How to negotiate salary

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Learn how to negotiate salary when you start a new job. Find out how to ask for a raise.

Before you start a new job, you and your employer will agree how much you will be paid and what benefits you will receive. For some jobs, you can negotiate your salary. Negotiations are discussions that lead to an agreement. If you learn how to negotiate salary and benefits, you may earn more when you start a job. 

Later, when you are in a job and doing well, you can negotiate an increase in your salary, which is called a raise.

What may change my salary level?


Many jobs offer benefits, such as health insurance, vacation time and a retirement plan. A job that pays $25,000 a year but gives you $10,000 more in benefits is better than a job that pays $30,00 a year with no benefits.


Where you live changes how much you get paid. Some places are much more expensive to live than others. In those places, employers have to offer more money for the same job.


Your experience, education and qualifications all improve your skills. Employers will pay more for good skills and experience.


Are you applying for a job that is hard to fill? The employer may pay more if he is competing for qualified workers.


Some jobs offer bonuses at the end of the year. These may be target-based, which means if you do well, you will earn more.


Your ability to negotiate will affect your pay. You will use all the above points and others when you learn how to negotiate salary.

When should I negotiate?

Start your negotiations after the employer has offered you the job and told you the salary, but before you accept.

If you are applying for a professional (skilled) job, employers expect that you will ask for more than the original salary they offer. So they will not be offended or withdraw the job offer.

At unskilled jobs, employers are less likely to negotiate. They have set amounts per hour or per week that they will pay. But if you have extra experience or skills, or if there is a shortage of good workers, you can try negotiating.

How to negotiate salary when you get a job offer

  • When the employer sends you an offer letter, thank them for the offer and say you would like to think about it. Ask when they need your response.
  • Do research: find out if the salary offered fits with the average salary for the job and location.
  • If you meet all of the requirements and have prior job experience, consider if you should ask for a higher salary.
  • Before the deadline, call or email the employer. Tell them why you think you should earn more and suggest a higher amount. Highlight your skills and experience.
  • It is best to ask for 5% to 10% more than the employer offered you.
  • If health benefits, bonuses, or vacation time are more important to you, negotiate for those instead.
  • Employers may take a few days to decide. Usually they will increase their offer to a figure somewhere between the first amount and the one you asked for.
  • Sometimes, you will not get any increase.  But asking does not hurt. It also shows the employer you are confident about your skills.
  • Use this template for a salary negotiation email

How to negotiate salary raises 

Negotiating a raise (an increase in salary) is like negotiating a starting salary. You want to show why you are worth more than you are being paid. So once again:

  • Highlight your skills and experience.
  • Do your research: what are other people are being paid at your level and for similar jobs?
  • Request a specific amount to open negotiations.

However, to ask for a raise, you can also use your track record. Your employers depend on you to be reliable, honest, and know your job. But do they take that for granted? If so, point it out to them. They will not want to lose a good employee, even if they have to pay a bit more to keep you. Here are some other things to remember when you are asking for a raise:

Focus on the job, not on your personal needs 
For example, point out extra responsibilities you have taken on, not how high your car payments are.

Use good timing
Don’t ask for a raise when other big expenses are due. Ask when the company (or you) have had a success.

Be professional
Ask for a time you can talk. Your employer will be more likely to listen if they have set aside the time.

Be positive
Ask in a positive way. Don’t say you will leave unless you get what you want (unless you mean it!) and be prepared to compromise.

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