How to Negotiate a Salary

You hang up the phone and can’t but smile to yourself. You just received a call from a hiring manager, offering you the dream job you interviewed for last week. The job description fits you to a tee and the staff you met during the interview seemed like they would be great to work with. It’s exactly where you want to be!

Except…your smile fades as you begin to think about the salary the hiring manager just stated. It’s lower than you were anticipating. And you know you are worth more. But, how do you negotiate that?

Negotiating a salary and benefits (yep, that’s right, salary negotiation means more than just money) for a new job can be intimidating, especially for young professionals. But trust me, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems.

Did you know, on average, people who negotiate their salary are able to increase it by 7 percent? 

That’s too big of a percentage not to at least give the conversation a try.

The reason negotiating a salary has such a negative persona is because most people go about it the wrong way. The key to negotiating a salary is to do it correctly. Here are a few tips to negotiating a salary the right way.

Tip #1: Know the market

When negotiating a salary, you need to first know the market. Find out what other people in similar roles make. A great way to obtain this information is by talking to recruiters, or searching on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you talk to someone specifically, ask for salary ranges. It may get uncomfortable asking for specific numbers.

Once you have an idea of a salary range, note what is different about your role. Would you have extra responsibilities compared to similar roles? Will you be living in a more expensive location? Will you be traveling more? All of these points are important when justifying your salary negotiation.

It’s easy to get this conversation wrong if you are missing the market. Not understanding the job market you are in can hinder the salary negotiation conversation. A company could want you more than they’ve ever wanted any employee before, and still not be able to give you what you want because of the market. Do not become arrogant when you are in the offer stage, especially if you have very little experience. You still have to PROVE yourself!

Tip #2: Know your priorities 

A company cannot possibly give you EVERYTHING you ask for when in the negotiating process. Everything cannot be a priority. You may WANT more vacation time, higher pay, and a start date after your trip to Europe. But you need to choose one or maybe two points that are most important to you.

When in the salary negotiation process, make sure you show a willingness to be flexible with your other points. Indecisiveness within a salary negotiation conversation can throw off the cadence. If you just keep asking for “more, more, more” without specifics and priorities, the other side will get frustrated and go somewhere else.

Tip #3: Set the stage

Timing is everything when trying to negotiate a salary. It’s probably not best to bring up salary when in your first interview. By immediately bringing up the topic of salary, you could be sending the wrong message of your intentions. The interviewer may think, “Are they interested or are they wasting our time?”

The salary negotiation conversation should happen over the phone at a scheduled time, so that you do not catch them off guard. It’s ideal to schedule this phone conversation on a Wednesday or Thursday, as most people usually have more free time in the middle of the week. 

When beginning the conversation, set a tone of collaboration. You might start by saying, “Thanks for taking my call. I am excited about the possibility of working with you and I just wanted to clarify some things before making this big life decision.”

Once you establish the tone, ask questions to open up the dialogue. 

  • What would be my biggest priorities when starting? 
  • How would the onboarding process go? Training?
  • Ask about any specifics in the offer that were not clear or seem off to you. 

Then state what you would need to be comfortable with the offer. 


Tip #4: Be collaborative

In the midst of the conversation, act as if you’re already co-workers with the person on the phone and that you are just working to solve a problem.

NEVER give an ultimatum, even if you are prepared to walk away. The person on the other end of the phone may say, “I could’ve given that to him or her but who wants to work with someone like that?”

No one is on trial here, so keep the conversation positive and collaborative. To do just that, ask questions. No question is a dumb question, especially when you are in the process of making a huge life decision.

Tip #5: Have a plan and be open about it

No need to put on your poker face, this isn’t a game. You deserve every request you’re asking for. Tell yourself that before the call. Out loud. Five times.

Know exactly what you’re asking about and exactly what you’re willing to negotiate on. Have a plan and be open about that plan with your potential employer. Let them know you are looking at other options and what those other options might be 

Show them through your questions and negotiation that you are ready to make a decision about the job offer. 

There you have it, the five tips that will make any salary negotiation go smoothly. Just remember, there does not have to be a downside to this conversation. Happy negotiating!  



Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.