4 Salary Negotiation Tips To Get What The Job Is Worth

4 Salary Negotiation Tips To Get What The Job Is Worth

Today’s post is written by Katie Donovan. She is a salary negotiation coach, blogger , and speaker on equal pay and women’s salary negotiations. Her mobile application Earn More Girl for iPhone and iPads calculates women’s personal pay gaps and their true target salary.  Follow her on Twitter @KDSalaryCoach.

Men see salary negotiation very differently than women.  A recent post about salary negotiation on Brazen Careerist by Ken Sundheim started with “Pushing to see what you can get is human nature.”  That may be true for men and salary negotiation but for the typical women pushing for more when getting a job do not often go hand-in-hand.

1) You Need to Negotiate Your Salary and Compensation Package

The most important advice women need regarding salary negotiation is that it is an acceptable and expected part of the hiring process.  All good hiring managers keep some money out of the initial offer to ensure s/he can negotiate with the person they want to bring on board.  When you accept what is initially offered then you have lost some of the money you could have been paid. Start the process with a statement of excitement for the opportunity but disappointment for the salary.  Ask to walk through the entire compensation package before you start the back and forth of numbers.  Finding out that you get only two weeks vacation and pay the full cost of your health insurance after you settle on a salary causes for some very awkward reopening of negotiations.   It is much better to see the full picture before the active negotiation.

2) The Value of the Job is NOT Tied to Your Previous Salary

The second most important advice is not to provide your salary history to potential new employers.  Simply keep that field blank when filling out an application.  The job has a market value and that market value has nothing to do with what you earned before.    If you are like most women you are underpaid in your current job thus adding 10% – 15% to your current underpaid salary to figure out the right pay level at your next job will continue your path of being underpaid.   Yet, it is the easiest way that most companies figure out what to offer future employees.  Remember you beat out a bunch of other candidates to get the job.  You have been deemed the best person for the job. Don’t you deserve to be paid like the best if you are offered the job?

3) Salary Research is Readily Accessible

When researching the salary range for you current or next job do not get stuck on the title.  Your company may use some funky trendy name for your job but you need to use more generic descriptors for your research.  For example, long ago I was an inside sales representative for a small start-up and the company wanted to give me the title TelEvangelist for telemarketing/evangelist.  I would find nothing on such a title but would find tons of information for inside sales representative.  Definitely research the salary ranges on various salary research sites such as Salary.com, Glassdoor.com, and Payscale.com.   No one resource is perfect so you want to use a few to find a consensus.  Other great resources are trade associations for the industry or the job.  Many have salary information available either on their site or by requesting it.

4) Never Provide Your Desired Salary

Now that you have done the research you know what the job should pay and you want that amount.  You will find you are asked this question throughout the interview process but never supply it until you have a job offer and are actively negotiating.  There may be a field on the application for desired salary.  Keep it blank.  You may be asked to provide it in your cover letter.  Do not reference it.  You may be asked in the interviews.  Good and acceptable responses include “a competitive salary”, “it’s negotiable”, or the classic answer a question with a question “what is the budgeted salary for the job”.

You will be well on your way to earning more as you incorporate these four bits of advice for women and salary negotiation.

Note from Anna: I also asked Katie this one last question that I get all the time.  

Anna: One question I have for you since this is your specialty, what do you do if they absolutely require your desired salary and won’t move further without that salary?

Katie: I haven’t found that to be the case.  Typically, they will couch it as “I don’t want to waste your time so can you tell us what you are looking to make.”  Answering in a professional manner that salary is negotiable or please share the salary range approved for the job will handle the situation 99% of the time. If you are unlucky enough to be in the 1% that just won’t budge then make sure you have done your research before applying for the job and know the market value for the job. Give a range such as “Based on my research the job should pay in the $60K – $70K range.  Or low $100Ks.”  Make that number higher than your actual goal because whatever number you state will become the ceiling of the negotiation.

What have you learned by negotiating your own salary?



About Anna Runyan

Hi! I’m known as the leading authority on getting women unstuck out of careers they hate. For the last 5 years I’ve been helping clients transition into careers they love. I have worked behind the scenes helping hundreds of professional women find fulfilling, challenging and purposeful careers. Make sure you sign up for my Free ‘CHEAT SHEET’
– 7 proven steps to get out of a job you HATE and into a career you LOVE.


  1. Hi, I thought this post was extremely helpful, but since I am a social worker, mostly working for non-profits, the salary is much less negotiable. Also, as I am currently applying for many jobs, I’ve seen several that say that it is required to include a desired salary in the cover letter or the application will not be reviewed. My best guess is that since non-profits often are working from mostly grant money, this restricts their ability to negotiate. For that reason, agencies only want to interview candidates that have expectations for salaries they know they can meet within their budget. Especially being someone finishing my master’s degree in May, seeing these requirements make me nervous to put a number down, but I don’t want to waste my time preparing to apply for a position if I won’t even be considered based on not indicating my desired salary.

    • Hi Brittany,
      Applying for a job differently than you have in the past can be very scary. I know I’m asking you to not follow the rules but it will pay off. Just because they ask doesn’t mean you have to supply the information. Companies and non-profits won’t not interview just because you didn’t answer the question. They are working on your fear and that is why they can ask so many questions before they do interview you. They are counting on your fear don’t let the fear get the better of you. Also, just because it is a non-profit doesn’t mean there isn’t some more money available. Even if it is $1,000. That is $1,000 you would not have had otherwise. Try applying for one job that you are open to but not in love with without supplying the desired salary info. See how that works out. Then try another and another. This is a new skill for most people so it will take time to be comfortable with it. Also, feel free to reach out to me directly. I’ll be happy to give you a complimentary call and discuss your concerns with you.

  2. Maggie kaminska says:

    Is it ok to negotiate a salary after accepting the job offer? I received the job offer over the phone from the talent agent and then received a formal letter a few days later. I have a phone call with my direct supervisor before I get started, is that a good opportunity to negotiate salary? Any types on how to get the negotiation conversation started?


    • Maggie, the answer is that it depends. Have you formally accepted the job by signing the offer letter? If you have the negotiation will be more difficult. If you have not then there still is some hope. You don’t want to wait for the scheduled call to try to reopen the salary conversation. I recommend, contacting the hiring manager directly and state that you are very excited for the job opportunity but as you review the offer letter you realize the salary seems low. Have a counter offer at the ready (do your research first) but don’t state it until the hiring manager has responded. You may get the response that you have accepted the job and it’s too late to negotiate. You may get the response that the manager needs to look into it or hand you to the talent agent. BTW, is that an internal talent agent or a staffing firm person. Regardless, start with the hiring manager.

      Best of luck!

  3. Oh man, wish I would have read this sooner. What if you’ve already provided current and desired salary, but you have since heard that the range for the position could be considerably higher? Is there negotiating wiggle room?

    • Yes, there is some wiggle room. When you are offered the job and the salary is based on how you responded to desired salary and salary history not the higher salary actually available – state that you are interested but the salary seems low. They will respond that it fits your desired salary. You will need to respond that you have done more research since then and now know the going rate for the job. Keep it calm, cool, and professional by practicing this a bunch of times before you have the conversation.


  4. Tina Melnick says:

    From my experience, trying to avoid the ‘salary expectations’ question can be tough and get you screened out immediately. Please check out http://www.whitsy.com, where they solve this problem by allowing employers and job seekers to negotiate salary ranges BEFORE the interview. Employers can cherry pick candidates, bid on them with salary ranges, negotiate online, and interview only the ones fit their job AND wallet. Job seekers can bid on jobs in the same way. No one is obligated to any bid, but when a formal offer is extended, employers are expected to respect the accepted bid with the candidate. Simple. It makes an awkward ‘dance’ around the salary question into a legitimate and easy part of the process. Thoughts?

    • Tina, my thought is that negotiating BEFORE a job offer would be very much the cart before the horse situation. It definitely puts the candidate at a disadvantage. The absolute most powerful moment for a candidate is from the time a job offer is extended to the time you accept it. That is the GOLDEN moment to negotiate salary and compensation package. Giving away that power moment can only be a disadvantage for the candidate. It may seem like a great idea to avoid an awkward moment but you most likely will lose out on about 10% more in income. Also, I don’t anticipate companies falling in love with this idea either. Why waste time negotiating with 3-5 candidates and then interview them and then decide on someone when none of them may be the right fit. Much better to interview find the right person and then make a deal. I’m not familiar with the site so I may be proved wrong.

  5. Is it too late to negotiate salary after you’ve accepted an offer? My current employer came back with a counter offer after I accepted and it’s bugging me that I didn’t try to negotiate more with the new employer. How uncommon is this?

    • Chika, it’s nice being wanted by two companies. Many people do and it is perfectly acceptable to let a new employer know that your current employer has made a counter offer and then use it as a negotiating tactic. Here are things to consider before you make that move.
      Is the offer you accepted by the new employer a good package (salary and benefits and actual job) based on research you did?
      If the new company cannot match your current employer’s offer will you stay with your current employer? What are the other reasons you were looking for new work? Does the money address the other issue?
      After answering those questions then you will know if you are 1) trying to negotiate a few or many extra dollars out of the new employer OR 2) seeing where you will stay/go. If it is number 1 then the approach is a little softer. If it is number 2 than you really are in the drivers seat and professionally negotiate with both to get the best employment package possible.

      Best of luck,

  6. I just got an offer over the phone today with a law firm for a legal assistant position. I was so excited to finally end my job search I told him I would accept (right away). My first day is Friday and he said we can negotiate the salary then. I haven’t signed any official documents yet. Did I just totally screw myself over?

    • Mary, Congratulations on the new job. That’s very exciting however you are right that you have lost some of the negotiation power by accepting the job before you nail down the entire employment package. Salary, vacation, health benefits, working hours, etc. all are best defined before you actually accept or start the job. Unfortunately you are doing both before finalizing the details. There is a shot at regaining some of the negotiating power by acknowledging your largesse at starting prior to working out the details. Think of it as “I did one favor for you and now it’s time for you to repay the favor.” I’m guessing they are in quite the bind to have you start on a Friday so you really have done them a favor. Also, remember just because you accepted the job doesn’t mean you need to keep it if you can’t get to terms that are good. That’s another way to give you back the power. You can continue your job search as you work for them and the next time you will know to thank them for the offer and then hang up to think about all the terms of the job before accepting. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

  7. Excellent website. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to a few buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious.
    And of course, thank you on your sweat!

  8. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much mode pleasant for me to come here
    and visi more often. Did you hire out a developer tto create yopur theme?

    Great work!


  1. [...] 3. I have two more interviews for potential job opportunities this week. I have been doing some research on salary negotiations and interviewing lately. If you find yourself in the same boat, I highly recommend visiting this site Classy Career Girl. [...]

Speak Your Mind