How to negotiate salary and get paid what you’re worth

Article

5 min read

You’ve got the job. Congratulations! But before you sign the contract and celebrate, how do you know you’re getting paid what you’re worth?

Hold your horses.

Putting in a little extra time to negotiate your salary before you sign the contract can be the quickest and easiest way to score a higher starting salary.

The question is, are you ready to negotiate?

In this article, we dive into what you need to know about salary negotiations and give you some pro hints and tips to take to the table.

 

Why you should always negotiate your salary

You’ve just got the job offer, so you don’t want to rock the boat by negotiating your salary, right?

Wrong.

Most hiring managers are willing to negotiate – in fact, they expect it. In a job market rocked by Covid, research shows 36% of senior managers are as likely or more likely to negotiate salary with new hires compared to a year ago. How else can they win the talent war?

Negotiating your salary also shows that you’re confident in the value you bring, you’ve done your homework, and are unlikely to slink off to the first better-paying position that comes along.

Negotiations also give you a chance to step back and think about your financial needs. If you don’t negotiate, chances are you’ll have to wait at least six months to ask for a raise, which is money you could have been earning from day one.

The bottom line?
Now is the time to put your best offer on the table.

 

Here’s how to negotiate your salary:

Do your research

The best way to approach any negotiation – and especially one based on money – is to make sure you have all the facts.

First things first – you need to find out what your role is worth. Start searching what others in your position are earning. Here’s where to look:

  • Job search websites, such as Seek
  • Industry websites
  • Job ads for similar roles.

You can also query friends or colleagues in similar industries about what they would expect someone to be paid in a role like X with skills like Y.

This is where networking is valuable. There might also be Facebook groups for your industry where you can pose these questions, too.

Establish what the industry averages are based on your role, skills, experience, education and location.

 

Know your worth

Now you know approximately what your position is worth, you need to put yourself somewhere on that scale. If you’re amazing at what you do, and have plenty of experience to match, shoot for a salary between the middle and high range.

Here’s the deal – if you’re going to ask for an above-average salary, you need to show that you’re worth it. Telling is not enough, you need to give them a convincing reason to pay you a top salary.

Make a list of your contributions and accomplishments and quantify them where possible. If you’re a social media marketing pro and have increased a brand’s Instagram engagement by 100%, tell them.

Next, write down three things that set you apart from the other applicants, such as your qualifications, experience, skills or ways you will add unique value to the role.

Arguments are always stronger when backed up by metrics – research, numbers, and facts.

 

Plan your counteroffer

You just got the job offer and emotions are running high. But now’s the time to check yourself. Leave emotions at the door and, whatever you do, don’t give your decision immediately. Even if it’s a great offer, take a moment to breathe.

Why is this important?

Because if you negotiate right there and then, you run the risk of your emotions running the show. You want to be logical and level-headed.

Here’s where your research comes in. Look at the salary offer and establish some goals for your negotiation:

  • Set the minimum salary you will accept
  • Set your target salary, which is the amount you expect to agree on
  • Set your opening offer – this is a much higher number you use to start the negotiations.

Let’s say the salary offer is $50,000. Your target number should always be the top end of the salary range you found in your research. Based on your research, you know you should be making $53,000 to $57,000. So, you should go in with an opening offer of $63,000, with the expectation that you’ll meet in the middle and get a fair market rate.

The reality is, the employer might not reach your target salary, but that’s okay. Money isn’t everything – look at the whole salary package including personal development allowances, health benefits, annual leave, and more.

Write down the perks that mean the most to you and make a wish list of other benefits you may want such as flexible work hours, professional development opportunities and additional leave.

 

Practice your negotiation

Now is the real test. You have all your research and numbers, and it’s time to put them into action in a negotiation conversation.

The most important thing is that it must be a conversation. Don’t try to negotiate over email – do it over the phone, in a virtual meeting or in person where you can sense nonverbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice.

Just as you practice for your job interview, you should also practice negotiating with someone you trust.

Use these tricks:

  • Use language that feels natural to you
  • Start by thanking them for the offer
  • Finish with an open-ended question that invites the employer to respond
  • Be mindful of your body language (if in person or over video)
  • Speak clearly and slowly, allowing time to pause if you need to think.

 

Get your final offer in writing

Chances are, you’ll need to wait for the recruiting manager to determine how much wiggle room there is before giving you an answer. It’s only natural to be nervous while you wait, but don’t lose your nerve!

Once you’ve got your target offer, remember to ask for it in writing. Things can often get lost in translation in the recruiting process, so ask for an email to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Then, when the contract arrives, double check that it reflects what was sent in the email before you sign.

 

What happens if they say no?

Even if you did a brilliant job in the negotiation, they could still say no. Sometimes there’s just no wiggle room, so it comes down to you. Weigh up whether you’re willing to compromise for the job.

Or saying “no” could be a sign that they don’t value their employees, and therefore that this might not be the right company for you. Know when to walk away.

 

You have nothing to lose.

How does the saying go? Don’t ask, don’t get. It’s difficult to feel engaged and comfortable in a role when you don’t feel like you’re being paid what you’re worth. But if you can’t get the exact dollar amount you want today, don’t obsess about it. Go in, do an amazing job, and prove your worth. Then, you’ll be in an even better position to negotiate in six months.

Get more tips on how to get paid what you’re worth in Hodie app.