Best Practices for Negotiating Salary

Posted by JoJo Harris

There are several factors to consider when contemplating a job offer. Company culture, flexibility, benefits and advancement opportunities, among many other components, should all be taken into account. However, many people find the idea of negotiating an offer – especially the salary component – to be awkward and unnatural. Others may feel like they’ll be perceived as ungrateful or greedy for bringing it up, or that they’ll no longer be considered for a role if they attempt to negotiate.

evaluating job offerIt’s important to feel comfortable with an offer before accepting it and if necessary, asking for adjustment on the areas that are not in line with your (realistic) expectations. CareerBuilder found 73 percent of employers would be willing to negotiate salary, yet 55 percent of employees don’t bring it up. Unfortunately, the likelihood for individuals to negotiate also varies by gender. According to one report, 7 percent of women MBAs attempted to negotiate their salaries when receiving offers, compared to 57 percent of their male counterparts. Advocating for fair compensation is especially important for women and often crucial in helping close the gender salary gap.

If you’re considering an offer, it’s important to do your due diligence and ensure you’re accepting a salary that will benefit both you and your employer in the long run. Here are a few best practices for entering a salary negotiation prepared and with a respectful and mutually-beneficial mindset.

Understanding Your Value
salary researchOne of the most vital parts of salary negotiation is the prep work. Do your research and understand a fair salary range. There are several ways you can go about uncovering this information:

  • Leverage networking organizations and inquire about salaries for similar roles and backgrounds. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can always say you are asking to help out a friend or family member.
  • Reach out to your own professional network. Consider past colleagues, professors and friends who may be willing to discuss how they handled salary negotiations in the past and are able to offer perspective.
  • Set up informational interviews with recruiters. As you're exploring new roles or considering next steps in your career path, informational interviews can help you gain insight and information in a lower risk setting, while also helping build your network.

Negotiating Your Salary
If you’ve done your research and feel like an offer is misaligned with the value you’d bring to a role, you may want to attempt to close the gap. Effective negotiation can help you come to an agreement that both you and your potential employer are happy with. On the other hand, it can help you understand if the position and company are ultimately not the right fit. If you are interviewing directly with an employer, here are a few best practices to consider during the negotiation process.

  • When asked about salary expectations, rather than share what you’re making in your current position, share your desired range. This should be based off your research and understanding of the role and its responsibilities. For women, this knowledge can also help close the gender salary gap.
  • Remain enthusiastic. Let the hiring manager know you are interested in the role and set the stage for a positive negotiation process.
  • Understand constraints. Some roles will have salary caps and limited negotiation room. Rather than try to change these external constraints, focus on what is most important to you and how you might be able to get creative around bonuses and pay for performance. Consider asking how the employer has successfully closed the gap for individuals in similar situations.
  • Be positive and respectful throughout the entire process. While it’s important to clearly ask for what you want, it’s also important to come across as someone people will want to work with.

Asking for a Raise
salary negotiationIf you have been in your position for a while, are doing strong work and/or have taken on new responsibilities, it may be an appropriate time to ask for a raise. This also provides an opportunity for your employer to pay fair market value and contribute to your retention and loyalty to the company.

  • Ask at the right time. If your organization has annual performance reviews at the same time each year, plan your ask around it. Bring up the topic with your manager a few months in advance to provide time for them to consider the proposition and gain the necessary approvals.
  • Be prepared. Throughout the year, record positive feedback from your manager and other superiors, peers and employees. Quantify your accomplishments and provide concrete evidence of your impact.
  • Frame your conversation. Express your enthusiasm for your current role and company. Be respectful and gracious as you state your appreciation for the opportunities you’ve been given, your commitment to the organization and how an increase in salary is aligned to your current contributions.

While the topic of salary may seem awkward, preparation and thoughtfulness are key to a respectful negotiation. Understand your worth, work toward a mutually-beneficial solution and don’t be afraid to ask.