Proven Tactics for Negotiating a Higher Salary

Smiling businessman in discussion
••• Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Negotiating a salary can be a challenging endeavor for job candidates who don't possess a firm grasp on the compensation packages that prospective employers are willing to pay. In these instances, candidates who ask for salaries far exceeding a company's budget, leave little room to negotiate, which may consequently jeopardize the job offer.

On the other hand, it's important to get paid what you are worth – you don't want to be taken advantage of. You also don't want to end up resenting your boss for underpaying you. And, obviously, you need to earn enough to pay the bills.

The following negotiation tips can help job hunters lock in the compensation packages they deserve.

Top 5 Salary Negotiation Tactics

1. Be Patient

When interviewing for a position, resist the temptation to ask about compensation, until the employer broaches the topic first. If a prospective employer invites you to divulge your salary requirements, indicate that you're willing to negotiate, based on the nature of the tasks at hand.

2. Evaluate the Job Offer

Once you get a job offer, evaluate it carefully. There are more factors that come into play than just the base salary. For example, you might want to inquire about the possibility of a commission, bonuses, and projected salary increases, as well as benefits, hours, and promotion and growth opportunities. All of these factors affect your year-end net income and available spending power. For instance, the position may pay less than you'd hoped for, but if the medical and dental benefits are generous, that could potentially save you thousands of dollars a year in medical bills.

For each potential position, record this information in an organized checklist and compare the pros and cons in order to make an informed decision.

3. Consider a Counter Offer

One of the best ways to open up discussions after you have received a job offer is to ask for a meeting to discuss the offer. Here is a counteroffer letter and counteroffer email message you can use to initiate the conversation if you plan to counteroffer.

4. Research What You're Worth

Take the time to research salaries for the particular job you're looking for. Information is power. Once you've done your homework you'll be better equipped to get what you're worth in the marketplace.

There are a few good online resources that can help you with your research. One is Glassdoor.com, which allows you to research individual companies, see the salaries that people in specific positions have earned, and review current and past employees’ opinions about the employer and their jobs.

This website also has a trademarked “Know Your Worth” calculator that allows you to discover your current worth in the job market (based upon your current job), find out if you’re being paid fairly, and discover ways to increase your salary.

Other sites with online salary calculators (besides Glassdoor.com) include Salary.com, PayScale.com, Indeed.com, and LinkedIn.com. There are also cost-of-living and paycheck calculators you can use to determine your expenses and how much you’ll get in your paycheck. Keep in mind that you may have to register for these sites; most are free to use, but a few require paid memberships.

5. Take Your Time

If you are officially offered a job, do not hastily choose whether or not to accept it. Exploit this opportunity to ask follow-up questions, no matter how minor they may seem. Feel free to request more time to contemplate the offer, which signals that you are thoughtful and measured in your dealings.

The best way to gain and utilize the extra time you need to make your decision is to confirm the employer’s deadline for a response, ask for more information about the compensation package and employee benefits, and enter negotiations about the offer and the start date for your new job.

More Tips for Negotiating a Salary

Because negotiating is not just about a job offer, check out some salary negotiation tips and strategies for successfully negotiating a compensation package or a raise.