How To Negotiate Your Salary

Salary negotiation: I know that it feels uncomfortable but it is one conversation that can have a monumental impact on your total lifetime earnings.

If you just landed your first adult job and have give or take 40 years remaining in the workforce, then negotiating a $5,000 bump in salary equates to $200,000 in raw dollars and over 2 million in invested dollars over 40 years. That number doesn’t even take into account that 401(k) matches (learn more about those here) and raises are frequently based on gross salary.

Whether you just got offered a new job or feel that you deserve a raise in your current job read on to find helpful tips for negotiating your salary.

How To Negotiate: Be Prepared

If you just received an offer the best thing to do is take time to read over all the fine print. DO NOT ACCEPT IT ON THE SPOT!

Take the time to become an expert on your offer. This way you can  really size up how strong the offer is and articulate your desires clearly. Especially if you are comparing multiple offers.

If you are asking for a raise on your current salary, re-read your job offer and employment contract. It would also be a good idea to put together a document highlighting the work you have done for the company and value you have delivered. This will make it that much easier for the decision maker to agree to whatever you may ask for.

Determine Your Asks

Once you are familiar with the in’s and out’s of your offer you are ready to write your list of asks.

Think of this list as “in a perfect world, my offer would have said this.” Be reasonable, but think of each item on the list as separate instead of as a whole package.

When it comes to salary, unless you truly believe you got a low ball offer, I would keep the ask between 5% and 15% more.

Negotiating is something that companies see all the time. It is perfectly normal and won’t harm your relationship with your future employer as long as you are reasonable. Asking for a 30% raise before even starting may strain things and call your judgment into question.

Read Your List

Remember to include everything you may want to change in your list of asks. This includes salary, vacation days, relocation benefits, and every other benefit out there. Depending on your job you may even be able to negotiate something like whether or not your company covers your phone bill!

Rank Your Asks

This step is important.

You should rank your asks not only to give you an outline of what you’d like your negotiation to look like, but also because you may not discuss every item on the list.

If you ask for a $5,000 salary increase and they say yes then it is up to your judgment at that point whether you would like to proceed to ask for something else as well.

Unless certain other aspects of your offer are truly terrible compared to the competition I would likely consider the negotiation a success and seal the deal after a salary boost.

What If They Say No?

Go to the next ask.

A lot of companies have started using set salaries (same for everyone) for certain positions. Luckily you have looked over your offer and found a few other asks that they may be more flexible on. You’ll be happy you did if you end up with an extra week of paid vacation.

If you go through your whole list and fail to secure any changes to the offer don’t beat yourself up. You should feel better knowing that if you accept that offer you did not leave anything more on the table.

The Worst Thing You Can Do Is Not Ask

I know the idea of asking for more is nerve-wracking. You may feel that even the act of asking makes you appear ungrateful. Don’t let yourself fall into that mindset.

You owe it to your future employer to let them to put their best foot forward.

If you have competing offers and never give them the chance to make you a better offer you may change the course of your professional life dramatically.

You could end up working for a company because you thought they were giving you the best offer, when in reality another company would have offered you more if you had just asked.

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Looking for other quick ways to increase your income? Check out my post on making a secondary income.

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