Negotiating Salary 101 for Job Seekers

Salary negotiations can be an intimidating aspect of the job interview process and landing a new job. Discussing money and benefits with a potential employer can leave job candidates feeling uncomfortable due to the lack of transparency and uniform agreement on handling the topic.


So whether you find yourself negotiating salary for the first time or you want a refresher on the subject because you are in the middle of the job hunt, continue reading to hone your negotiation skills to acquire the salary you deserve. 


Identifying Stakeholders

Identifying all the possible players in the negotiation process is the first step. There can be a slew of stakeholders in the process, including the job candidate, the hiring manager, human resources, a recruiter, department heads, and more. Determining the stakeholders is vital because it allows job seekers to focus their effort on the people who are most involved and impacted by the hire. Accordingly, job seekers can then highlight particular skills to each stakeholder depending on their role, especially since each stakeholder in the hiring process has their own goals and agenda.


Salary Research Resources

Researching salary ranges is an excellent method of forming a desired salary amount. Two popular resources to research salaries are Glassdoor and LinkedIn. These websites allow users to analyze salary data by company, job title, location, and years of experience.


Another available resource are salary surveys, which are usually compiled by staffing and consulting firms. As with Glassdoor and LinkedIn, these resources are created using data collected from volunteers and the public. Thus, all data should be taken with a grain of salt and used as a guide, not as a manual.


Negotiating Entry-Level vs. Senior-Level Salaries

Entry-level positions, which are more often team-oriented, tend to have less wiggle room than senior-level roles. This is because companies often solidify specific salary ranges for lower-level roles since the responsibilities are broader than higher-level positions. However, when a company is hiring an executive-level position, there is usually more room for the job seeker to negotiate because the company is searching for an individual to solve specific challenges the company is facing.


Negotiating Beyond Salary

Although job seekers tend to focus primarily on negotiating salary when starting a new role, there are other options employees and employers can negotiate. These include paid vacation days, a work from home schedule, transportation reimbursement, cell phone allowance, professional development opportunities, equity, and more. Although these options are not directly tied to your paycheck, they all contain a monetary value and should be considered during the negotiation as part of your full compensation package.


Choosing A Medium To Communicate Your Counteroffer

When communicating your counteroffer to a potential employee, it is essential to consider how it will be communicated. The most popular options are through a phone call or an email, both of which have pros and cons. 


Phone calls tend to allow job seekers more insight into the negotiation process. Job seekers can hold a conversation with the potential employer in real-time, thus allowing them to investigate which other items are negotiable, gauge their tone and voice, and explain. However, phone calls have no paper trail of the conversation so it is harder to use the call as a reference, and they require better communication skills since they are completed in real-time.


Email provides job seekers a straightforward method of asking, while also giving potential employers time to ruminate on their answer and provide a clear response. It is also beneficial for shy individuals and those intimidated by the negotiation process, as email is not real-time and it allows job seekers to formulate their responses. Conversely, email is more time-consuming, and there is less discovery in what is negotiable since email is less of a conversation and more of a statement. 


In the end, it is usually best to use the method of communication that the potential employer prefers. For example, if most communication throughout the interview process was done through email, it would make sense to communicate the counteroffer through email.


Supporting Your Counteroffer

When communicating a counteroffer to a potential employer, it is sometimes beneficial for the job seeker to support their proposed salary with reasons why they deserve the requested amount. Details that may be helpful to mention to prospective employers are years of experience, skills, competitive salary info, and accomplishments. Depending on where a job seeker is at in their career and if the role is highly specialized, supporting a counteroffer is situational. However, it is a good idea to be prepared with this information even if a job seeker does not plan on using it.


If They Decline Your Counteroffer

In the event a company does decline a counteroffer, there is an alternative option available for job seekers. Job seekers can propose moving up review periods. For example, if a job has a one-year review, a job seeker can suggest a six-month review. Therefore, job seekers can prove their value and skills to the potential employer and hopefully more quickly earn the higher salary they desired initially.



Negotiating salary can be intimidating due to the lack of transparency in salaries, along with the sensitive and taboo nature of discussing finances and compensation. However, like most skills, negotiating salary becomes more comfortable with experience. Arming oneself with current data and reviewing negotiation best practices is a great method of preparing for a salary negotiation discussion.


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