How to Negotiate a Better Salary

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How to Negotiate a Better Salary

Table of Contents

Failing to negotiate your salary is the most expensive mistake we can make in our careers.

In fact, according to an academic student by the Journal of Organizational Behaviour, failing to negotiate on an initial offer can mean missing out on over $600,000 in a typical career, and the amounts missed can compound to well over $1,000,000 in a 40-year career.

Negotiating your salary matters? In fact, it should be one of your highest priorities, especially if you are at the early stage of your career or if you are a woman.  Why, especially if you are a woman?

According to a study conducted by Robert Half (the staffing firm), only 34% of women negotiate their salary.

The study included more than 2,700 surveyed employees; the findings showed 46% of men negotiated their salary while only 34% of women did the same. The majority of employees who did negotiate their salary got what they were looking for.

So why do people avoid negotiating their compensation?

  1. Because of FEAR. People fear they will be perceived as being pushy or demanding.
  1. Because they don’t know how to negotiate.

>> Asking the sake of asking is not enough, you must know how and when it is appropriate to ask.

Here is where taking an online salary negotiation course can help you Negotiate a Better Salary.

To gain access to step-by-step instructions on how to succeed at your next salary negotiation, you should check out our Salary Negotiation Online Course. This is an interactive course with examples, scenarios, and scripts you can use to practice your salary negotiation skills.


Click here: Salary Negotiation Online Course

Salary negotiation is an event that will repeat several times over your career, but the process will be the same; your chances of succeeding at negotiating a better compensation will depend on the following two factors:

  • Knowing what you are worth
  • Knowing exactly how to ask for what you are worth

Here is a step-by-step process that will teach you how to negotiate your salary.

In this Guide (How to Negotiate Your Salary)

  1. Find out how much salary you should expect (Know your worth)
  2. Use a salary calculator.
  3. Be prepared to answer the “what’s your salary expectation” interview question.
  4. Understand how companies determined salary
  5. Preparing for the salary negotiation
  6. Salary negotiation email sample
  7. Effects of gender wage gap caused by salary negotiations

Step 1:Find out how much salary you should expect (Know Your Worth)

To succeed in a salary negotiation, you need to have leverage. Now, how do you create leverage for yourself? Here is the formula

>> Market Research + BATNA = Leverage

BATNA stands for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.

What is your alternative if you don’t get the salary you want? Do you accept a different offer, do you keep your existing job, or keep looking? Whatever your alternative is, your plan B, that’s your BATNA.

Having a BATNA gives you the confidence to know you have options and will not be bullied into accepting whatever is offered.

Do your salary research.

To get paid what you deserve, you have to find out what companies pay for a similar role in your geographic area. Then, complement that information with the value you bring with you, your experience, education, and previous accomplishments.

You have to realize that an employer won’t agree to pay you a high salary simply because you asked. To get them to agree, you have to provide reasons and examples that say why you deserve it, why you are the best candidate for the role.

>> Never ask for something without explaining why it makes sense that you get it; otherwise you would come across as arrogant or entitled.

Ask your friends: To get your friends to share their thoughts about salary, one good trick is to ask them how much salary they would ask for if they were looking for the job you want.

Talk to recruiters: They know the market, so they can give you a good sense of what a job pays in the job market.

Post the question on Quora: This can be a powerful tool you can use to get advice from other job seekers who are in the market looking for similar jobs.

Use a salary calculator: Some of the top sites used to research salaries are LinkedIn,,, and  You can also find reviews by previous employees and get a good sense of the amount of compensation you should expect.

Step 2: Use a salary calculator

A salary calculator can help you find out how much you should expect. Some salary calculators break down salary by industry, position, company size, geographic location, and employee experience. You will be able to:

  • Find out what other employees make for similar roles.
  • Learn how much salary you should expect
  • Decide what target salary number you should ask for

salary calculator

Let’s review the “Know Your Worth” machine learning salary calculator built by Glassdoor.

Get Your Estimate

salary calculator

For example, using Glassdoor’s salary calculator tool, you’d start by entering your current salary, years of experience, and the title of the job you are looking for. This is a machine learning tool, so as more data goes in, the smarter the tool gets.

When the results are displayed, you get a salary range of other employees who have reported their earnings for the same title.

When the results are displayed you get the salary range other employees have reported earning for the same title.

Knowing what to ask for is an essential part of the salary negotiation; it will also give you an unbiased idea of what you should expect. Then, you can use this information when negotiating with the employer.

Establish a minimum acceptable salary and your target salary

Your minimum acceptable salary is your walk-away point. You can also think of it as your BATNA. It means if you don’t get the number, you’d be better off walking away knowing you made the right decision.

Negotiating a better salary compensation is more art than science. Simply asking for a salary increase or a better pay is not enough, you have to know how and when to ask.

That’s where taking a Salary Negotiation Online Course comes in handy. You will be able to learn the entire salary negotiation process step-by-step, and since this is an interactive course, you will be able to practice your own salary negotiation skills.

Step 3:  Prepare a response to the “what’s your salary expectation” interview question.

Salary negotiation is more an art than a science, and the salary negotiation can start early in the interview process. How would you respond when the recruiter or hiring manager asks the pre-screening question, “what’s your salary expectation”?

Your goal when answering this question should be to advance your position as a candidate rather than to place a roadblock.

Most companies out there have a budget with a salary range that would more than cover the maximum amount you are looking to get. However, they will not go out of their way to pay you the highest amount unless they really want you.

This means your best bet is to answer this question without tying yourself to a number.


Because when answering this question too early people have a tendency to lowball their salary range so that they don’t price themselves out of the hiring process.

Your first priority is to get them to like you. Before then, you are just one more candidate. Once the employer has decided you are the one, their focus shifts to a “making it happen” mindset.

Not sure yet? Let me explain this using game theory.

Let’s say you are in an interview, and sometime after you introduce yourself, the employer asks, “What’s your salary expectation?”

You can either answer with a high number or go with the low/average number. In either case, the employer can either grant or deny your request. This means you will have a 1 in 4 or 25% of getting a high salary when you answer this question prematurely.


An answer you could provide when asked the “What’s your salary expectation” question is the following:

Step 4: Understand how companies determine your salary pay?

Companies rely on three factors to determine what salary they pay. Those factors are:

  • Salary per internal factors (what the company pays)
  • Salary per external factors (what the market pays)
  • Salary per individual factors (what you negotiate)

How do Companies Determine Your Salary


Salary per internal factors(what the company pays)

Companies look at what other employees in similar roles get paid; this means if another employee in the company gets paid $75,000 for a similar role as the one you want, then the company will expect to pay you something close to $75,000

Salary per external factors(what the market pays)

External factors are what comparable companies pay for a similar role.  So if other companies in the same industry and of similar size pay $75,000 for a similar role as the one you want, that means you should expect something close to $75,000.

However, no two roles are the same, which leads us to the next factor.

Salary per individual factors(what you negotiate)

Your negotiation power will be determined by how much the employer wants you.

Here is where your negotiation skills and how well you present who you are will make the difference between you and everyone else. What should your salary be according to your skills, education, and experience?

Step 5: Preparing for the salary negotiation

The best time to negotiate your salary is after you have impressed the hiring manager and they have given you clear evidence that they want to hire you.

Ask for the highest number in the salary range.

Negotiations are based on the initial offer. The goal is to give the hiring manager an idea of where you want to be but still mentioning that you are flexible and willing to negotiate what is fair.

Don’t accept the first offer too quickly.

Employers would rarely make their first offer the highest number in the salary range; this means there is still room to get more money. So, even if you like their offer, never say yes right away – Ask for more instead.

What if you get a low-ball salary offer?

If you get an offer below your minimum acceptable salary, the best way to negotiate a better amount is to ask for a slightly lower number than the highest number you want while pointing out your target was the higher amount.

For example, if have set your acceptable salary range at $75,000 to $80,000 but you receive an offer for $70,000, your counter offer should be slightly lower than $80,000.  This way you will end up agreeing to a number that is higher than your minimum acceptable amount of $75,000.

Step 6: Salary negotiation email sample

To succeed in the salary negotiation, you need to know what to say, and you need to know how to say. While negotiating your salary by email is better for candidates starting out, it adds another set of questions.

If you wonder how to sound assertive yet flexible and professional? Here are a couple of salary negotiation email samples you can use.

The offer is less than you expected
Dear [prospective employer]

Thank you for the offer. I am thrilled at the opportunity to become part of the organization.  With my skills, experience, and qualifications, I am certain I will excel in the role.

In regard to the base salary, my research shows comparable roles in [work location] for a candidate matching my skillset pay a salary that ranges from [average salary]

I wondered if we could discuss further the possibility of bringing the offer closer to [proposed salary].

Again, I am very excited about the role and look forward to speaking with you again soon.


[Your Name]

Using other job offers as leverage.

Dear [prospective employer]

Thank you for the offer. I certainly enjoyed learning more about the role, and I am sure I will add value to the organization.

While I would like to join the company, I have received another offer with a higher base salary; the difference represents a significant amount for me to ignore.

Hence, I respectfully ask if you could consider increasing my starting salary to [starting salary], in which case I would be happy to accept the offer.

Again, I am very excited about the role and look forward to speaking with you again soon.


[Your Name]

Counteroffer email template Tips to negotiate your salary by email

Step 7: Gender wage gap (why don’t women negotiate their salary)

Professor Linda Badcock, co-author of the book Women Don’t Ask, explains her research findings, which show only 12% of women tend to negotiate their starting salaries vs. their male counterparts, which amounted to 52%.

That’s a 40% difference which Linda Badcock estimates can amount to as much as $1.5 million in lost income over a woman’s career.

So, why do women don’t negotiate their starting salaries or ask for raises as much as men do?

 Women worry they will be perceived as pushy or arrogant, and research shows they are right to have that concern.

>> The best way to negotiate for a better salary is to negotiate on the basis of what the market pays for a similar role given the skills, experience and education of the applicant.

Thankfully some jurisdictions are bringing pay equity legislation in an attempt to close the pay gap.

For instance, on July 1, 2018, the state of Massachusetts brought into law the Equal pay for comparable work act. This includes provisions that make it illegal for employers to prohibit their employees from sharing or discussing their salaries.

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