Negotiating your salary could score you an extra million dollars over the span of your career. Don’t know where to start the conversation? We've outlined the do's and don'ts of negotiating your offer.
Do your research
What’s the average salary for someone in your industry? Know your market value and find out how your offer stacks up against similar roles in your city. Compensation varies based on education, years of experience, and location, so it’s important to dig deep. Check out online resources like Glassdoor and Payscale, or download Vettery’s tech salary report. Have friends in a comparable job? You can also gauge your worth by asking your peers what they make. Remember that it’s 100% legal to discuss pay with your coworkers as well.
If you’re relocating to a new city, consider the moving expenses you will incur and how the cost of living differs in the new location. Find out the average price tag for housing, taxes, education and childcare, food, healthcare, and entertainment. As a starting point, review SmartAsset’s cost of living calculator.
Do pick a strategic starting number
Choose a number on the high end of the range. After all, you’re worth top dollar! You should also leave yourself some wiggle room because your future employer will most likely want to negotiate down. However, this number should still be realistic and grounded in research. If you ask for a number way out of line, you run the risk of having the recruiter lose interest altogether. In order to make it clear that you did your due diligence, studies show that you should pick an exact number initially (think: $183,750 instead of $180,000).
Do decide when you'd walk away
Determine the lowest salary you’d accept and under what circumstances you’d need to decline the offer. You may want to say no to the opportunity if the final offer is less than what you’re currently earning or if you have a competing offer for more. Consider your living expenses, industry standards, and the number you need to feel satisfied with your paycheck.
Do leverage other offers if you can
If you’re lucky enough to have multiple offers on the table, use it to your benefit! After all, one of the best ways to determine your market value is by comparing each compensation package you receive. Be careful though - you don’t want this strategy to backfire or come across as a threat. Whether you have another offer or not, always reiterate your interest in the current position and show your appreciation.
For example, you can say, “Thank you again for this opportunity! I’m excited to work on [x projects], learn from [x manager/team members], and be a part of a company that values [x mission]. However, is there any flexibility with the current compensation? I really want to make this work.” If you have another opportunity, you can add: “This is my top choice, but I do have an offer with a base salary of [y].” The hiring manager will appreciate your transparency and at the very worst, say no.
Don't be scared
Do some power poses, drink some coffee, and put on your game face. Presenting your case with confidence will illustrate your value and start the conversation off strong. Remind yourself that you’re on the same side as the hiring manager and ultimately share the same goal: to have you accept the job. Most of the time being unable to meet a salary expectation has more to do with budget than with what they think of you as a candidate.
Practice your pitch to a friend beforehand to alleviate your nerves and nail down your tone. It’s important to remain calm and self-assured, but you also don’t want to sound entitled either. The hiring manager could be your future coworker, so you want to maintain a friendly relationship.
Don't bring up personal responsibilities
Even if rent has increased or your medical costs have skyrocketed, other candidates are probably also facing similar obstacles. Your case will be strongest when you focus on your strengths, past accomplishments, and future potential.
Although the initial offer may be lower than expected, take into account the company’s perks that may already address your personal concerns. Is there a stocked kitchen, gym discounts, or commuter benefits? Do they have flexible hours that allow you to be with your family? Maybe they offer full health insurance coverage and a matching 401k. The money you save in these categories could help you in other areas.
Don't focus on the past
If you’re underpaid or looking for a significant increase, don’t mention your current or past salary. It’s illegal in most states for hiring managers to ask about your salary history, but quickly move on if it comes up. Talk about the skills and experience you bring to the job, your market value, and how you’re planning on making an impact at their company. After reiterating this, an effective strategy is telling the hiring manager that you will 100% accept if they can offer [x amount]. This removes risk for the hiring manager and allows them to know the magic number that guarantees a close.
Don't forget about the whole package
If the hiring manager is not able to negotiate salary, see if they are able to compromise on other benefits like vacation days, moving expenses, or signing bonuses. You can also ask for early performance reviews. For example, see if the company will consider you for advancement opportunities in six months instead of in one year during the typical annual review period.
If you’re successful — congrats! Ask for an updated written offer. (Remember to never resign from your current position with just a verbal offer.) No matter the outcome, be gracious and thank the hiring manager for the opportunity.
Whether you’re just passively looking or in final round interviews, keep these tips top of mind. At Vettery, we encourage salary transparency throughout the entire interview process and even allow you to list your desired salary on your profile. This ensures that the companies you speak with align with your goals from the very beginning, helping you land your dream job with no negotiating necessary. Ready to get started?