Knowing your worth: Negotiating your salary

Keep these tips in mind for your next job offer
A hand places coins into a black piggy bank.

Did you know that over 60% of Gen Z respondents have never negotiated their salary? Many won't try to negotiate due to fear or lack of confidence – negotiations can be nerve-wracking, and the thought of rejection is powerful.

Your entry into the job market doesn't have to be daunting! Instead, we've gathered some tips and links to give you leverage in your negotiation conversations.

Do your research         

It's critical to know your value as a potential employee before attending a job interview. There are many sources for compensation data to check out, such as ALIS Occupational profilesPayScale's Salary Data and Career Research CentreWages and Salaries and more.

Keep in mind that salaries will differ based on industry, seniority and location. Try to find salaries for roles requiring similar education, work experience and responsibilities, in the same industry and area as the job you're applying for. Doing your research will help you realize if you're being given a fair offer and can give you data to help you justify your counter offer. 

Be honest with yourself and your interviewer

Remember to be clear about your short- and long-term career goals during the hiring process to eliminate the possibility of complex negotiations down the road. Being transparent about your goals and asks also reduces the risk of either party wasting their time. However, this doesn't mean you can't be strategic about what you share and when — you don't need to share it all at the beginning. Instead, you can keep specific figures and competitive offers on hand to bring up in later conversations.

Focus on the big picture

Compensation for a job is more than your wage or salary. Instead, consider other elements like benefits and work perks. This might include things like:

  • Insurance; medical, dental or life
  • More flexibility in work hours or location
  • Travelling for work
  • Opportunities for professional development and promotion
  • Bonuses, commission, company shares, or profit-sharing
  • Expense accounts or company-funded equipment 
  • Professional memberships
  • Vacation or personal days, or sick leave
  • Wellness or personal interest reimbursement
  • Relocation expenses
  • Product/service discount

Making the ask

Try not to enter salary negotiations until a job offer has been made. Know your market value and research sources before you begin to negotiate salary. Negotiations should be in the spirit of cooperation, aiming at a win-win for both sides. Avoid naming your price when asked—let the organization make the offer.   

Negotiate based on your qualifications - your education, experience, skills, and capabilities concerning their market worth, not based on your wants or needs. Consider the local economy. Consider the complete package being negotiated and prioritize what is most important to you.

Silence is very effective when negotiating. You may take up to 3 working days to review an offer, even though an employer is also within their right to demand an immediate answer once an offer is on the table.

Lastly, once you accept a job offer, don't back out just because a better offer came your way. Integrity is a critical element of positive negotiations.

Don't be afraid to make a counteroffer

Statistics show countering an initial offer raises your starting wage an average of 7.4%. Your counter doesn't have to be compensation-based; you can negotiate other perks, like vacation time, health care, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits. Make sure these discussions are in writing.⁠

Many things can be misinterpreted; therefore, it's a good idea to have a written agreement to make sure both parties are on the same page.

It's okay to walk away from negotiations

Consider a "walk-away value,"; a number that's too low for you to consider working at the company. Having this figure in mind can help you walk away from offers you perceive as too low based on the market value of similar positions and/or your financial needs.

Make sure to be respectful when saying no. When turning down an offer, you could say, "I'm excited at the prospect of working with you, but your offer is [too low/not comprehensive enough/insufficient] considering the market value of similar postings."

Want advice for negotiating your salary? Book an appointment with a career development specialist on Elevate to discuss how you can be strategic in your interviews and negotiations. You can also visit Career Services' website to find more career development resources.