After resume screening, a few emails, and some interviews you’ve almost made it to the end of your job-hunting journey. You’re one of the last few candidates (if not the only candidate) left standing. You’re excited that the job is within reach. You’re already picturing what your first day on the job will be like. Except… there’s one thing left to finalize: your job offer.

How do you advocate for yourself and get what you want without seeming greedy or money-driven? Walking the tightrope between eager to land the job and wanting to be compensated fairly can be tough. Try these salary negotiation strategies to do it as gracefully as possible.


1. state your salary expectations early

There’s a misguided belief that you shouldn’t talk about salary until your second interview. Here’s why that strategy doesn’t make sense: if you and your potential employer are too far apart on salary expectations, you’re both wasting time and effort building a relationship that’s headed nowhere. Your salary is a crucial factor in whether the ‘fit’ is right at any new job, and should be discussed up front. If salary doesn’t come up in conversation during your first interview, make it a point to ask when the interviewer asks if you have any questions. To avoid being too blunt, ask for a range; this allows both you and your potential employer some room to negotiate down the line. If their proposed salary range is below your expectations, make it clear what salary range you’re looking for; you might be surprised how frequently there’s wiggle room if you’re perfect for the role.

2. think of the first job offer as a starting point

If you’re not happy with the first job offer you receive, don’t despair. Instead of wasting time wondering where negotiations went wrong, propose a counter offer. Remember: salary negotiations are a two-sided discussion. If you don’t feel that the salary proposed is fair given your skills and experience, there’s no harm in returning a polite counter offer. Just be prepared to explain the changes you’re asking for and why. Just like you, employers want the best deal. Their offer isn’t final until you sign on the dotted line. Go ahead and ask for changes if you feel that’s what’s fair. Any good employer should be willing to hear you out.

3. remain professional at all times

The way that you handle salary negotiations is an indicator to employers how you’ll handle equally stressful situations in the workplace. If you’re rude, disparaging or otherwise combative before you’re hired, why should they think you’ll be any different at work? No one wants surly, uncooperative coworkers, so make sure you’re always putting your best foot forward, even when you’re proposing a counter offer. Avoid making snide statements like “well, I got X offer from a competitor” or “you’re paying way less than everyone else.” Even if these things are true, there’s a more professional way to make your point.

4. consider the value other job perks

There’s no doubt that your salary is a key component of your compensation. But it’s important to remember it’s not the only piece of the compensation puzzle you need to consider. Here’s some factors that you should weigh as a part of your total job offer:

  • Health and dental benefits
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Ability to work from home
  • Paid vacation
  • Job perks, like group discounts
  • Job stability
  • How much you’ll enjoy the work

All of these things have value that you might not be able to measure in money. Sometimes it’s worth accepting a job offer on the lower end of your range if it comes with other non-monetary benefits.

5. have facts at your disposal

You’re going to request higher compensation, be prepared to explain why. Research average salaries in your profession, and be prepared to clarify how you, personally, bring value to the company. Perhaps you have an in-demand industry certification, or skills that’ll help you perform the job more efficiently. If you have persuasive fact-based evidence to support why you deserve that salary bump, it’s a lot harder for hiring managers to say no.

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