A guide to salary negotiations

Published Feb. 13, 2019

You nailed the interviews, convinced the hiring manager and are on your way to negotiate your future salary. But how can you put yourself in a good position?

A guide to salary negotiations

Know your worth

Preparation is super important. Use resources like Glassdoor, PayScale or similar and calculate the median salary for someone with your level of experience, in your location.

This will help you manage your own expectations, but also give you a good argument in negotiations (“… but the median salary for someone with my experience is…”).

It will help you to know what you are worth.

Know their range

Again, Glassdoor might be of help here. Can you find any data on what the company is usually paying for this position? Sometimes, companies will even give a salary range on the actual job vacancy.

Keep in mind, this is what the company is comfortable paying. If you want to optimize your salary, think about the top half of the range, rather than the bottom half.

If a company is offer an annual salary that corresponds to what you found out in Step 1, this is the place where you can go from a good salary to a great salary.

Money vs. Wealth vs. Time vs. Benefits

Cash isn’t everything. Think about the baseline of cash you really need on a monthly basis, and think about other things you could substitute it with.

  • Wealth: Many companies will allow you to buy stock options and/or equity. This can be a great method to not only live off a paycheck, but build substantial wealth. Big tech employees regularly pay out multiples of their salary due to the rising stock of the corporation, and early startup employees of Facebook, Airbnb and co. are regularly listed on Forbes lists.
  • Time: Many would argue that the thing more important than money is time. And time can be bought. Many employers will allow you to buy additional PTO days in exchange for a smaller salary. It can be worth it!
  • Benefits: From healthcare and childcare, to free campus housing and in-office spas. Many companies offer convincing benefits to their employees. Will the free food from the in-office gourmet chef convince you to have a lower salary?

Research all of this beforehand and make a plan in your head of what ranges you’d be comfortable with.

Example:

I'm looking for an annual salary of $150,000
If I can get 35 PTO days, I'd be willing to have a salary of $130,000

Keep your options open

Nothing better than leverage. Before going into a negotiation, collect your leverage. That can be:

  • Another open offer
  • No need to change positions
  • Company is known to struggle filling this position
  • Unique skillset / value
  • Time crunch (position needs to be filled this week, let’s wrap this up)

If you need personal coaching when it comes to these things, why don’t you check out one of our many career mentors?