Top 10 Business Tips For Salary Negotiation

by Sharon Schweitzer

After sending numerous resumes, preparing for countless interviews, and perfecting your cover email, you received a job offer! Now is the time your prospective employer expects to negotiate. Remember, failing to negotiate a salary and a potential benefits package is a career mistake with long-term repercussions. Often raises are calculated based on a percentage increase, meaning future raises and retirement contributions may be lower than expected if a higher salary is not originally negotiated.

Master success with these top 10 business tips for salary negotiation:

Confirm the Formal Offer

Confirm the potential employer is fully invested in hiring you. The sweet spot between the time you receive and accept the offer is your prime window of opportunity for negotiation. Confirm their commitment verbally or in writing, using a phrase such as, ‘Do I understand correctly that you have verbally offered me $__?’

Research Salary & Market Intelligence

Conduct research on and to identify your professional ‘market value’ based on your credentials. Ask yourself, ‘What am I worth given my experience, skill set, education and potential value to the company?’ Research the average annual salary range on and, for a benchmark. The goal is to determine the compensation range for someone with similar credentials, within the same industry, or within a comparable company (workforce size, revenue and geographic location.) Then discretely inquire within your network to discover additional potential salary range opinions.

Set Advance Goals & Intentions

After researching and confirming your ‘market value,’ decide on a compensation goal, a reasonable compensation range, and the lowest number acceptable. Knowing what you want to achieve is the platinum rule before entering any negotiation. Otherwise, the potential employer will define this goal for you.

Distinguish Yourself from the Competition

In a confident, yet humble manner, use your salary market research to provide facts on why you deserve to be on the upper end of the salary range. Using this as leverage, explain why you are a top performer in comparison to other candidates. One possible approach includes stating, ‘Although, I can’t speculate about the other candidates or employees, I can speak for myself and my capabilities.’ Then explain using detailed, real-life examples, ‘I’m uniquely qualified for this position, and I would like for my compensation to reflect this fairly.’

Anticipate Potential Roadblocks

It’s a delicate balancing act to overcome objections without offending and minimizing your bargaining power. Organizations may cite various reasons, including local market conditions, industry downturn, economic constraints and budgetary concerns that are not within your control. To avoid the awkwardness of attempting to dispute this, shift the focus back to why you are ‘a wise investment’ and how ‘the additional salary will be money well spent.’

Explore the Benefits Package

Discuss the entire benefits package offered. These additional perks supplementing your salary could include: potential future bonuses, 401k, health benefits, stock options, pension and insurance plans, relocation packages, upgraded working conditions, paid parking, gym memberships, kitchen amenities, and more.

Meet Expectations

Research reveals less than a third of job applicants negotiate a higher salary, especially females and young applicants. However, employers expect salary negotiation, and extend offers at lower numbers. Using professional etiquette assists in these negotiations.

Personal Diplomacy

Monitor your statements for diplomacy and reasonableness:

Things not to say:

  • "No."
  • "Thanks, I accept [organization’s first offer]."
  • "That's all the company is going to offer?"
  • "The lowest salary I can accept is $A."
  • "Two other outstanding offers are more lucrative, can you supplement this offer?"
  • "I hate asking, however ..."
  • "I know this is aggressive, but ..."
  • "I'm really looking for $B, which is 20% higher."

Things to say:

  • “It appears that we’re fairly far apart numberwise; can we work toward closing that gap?”
  • “Please share how you arrived at that number, so we can work toward meeting in the middle.”
  • “May we chat about the company’s complete benefit package, in additional to salary?”

Business Etiquette

Keep the negotiations respectful, considerate, and mutually cooperative. Body language, vocal tonality, and professional presence provide the opportunity to communicate in a purposeful, effective, and polite manner. Avoid awkward tension with deep breathing.

Gratitude & Thanks

Demonstrate gratitude and express thanks during the negotiation by saying, “I appreciate the opportunity to discuss compensation, as your time is valuable.” Reconfirm your sincere interest in the position. iBi

Sharon Schweitzer is a modern manners, business etiquette and cross-cultural expert. She is author of Access to Asia and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide.