How to Negotiate a Salary

We bet you already knew this, but millennials earn 20% less than boomers did at the same ages. Not only that, but it also looks like Gen Z is catching up to us before we’ve even had a chance to get ahead. Simply put, it sounds like it’s about time for us to start learning how to better negotiate our salaries.

With the job market looking up and companies in need of workers, now’s the time to know your worth. However, as culture clearly shows, millennials are also some of the most people-pleasing individuals out there (we know it and, quite honestly, it’s not our fault). So, if the idea of confronting your boss to ask for a raise makes you shiver with anxiety, this article’s for you.

Negotiating a salary is one of the first and most important steps you can take in your career. Whether it's for a new job, or to increase your pay at work, understanding how much you're worth and knowing what to say when negotiating an offer will help set you up for success. Here's everything you need to know about how to negotiate a salary.

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Research the Salary Range

First thing’s first. You’re gonna want to make sure you research the salary range for the position you’re applying for or are already in. This one’s pretty easy, as there are numerous free sites where you can access those numbers. 

Glassdoor and Indeed are two of the best. And, as a plus, if you’re applying for a new job, Glassdoor has lots of real reviews from employees and interviewees about both the working culture and the job application process. Be sure to read through these to also gain tips about the process of interviewing if you haven’t yet snagged the job.

If you have the time, also be sure to read Glassdoor’s own guide to salary negotiations as it’s helpful, too.

Consider the Job Responsibilities

Understanding why a job pays a certain salary requires you to understand the job responsibilities. This is why entry-level jobs pay less than mid-level or senior-level jobs. The people designed for those roles will have not only more experience that they’ll need to be compensated for but also more day-to-day responsibilities to handle.

If you can identify a few aspects of your job that require you to be highly-skilled in something, such as using a certain software or program, then be sure to make note of this so that you can bring it up during your negotiations.

Likewise, if you are negotiating a salary for a job you already have, it helps to identify new responsibilities that you’ve taken on over the years that you didn’t have before. This is actually one of the biggest areas where millennials seem to miss out. We get more work thrown our way but don’t get compensated for it. Be sure to make note of that and bring that to the table when negotiating.

Know Your Worth

This one seems tough for millennials! However, we’ve got a special formula to help you learn what your actual worth is. Calculate the average salary for the basic position and then add on additional money for any special training you’ve had, certificates you possess, or unique experience you bring to the table.

This also goes for the sheer years of experience you have in the role. If a job is asking that you have 3 to 5 years of experience but you’ve got 5 or 6, that’s quite a difference for a mid-level role. Don’t feel bad asking for more compensation for those extra years of work and experience.

Practice Negotiating

This might sound silly, but practicing your negotiation skills can help, especially if you’re naturally anxious. Write out notes based on the above points and develop a bit of a framework for your argument. Put together a short bullet list of points that include:

  • Results you’ve achieved that are noteworthy.
  • Your relevant experience, certificates, or training.
  • Any super high-demand skills you bring to the table.
  • Average salaries being offered in similar roles in a similar geographic area.

The goal here is to be as specific as possible so that you’re backing up your argument with real facts and stats instead of a simple, “I feel like I deserve a raise” (although, to be honest, that’s fair enough sometimes). Practice using firm statements and making eye contact if that’s something you struggle with.

Ask for the Higher Number

If you have a salary range that feels ideal for you then always ask for the top number. This means that if, according to everything we’ve mentioned above, you feel that you should be earning between $70,000-80,000, ask for $80,000. This helps ensure that if they come back with a counteroffer, the negotiations likely won’t go lower than the lower end of your range.

Honestly, it also demonstrates the confidence you have in your skills and own self-worth. While some people seem to think that lowballing is a great way to get picked for a job, it can actually be detrimental to an employer’s opinion of you as they might think that you produce low-quality work or don’t understand the value of your own time and effort.

Discuss Benefits Packages

Don’t forget that your compensation isn’t just about your salary. You can earn a lot indirectly from a fantastic benefits package as well. We’d definitely suggest asking about the employer’s retirement account options and whether or not they offer contribution matching.

Aside from that, it’s also important to ask about whether they offer other perks that can help save you time and money while also advancing in your career. This includes:

  • Comprehensive health insurance
  • Access to a mentor
  • Paid continued education or workshops
  • Health and fitness reimbursements
  • Flexible hours
  • Childcare
  • Community initiatives

Sometimes, if a company is unable to offer you more for your base salary, they might be able to offer you other interesting perks in the form of benefits. Figure out what is ideal for you and try to negotiate this.

For example, if you have kids and Company A can offer you $80k a year with a poor benefits package but Company B is offering $70k with paid time off and a great child care stipend, that actually might end up saving you more money in the long-run.

Always Invest in Yourself

Last but not least, it’s important to know when to walk away. This can be a tough decision, and we suggest making it only if the offer they are giving you is non-negotiable to you in a way that’s extremely important. It’s not the end of the world and you should continue to invest in yourself as both a professional and individual.

Start investing in yourself today by learning how to grow your wealth. Whether you get that dream job or not, you’ll be able to learn how to save and invest money in a way that compounds over the years so that it won’t even matter what kind of job you have.

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