Salary negotiation can be one of the most stressful aspects of the job search process. It’s also one of the most important. As a job candidate, you can negatively affect your career earning potential by forgoing a salary negotiation. It’s been estimated that failing to negotiate salary can cost you up to $600,000 throughout your professional career. An Indeed survey found that more than half (58%) of respondents never, or rarely ever, negotiate salary. However, 89 percent of U.S. employers are open to negotiating salary for either some or all positions once a job offer has been made.
We’ve established that salary negotiation is important to a candidate’s overall career and is expected by employers. So, when and how should you negotiate pay with the least amount of stress possible?
When to negotiate a job offer
To successfully negotiate anything, timing is everything. Negotiating too early makes you appear arrogant and selfish. Negotiating too late severely diminishes your negotiating leverage. It’s best to not start negotiating, or stating conditions of employment, until after you have received an offer of employment.
It’s no secret that the goal of every job candidate is to be considered by an employer as their first choice. By being this person, you have much more leverage in negotiations.
How to negotiate a job offer
Here are some tips to negotiate the most beneficial job offer possible:
Know your worth
Before starting to complete and submit applications, you should spend the time required to determine your worth. Use online tools to research salaries for the position. Factors to account for include geographic location, education, licenses, certifications, years of experience, and the current job market.
Start planning to negotiate on the application
Job applications often ask for salary requirements. Applicants should list a salary range, rather than a specific dollar amount. A salary range is a job seeker’s target compensation, from the low end (the least the applicant can accept) to the high end (the greatest amount the applicant could hope to receive). Giving a range provides more flexibility when it comes time to negotiate with a potential employer. It’s important to keep track of the range provided on each job application to reference during salary negotiation.
Evaluate the offer
Once the interview process is complete and the employer has extended a job offer, remember to thank him or her and make it clear that you are interested in the job. It sounds simple but it’s often forgotten. Ask the employer for the offer in writing and if there is a timeline to make a decision. It’s okay to ask for a few days to think and discuss it with your family and friends. Consider the entire compensation package, not just the base pay. There are multiple factors to consider and negotiate beyond base pay, including vacation time, signing bonus, commuting allowance, wellness programs, performance-based bonuses, education subsidies, retirement plan, remote work, and health insurance.
Counteroffer if it doesn’t meet your expectations
A counteroffer is made by a candidate in response to a salary offer from a potential employer. Job seekers often counteroffer when they feel the proposed salary does not meet their needs, level of experience, or market rates for the job. It’s important to remember that a counteroffer should not be viewed as a “me” versus “them” mentality. It should be regarded as a collaborative process where the candidate and employer are working toward the same goal —to come to an agreement where both parties are satisfied so the employer’s top choice can become a happy and engaged employee within their organization! During the negotiation process, always be positive and explain why you believe a higher salary or added benefits or perks are justified. Glassdoor has assembled some words and phrases to use when negotiating salary.
When to accept
There will come a point in the negotiation where there is nothing more the employer can do to meet your needs. The company can’t offer you something that it doesn’t have to give. If you truly want the job, you may have to accept less than what you were expecting and meet in the middle.
When to walk away
The goal of any negotiation is to reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both parties. Therefore, it’s okay for you to graciously decline the offer if your needs were not met during the salary negotiation. There’s a high probability that you will become an unhappy and disengaged employee if you accept a position that does not meet your needs. Among disengaged workers, 74 percent are either actively looking for new employment or watching for job openings. This leads to increased turnover and doesn’t benefit the employer or you—the candidate— in the long run.
Read our Interview Guide for Job Seekers for additional tips.