How to negotiate your salary

It can be quite a challenge figuring out how to negotiate your salary; you don’t want to come across as cocky, but at the same time, you don’t want to settle for bad pay. Salary negotiations don’t have to be a head wreck though, thanks to our handy tips. We’re here to talk you through everything, from what salary negotiations are to when it’s appropriate to ask for them. We’ve even got 5 handy tips on how to negotiate your salary after receiving a job offer. So, stick with us, and you’ll know the best possible way of how to negotiate salary in no time.

What is a salary negotiation?

Salary negotiations are essentially just conversations between you and your (future) employer about how much you should be paid. It usually concerns your base salary, as in how much you get paid before taxes. But, it can also include other benefits. Things like health insurance, travel reimbursements, and opportunities to work remotely can also be put on the table, instead of just cash in your bank account.

What’s the point of having salary negotiations? Why should you have to negotiate your salary? Well, your salary is a reflection of your value to the company, so you want it to reflect as positively as possible. It’s a recognition of the time and effort you put in, as well as the skills and qualifications you bring to the table. Plus, it can’t hurt to have a bit more money to spend, right?

When to negotiate your salary

While you might feel like you deserve a higher pay after every work win, it sadly isn’t as easy as that. There’s usually a time and place to negotiate your salary, so that you can be in with the best chance of getting what you want. The most appropriate times to come to your employer are:

At the end of the hiring process

Once you’ve successfully gone through the interview process, the interviewer will present you with a job offer that includes their proposed salary. If you think you deserve better pay, you’re able to negotiate the salary with a counter offer based on your skills and experience. You’ll probably have discussed your salary expectations earlier in the interview process, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this gets brought up. It’s definitely not a favourite interview question, but a necessary one nonetheless.

When you get promoted

Once you’ve put in some time at the company and built up your experience, it’s likely that you’ll be offered a promotion. That’s the perfect opportunity to negotiate your salary. More responsibilities should be compensated with more rewards, so you can discuss a fitting raise.

After you become more qualified

Have you completed some trainings and taken some courses alongside your work? Then you might want to negotiate a salary that matches your new abilities. Having extra skills makes you more valuable to your employer, so they should be willing to adjust your pay to match.

When you’ve gained some valuable experience

Similarly to your qualifications, your level of experience can be used to negotiate a better salary. You pick up a lot of new skills and knowledge when you work, even if you don’t realise. That all adds up to making you a more useful asset to your employer, and earns you some leverage to ask for a higher pay.

When similar roles’ salaries increase

You might notice that doing the same job for another company could earn you more money or better benefits. If that’s the case, you can bring that to the attention of your employer and begin salary negotiations. Think about it: they want to keep you working for them, so they need to level with the competition so that you don’t get a better offer somewhere else.

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5 tips on how to negotiate the salary for a new job

One of the trickiest times to negotiate your salary is when you’re offered a new job. It’s hard to ask for more money from an employer you know, let alone a total stranger. You don’t want to ask for a totally unrealistic amount and scare them off, but it’s important not to sell yourself short. Typically, this issue comes up at the end of the final interview, when you’re (hopefully) offered the job. Here are our top 5 tips on how to negotiate a salary offer for a new job:

1. Know your worth

Before you panic too much, remember that they’re offering you a job for a reason. You’ve clearly got some skills and experience that they find valuable, so don’t let yourself forget that. We often sell ourselves short and focus on what we don’t have, but it’s so important to remember the positives during salary negotiations.

2. Know the market

Understanding what you bring to the company is only half the battle. You also need to know what other businesses are offering and what other candidates are accepting. Compare what similar positions at the same level are paying, and use that when negotiating a salary offer for your new job.

3. Know your reasons

It’s important to remember that this is a negotiation, which means the person on the other side of the table is going to need convincing. Having points that strengthen your arguments is going to help you to negotiate your salary and, hopefully, get you the figure you’re after. Think about things like needed travel reimbursements because you live far away, or deserving a higher wage due to unique qualifications.

4. Be prepared for a fight

OK, maybe fight is a bit of a strong word. What we mean is that your future employer isn’t going to want to cave right off the bat. They need to think about their budgets, other candidates, and a bunch of other factors. They may make a counter offer at a lower level, or shut down your talks immediately. Be prepared to walk away from the table if negotiating the salary for your job offer isn’t going to work – it’s your job hunt, after all.

5. Above all, be polite

Not only is it nice to be nice, it can also be beneficial to negotiating the salary after your job offer. It’s simple: the interviewer or hiring manager isn’t going to want to negotiate with someone who’s rude, demanding, or unlikeable. It’s just a fact of life! No matter the outcome, make sure you thank them for their time and show your appreciation for their consideration. Keep calm and level-headed throughout, and you’ll keep the door open for future negotiations.

Still not sure how to negotiate a higher salary after a job offer? Don’t worry, it’s something that takes a bit of practice; we don’t expect you to get it right away. The hardest part is often making the first step. Here’s an example of how to start a salary negotiation to get you going:

‘I’m very grateful for the job offer you’ve presented, and I really appreciate the belief you have in me. I do have some concerns about the proposed salary though. From what I’ve seen in the market, a person with my skills and experience typically earns [high amount] as a [position]. I’m very enthusiastic about working with you, but I believe a salary of that level is more appropriate for me. I would love to take on the role you’re offering if you can match that amount.’

How to negotiate a salary increase

You can also hold salary negotiations for a job you’ve been working at for a while already. Being there for a while, you’ll usually pick up some extra skills or knowledge that mean you deserve extra compensation. You’ll still have to work hard, of course – there’s no such thing as a free lunch!

The same ideas and tips apply to these salary negotiations as when you’re asking for more money after a job offer. You should still be polite, reasonable, and have explanations for your requests. You’ll have more to work with, as your employer will know you better than a random interviewer. They’ll know about your abilities, targets you’ve met, and any extra work you’ve taken on. Plus, you’ve already developed a relationship with them, which usually makes them easier to approach when negotiating a pay rise. Here’s an example of how to bring up salary negotiations with your employer:

‘Hi [manager/team lead], I wanted to bring up the possibility of discussing my salary. I’ve been here for [years/months] and I believe I’ve accomplished a lot in that time. My work on [project] was very successful and generated a lot of positive feedback. When would be a good time to sit down with you and discuss this?’

How to negotiate a salary: in short

There’s no need to fear salary negotiations; they’re an essential part of working life, and something everyone deals with at one point or another. It’s just a conversation after all, and if it doesn’t go your way it’s not the end of the world. Just keep in mind our salary negotiation tips, and you should pull through unscathed.

  1. Know what skills and experience you bring to the table.
  2. Be aware of what competitors are offering for similar positions.
  3. Have arguments ready to back up your requests.
  4. Be ready for counter offers or denials – it happens!
  5. Be kind, polite, and receptive, and you’ll keep the door open for the future.

When holding negotiations for new job terms, the most important thing is to keep things polite and professional. If you’re in an interview, you’ll be in a better position to accept the job offer or turn it down. Salary is just one of the important aspects to consider, so check out our other great /job-application-tips/interview/interview-tips to ensure you’re fully prepared. If it’s for a job that you already work at, you’ll keep your options for more negotiations further down the line.

Are you unsuccessful when you try to negotiate your salary? It could be that your CV isn't showing you in a good enough light. You need to make it 100% clear that you deserve what you’re asking for, and the easiest way to do that is to show your worth in one simple document. Use our free CV builder to make sure you’re hitting all the key points, and try applying for more vacancies.

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FAQs about how to negotiate your salary

  • Should you always negotiate a salary?

  • If you’re happy with the salary you’ve been offered, then you don’t need to go through the stress of negotiating it. That being said, it’s always good to try and get the best deal for yourself, so don’t avoid salary negotiations just because you’re scared to try.

  • Can you negotiate a salary after accepting a job offer?

  • Once you’ve accepted the offer, you should try to avoid negotiating afterwards. There’s nothing illegal about it, but you may lose your chance if the employer feels you’re acting unprofessionally. It’s best to keep the discussions to before you accept.

  • Can you lose a job offer by negotiating a salary?

  • It’s a complicated question, as it depends on a lot of factors. If you go about it roughly or rudely, the interviewer may think you’re unprofessional or even dishonest. It's unlikely to happen if you're polite, upfront, and pick the correct timing for it.

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