Ten Tips for Negotiating Salary and Benefits

Whether you are interviewing for your first job, hoping to move up in your current career, or simply trying to bring your salary and benefits more in line with current industry standards, mastering the fine art of negotiation can make a huge difference in your professional life and career success.

For many, it’s a tricky subject, but the ability to negotiate for a compensation package that accurately reflects what you’re worth is a skill like any other. It definitely gets easier with practice and increased confidence. This is one skill you can’t afford to ignore.

Here are 10 helpful tips to start you on the road to getting what you deserve at work:

  1. Ask for what you want. Sometimes, getting what you want is as easy as simply asking for it. Even if you don’t get everything you’re hoping for, if you fail to ask for anything, you’re guaranteed to get less than you deserve.
  2. Negotiate right off the bat. Start negotiating from the very beginning of your employment. Consider this a strategic conversation among collaborators, not a dueling match between adversaries. If you are interviewing for a new job, make your salary objectives clear upfront.
  3. Stand your ground. Make it a habit never to accept the first figure a prospective employer offers. If the salary is significantly lower than what you mentioned in a previous conversation, state that while you are interested in the position, the salary that you first named is more in line with your objectives. You should also ask if there is a signing bonus. If the answer is no, request a performance review in six months.
  4. Get monetary promises in writing. Whether you are a consultant working on a short-term project or a new employee hoping to launch a lifelong career with the company, get all salary and compensation agreements in writing. If the employer refuses to put the agreement in writing, you are taking your chances.
  5. Make yourself shine. If you want a raise or increased benefits, work hard to go above and beyond your performance objectives. Don’t wait to be handed assignments. Instead, seek out opportunities to grow in your career. An exceptional employee is in a prime position to negotiate.
  6. Cultivate the success of your team. In most companies, the more employees you oversee, the higher your salary range. It goes without saying that your level of success is often dependent upon the success of the people you manage. Take the time to cultivate the talents and abilities of those reporting to you.
  7. Gauge the job’s value. Perhaps you are working a second or third shift, or maybe you are expected to perform tasks under dangerous circumstances, such as handling chemicals. Jobs that fall into these categories deserve to have a higher pay rate — ask for it.
  8. Highlight extra experience. Typically, more experience results in higher pay and benefits. If your experience exceeds what is required for your position, make sure to emphasize this. The same applies for education, when it’s relevant. Additionally, if you’ve received certifications or extended professional training in your field, you should expect to earn more because of it.
  9. See the bigger picture. Understand that negotiation is a simple fact of business life. The higher you advance in your career, the more important strong bargaining skills become. This can include more than just salary demands; it can also mean asking for key assignments that position you for your next promotion and even more earning power.
  10. Don’t limit yourself to money. In place of a salary increase, you may wish to negotiate other benefits that are more important to you, such as flexibility in your schedule or the option to telecommute on certain days. Decide what you really want from your employer and include it in your negotiations.