How Can I Negotiate to Earn the Salary I Deserve?

Congratulations! You’ve just been offered a new job, and you’re excited about the position and hope the company is able to compensate you at the level you expect. But now you have to grapple with one of the most difficult aspects of job-hunting: negotiating your salary. 

Or perhaps you’re preparing for your annual meeting with your boss to discuss your compensation for the next year. How can you ask for a raise? 

In the United States, it is common for two people who do the same job to make unequal salaries. In 2020, for instance, the Pew Research Center reported that women earned only 84 cents for every 1 dollar earned by men, with this wage gap being particularly exacerbated for women of color. 

One of the key reasons for this pay disparity? Women are less likely to negotiate appealing salary offers. According to a study from Harvard, “Over the past two decades, laboratory and survey evidence has suggested that men are significantly more likely to engage in salary negotiations than women. However, when women negotiate on behalf of another person they are as successful as men.”

In other words, women can earn the same salary as men do, as long as they are willing to advocate for themselves. 

So, what does an effective salary negotiation look like? Here are our top three tips:

1. Never tell the company what you expect to earn; always let them offer a range they can offer. 

One of the biggest mistakes candidates make when negotiating salaries is stating their requested salary too early in the interview process. Recruiters and hiring managers often ask what salary you would like before they’ve told you what they can offer. Dodge these questions for as long as possible by redirecting, saying something like, “I would like to make sure I’m a fit for the position before we talk salary.”

Later, if they ask you again, respond with a question like, “What is the intended range for this position?” or “What do others in this role earn?” This way, you have a sense of what the hiring manager can offer you, rather than making a request that is too high or (worse) too low. 

2. Be realistic about what the company can offer. 

Hopefully, you know what the salary range for the position is by now. Either it will be listed on the application or you’ll have ascertained what’s possible from the person responsible for hiring. 

After you have this information, use it. In general, it makes no sense to ask for a salary above the top amount the company can offer. Or, if you have years of experience that match or exceed the role’s expectations, you shouldn’t sell yourself short by asking for a salary in the middle or lower end of the spectrum. 

3. Research what you should be earning, and be prepared to support that figure in the negotiation. 

The most important way to come to a reasonable salary request is to do your salary research. Consider the following aspects in your exploration: 

  • Your location
  • Your field
  • Your job title and similar job titles
  • Your years of experience 
  • Your education and training

The idea here is to identify jobs that are similar to yours as possible. This way, you know what others are making in your field and can request a competitive salary. 

Don’t just rely on this number on its own, either. Bring the research with you because it helps you persuade the hiring manager to pay the salary you request by articulating what you could be earning if you were hired for a similar role at a different organization. 

Preparing for a Salary Negotiation With Career Moves

Whether you’re negotiating a pay offer at a new job or asking your boss for a raise, it can be nerve-wracking to discuss salary. You might fear that you’re going to accept a lower offer than you should or that the company would scoff at the figure you would like to earn. 

If you’d like to feel better prepared for salary negotiations, consider connecting with Paul Wigglesworth. With his decades of industry knowledge, he can accurately advise you on what you should be earning in any position.