Received a Job Offer? Here’s How You Can Negotiate a Higher Salary

Get. That. Cheddar.

No matter how old we are or how long we’ve been working, we all have questions when it comes to careers—from how to respond to a rejection letter to learning to say no when a role isn’t a good fit. That’s where Career Counselor comes in. In this weekly series, we connect with experts to answer all of your work-related questions. Because while we don’t all have the luxury of a career coach, we still deserve to grow in our careers.

You landed a job interview, and so far so good. You’ve listed your employment highlights and went through your valuable skill set, and basically did an awesome job at telling the recruiter just how much of a badass you are. Then the recruiter asks for your salary requirements. Uh-oh.  

While a question about your salary expectation is a pretty normal and straightforward thing an employer will ask during a job interview, it can still be stressful and tricky to talk about money sometimes.  

You want the position but you also want to be compensated well for it. However, you might be a little nervous about asking for too much money that scares off the employer.  

So how do you answer the question, “What are your salary expectations?” in a way that’s both confident and reasonable while also standing in your truth and value? Scroll below to see what experts had to say.  

1. Determine your worth.  

Everyone has worth and has something of value to add. What’s important first is uncovering what that means for you.  

“I believe worth is something that we cultivate when we have an inner relationship with ourselves and we accept and acknowledge what we have to offer to a position or a company,” says Natalia Benson, a women’s empowerment coach, astrologer, and modern mystic. “This really begins with sitting down and getting to know yourself. What are you super competent at? Where do you excel? Where do you not enjoy contributing or what do you struggle with? Where are your non-negotiables? Sit down and get honest with yourself. Knowing your strengths just as much as your weaknesses is a fantastic way to get to know your worth and what you’re willing to contribute to a role.” 

Once you’ve landed on the details of your specific skill set, Mory Fontanez, purpose coach and the CEO of consulting company, 822 Group, says the next thing you need to do is research. “Understand what the average salary for someone with your experience, skills, and job responsibilities is in your market. It is key to understand this data for the city you live in because employers adjust salary ranges based on the cost of living in that location,” she explains.

Also, says Fontanez, it’s important to stay informed about how the company has performed financially that year. “It’s not to say that if they don’t do well financially, you don’t deserve a raise, because if you’ve worked hard and done your job well—then you do. However, if the company is having a killer year, it’s even more important that you are aware of this and can articulate your role in helping them get there. They need to share the wealth,” she says.

2. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

When it comes to balancing your value with the typical salary of the position, Fontanez says that is the process of understanding your unique skills.  

“How do you do your job more creatively than others? How do you contribute to the organization’s mission and purpose? If you can see yourself as part of a whole, and approach your job as helping the organization achieve their vision, then you are more than just an average employee,” she says. “If that’s the case, the average salary for the position is just a starting point for you. Get clear on how you can help make the whole better so you can speak up about your role in the company’s purpose and success.” 

If you have trouble with negotiating, Benson suggests practicing in front of a mirror.  

“Ask for what you want and how you’ll provide great value, and hold your eye contact the whole time and do it with love and respect, not like you are seeking to one-up somebody,” she says. “Always seek to empower both sides and be willing to listen. If you ask for something, then also express what you are willing to do to back up what you are asking for and how you will provide value. I suggest always seeking a win-win for both sides and don’t bring highly personal information or emotionality into the negotiation process. It’s important to be in tune with how you feel, but reacting emotionally or making it personal weakens your stance.” 

3. Be confident.

Standing in your worth can feel scary and uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t used to speaking up for yourself. But speaking up for what you think you deserve is an important skill to learn.  

“I think many women haven’t been taught or modeled how to speak about their own worth in a way that feels empowering or comfortable,” says Benson. “When we understand this, we can see that if it feels hard to speak about what makes us great. First, it’s important to know that we aren’t alone, and second, to understand that we’ve often had more practice focusing on our shortcomings versus our powers. Every change begins with awareness so if you have an interview and notice yourself being uncomplimentary towards yourself or having trouble speaking up about what makes you an excellent candidate, simply take it as a great bit of information that you can begin to make a change around!” 

Another trick with speaking with confidence, says Fontanez, is simply stating the facts of why you deserve the salary you desire, “even when the facts sound like bragging,” she says.

“Get comfortable owning your successes and your failures. Be honest with yourself without being too hard on yourself. Often, insecurity within comes out as boasting externally. If you can see your contributions clearly you will come from a firm foundation and can speak up with clarity and confidence without feeling like you have to overstate things,” she says.

how to negotiate salary

4. Remember: It’s okay to ask for more money. 

“Not only is it okay to ask for more money, but it is also a must,” says Fontanez. “The only advocate for you in your career is you. If you believe you deserve to be paid more, you need to speak up and let your supervisor and/or the interviewer know that you understand your own value.”

According to Fontanez, once you stand up for your value, it’s hard for others to ignore you. “Every time I’ve received a sizable raise, the kind that changed my life, I asked for it. It didn’t make me look bad to ask and in fact, I always felt that others around me respected me more for understanding my own value and asking that others do the same,” she says.

5. You can walk away if the company won’t pay what you want.  

While rejecting a job can be nerve-wrecking, if you feel that what you’re being offered isn’t what you deserve, know that it’s within your right to walk away from the job offer. However, says Fontanz, you need to do so with self-awareness.  

“This means you’ve done an honest analysis of the situation and are clear that you don’t have work to do to improve at your job, show up with your whole self, and contribute to the greater goal of the organization. If you can honestly say yes to those questions and they still won’t pay you what you deserve, it is more than okay to move to higher ground,” she says. “In its simplest form—this is about seeing your value and being somewhere where others can see it too. You deserve that.”

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