Professional Development

11 Tips for Getting the Salary You Want

Written by Peter Jones

Salary negotiating can be terrifying—particularly for entry-level workers who feel they have yet to prove their obvious worth to the profession and aren’t allowed to ask for what they want.

Here are 11 tips that will help you get the salary you want.

1. Know thyself

Know what a typical employee makes at that job level in that industry. But also weigh that against your particular skills and experience, and how much you know you’re worth. Do you think you deserve the higher end of the starting range? Then ask for it. Know what you want and then give them the chance to give it to you. It never hurts to ask.

2. Stay cool

You really need this job. But that doesn’t mean you should just take the first salary offer they make. Opening the lines of negotiation will not cost you the job. Not opening them might, however, cost you the salary you deserve.

3. Ask higher

Want a 25% hike in salary? Ask for 35%. They’ll bring it down and think they’ve won the day. And you’ll still get what you need.

4. Be popular

The best way to get what you want from one employer is to have a counteroffer from another one. Show you have many more options and offers. Make them sweat a bit that they won’t land you. Show them how highly other companies value you.

5. Think benefits and bonuses

Don’t forget to take these into account when comparing the salary you’re currently negotiating with your past salary package. And don’t forget they can be useful extras to sweeten your deal if you can’t get the dollar amount you asked for.

6. Keep your head

Don’t be petulant or pout. Don’t be aggressive. Stay calm and logical and present your case like a grown-up. Act like a grown-up and HR will treat you like one.

7. Snoop

It’s always good to have some idea what your colleagues are making before you go into negotiations. This gives you a great sense of range. If you’re moving to a new company, see if you can’t find someone who knows someone who might know roughly what the salary packages are at that company for your position.

8. Be thorough

Make sure you get all of the details. Talk through your salary breakdown line-by-line and avoid being surprised on payday.

9. Don’t be greedy

At the end of the day, salary isn’t everything. If this is your dream company, you can probably afford to work for them for a little less than you would make at the sell-out company of doom and ennui. If they’re not being unreasonable with you, but just can’t give you what you’re asking, don’t storm out without thinking it through. Remember: you’re playing the long game here.

10. Be ballsy

If you can afford to, and this isn’t your dreamiest of dream jobs, it’s okay to walk away sometimes. You can say ‘no.’ Sometimes showing your back on the way out the door can be the thing that actually gets you what you want. Just don’t bank on this happening. Only walk away from negotiations if you can be comfortable with the possibility of it ending there.

11. Know when to fold ‘em

Do all of these things before you get your offer letter. Once that thing hits your inbox, all typed up and official-looking on the company letterhead, that’s the official number. HR isn’t going to budge.

Remember to do your homework, have a clear idea of what you’re worth, and ask for something within the realm of fairness. Chances are, you’ll get it. Worst case scenario: you’ll have learned a valuable skill that will serve you next time—and throughout your whole career.

About the author

Peter Jones