3 Tips for Negotiating a Better Salary

When you’re looking for a new opportunity, discussing compensation early in your interview process with a recruiter may seem untimely and even a bit uncomfortable. You don’t want to appear presumptuous, nor do you want to take yourself out of consideration by giving the “wrong” answer. But salary negotiations are an inevitable part of a new job.

There are recent laws in the US that prohibit employers from asking you about your salary history. Recruiters can, however, ask the salary range you’re expecting in your next role. Starting the compensation conversation early can save you time if a role can’t meet your expectations. Better to find out soon than to invest a ton of time interviewing for a role that doesn’t offer competitive pay.  

Even if a recruiter doesn’t ask for your salary expectations during your first conversation with them, the topic comes up eventually. Understanding the factors that contribute to salary negotiation and doing your research can help you improve your offer. Read on to learn what employers consider and three tips to negotiate a better compensation package.

What Do Employers Consider in Salary Negotiation?

When recruiters ask about your salary expectations, they aren’t necessarily looking for you to give the “right” answer. Instead, they are often gathering one of many data points that will go into an eventual salary negotiation. Knowing some of the other factors at play will help you better navigate that conversation.

Some factors that recruiters consider during the salary conversation are:

  • Your expertise (and how well it matches the role)
  • Position budget (the employer’s target salary range for the position)
  • Internal equity (what other employees in similar roles make)
  • Market data (what other candidates for the role expect) 
  • Salary survey data (compensation reported for similar jobs and companies)


While all these considerations might make salary negotiation sound complicated, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind that will help you negotiate a better offer. 

1. Do Your Research

Even if it’s not in the job listing, you can bet that the employer has set a budget range for the role. They’ve done their research and so should you.

By the time you have your first interview, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of what similar roles pay, keeping in mind your industry, company size, and other factors.

Free online resources like Glassdoor and Comparably can give you self-reported data. Recruiters tend not to rely on this data because most of the free salary information you find online is unverified. These resources are a good place to start, but shouldn’t be your only reference point. You can also ask your inner circle and professional network for their input. 

If you’re uncomfortable bringing numbers up, you can start by asking “In researching this role, I’ve found salary estimates ranging from $60,000-$70,000. Since this is mostly unverified data, I was wondering if that sounded accurate to you?” If you have a network of recruiters or hiring managers, these are excellent people to ask.    

2. Have an Honest Conversation

Having a frank conversation with your recruiter about what you’re looking for can help align expectations early in the process.  When compensation comes up, there’s no harm in asking for the role’s salary range. You may not always get a direct answer, but it helps you gather information.

If you’re speaking with multiple companies, you may receive different salary ranges, but those numbers shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision. Salary ranges can vary depending on the scope of the role, the company’s stage (i.e., early-stage startup versus large public company), and other factors. You should also consider benefits, bonuses, and opportunities for growth. 

3. Be Flexible When Asking for More

It finally happened. You got the offer. First and foremost, take a moment to celebrate. The interview process can be long and nerve-wracking, but now you know that, out of all the applicants, they want you.

Now, it’s time to start the negotiations, and your first step is to review their offer in full. Compare the offer you received to your salary research, but also think about the total package, which can include individual and company performance bonus incentives, equity/stock, medical benefits coverage, paid leave, perks like education reimbursement, working from home, career advancement, health and fitness stipend, and more. These parts of your offer shouldn’t discourage you in asking for a higher salary, but they could help you decide how flexible you’re willing to be on base pay.

Identify how you would like the offer to be improved. For most people, base salary is the focus, but if the company won’t budge much, think of what else they can do to overcome a lower base salary. Consider asking for a performance-based raise at six months or a larger bonus.  

As you negotiate with the recruiter, keep these tips in mind:

  • Express excitement in the role and confidence that you’ll come to an agreement
  • Clearly articulate what you want. Furthermore, be clear about your priorities. If the recruiter goes to bat for you, make sure it’s for the right request.
  • Remember that the company is invested in you and wants you to accept. Out of all the applicants, they want you.

Salary Negotiation is Part of the Process

Most of us don’t discuss our salary with people we barely know, and that’s part of why it can feel uncomfortable during the recruiting process. But for recruiters, this is just part of their job. You’re not being unreasonable or difficult by asking for more. 

With some preparation, you can enter these conversations with confidence and negotiate the best offer possible.

Check out more tips on effective career search strategies here.