Salary Talk: This is How You Rock a Salary Negotiation!

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There will come a point during your job search when you must have THE salary talk. It can be a daunting conversation—especially if you’ve never negotiated your salary before.

Surveys say that only 11% of people are satisfied with their first salary offer (Houston Chronicle), yet nearly half (49%) accept it (CareerBuilder). When you don’t negotiate, you risk getting less than you want, or worse, less than you deserve.

As one of the nation’s leading staffing companies, we secure thousands of jobs for our Ambassadors every week. This, of course, means that we negotiate thousands of salaries. Here is our guide for what to do—and what not to do—when talking about salary.

1. It’s better if they bring up salary first. It’s always better if the interviewer brings up salary first. Seeming too eager to talk about money can come across the wrong way. You want to seem excited about the job and the company rather than the pay.

However, if you believe you are close to an offer and salary still hasn’t come up, it’s okay to nudge the conversation in that direction. You don’t want to go through multiple interviews only to find out that salary expectations don’t match. That’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Try a few of these conversation starters:

  • In the interest of respecting both our times, I’d like to make sure we’re on the same page for salary.
  • Would you be the right person to talk with about salary?
  • I’m really interested in the company and would like to get as much information as possible. Would you be able to tell me more about the salary and benefits offered?

2. Don’t feel like you have to accept the first offer. We hear a lot about the 75 cents women earn for every dollar a man earns. Part of the reason for this persistent gap is lack of negotiation.

Women are less likely to negotiate their salary than men. However, a 2012 study found that when researchers explicitly told job seekers that pay was negotiable, the gender gap disappeared. Men and women negotiated their way to comparable salaries (National Bureau of Economic Research).

If you believe you are worth more than they are offering, give yourself permission to negotiate.

Deep breath. You’ve got this.

3. Use your research skills. Even if you think the offer is offensively low, keep your composure and act professionally. This is where your research and preparation come in handy.

If you’ve done your research, you have a solid idea of what a fair compensation package looks like. Don’t be afraid to ask for this. If you can negotiate some of the perks and benefits, feel free to bring those into the conversation. Additionally, if you are interviewing at other companies, be transparent about what it would take to make you commit.

  • Although you mentioned $50,000, I would be more comfortable if we could settle on $57,000. I think that number reflects my qualifications and the role’s responsibilities.
  • I understand that the best you can do is $53,000 and you can’t come up to $57,000. If you can offer one remote day a week, I’m willing to accept.
  • Thank you for the offer. As I mentioned before, I’m interviewing with another organization and they have made an offer. I really like what I’ve seen of your company so far and if you can meet me at $54,500, I’d be eager to accept.

4. Always keep your cool. Ultimatums rarely work in your favor. Even if the company caves, it might leave lingering resentment. Don’t start a new position on the wrong foot.

If a company truly can’t give you an offer you can accept, then walk away. You can respectfully bow out of the conversation.

  • I really appreciate the offer and your willingness to discuss my salary. However, I don’t think we can agree on a mutually satisfying arrangement. I have great respect for you and your company. If anything should change, I hope you will consider me in the future.

Above all, you want to remain firm, yet amiable. Remember that the person who talks to you often doesn’t have the authority to approve a salary. Give them time to check with respective parties and get approval for a higher offer.

Negotiating a salary can be a daunting task. Nevertheless, getting fair pay for your work is worth the tough conversation. You will come to regret it if you settle for less than you are worth. Stand firm by your requirements, know where you are willing to compromise, and never sell yourself short.

Before you walk into any salary negotiation, check out the 5 things you MUST to when prepping for salary negotiations.