Dos and Don’ts for Negotiating Salary

Get what you’re worth in that new job

Women rarely negotiate their starting salary at a new job. Or if they do, they don’t do it well. But being a good negotiator is a critical success factor for climbing the corporate ladder.

One of the reasons many women don’t negotiate salary is because they’re uncomfortable with the idea of negotiating. The good news is that while some people have this ability naturally, anyone can learn the skill of negotiation.

Learn from the tips from our experts and you can go from being terrified at the idea of negotiating to loving it.

Dos and Don’ts for Negotiating Salary

Do your homework

Nichole Spaight, vice president with Adecco Staffing US, shared her top tips:

Get smart on the average salary. The first step in negotiating salary is understanding what’s reasonable. Employers gauge salaries for different positions and levels according to key benchmarks. When deciding what salary you’ll request, know the average pay at other companies, the average pay for professionals with your level of experience and education, and the average pay in the region for professionals in your field. Basing an asking salary along these benchmarks will help assure that you’re keeping your worth in mind while still being reasonable.

Show your worth, don’t just talk about it. While level of experience is a factor in salary negotiations, demonstrating what you have brought to your work validates why you deserve the salary you’re asking. For example, have you contributed to expanding an area of the company or implemented a system that has doubled productivity? Has your work helped retain a long-term client? If there’s anything you can quantify, use that to build your case for the figure you’re asking.

Use the right language. You want to be direct when negotiating salary, but remember it’s a delicate topic. You don’t want to step out of bounds or sound unreasonable. When asked what salary you’re looking to start with, give a range instead of a specific number. Also, if the hiring manager puts an offer on the table you don’t agree with, consider responding with, “I’m excited for the job offer and continuing my career at this company. I appreciate your salary offer but I think my experience and prior performance is more in line with a higher range of salary.” Using ranges provide more room to compromise.

Think beyond the dollars. Remember that compensation encompasses more than just a dollar amount. If your salary can’t increase, you can ask for other things such as more vacation/personal days, flexible work schedule, reduced contribution for health insurance and monthly transportation vouches that can bridge gaps in the salary offer.

Don’t lie. Many people fall in the trap of inflating how much their salary was in their previous jobs in hopes of matching or increasing that number with a new job offer. While salaries are confidential with your employer, there are many ways the truth could come out, and could damage your relationship with the hiring manager and cost you the job.

Dos and Don’ts for Negotiating Salary

Be able to justify what you ask for

When asked what salary you are looking for be specific and provide justification, said Lisa Ohman, co-founder and COO of

An example would be to say, “Based on a colleague who has the same role at a similar company earning $85,000,” or, “I will be able to do the design work that is normally outsourced which will save the company over $10,000 per year.”

Try not to give wide ranges. At best, the employer will meet you in the middle, but most likely they'll offer at the lower end and almost impossible to negotiate up to the high end, she said.

“Remember negotiation doesn't stop at salary. Negotiate other benefits (time off, working from home, etc). Put a monetary value to these levers so you can track total compensation in your negotiation,” Ohman said.

It's also important to know your walk away number. What is the lowest you would accept for the job? You must know this in order to know when you've reached an acceptable salary offer.

“Most of all job seekers should be confident in their responses. Women tend to have a confidence gap but we need to focus on our worth, be confident, and know that we have every right to negotiate,” Ohman said.

Tagged in: business, jobs, negotiation,


Related Articles