PUBLISHED JAN 1, 2019

How to Negotiate Your Salary

New Year Smarter YouSalary Negotiation Checklist Illustration
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Mo' money, mo' awkward conversations. Let's fix that to get you what you want.

The Story

So you want more of that good good. We feel you. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

For when you're negotiating a job offer...

Congrats. This is typically your best opportunity to upgrade your paycheck. So you’ll want to make the most of it. It can be tempting to say ‘thank you, yes, where can I sign’ – especially if you’re excited about the job. Try to check that feeling – and buckle up for a salary negotiation. Your starting salary can have a big impact on how much you earn for years to come. So it’s probably worth the discomfort to get this right. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Silence is your friend

Feel free to say you’re excited about the offer and will take a day or two to consider it. You can spend that time thinking about your response, and coming up with a salary figure to propose or a counter-offer if they gave the first number. During this time, make sure you know exactly what they’re offering – because you know it's all about that base (salary). But you'll also want to know what they're offering in terms of bonuses, vacation time, health insurance, equity, travel benefits, and a 401(k) match if that’s on the table. Ask questions if you have them. This article goes deep on how to keep your chill while negotiating. And how silence can help.

Do your research

Check websites like Glassdoor and PayScale. You’ll want to gauge what other people in your industry and position are making. When you reach back out with a new salary proposal, experts recommend asking for the high-end of reasonable. You’ll probably get some pushback. No need to back off immediately – time to explain why this is the figure you would need to feel comfortable signing on.

Employees with benefits

It’s possible the employer can’t or won’t get close to your salary goal. But they might be willing to give when it comes to benefits. Is there more equity they can offer? Better dental or medical plans? A more flexible schedule if you need one? You might also consider asking if there’s a growth track you could get on to reach the salary figure you pitched originally. If you want an example on how to do all this while keeping the convo professional check out this piece.

For when you're asking for a raise...

Know your worth. The job market is tight right now and depending on your job it can be a PIA to hire and train someone new. That means employees often have more leverage than they think. Here are some tips:

Gather evidence

When you ask for a raise, you need to make the case that you’re crushing it. You’ll want proof of your value-add...lots of it. Take notes on the highlights – things you’ve done exceptionally well. Data is your friend here. Come with specifics. Don’t be afraid to print out examples.

Prep, prep, and prep

Because research shows that even a little bit of negotiation experience can up your chances of getting what you want, what you really really want. Time to practice your pitch with a friend, a trusted coworker, or even your mirror. Some tips:

Step 1: Remember the art of the humblebrag. That evidence you gathered? Time to use it. Show how awesome you are at your job. And why it’s in your company’s best interest to keep you happy. Don’t shy away from mentioning praise and shoutouts from managers, co-workers, and clients.

Step 2: Put it in (your boss’s) perspective. Make your case keeping in mind what’s good for the company...not just you. As in: this is not the time to mention that you need more money because your rent went up. Keep it professional. Focus on how you’re going above and beyond at your job as the reason to up that salary.

Step 3: Keep the convo collaborative. Experts recommend sprinkling in words like “we” to try and get your manager on board and keep everybody on the same team. As in: ‘I was wondering if *we* could bring the salary closer to X amount.' Teamwork makes the green work.

Step 4: Silence is your friend. Yes, this seems to be a theme. People – especially women – sometimes make what’s called “premature concession-making.” Like when you say something bold – but then give in too quickly or walk back your ask during an awkward silence. Don’t do that.

Step 5: Pick a number, (not just) any number. Don’t pick a new salary out of the blue. Do your homework to find out what the standard salary range is for your position. Then you’ll probably want to ask for a number on the high-end of that range – with the understanding that you might have to compromise to get to a place both you and the company feel comfortable with. Reminder: it is often perfectly legal to discuss salaries with your co-workers. It’s one way to gauge if you think you’re being underpaid. But once you know the figure, experts recommend making a case for a raise based on how well you’re doing at your job and what you’ve noticed the base pay is across the industry.

Timing is everything

Once you’ve put the work in, time to set up a meeting. Your annual performance review isn’t your only shot. You could do it when you’ve just been given more responsibilities. Or when you finished a project that contributed to key company goals. Oh, and try to catch your manager in a good mood. Good luck.

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