Dos and Don'ts of Salary Negotiation

How to Get a Better Offer or a Raise

Business people discussing project
One of these employees is about to ask for a raise. AMV Photo/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Most people wouldn't put having to negotiate a raise or a starting salary for a new job high on their lists of activities they enjoy. Even though you may prefer getting a root canal to having to ask for more money, you better learn how to do it right if you want to get ahead. Heed these dos and don'ts to help make sure you get paid what you deserve, whether you are entertaining a job offer or asking for a raise.

  • Don't Look at How Much Money Your Friends Are Making: You may be envious of your friends who are earning more money than you are. First of all, If they aren't working in the same field as you, it's impossible to make comparisons. Some occupations pay better than others do. Even if they work in the same career, they may have more experience, different job duties, or less desirable hours. Your friends may not have as much vacation time as you do or their benefits packages may not be as good as yours are.
  • Do Research Salaries in Your Field: Because salaries vary so much by occupation, you will have to find out what the average earning are for yours before you start negotiating. Look at recent salary surveys, talk to people working in your field, and contact your trade or professional association to find out how much others are earning for doing the same job. Remember that salaries also differ by geographic region. Earnings in different parts of the country vary as do thoseĀ in major cities versus small towns.
  • Do Consider How Much Experience You Have: Are you just starting out or have you been working in your field for a while? Those with more experience typically earn more money. When you are negotiating your salary, remember to highlight your track record if it is lengthy. It will help you negotiate a higher salary. If you don't have a lot of experience, be realistic about the salary for which you can ask.
  • Don't Talk About How Much Money You Need: When you are going through salary negotiations, don't tell your boss (or future boss) that you need to make more money because your bills are high, your house was expensive, or your child is starting college. While this information may be foremost on your mind, and may even be what has motivated you to talk to your boss, it is irrelevant to him or her. Only talk about your expenses when negotiating your salary is if your job is being relocated to a region in which the cost of living is higher, and your employer is not offering a salary that takes that into account.
  • Do Talk About the Salary You Deserve: Your salary is based on what you have done or will do to benefit your employer. Will you increase profits, help keep down costs, or get or retain clients? If you are negotiating your earnings with your current boss, highlight what you have done for the company or organization. When you are presenting your case to a potential employer, talk about what achievements you anticipate will justify your salary demands.
  • Do Be Flexible: When negotiating your salary, you should realize that you may not get exactly as much money as you want. There is a good chance you will have to compromise. The trick is to figure out how much you are willing to bend and what you will do if your boss doesn't offer you a salary that is acceptable to you. Will you start looking for another job? Will you turn down the job offer? If it seems like you can't get the salary you want, ask for something else the employer can do to sweeten the deal like provide you additional vacation time or some other fringe benefits.

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