

When you can demonstrate your benefits to the business and tie that to your salary request, you increase your chances of getting them to agree to your request.

5. Be Truthful and Reasonable

It is reasonable to ask for the highest salary supported by your expertise, experience, and industry trends. However, you don't want to embellish or lie to win higher compensation.

Don't oversell yourself, or you could put yourself in a difficult position. If your new employer finds out they agreed to a higher salary based on skills or education that you don't bring to the job, they could let you go, and you'll be back to square one.

6. Practice

Practice your argument in advance if you're negotiating on the phone or in person. Negotiating is a high-pressure moment. If you take the time to present your reasons to a friend or mentor, you'll be harder to throw off your game in the real call.

If you don't have a friend or mentor to help, you can practice in front of a mirror or record yourself and listen back. In addition to the words, practice confident and open body language.

7. Make Your Interest in the Position Clear

Let the hiring manager know that you are excited to be considered for the job and why you are interested in working at the company. You may be negotiating for a higher salary, but it's good for them to know you want the job.

If you are entering the salary negotiation with any uncertainty about what your job will include, ask questions to clarify any misconceptions. Both parties should be on the same page before you accept an offer, so there are no surprises down the line.

8. Be Gracious and Good-Natured

A calm and good-natured demeanor makes you a more effective negotiator. If you get too aggressive or emotional, your potential employer might feel threatened and decide not to give you what you want.

Concessions are part of successful negotiations. It can be important for both parties to feel like they've won something. Part of the reason you want to start at the higher end of the potential salary range is to have something to concede. It makes you look like a team player but still lands you where you want to be.

9. Secure the Offer in Writing Before You Begin Work

When you have negotiated an offer, ensure you have the details written on paper or in an email. This may seem obvious, but a written agreement formally confirms that both parties came to the same understanding.

If it's not written down, one side or the other may remember the discussion differently.

10. Know When to Walk Away

A job is a commitment. When you start, you want to be satisfied with the terms so you can be a happy and productive part of the team.

It's okay if you don't get everything you want in a salary negotiation. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don't, but don't accept a deal that dissatisfies you. If it's not going to work, the best thing you can do is walk away.

You Don't Have to Accept the First Offer

Negotiating your salary is an essential step in achieving a successful career. However, many people are afraid to do it because they don't know how. But if you've never negotiated before, don't be scared—it's not as difficult as it might seem. It's always best to understand what's reasonable for both parties. Then, prepare and support your argument. Most important, know your bottom line so you can be satisfied with the outcome once you say yes. Now you have the steps to negotiate salary successfully. Happy hunting!

The ZipRecruiter Editors

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

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