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How to Negotiate a Higher Salary

Whether you are applying for a new job, discussing your annual salary increase, or interviewing for a promotion, negotiating your salary can be a difficult and stressful process. Depending on the size of your company, the industry you work in, and dozens of other factors, the salary negotiation experience can look quite different. However, there are a few key steps to prepare you for any situation, so let’s go through them.

With any salary negotiation, the key to success is being prepared. Since you’re reading this article, you’re likely ahead of the curve already! 

1. Prepare your numbers

Arguably, the most important data point to bring to your salary negotiation is the salary or hourly wage you think you deserve. For hourly or task-based work, this can also include metrics such as per-task payment, commission percentages, sales quotas, and bonuses. Here are several important factors to consider

  • Years of Industry Experience – Showcasing your experience is often more important than your academic or technical credentials. Employers value on-the-job experience because it is proof that you can use your skills in a way that produces revenue for a company. 
  • Years of Leadership Experience – No matter what job you are going for, even more, technical roles such as engineers or IT support, proving that you have leadership qualities in the workplace is a must. Proving that you can work effectively on a team means that you will help the company run more efficiently, making you more valuable as an employee.
  • Skills – Similar to your Industry Experience, outlining the various relevant skills you have for the job is crucial for your employer’s understanding. Research the job description to make sure you have examples for all the skills that are required, plus any skills that improve your value as an employee.
  • Education, Licenses, & Certificates – Providing these credentials is the bare minimum to proving you can do the job and can provide your employer with an understanding of your background in the field. If you don’t have space to include all your credentials here, pick the ones that are most relevant or most impressive based on your research of similar jobs or people already in the role. 
  • Geographic Location – Cost of living can greatly differ depending on the city you live in. This includes costs like transportation, average rent, utilities, and so on. If you are moving to a more expensive area, this alone could be a reason for a salary adjustment. 

These factors provide a great starting point to use as a basis for calculating your fair value as an employee. By looking at similar job descriptions with listed salaries, using websites like that share salary and wage statistics for different companies and jobs, and even asking around the office, you can get a sense of the value that each of these factors plays in calculating your salary. Find the market average salary for the role you are negotiating and use these factors to get a starting price before moving forward. 

2. Prepare your talking points

Now that you have a salary price in mind, it’s important to express your thoughts concisely. Whether you’re negotiating in person, over the phone, or through email, it is important to exude confidence in yourself and your beliefs. Here are a few points to mention in your negotiations:

– Achievements

Mention achievements that are relevant to the role. It is important to explain why these experiences make you a valuable employee in the position. When possible, provide quantitative examples such as:

  • I grew sales X% vs. Last Year..
  • I increased work efficiencies by X% in 2021
  • I helped the company achieve (blank) goal, which did..

– Relevant Experience

Provide years of industry and leadership experience that are relevant to the role. If you have more than the required experience, explain why it makes you valuable. If you have less experience than required, explain why the experience you already have is more valuable

– Skills

Explain why your relevant skills or certifications make you a valuable candidate for the job. Skills that are in high demand, like coding, IT certifications, or cold calling will inherently express value towards your employer. 

Check out these Top 10 Emerging Skills by Harvard that you need to enhance your expertise.

3. The Actual Process of Salary Negotiation

Now that you are armed with knowledge and research, it is time to negotiate your salary. Regardless of the type of job or format, there are a few additional steps to take before or during your negotiation. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind:

– Don’t Pass on Negotiations

No matter what, if you’re changing jobs or titles, you should try to negotiate. If you don’t negotiate, you may be leaving money on the table which can have financial implications for the future – many wage increases are percentages on your base pay. Don’t forget to show that you know your value and that you’re willing to fight for it. 

– Don’t Accept the Negotiations Right Away

Always leave the negotiations saying you need time to consider your discussions. This shows that you are a careful thinker while giving you proper time to review the negotiations and come back with suggestions if needed. 

– Don’t Mention Salary Right Away

Doing this can show you’re only focused on the money, and you may lose out on the opportunity altogether. 

– Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

If the offer isn’t right, that is ok. Some employers may be paying below industry standards or not enough for what you need. You are valuable and should work for a company that sees that.

– Do Practice

Whether it’s with a trusted friend, co-worker, or mentor, practice makes perfect. If possible, try to practice with someone who has conducted a salary negotiation and/or works in the same industry you do.

– Do Ask for More

Just like bartering for goods at the street market, you always want to plan to negotiate down to a price. If you want $70,000/year, start at a price 5-10% higher to give yourself some room to negotiate. However, be reasonable in your counteroffer, as you don’t want to insult your employer.

– Do it with Confidence

If you can’t show that you believe you are worth the salary you want, your employer likely won’t either. Even the best employers are still worried about their bottom line, so you need to be your #1 advocate. You did your research, you know the fair market value for yourself, don’t sell yourself short, you earned this!

– Do have Flexibility

Not all things are possible. Some wage increases can be capped by company standards, or even legitimate budget restrictions. If your employer says your requested salary isn’t possible after a long negotiation, that may be the truth. If this is the case, consider some alternatives to salary (listed below).

Also Read: Key Skills to add to your Engineering Resume

4. Non-Salary perks to negotiate if wage increase is not possible

Sometimes, there isn’t enough money to go around, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to negotiate. These items can be included with your salary negotiation or simply added in when discussing your annual wage increase. 

  • PTO/Day’s Off
  • Planned Salary Negotiation in Future­ ­– This is a great tactic for when employers say they need more time to evaluate your performance either for a new or current job. 
  • Flexible Work Schedule
  • Transportation Stipend – This is especially effective when moving to a new location or if your new job will require a longer commute.
  • Stock Options (when applicable)

While Salary Negotiations are a tough and uncomfortable process, they are crucial in illustrating your value to your company and understanding how your company values you. Don’t forget to do your research and be confident!

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