40 Tips for Improving Salary Negotiation Skills

Updated December 9, 2022

Having good salary negotiation skills can help ensure that you're compensated for your skills and abilities. As your career progresses and you gain more experience, you become more valuable. It's a normal part of the employment process to ask for a higher salary. In this article, we discuss why salary negotiation skills are important and list 40 tips for improving them.

Why are salary negotiation skills important?

Negotiating your salary is a common part of the hiring process. It's your right to make a case for the salary you feel is appropriate for your skills and experience. Salary is often perceived as more than a check. It's a company's way of showing appreciation for you and your work. Ensure that the company compensates you in an amount equal to or better than your developed skills and experience.

Related: Negotiation Skills: Definition and Examples

20 tips for improving your salary negotiation skills

Use these 20 tips to improve or develop your salary negotiation skills:

1. Understand your value

Before entering into negotiations, consider your skills, experience and education. All of these add to your worth. Account for salaries in similar positions within your geographical location and within your industry and present all related data in your negotiation.

Related: Average Salary by Age

2. Ask recruiters for their opinion

Answer phone calls from recruiters when they come in. Recruiters are experts in understanding an individual's salary expectations based on location, skills, experience and education. They may offer further insight into your industry and a better idea of what salary to seek.

Related: How To Find the Right Recruiter for You​​

3. Start at the top of your salary range

If you find a salary range within your research, choose a number near the high end of the range. Even if you feel more comfortable picking an amount toward the middle, the negotiation often moves in your favor if you start higher. Starting higher increases your chances of agreeing upon a number within the middle to the high-middle range. Alternatively, if you start in the middle, your agreed-upon result may be lower.

4. Pick an exact number

Come into the salary negotiation meeting with an exact number in mind instead of a range or estimation. This gives a clear indication to the recruiter or hiring manager that you know what you want and you're confident in your proposal. It also provides a more specific point for the other person to start from in negotiations.

5. Walk away if necessary

Have a figure in mind that would be the minimum salary you will accept. Consider your financial needs, market value and what you think your work is worth and then identify a figure when you will end the negotiation. It's OK to back away if the employer is unwilling—or unable—to accommodate your request.

6. Ask at the right time

The point when you ask for salary negotiation has a significant impact on your result. For example, if you wait until a review to ask about a raise, it may be too late. Most managers determine salary changes before the review. If you're currently employed, speak with your manager ahead of reviews or other workplace occurrences that might impact your negotiation.

7. Practice your pitch

Gather all the required research you need to back up your claims about market standards and prepare a pitch. Practice your speech at home and, if possible, days ahead of your negotiation meeting. Bring notes to work the day of the meeting and practice several more times.

8. Start the meeting with confidence

Walk into the meeting room standing tall with good posture. Look straight ahead rather than looking down. Confidence and enthusiasm will often influence results in your favor. Sit down with a smile and take a deep breath to calm your nerves.

Related: How To Build Self-Confidence: 5 Key Tips

9. Explain your recent accomplishments

To further prove your worth, explain some of your recent accomplishments and what you're currently working on to better the company. For example, describe when you saved the company thousands of dollars by addressing an issue with an internal system. If you're unable to reference an accomplishment, highlight your talents and skills and how they impact the company. Use any data that supports your claim.

10. Consider your manager's point of view

When negotiating your salary, it's important to consider the situation from another perspective. For example, gain a clear understanding of the company’s overall performance and success in recent months. Ensure that your manager actually has the funds necessary to accommodate your new salary expectations. Managers are unable to move forward with negotiations if they can't afford raises.

11. Keep a positive tone

Ensure the conversation remains positive throughout the negotiation. Your manager may show discomfort at your first proposal and list reasons why they're unable to go that high. When this occurs, shift focus away from the number and back to your skills or accomplishments.

12. State your number first

The first salary figure given during a negotiation is often the most important as it sets the tone for further decisions. State your number first in a clear and concise manner. If your amount is in a higher range, most managers prefer moving downward. If negotiations move in your favor, their counteroffer may be near your initial proposal.

13. Find a balance between friendliness and firmness

Be friendly throughout the process even when you disagree with the offered salary amount. For example, if you're extended an offer of $50,000 at the end of an interview but prefer something higher, express your thankfulness while standing firm.

Example: "I genuinely appreciate the offer of $50,000, however, due to my education and many years of experience, I expected a number like $58,000. Is there any way we can consider something closer to that amount?"

14. Keep the conversation focused on market value

Direct the conversation to focus on what others in the same position earn within your local area. It's important to look at facts. Prove to your manager that you deserve market value. If they value you as an employee, they're more likely to accept the data you provide.

15. Ask your manager for their recommendations

If you're currently employed, it's OK to ask your manager their thoughts about a raise. In most cases, managers are honest about current corporate conditions as well as your worth. They provide valuable information from a company perspective that reflects how much they're able to offer.

16. Listen to the manager or recruiter

Listening to your manager or recruiter is just as important as giving your offer and moving through negotiations. When you listen to their perspective, you gain a better understanding of company needs and abilities. Knowing this information helps set your expectations at a more reasonable salary range.

17. Prepare for the opposite answer you want

Negotiations often don't start until someone says “no.” If this is the response you receive, take it in stride, reassess your salary needs and move forward. Instead of simply saying “no,” managers often offer their own number.

18. Ask questions and keep the conversation moving

If you notice your interviewer or manager seems surprised by your initial salary expectations, keep the conversation moving. Ask questions relating to the role or the salary they are expected to offer. Move the conversation away from your proposal and keep a positive flow.

19. Prepare a counteroffer

If the other party gives their offer first and it's below your expectations, have a counteroffer prepared in advance. Having a specific number in mind keeps negotiations moving and allows you to immediately give a new offer to consider.

20. Be honest about your needs

Your needs are just as important as the company you're working for or applying to. Express your need for better compensation with data to support your claim. It's better to have your need known rather than regret the position later because its salary doesn’t meet your expectations.

Related: Needs Assessment: Definition, Overview and Examples

20 additional tips for improving your salary negotiation skills

Below are 20 more tips to consider the next time you're negotiating your salary:

  1. Explain your contributions to the bottom line.

  2. Be flexible.

  3. It's OK to say “no.”

  4. Ask for time to consider.

  5. Organize your thoughts before entering the meeting.

  6. Ensure you're ready to enter negotiations with your speech and supporting data.

  7. Prepare a one-page summary listing your accomplishments and skill.s

  8. Begin the negotiation with questions.

  9. Focus on how this impacts your future and the company's future.

  10. Express professional needs rather than personal needs.

  11. Ask for time to consider the offer.

  12. Consider other compensation options, such as more vacation time.

  13. Prepare to negotiate more than once over the duration of your time there.

  14. Be flexible and know when you've reached an amount worth compromise.

  15. Make the meeting worth the effort if you're unable to get the amount you want.

  16. Understand that starting salary often impacts your trajectory within a company.

  17. Ask open-ended questions to encourage discussion.

  18. Be polite throughout the duration of your meeting.

  19. Refer back to the value you add to the company as needed.

  20. Secure a specific salary amount before negotiating benefits.

Related: Salary Negotiation Scripts To Successfully Counter a Job Offer (With Examples)

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