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

Salary negotiation is a difficult task for everyone, whether you’re just starting out in your career, or hoping to increase your salary in your current role. 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 — indeed, 68% of adults report salary negotiation-related stress, according to a recent study — but if you come to the table armed with the proper information and right mindset, you will be in the best position to secure the salary you deserve to be paid.

Know your worth.

salary calculator

First and foremost, you need to know what your monetary value is to a company (and the job market) before you go in with a set number for your desired salary. Going in with an unrealistic number (too high, or even too low) shows that you are not prepared for the conversation and aren’t convinced of your value, which can be a turnoff to your future or current employer. In addition to Hired’s own salary calculator, consult tools like Glassdoor, Comparably, and PayScale to assist you in calculating what the going rate is for positions like yours. Of those three sites, PayScale is seemingly most accurate when determining market averages, as they ask more detailed questions specific to your career (years of experience, skills, education. etc.) If you are a candidate on Hired, your Talent Advocate will assist in setting tailored salary expectations based on your skills and our market data.

Articulate your value.

Whether you are applying for a new job at a new company, or pushing for salary increase in your current role, you should always 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 seniority of the position. 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 some time with your manager to talk 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, but to get the salary you deserve requires you to forego the context of your current salary or rate. According to Hired’s 2016 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 while too early in the interview process. “What’s your current salary?” seems like a standard question (because it is), but 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 getting this information out of you, remember that you can respond simply by letting them know you are looking forward to the future and would like to refocus the conversation on that, instead of anchoring on historical numbers.

salary negotiation tips be confidentBe confident.

By doing your research, knowing your worth, and honing your negotiating skills (however awkward or stilted that practicing feels), you will feel infinitely more confident going into the salary negotiation conversation. Remember, it is absolutely okay to bring notes in order to double-check all of your points of value, market rate, and any other metrics that will help 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 Talent Advocate for help with interview/negotiation practice.

Be persistent.

There are several reasons why your current employer may not agree to a pay raise, but know that a no today could always be a yes tomorrow. If the answer is no, make sure to listen and hear actionable feedback from your current manager as to what will help you get a pay increase in the future. 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 a feasible option for you, discuss that with the employer. Always remember to get any salary reevaluation based on performance promises put into your contract - if the current hiring manager leaves and you do not have a written agreement, this could get you into trouble later.

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


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.