After several rounds of interviews, you finally land a job offer from a terrific team at a company with a bright future. Here's one last question: Are you ready to negotiate salary? You may have made it through the most challenging part of the job search process, but that's an important step before you accept the offer.
A new survey from Robert Half shows more job seekers are asking for more money. Fifty-five percent of the workers — up from 39 percent in 2018 — said they tried to negotiate salary during their last job offer.
In a job market where in-demand professionals often consider multiple offers, companies know they have to have some flexibility in their salary ranges. According to the survey, 70 percent of hiring managers don't expect candidates to accept the initial salary offer.
Bottom line? You have bargaining power! If you don't inquire about a better compensation package, you may be leaving money on the table, especially if you have specialized skills and an impressive resume.
Of course, these can be tricky conversations. For many people, talking about money is uncomfortable. It can feel awkward to ask for more than what you’re offered. You might be afraid an employer will withdraw the offer altogether if you counter it. Here are eight tips to help you tactfully and confidently ask for what you want your next job:
1. DO familiarize yourself with industry salary trends
You may think you deserve a higher starting salary in your new position. But what do the national and local job markets say? Information is your biggest ally. To enter a negotiation fully informed, consult Robert Half’s annual Salary Guides to determine the going rate for your career path, position and experience level, and the Salary Calculator to see adjusted figures for your geographic area. If you’re in the running for one of the year’s hottest, highest-paying jobs, the employer may be having a tough time finding someone with enough skills and experience, and that opens the door to negotiate higher pay.
2. DON’T negotiate too early — or too late
Most employers expect to discuss a candidate’s desired salary in the first or second interview. Once they indicate they would like to make an offer, consider it an invitation to ask some questions. Begin with questions around benefits and other compensation areas before discussing salary.
If the company doesn’t bring up pay when they make the offer, don’t hesitate to ask. Trying to negotiate a salary after you’ve signed the contracts and agreed on a starting date is definitely too late.
3. DO give a specific salary
Some employers will ask about your expected salary early in the hiring process. Giving a wide pay range might seem smart, hedging your bets against pricing yourself out of a job. But if you tell a potential employer that your acceptable pay range is $60,000 to $90,000, don’t be surprised if you’re offered $60,000. After doing your research, you should know your baseline salary — the number under which you’d be willing to walk away from a company. Being willing to state a specific number or range will help you and the potential employer figure out if you’re on the same page and if it makes sense to continue the conversation.
4. DON’T make it only about you
Salary negotiations are a two-way street. When talking about your capabilities and career, you need to frame your request for higher compensation in a way that conveys what the employer will gain in return. While you’re preparing for a job interview, you should gather concrete examples of how your skills will benefit your new company, and when you get to the negotiation stage, express how excited you are to work for the company. Remember, many managers don’t like negotiating, either. Keeping your tone positive and collegial will help you navigate the discussions.
5. DO be honest
Successful salary negotiations depend on honesty from both parties. There’s no better way to see your offer withdrawn than having a hiring manager find out you invented a competing job offer or inflated your salaries from past jobs to leverage a bigger paycheck. Skip the bluffing, and be honest about your needs and expectations.
6. DON’T overlook the benefits
Salary negotiations often include some give-and-take on employee benefits, not just dollars. It may be less costly for the employer to give ground on extra vacation, flexible hours or a work-from-home schedule. Consider what’s valuable to you and what would make an offer more attractive to you and your lifestyle. If you are considering multiple offers, remember to directly compare health insurance coverage and retirement benefits to make a truly informed decision.
Also keep in mind the benefits that reach beyond compensation, such as career goals and advancement opportunities with the potential employer. These things should be part of your analysis of accepting an offer.
7. DO know when to wrap it up
A reasonable employer won’t withdraw an offer just because you tried to negotiate. But dragging out the salary negotiation can frustrate the hiring manager and start out your relationship on a sour note. If the company can’t meet your requirements after a few discussions, respectfully withdraw your application and focus on opportunities that better match your compensation expectations.
8. DON’T forget to get everything in writing
Once you and the hiring manager settle on an agreeable compensation package, ask for documentation of your salary and any special arrangements in writing, along with a brief job description and a list of responsibilities for your new role. Ensure the document is signed by both you and the employer.
If you’d like to get a better starting salary offer, you have to ask for it. Job seekers too often accept the first salary that's offered. Yet many companies set starting salaries as a range, with a variance of 5 or 10 percent. All it takes to find out if there is wiggle room in the budget is a simple question: “I was hoping for something closer to [specific amount]. Is that possible?” Then wait for the response.
How to negotiate salary at your annual review
Salary negotiations can also come up during the annual performance reviews at your current job, so if you think your strong performance warrants a raise, remember the advice highlighted above. Do your homework and present a case that shows how your work has benefited the company. That way, your compensation will better match where you are in your career and set you up for a fruitful future.
The more prepared and professional you are, the more likely you are to negotiate a great salary, so again, gather as much knowledge as you can about the position and comparable salaries for your region. Know your worth, practice your pitch, and speak up for yourself.
If you decide to continue your job search, learn how Robert Half can help.