Salary Negotiation 101: How to Know (and Ask For) the Salary You Deserve

Salary negotiation is a difficult task for everyone. That goes for whether you’re just starting out in your career or are hoping to increase your current salary. Negotiating your salary may seem daunting, but the truth is, you already negotiate and pitch yourself on a daily basis.

Discussing money and actual numbers can be stressful. Sixty-eight percent of adults report salary negotiation-related stress, according to a study. However, with the proper information and the right mindset, you will be in an ideal position to secure the salary you deserve.

Know your worth

First and foremost, know your monetary value to a company (and the job market) before going in with a set number. Entering with an unrealistic number (too high, or even too low) shows you are not prepared for the conversation and aren’t convinced of your value. This can be a turnoff to a future or current employer.

In addition to Hired’s own salary calculator, consult tools like Glassdoor, Comparably, and PayScale to calculate the rate for positions like yours. If you are a jobseeker on Hired, the CX Team is by your side to help set tailored salary expectations based on your skills and our market data.

Articulate your value

Next, emphasize and reiterate the value you bring to the table. What unique skills and abilities do you have that differentiate you from other candidates? If the job description outlines a role that seems more junior than the level your experience warrants, make a case for increasing the position’s seniority.

The same is true if you are a junior candidate applying to a more senior role. You deserve to be compensated for the responsibilities you are performing, or are capable of performing.

As a current employee, if you are exceeding all of your goals and success metrics, book time with your manager. Talk them about how your efforts are contributing to the broader success of the company.

Avoid disclosing current (or previous) salary

Part of getting the salary you deserve goes back to doing your research. Your current salary, for better or worse, does not always reflect what the current “going rate” is for a given role. Understandably, many people see anything above their current salary as a step up.

However, getting the salary you deserve requires you to forego the context of your current salary or rate. According to a past Wage Gap Report, candidates who have been underpaid in the past are less likely to ask for market rate when negotiating. It’s also incredibly easy to accidentally disclose your current salary too early in the interview process.

“What’s your current salary?” seems like a standard question (because it is). Yet, you should do your best to delay this seemingly innocuous conversation until later in the interview process. If the hiring manager or recruiter is unavoidably persistent about it, let them know you are looking forward to the future and want to refocus the conversation on that. That shifts from anchoring on historical numbers.

Be confident

  1. Do your research
  2. Know your worth
  3. Hone in on your negotiating skills (however awkward or stilted practicing feels)

You will feel infinitely more confident going into the salary negotiation conversation. Remember, it is absolutely okay to bring notes to double-check all your points of value, market rate, and any other metrics to validate your desired number. You may only get one shot, so make sure your strategy is outlined and well-practiced beforehand. If you’re on Hired, reach out to your assigned CX Team member for extra help with interview and negotiation practice.

Be persistent

There are several reasons your current employer may not agree to a pay raise. However, a “no” today could always be a “yes” tomorrow.

But what should you do if faced with a “no”? Listen to actionable feedback from your manager about what will help you get a future pay increase. If you are dealing with a future employer and they can’t seem to get there, weigh the pros and cons. If you feel accepting a lower offer and working up is feasible for you, discuss that with the employer.

Finally, always remember to get any salary re-evaluation based on performance promises put into your contract. If the current hiring manager leaves and you do not have a written agreement, it could get you into trouble later.

Negotiating may seem difficult at first. At its core it is about doing your research, presenting your value, and going in confidently. You’ve got this.

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About the Author

Shannon Smales

Shannon is Hired's Talent Advocate local to Colorado. She specializes in helping candidates on Hired with interview preparation, navigating/understanding offers, and salary negotiation.