5 rules to negotiate a better salary

Between networking, polishing your resume, applying and interviewing, finding a job is time consuming. Once the offer comes in, all your hard work is done, right? Not necessarily. Now is the time for negotiating – a process few people are comfortable with. Skipping it, however, can mean that you miss out on better benefits or a higher salary. 

“You should always negotiate a higher salary,” says Vanessa Jackson, director of career services at The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago. “Hiring managers expect this, so they do not start by offering the highest salary in their range.”

Rule 1: Be polite
The first rule when it comes to negotiating is to always be polite. “Say ‘Thank you very much for this opportunity. I am so excited to join your company.’ Then move into the negotiation,” says Shannon Delecki, assistant director of career services at The Art Institute of Michigan.

Your requests should never sound like demands. If they do, you could negotiate your way right out of a job. Remember, the negotiation is a balancing act. You want a higher salary but you’re looking to work with the person on the other end of the negotiation, so be respectful and use good manners always.

Rule 2: Know your worth
Make sure you’ve done your research. “Know the average salaries for the position and for the market,” says Delecki. That means what others with similar experience would make in the same city where you’ll be working.

And this isn’t a time to be modest about your potential value to the company. “Tell the company why you are worth more than you are being offered. Show them how you will contribute to the company’s profits and help their bottom line,” advises Delecki.

Rule 3: Ask for the right amount
Ask for too little and you’ll sell yourself short, but if you ask for too much you’ll risk offending your future employer. How much should you ask for? Jackson recommends anywhere from $ 3,000 – $ 5,000 above the company’s offer. After conveying your gratitude for the job offer, confidently state: “I’m hoping to negotiate a salary closer to $ XX.”

Rule 4: Don’t forget other benefits
There are times that companies may not be able to budge on the dollar amount, but that doesn’t mean negotiations are done. This could be an opportunity to negotiate other benefits like paid time off. “Ask the company whether they can be more flexible about vacation or PTO days,” says Delecki.

In addition to vacation days, other benefits that you could try to negotiate for include flex time for working from home and subsidized day-care costs. “I’ve known people who negotiated for immediate vesting in the company’s 401(k),” observes Jackson.

Rule 5: Be realistic
Keep in mind, people negotiating higher-level jobs will likely have more success negotiating. If you are just out of college and accepting an entry-level job, employers typically will not negotiate much, if at all. Young professionals can always ask, but they must be realistic about what they should ask for and about what an employer is likely to approve.


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