Money conversations can be awkward, but there’s no debating that they’re necessary — especially when it comes to your career. Refusing to ask for a higher salary can even contribute to the gender wealth gap. If you’re nervous to bring this up to your boss or the hiring manager during an interview, you aren’t alone: According to Salary.com, 18% of candidates never negotiate their salary. And a 2018 PayScale study revealed that almost two thirds of employees have never asked for a raise.
Wait. Can you lose a job offer by negotiating salary?
In most cases, no. Employers usually expect candidates to negotiate — and candidates usually get what they ask for. One Fidelity study found that 85% of Americans who countered on salary got at least close to what they wanted. So no need to jump at that first offer, especially if you know you should be paid more.
What’s the right way to negotiate my salary?
If you’re negotiating your initial salary offer, it can be tempting to accept right off the bat. Try to check that feeling, and buckle up for a salary negotiation. Experts say 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:
Take your time. Instead of immediately responding, ask your prospective employer to give you one or two days to think about the offer. During this time, look over your offer — and not just your salary. 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.
Do your research. Check websites like Glassdoor and PayScale 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.
Be flexible. If your new employer can’t match your salary request, they might be able to offer more in other 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.
What if I’m asking for a raise at my current job?
Before you send a meeting invite to your boss, there are a few things you can do to prep for the convo. Here are a few tips:
Track your achievements. Gather as much information you can about your performance at work. Take notes on the highlights aka things you’ve done exceptionally well. Be specific and don’t be afraid to print out examples.
Know your number. In order to get the salary you want, you've got to go in with an exact number in mind. Here are some tips for figuring out how much of a raise to ask for.
Choose the right time. 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.
PS: Here are more tips on how to ask for a raise at work.
Talking to your boss about pay may not be the easiest convo to have — which is why so many people skip over it. But asking is the only way to make sure you get what you deserve. And, odds are, you’ll walk away with a pay bump.
Updated on March 28, 2023 to include the latest information.
Subscribe to Skimm Money
Your source for the biggest financial headlines and trends, and how they affect your wallet.