f you are unhappy with your current salary—or a prospective offer you’ve received—then you need to know that you have the right and power to ask for more! Talking about money, salary negotiations included, is something that many people find to be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Think about it: there is nothing unreasonable, nor is there any reason to feel guilty about asking for a salary that you believe matches your value and worth as a worker.

Validating yourself and your work are two things that should be highly encouraged and practiced within the corporate world. However, the blurring of one’s self-worth with one’s work creates an unfortunate situation where shame can flourish, especially when thinking of the self in terms of money.

In a setting where one must go on to put a price on his or her work, this shame that comes alongside money can make you feel ungrateful to even consider asking for more. Because you should be happy to be receiving a job in the first place, right? Wrong. Kind of. You of course should be happy about receiving a coveted job offer, but that doesn’t mean you have to be happy with the salary that the job comes with. Equating a negotiation of your salary as selfish or ungrateful ultimately subscribes to a belief that you should take any offer that comes your way, to shut up and say “thank you” to anyone who provides you with any amount of money, high or low.

The first step to successfully negotiating your salary is to understand that this practice is okay and expected, with 84% of employers expecting job applicants to negotiate salary offers. So, shut that shame off about asking for more, because if most employers are expecting a negotiation, chances are that their offers are on the lower side and able to be raised.

If you’re still struggling to find the courage and strategy to ask for a better salary or wage, here are a few tips and recommendations about going forward with salary negotiations. Hopefully, these suggestions will alleviate any stress you may have about the topic and make you feel more confident and conscious about the value that you bring to work.

A woman researching salaries on her computer at home
The internet is full of great resources that can help you get a better grip on what your job should be paying.

Figure Out What Your Work is Worth

It’s a bit hard to negotiate for a salary if you don’t even know what you think your job is worth.

You’ve got the offer on the table and all that’s left is for you to accept the job. Or maybe you’ve had the job for a while and are wondering whether the quality and quantity of work you contribute to the office necessitates a raise. Either way, before even beginning the act of negotiating your salary, you should figure out a specific range of how much your work is (or should be) worth.

An easy way to get a baseline idea about what your job title is typically paid is to do a little research online. There are some great salary-focused websites that will let you see some very informative and helpful statistics, such as median salaries and detailed descriptions of benefits.

If you already have a job you are happy with but are thinking that you might deserve a raise, asking your coworkers their salary is a pretty definite way to figure out if you are being seriously underpaid. Being open about your salary with your coworkers—though may create a bit of awkward tension—ultimately creates a workplace with increased employee engagement and transparency that doesn’t allow for unfair salary discrepancies to go unnoticed.

And if you’re worried about potential retaliation from your employee for asking about your fellow workers’ salaries, understand that most laws regarding labor declare that it is unlawful for employers to punish employees for doing so.

With these tools and strategies at your disposal, you should be able to get a pretty decent idea about what your work is worth, giving you a vital piece of information that will make the rest of the negotiation process easier and less worrisome. If you know what your job is worth, then you’re better equipped to fight for a salary that matches!

Woman staring out window, thinking about work
Don’t jump into any decisions without taking a chunk of time to go through your thoughts and options.

Take Your Time and Prepare

That original offer (most likely) is not going anywhere. Take time to really think about the salary that has been presented to you in your own context.

Many may assume that they have to automatically respond to a position or salary proposal, but this is not the case whatsoever. Almost every employer will allow you to take some time to look over the details of the job—salary included—giving you a bit of space to sift through your feelings and personal situation regarding the offer. Simply express your thanks for the opportunity, let them know that you need a little time to think it over, and go home to better and more objectively look at the position.

Take this time to first see if the salary that the employer has presented you matches or surpasses the range of salaries that you previously deemed acceptable from your previous research. If you find the amount offered to you to be respectable based upon the data available to you (and don’t feel like the company is bound to offer you any more), there still is no harm in asking if the salary is negotiable, especially if you are choosing between multiple positions and searching for the better fit.

If the salary and benefits originally included in your position prove to be below the range that you deemed appropriate, then the decision for moving forward should be simple: begin coming up with a counteroffer. A great option to come back with is to simply provide the company with a range of potential salaries that you would be happy with. You should keep these numbers relatively reasonable and understand that many companies will veer towards the lower end of your range.

Before going back to begin your negotiations, it is vital to practice! You may think that your communication skills can serve you perfectly well, but there will never be any harm at all in finding a friend or family member to practice your future discussion with. Take your practice seriously and make mental or physical notes documenting phrasings or methods of negotiating that you found to be effective and comfortable for you.

Meeting between four workers discussing salary
Asking questions will let you better understand where your employer is coming from.

Ask as Many Questions as You Possibly Can

Trying to figure out what your offer means raises questions whose answers most likely will not be presented to you without a little bit of nudging.

There are a lot of factors into salary offers that aren’t prematurely revealed to candidates that can help you better understand why your offer is where it is and whether that number is pliable at all. By framing your curiosity into questions, you can hopefully find some answers and reasoning that will better inform you on whether to accept or decline the position.

Some great questions to ask when you are discussing your pay are:

  • “Can this salary be negotiated?” (Duh!)
  • “Can I negotiate the position’s benefits?” (A great alternative if the salary cannot be unfixed.)
  • ”How did you arrive at this offer?”
  • “What is this position’s salary outlook in the next few years?”
  • “What is the mobility that this position allows for? Is there great potential to move up in positions?”
Two women discussing career opportunities and prospects
You were smart enough to get the job, don’t blow it by making mistakes that are easily avoidable.

Play it Smart

Successful salary negotiations almost always rely on smart, realistic, and creative thinking to get you what you want.

When negotiating a salary, you should always do your best to practice appropriate and respectful business etiquette that most likely landed you the job in the first place. Now is not the time to scoff at offers or act like you are better than the position’s pay. (Even if you think you are, pretend you’re not.) A respectful demeanor alongside well-thought arguments on why what you can bring to the company deserves more is much more of a winning combination than an aloof attitude mixed with an on-the-fly demand for more money.

Smart negotiating also relies on an ability to see what is feasible, both for you and the employer. Know when to walk away from an offer that will not be able to meet your desires and needs, and also understand that employers can only provide so much, so stay reasonable! Additionally, be aware of where your leverage and power within the negotiations lie. Unfortunately, an unemployed hire will most likely have less room to catch a higher salary (in comparison to their previous one) than an employed counterpart. Recognizing where your power is will keep you grounded in a headspace that will not disappoint you with crushing realities.

Negotiating a salary is only one little, albeit important part of your career. Always remember that any offer is successful in providing your ego and self with validation that you are a worthy and desirable candidate, possessing skills and qualities that are wanted by employers. Whether or not negotiations don’t go your way, keep this self-validating insight in mind, knowing that you’re worth it. Good luck!

Jun 22, 2020