10 Essential Tips to Master Your Next Job Negotiation

Knowing how to negotiate salary can be daunting. Instead, it might seem easier to accept whatever offer a job has made, but Ramit Sethi, author of New York Times bestselling finance book I Will Teach You to Be Rich, is here to remind us that salaries often come with a bit of wiggle room and that negotiation is something we should aim for. This excerpt from the book describes nine straightforward steps you can take to leverage professional skills and experience, develop a solid negotiation strategy, and improve chances of a successful salary negotiation.

The single best time to negotiate salary is when you’re starting a new job. You have the most leverage then, and—with some basic preparation—you can earn $5,000 or $10,000 in a simple ten-minute conversation. Thousands of my students have used my YouTube videos, courses, and the scripts below to increase their salaries. When I coach people on negotiation, I pretend to be the hiring manager and ask the toughest questions they might get. When we’re finished—four to five hours later—they’re exhausted and cranky. But the people I’ve coached end up negotiating, on average, $6,000 more in salary. On my website, we offer a course that includes videos of actual negotiations and word-for-word scripts—but for now, let me give you some of our best material right here. Negotiating is 90 percent about mindset and 10 percent about tactics. Most people don’t believe they should negotiate. They’re afraid of being “rude” or of having the employer rescind their offer. That almost never happens, especially because the company may have already spent up to $5,000 recruiting you. If you negotiate, you explicitly communicate that you value yourself more highly than the average employee. Are you average? If not, why would you settle for an average salary?

Landing a new job is exciting, but negotiating the offer can be stressful. With the right preparation and approach, you can master the negotiation process and get the best possible outcome. Here are 10 tips to help you successfully negotiate your next job offer:

1. Do Your Research

Before entering into any negotiation you need to understand your baseline value. Research typical compensation (salary bonus, benefits, etc.) for someone with your experience and skills in your location and industry. Sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn Salary, and PayScale provide this data. Know your minimum requirements and ideal scenario.

You should also learn as much as possible about the company and role. The more you understand their needs, challenges, and budget, the better positioned you are to craft a deal that works for both parties.

2. Determine Your Priorities

Now that you know your market value, decide what matters most to you. Higher salary? Flexible work arrangements? Professional development funding? Formalize your top priorities before negotiating.

This focuses the discussion on the terms that are most important and helps you properly evaluate offers Being clear on your “must-haves” also signals the company on what seals the deal

3. Practice Your Pitch

Negotiating involves persuasive communication. Practice explaining in a confident, logical way why you deserve what you’re asking for. You should be able to clearly articulate your value and back up requests with evidence.

Prepare explanations for any counteroffers or compromises you’re willing to make. The more polished you sound, the more credible your case will be. Practice with a friend if possible.

4. Ask Good Questions

The interview process is a two-way street – you’re also deciding if the job is right for you. Come armed with smart questions that show your interest in the company and role’s potential.

Asking things like “What success in this position looks like after 6 months?” and “How will my performance be measured?” demonstrates serious interest and gives you helpful context. The interviewer’s responses can provide leverage points for negotiations too.

5. Time it Right

Only negotiate after receiving an official offer. You have the most leverage in the small window between getting the offer and accepting it. Negotiate too soon and you risk blowing your chances. Too late and they may be less willing to budge.

Let the company extend the offer first, thank them warmly, and request time to review the full package. Ask when they need a response by and explain you’d like to discuss a few points before formally accepting.

6. Stay Positive

Even with the best preparation, negotiation conversations can feel uncomfortable. Maintain a positive, solution-focused attitude throughout.

Thank them for aspects you’re thrilled about. Frame requests in terms of reaching an agreement rather than demands. “I’d love to find a way to make the salary work” sounds better than “I won’t accept anything less than X”. Make it a collaborative discussion.

7. Listen Closely

Negotiation involves give and take. Actively listen to the other side’s perspective and take time to consider their responses thoughtfully.

There may be non-monetary concessions like growth opportunities or flextime that satisfy your needs. Keep an open mind and be receptive to creative compromises that get you closer to your goals.

8. Start High, But Be Reasonable

Old negotiation wisdom says to start high, so there’s room to concede. But asking for the moon can backfire. Keep initial requests just modestly above fair market value, and back them up with persuasive rationales.

If you ask for $15,000 above average for your experience level, it signals ignorance. A well-supported request for $5,000 above makes you look savvy but flexible. Include wiggle room from the start.

9. Aim Higher on Non-Salary Items

Salary tends to dominate negotiations, but don’t forget about other meaningful benefits and perks. These “soft” items may be easier for companies to grant.

If a pay bump isn’t likely, a signing bonus, extra vacation, work-from-home days, or professional development funding may be feasible alternatives that still improve the package. Even small wins demonstrate your negotiating skills.

10. Know Your Walk Away Point

What terms would cause you to decline the offer? Outline your “walk away” number for salary and any deal breaker concessions before negotiating.

This keeps you from getting caught up in the moment and accepting less than you require. Be ready to clearly communicate your “must-haves” and hold firm on those, while remaining flexible on other points.

With preparation and patience, you can have an effective negotiation dialogue that results in a job offer with the terms you want. Approach the conversation professionally and collaboratively. Maintain composure and focus on shared goals. Be open and positive. With these tips, you can master your next job negotiation.

tips to master your next job negotiation

Have another job offer—and use it.

This is the single most effective thing you can do to increase your salary. When you have another job offer, your potential employers will have a newfound respect for your skills. People like others who are in demand.

Negotiating tactic: Interview with multiple companies at once. Be sure to let each company know when you get another job offer, but don’t reveal the amount of the exact offer—you’re under no obligation to. In the best case, the companies will get into a bidding war and you’ll profit while watching two multinational firms rumble over you. I can think of no better way to spend a casual weekday.

Have a toolbox of negotiating tricks up your sleeve.

Just as in a job interview, you’ll want to have a list of things in your head that you can use to strengthen your negotiation. Think about your strong points and figure out ways you might be able to bring them to the hiring manager’s attention. For example, I often ask, “What qualities make someone do an extraordinary job in this position?” If they say, “The person should be very focused on metrics,” I say, “That’s great that you said that—we’re really on the same page. In fact, when I was at my last company, I launched a product that used an analytical package to . . .”

Negotiating tactic: Have a repertoire of your accomplishments and aptitudes at your fingertips that you can include in your responses to commonly asked questions. These should include the following:

  • Stories about successes you’ve had at previous jobs that illustrate your key strengths
  • Questions to ask the negotiator if the conversation gets off track(“What do you like most about this job? . . . Oh, really? That’s interesting, because when I was at my last job, I found . . .”)

How to Negotiate Salary after Job Offer | 5 Practical Tips

How do I negotiate a job offer?

Your life circumstances will help you determine where to ask for adjustments. Remember, most aspects of a job offer are open to negotiation. To successfully negotiate a job offer, you must present the right information and keep an open mind. 1. When the job offer comes in, take a moment to assess the major points.

How do you get better at negotiating?

The good news is, it’s a skill you can hone and master. To get better at negotiating, here are five core principles to follow: 1) Frame for gain and keep your eye on the prize; 2) Prepare and practice; 3) Pick your timing; 4) Approach it like a conversation; 5) Make the ask. Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here.

Should you learn to negotiate?

Learning to negotiate is a valuable life-long skill. From buying a car or renting a home, to hashing out the terms of a new job, there are plenty of opportunities to negotiate. And while some of the best negotiators seem to be born with a silver tongue, there is always room to better learn the art of negotiation.

How do you approach a job negotiation?

Approach your hiring manager with your counter-offer or requests for their consideration. Here are some tips for approaching a negotiation that may improve its success: Know your worth: Understanding the job market before negotiating can give you a big advantage. Research what other, similar employees are paying, taking added benefits into account.

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