How to Negotiate a Salary Offer Without Looking Like a Jerk

5 min read
Sep 28, 2015

How to Negotiate a Salary Offer Without Looking Like a Jerk by TINYpulseGoing from application to job offer is no mean task. By the time you get a call from the recruiter giving you the good news, you’ve likely gone through a couple of rounds of interviews, maybe even given a presentation or job talk. It’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria of the moment and accept your potential employer’s initial offer without taking the time to negotiate your salary.

You wouldn’t be alone. A 2013 Careerbuilder survey found that almost half of workers accept the first offer given to them, even though an equal number of employers are willing to negotiate the salaries. Tweet: 50% of workers accept the 1st offer given to them; 50% of employers are willing to negotiate salaries via @TINYpulse

Not negotiating can have long-term impacts. Since bonuses and raises are often based on your initial salary, failure to negotiate an initial offer means you could lose between $500,000 and $1 million in pay over a lifetime career, an analysis from found. Tweet: Failure to negotiate salary means you could lose btwn $500,000 and $1 mill. in pay over a lifetime via @TINYpulse

Salary Negotiation: Men vs. Women

Women especially are at a disadvantage given that men are four times more likely to negotiate a salary than women, according to research conducted by Linda Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University. Tweet: Men are 4 times more likely to negotiate a salary than women via @TINYpulse 

Emily Amanatullah, a professor at the University of Texas, found in her research that when women do negotiate, they tend to ask for less money than their male counterparts — about $7,000 less on average.

Salary Negotiation Is Part Art and Part Science

Remember, you want to be persuasive about why you deserve more money without coming off like a jerk. Here are seven job salary negotiation tips that will help you balance that fine line and get what you deserve:

1. Do your research

Never go into a negotiation without all the facts. Start by looking up salaries for similar positions to the one you’re being offered. Use websites like Salary.comPayScale, and Glassdoor that collect salary data from both employees and employers.

Don’t forget to leverage your personal network by asking friends, colleagues, and LinkedIn connections. If your new job requires a move to a more expensive city, you might want to look at cost of living comparisons to get an idea of how much more you should be making.

2. Evaluate your merits

Scrutinize your resume as it relates to the job you’re considering. If the offered salary doesn’t seem commensurate with your experience, you can use this to your advantage in the negotiation process.

But that doesn’t mean that lack of experience automatically disqualifies you from the negotiating table. A survey by NerdWallet and Looksharp found that only 38% of recent graduates between 2012 and 2015 negotiated their initial salary offers. Tweet: Only 38% of recent graduates between 2012-2015 negotiated their initial salary offers via @TINYpulse

NerdWallet also notes that even those new to the job market may have relevant experience, including internships, part-time jobs, and leadership positions, that they should tout.

3. Respond promptly

Always ask for a couple of days to consider an offer, but don’t drag your feet. Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to ask for, craft an email or set up a phone call with your point of contact to hash things out as soon as possible.

This isn’t the time to “sweat your opponent out” by making them wait.

4. Be prepared

Whether you’re making the case over the phone or email, prep for multiple scenarios. Think about what you’ll say if your point of contact rejects your offer or provides a counter offer that’s less than what you’re asking. You’ll want to have answers for both those scenarios.

If it helps, try to role-play the conversation with someone else before you actually go through with it.

5. Show enthusiasm

A big part of the salary negotiation process is making a case for why you’re the right choice for the company, so don’t be afraid of showcasing your enthusiasm.

Even as you’re parsing out the numbers, you should talk about how excited you are to join the team. This approach sets a positive tone for your relationship with your potential employer, whether or not your negotiation is successful.

6. Avoid the personal

If your future plans include buying a house, getting married, or having a baby, that’s wonderful — just don’t bring those factors into salary negotiations. While expensive life decisions are momentous, they aren’t good enough reasons to ask your employer for more money.

Salary negotiations should rest on your professional laurels, not on big changes in your personal life.

7. Be realistic, yet flexible

The worst thing to do when asking for a higher salary is to set any kind of hardline ultimatum like “I won’t accept less than X.” While it’s good to stick to your guns, you have to be willing to show some flexibility. Even if an employer can’t match your salary request, they may offer some attractive benefits like telecommuting and bonus eligibility that you might want to consider.

One way to communicate your flexibility is to ask for a salary range that you’d like to see, rather than a fixed number.

Negotiating an initial salary offer is good practice, especially since many employers are expecting it. But the way you conduct yourself during the negotiation is as important as the end result. If you arm yourself with the facts, evaluate your merits, and showcase enthusiasm for the job, you’ll position yourself for success in the negotiation — and your future job.

Bonus: Salary Calculator

Sometimes you just need the information right away. So check out this salary calculator created by Payscale.

Share your experience!

How did you go about negotiating your salary? What are some faux pas that every person needs to avoid? Share your story in the comments below or tweet at us @TINYpulse!

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