5 Tips for Successful Salary Negotiation

The average U.S tech salary was $152,000 in 2021 (and $138,000 globally), according to a recent study by Hired. Additionally, the global pandemic and corresponding “Great Resignation” have led to increased job churn and heightened demand for tech workers

Under these extraordinary but apparently new normal circumstances, organizations are struggling to fill positions. Thus, they are paying more for highly skilled candidates but also hiring less experienced—and therefore cheaper—candidates. This means both job seekers and existing employees have more power than ever in terms of salary negotiation. 

Although the idea of negotiating a job offer or discussing your pay may seem daunting, according to Robert Half, 70 percent of managers expect candidates to negotiate salary during the hiring process. Additionally, according to "How To Negotiate Your Salary (13 Tips With Examples)," from Indeed, “not discussing your salary and benefits can negatively affect your lifelong earning potential. For example, if the average U.S. annual salary increase is 3% and you accept a starting salary that is 10% below your expectations, it could take over two years just to regain those earnings.”

In this article, we’ll provide tips to help you confidently negotiate a fair salary, which can be applied during the hiring process or from your current position.

1. Know the Industry Average

Knowing the industry average for your position can give you a strong baseline of what to expect in terms of salary and can also be used to justify a salary request. According to the same Indeed article, questions to answer include:

  • What is the national average salary for the position?
  • What is the average salary in your geographic location?
  • What do similar companies pay employees in this position?

You can find the average salary based on your experience and geographic location using this tool from Hired or this one from Indeed.

2. Articulate Your Value

Once you receive a salary offer, don’t simply counter with a higher number, says Robert Half. You need to highlight your strengths and provide “concrete examples of how your skills and experience will benefit your new company’s bottom line.”

Areas to note include:

  • Related certifications
  • Awards or recognition you’ve earned
  • Specialized skills
  • Career level and experience

“You should be able to clearly demonstrate what you bring to the table if someone fails to see all the skills you are bringing,” says Lakshmi Sarah.

3. Evaluate Tradeoffs

When considering any job offer, you need to evaluate the whole package, which includes items such as health insurance, time off, bonuses, growth opportunities, and company culture. Decide what’s most important to you and weigh your options accordingly.

According to Hired’s study, for example, “27 percent of tech employees would accept a lower base salary in exchange for stock in a publicly traded company.” 

Overall, Hired notes, the top three most compelling benefits among tech employees are: 

  • Flexible work schedule
  • Paid time off
  • Physical health, dental, and vision insurance

Other preferences vary based on employees’ age and experience. “Younger, less experienced employees value tuition reimbursement, while more experienced tech professionals ranked childcare services and paid parental leave higher,” the report states.

4. Practice and Prepare

Preparation is key both to boost confidence and improve the outcome of the negotiation process. According to Robert Half, it’s a good idea to ask a friend or mentor to practice the salary discussion with you. “The ideal partner is someone from the corporate world—a business-savvy person who can coach you on projecting confidence and answering unexpected questions.” 

If you’re unprepared for difficult questions, says Deepak Malhotra, “you might say something inelegantly evasive or, worse, untrue.” Your goal is to answer honestly and be ready “for questions and issues that would put you on the defensive, make you feel uncomfortable, or expose your weaknesses,” Malhotra says.  

You may also want to consider negotiating over email, as Valerie Phoenix advises: “It takes away some of the awkwardness, and having everything in writing helps clarify everything.”

5. Keep Going

Knowing when to walk away from a job offer is equally important. Calculate the lowest number you can accept in terms of salary and benefits and be prepared to exit gracefully if that number is not met. 

“Smile, take a breath, and just keep going,” suggests Octavia Goredema. “Every interview is a learning opportunity. No one gets called for an interview if they couldn’t do the role.” So, if a particular offer doesn’t work out, don’t be discouraged.

“Assess what you can take from the situation and then apply those insights to your next job opportunity,” Goredema says.

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