Whether you’re looking for a salary increase in your current role or are in the process of joining a new company, knowing how to properly negotiate your salary is crucial for any professional. Job seekers or employees often accept a salary they are unhappy with out of fear of jeopardizing their position. That said, you likely won’t get better compensation unless you ask for it. While it can be extremely daunting to ask for additional compensation, it is ultimately a testament to the expertise you bring to the role.

Nonetheless, it is imperative to approach this conversation strategically. To help, here are best practices for negotiating your salary:

Do Job Market Research

The most important aspect of negotiating your salary is knowing the compensation averages for the current job market. By finding salary ranges for your experience level in your industry, you can provide an evidence-based reasoning for why you’re asking for a higher compensation than what you’ve been offered by the company. It is also key to factor in highly desirable skills you may possess that would increase your value, such as being bilingual in both official languages or having in-demand technical skills. The easiest way to determine what fair compensation looks like for your specific role is by researching and finding reliable resources, such as LRO Staffing’s 2022 Salary Guides.

Factor In Other Benefits

While the actual salary is often top priority for candidates and employees, it’s also crucial to factor in what the entire compensation package looks like to determine how competitive the offer is. Keep in mind other benefits that would make the current salary more attractive, such as company equity, vacation time, bonuses, home office stipends, and/or health benefits. There are other elements that can be leveraged in negotiation as well, like flexible work schedules or education and training opportunities. Ultimately, all these additional components do add to the overall compensation you are receiving and are important to consider when negotiating.

Determine Your Ideal Range

Your current salary at the company or the salary you’ve been offered as a candidate should help guide what salary range you are asking for. While it’s important that you are being paid a competitive wage, asking for an amount drastically higher than what was offered will likely be out of the budget of the employer. By countering with a salary range that is proportionate to the original offer, you are leaving more room to negotiate more easily. When determining your ideal range, the lowest number should be what you want your final salary to be, and the highest number should be a bit more than that. The likelihood is an employer will meet you somewhere in the middle of what they offered and what you counter offered, but there is a chance you could end up earning more than you expected if they come back with an offer closer to the higher number of your range.

Practice the Conversation

It’s no secret that planning is the key to success with any career milestone you hope you achieve. By planning the conversation you will have with an employer and practicing it, you are helping build your confidence, as well as evaluating if there are any points you are missing in your pitch. To further improve what you plan to say, you can practice in front of a friend or mentor to see if they have any advice on how you’re approaching the conversation. Even better yet, if you are using a recruiter, you can practice with them and see if they have any pointers from their professional experience, or they may even be able to negotiate on your behalf.

Make Your Evidence-Based Pitch

Now that you’ve done your research, chosen a salary range that you’d be happy with, and practiced, it’s time to make your pitch to your employer. A successful pitch will demonstrate to your employer what unique qualities and experience you bring to the table to justify a higher salary. By using an evidence-based approach that highlights your track record and the current job market, your employer is more likely to give you a higher salary. Avoid using personal reasons for wanting more compensation, such as mortgage or parking costs, as ultimately, that has nothing to do with their business.

Be Willing to Compromise

A successful negotiation is one where both parties are happy and excited about your prospects at their company. Try to understand their perspective and fiscal constraints in order to find a middle ground that works for all parties. While you may not be getting everything you desire upfront, keep in mind that you can always leverage additional benefits in lieu of a higher salary and you can ask for a raise after you’ve worked at the company for some time. This gives an opportunity for you to show value through performance, results, as well as gives you time to obtain designation or certifications to further your experience – all elements that will increase your chances of a raise come time for a performance review.

Have a Written Agreement

While this is usually included in the employment contract, if it is not, ask for written documentation after you and the employer have both verbally agreed to what your salary is. This document should also include if they’re offering a signing bonus or if there were any changes to benefits, vacation time, or role description during the negotiation phase. This ensures that both parties are on the same page as to what is expected moving forward.

Remain Optimistic

At the end of the day, you should be excited about your role, and your salary negotiations should reflect that. While this can be a difficult conversation to have, keeping an optimistic tone with the employer will demonstrate that you’re enthusiastic about the company and that you’re confident about how you’d perform in the position. Regardless of the fiscal compensation agreed upon, you want to leave the conversation on a positive note.

For more advice to help you through the job search process, we encourage you to contact us to be matched with one of our experienced recruiters.

Sakura Gomi

Author Sakura Gomi

Sakura has a passion for matching candidates with their next long-term career opportunity, as well as collaborating with clients on their business infrastructure needs. Sakura’s dedication to her profession was most recently recognized through FACES Magazine when she was named Ottawa’s Favourite Professional Recruiter in 2019.

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