Negotiating your salary isn't necessarily an easy feat. Plus, it can just plain feel awkward. But rest assured that negotiating is normal and, typically, to be expected. About 70 percent of managers assume you will, according to a survey. And people who negotiate earn $5,000 more on average than people who simply accept the first offer, according to research.
While studies show that women do, indeed, negotiate, they're not given as many opportunities to do so. So here's how to create that opportunity to negotiate your salary after an offer.
How to Negotiate Salary After a Job Offer
Follow these five simple steps to negotiate successfully.
1. Know your worth.
First things first, it's important to know your worth. Understand that you are providing value to the company. If you weren't, they wouldn't be making you an offer in the first place. But it's more than just knowing your own experience and skills that are written on your resume. You have to actually internalize your worth. Truly believe in the value that you're offering the company. Because if you don't believe in yourself, how are you going to convince the hiring manager to believe that you're worth more than they offered, too?
2. Know the market.
Do your homework. Check out job board sites to see what other companies are offering for similar jobs, and take a look at review sites (like Fairygodboss!), where you can read about other people's salary experiences. You can even do a quick Google search to determine how much someone with your experience in your location should earn in the offered position. Basically, the key is to get an estimated average so you can set legitimate expectations. This way, you'll know if the company is low-balling you, and you won't go too high with a counter number.
3. Pick a number.
Once you are confident in what you're bringing to the table and how much you should generally be paid, pick a number and stick to it. In fact, research suggests that, when you request an exact compensation rate, you're more likely to get a final offer that's close to it. And, once you have a number for which you'd happily settle or accept in your head, always shoot a little higher, expecting the company to give you a counteroffer that's a little lower. This way, you may end up actually meeting at that number in your head. Or you may end up with even more!
4. Show confidence.
Whatever you do, have confidence. You're trying to convince a company to pay you more, after all. If you don't seem to sure about it, they certainly won't be either. But if you do seem sure about it, and they're afraid that you'll walk out the door for another better-paying opportunity, the chances are that they may just say OK. Or, at least, try to meet you in the middle.
5. Keep calm.
At the end of the day, negotiating your salary is nothing more than a conversation. It's a two-way street. You and the hiring manager both need to be comfortable with the number on which you land. Someone is going to have to make a compromise — if not both of you.
15 Tips For Negotiating the Salary You Want
Don't worry, we reached out to actual hiring managers to give you their best tips for negotiating your pay successfully. If you follow the steps above and keep these tips in mind, you're sure to land on a number that works for you. (And, if you don't, you're sure to find another company that can/will pay you what you're worth!)
Here's what they had to say...
"My best tip for salary negotiation is it is key to do your research," says Susan Graye, a talent consultant. "Utilize sites like Fairygodboss to understand the 'market rate' for your position, including total compensation, base salary, bonuses, and stock."
"Go in prepared!" says Christine Holder, an HR professional. "Do your research on benchmarked salaries using tools such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn."
2. Prepare to back up your ask.
"Be prepared to share your performance (quantifiable), what have you accomplished, and what can you do for the 'new employer,'" Graye says.
3. Consider the whole package.
"Don’t forget to look at the whole package — the benefits, vacation, discounts, average performance raises, history of promotion, does the company develop their employees, do they invest in your certifications?" Graye adds. "The bottom line is never make a move strictly for money. Understand the whole package, as well as what you get for your investment of time, experience, and opportunity to make an impact."
4. Be your own advocate.
"Always advocate for yourself!" says Nikki Boyd, a marketing and recruitment manager. "Tell them what you have accomplished and why you deserve an increase. They often say yes!"
In her experience, managers may not be aware of all the things you have been able to do, or fully understand the workload you have, she says.
"I have been able to get higher annual increases on a number of occasions over the years by not accepting the first offer," she says. "For example, I was offered a basic increase once, but I was doing tasks for an unfilled management position. I spoke up and said that I thought I deserved more. I explained why, they did some checking, and agreed. I got the extra increase, and eventually was promoted into that position. So speak up for yourself; know your worth."
5. Pretend like you're advocating for a friend.
"Many of us are willing to advocate for others more aggressively than we will for ourselves," says Jacquelyn Lloyd, an HR consultant. "If that is you, then one effective 'trick' is to imagine you are negotiating on behalf of a subordinate, friend (or your daughter.) Take yourself out of the excitement, relief, or gratitude of a potential new job for a moment. You may find that you push a little harder for 'them' than you would for yourself. "
6. Take the emotion out of it.
"Use market data, not emotion, and what you need to live on, to back up your position," says Lloyd.
7. Make a list of other tasks you've taken on.
Holder adds that making a list of all the extra tasks you've ever taken on is important.
"If this for negotiating salary in your current role, make a list of all of the extra tasks you have taken on that are not included in your tasks and standards," she explains. "List out accomplishments in the last year or since your last pay increase."
8. Use a genuine approach.
"This sounds basic, but it’s crucial: People are going to fight for you only if they like you," according to the Harvard Business Review. "Anything you do in a negotiation that makes you less likable reduces the chances that the other side will work to get you a better offer. This is about more than being polite; it’s about managing some inevitable tensions in negotiation, such as asking for what you deserve without seeming greedy, pointing out deficiencies in the offer without seeming petty, and being persistent without being a nuisance. Negotiators can typically avoid these pitfalls by evaluating (for example, in practice interviews with friends) how others are likely to perceive their approach."
9. Let it be known that you'll take the job if they meet your salary requirements.
"People won’t want to expend political or social capital to get approval for a strong or improved offer if they suspect that at the end of the day, you’re still going to say, 'No, thanks,'" according to the Harvard Business Review. "Who wants to be the stalking horse for another company? If you intend to negotiate for a better package, make it clear that you’re serious about working for this employer. Sometimes you get people to want you by explaining that everybody wants you. But the more strongly you play that hand, the more they may think that they’re not going to get you anyway, so why bother jumping through hoops? If you’re planning to mention all the options you have as leverage, you should balance that by saying why—or under what conditions—you would be happy to forgo those options and accept an offer."
10. Make them sweat.
"If you’re interviewing for other jobs, you might want to tell employers about your offer," Margaret Buj, a career and interview coach , writes for Career Attraction. "This should speed up the interview process. If they know you have another offer, you’ll seem more attractive to them, and it might help you negotiate a higher salary."
11. Don't be too pushy.
"Remember to be enthusiastic, polite and professional during negotiations," Buj writes. "Communicate to your prospective employer through your tone of voice and demeanor that your goal is a win-win solution. If you’re too pushy, the employer may get the impression that you’re not that interested in the job (or only interested in the money) and withdraw the offer."
12. Negotiate extras.
It's not always about the salary. Your other benefits can save you money if you're not able to earn more.
"If the employer can’t offer you the salary you want, think about other valuable options that might not cost as much," Buj says. "You can look at negotiating holiday days (e.g. if new employees must work for six to 12 months before receiving paid holidays, ask that this restriction be waived.), ask for yearly salary reviews or negotiate a sign-on or performance bonus."
13. Understand where the other person' is coming from.
"Companies don’t negotiate; people do," writes Harvard Business Review. "And before you can influence the person sitting opposite you, you have to understand her. What are her interests and individual concerns? For example, negotiating with a prospective boss is very different from negotiating with an HR representative. You can perhaps afford to pepper the latter with questions regarding details of the offer, but you don’t want to annoy someone who may become your manager with seemingly petty demands. On the flip side, HR may be responsible for hiring 10 people and therefore reluctant to break precedent, whereas the boss, who will benefit more directly from your joining the company, may go to bat for you with a special request."
14. Prepare yourself for questions.
"Many job candidates have been hit with difficult questions they were hoping not to face: Do you have any other offers? If we make you an offer tomorrow, will you say yes? Are we your top choice?" according to Harvard Business Review. "If you’re unprepared, you might say something inelegantly evasive or, worse, untrue."
First things first: Don't lie. Not only might it haunt your down the line, but it's also simply unethical.
"The point is this: You need to prepare for questions and issues that would put you on the defensive, make you feel uncomfortable, or expose your weaknesses. Your goal is to answer honestly without looking like an unattractive candidate — and without giving up too much bargaining power. If you have thought in advance about how to answer difficult questions, you probably won’t forfeit one of those objectives."
15. Also ask for what you don't want that badly.
"It’s a smart negotiating strategy to ask for a few benefits or perks you don’t want that badly," says Buj. "Then you can 'give in' and agree to take the job without those added benefits if the employer meets all of your other requests."
This makes you look better, even though you never really wanted those benefits that much. The employer doesn't have to know that.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.