Negotiating your salary can be one of the most stressful parts of the job search process—but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re well prepared to negotiate, you’ll relieve yourself of nearly all your negotiation stress. So, here are four essential tips for maximizing the possibility of getting the salary you want and minimizing your stress in the process.
1. Know what you want before you negotiate
The most important aspect of your preparation is to know what you want before you negotiate. If you determine exactly what you want before you negotiate, you’ll never be caught off-guard. First, you want to think about base salary. When determining what you ideally want in a base salary, you want to ask yourself these questions:
- What’s my ideal number?
- What‘s the lowest number I’m willing to accept?
- What number am I willing to walk away from (because it’s so low)?
Also, it’s very important, in addition to base salary, to consider things like: benefits, stock options, vacation time, remote work days, and signing bonuses. Would you be willing to accept a less than ideal salary if other perks are increased? Also, find out when your salary review will take place. Six months? One year? That will also make a difference in your decision to accept or walk away from certain numbers.
It’s very important to think through all possible scenarios, and determine what you want and are willing to accept. Making decisions about what you want proactively will prevent you from being tempted to accept a less than ideal offer, and will make you very well prepared to negotiate, no matter what is put on the table.
2. Don’t commit right away—no matter what offer you receive
When you receive an offer or counter offer, your first move is to be enthusiastic but not commit right away. Committing right away can be a mistake—even if your ideal number is met or it’s clearly the best offer the employer is able to give. The reason is you always want to carefully review your employment contract before signing and before committing to an offer.
However, while you don’t want to commit, you do want to sound excited. So, responding with something like this (in your own words) is ideal: “Thank you so much. I’m very excited to work with you and get started. I’m going to take some time to review the offer and I’ll get back to you by the end of the day tomorrow.”
Note that generally, it’s not recommended to sit on an offer for more than 24 hours.
3. View yourself as a candidate with A LOT of value to offer (which is true!)
It’s important negotiate with the right mindset. Your mindset going into your negotiations will play a huge part in dictating the result you get. So, make sure to view yourself as a high-value candidate, and remember that you’re the candidate they chose. It wasn’t luck that you were chosen. You were the most qualified candidate. You are the one they want.
So, for example, having a mentality like the following will put you into the right frame to negotiate: I know the value I have to offer warrants an above-average salary. I’ve clearly proven this. They chose me out of the other options they had, so that already puts me at a higher perceived value. We both want to make a deal we’re happy with here. This is a collaboration where we both get to come to an agreement.
The approach you choose to take here will help you to show up to negotiate in a calm, confident, solution-focused manner, which will give you the best chance of getting what you want—and deserve.
4. Be prepared to hear “no”—and confidently make your case
Be prepared for hiring managers and recruiters to say “no,” as that’s unfortunately often the default response (the first move) in any negotiation. So, for example, if you hear “We just don’t have that in the budget right now,” don’t immediately shut down and accept lower than what you think you deserve. This is just the beginning of the negotiating. Instead, respond calmly by saying something like: “I completely understand …,” then proceed to make your case confidently. It’s important to always start your response by empathizing and agreeing.
As for how to make your case if your ideal number is not initially offered, here are some scripts for what you might say (again, you’d certainly want to put all of these into your own words):
- “I totally understand where you’re coming from. I can definitely understand that. However, I do believe there's a bit of a gap here, and I need to consider the fair market value for this role and the specific results that I’ll be bringing to the table. I’ve been seeing what the market’s like for similar roles right now, and it’s more in the $A-Z range. Can we work something out closer to that?”
- “I get that and do understand. On my end, I think I’ve demonstrated that what I bring to the role goes above and beyond the ‘standard candidate.’ For example, we discussed [A, B and C]. So, I’d like to talk about a range of compensation that matches those differences.”
- “I understand. I’ve been in your position before and understand you have a budget to work within. I agree that for an average candidate a budget is a necessary place to start. The thing is, I know that I’ll make an above-average impact in this role. The purpose for me taking this job would be to make an above-average contribution, and I’d ask that my salary reflects that.”
Don’t forget that when you already have a job offer on the table, you have a lot of leverage. Hiring managers have invested a lot of time and resources in hiring you. They won’t want to miss out on you now.
Natalie Fisher is best known for helping professionals land their ideal roles and achieve explosive salary growth (even with little experience). If you want to dive deeper on the topic of your career mindset and know exactly how to land your dream job offer, listen to .her coach you on her Get a 6-Figure Job You Love podcast.
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