How to Negotiate Salary with Confidence

Salary Research Guide, Resources and Tools

If you’re considering a career change or looking to move up in your current job, it’s essential to know the target salary for the position and how to negotiate salary with confidence. As you prepare to discuss your salary expectations during an interview, knowing what the company budgeted for the position and understanding the industry salary trends and market rate will help you maximize your earning potential. To prepare for your salary negotiation, customize research to confirm what you’re asking, you want the leverage to increase your salary, and your research needs to reflect what you’re asking for.

In this guide, we’ll help you determine the estimated pay range based on market and competition and review the salary research/negotiation process, so you can make an informed decision about what to expect in your new job or when negotiating a raise with your current employer.

Factors that Affect Salary

Things like location, experience, and the industry all play an important role in what your salary might be. Take time to research where you’re at in your career and how this compares to others in similar roles. You must consider the following to help determine a reasonable salary for your work:

  • Industry: Salary ranges vary widely, but there are general industry norms you need to know.
  • Role & Responsibilities: Your responsibilities and title play into your salary.
  • Experience Level: How long you’ve worked in the field or industry is crucial to your target salary.
  • Expertise & Education: If you’re in a high-demand field or have specialized education or advanced certification/degree/training, you can ask for more than the general salary range.
  • Location: The location of the job may significantly affect your realistic salary range due to the cost of living. The exact same role will have very different salaries in different cities.

Research Common Salaries for Your Role

If a job posting excludes salary details, you can find the salary data by searching in the state of Colorado. Colorado state enacted a salary transparency law requiring employers to disclose their targeted pay range in job postings. Here are the steps you can take:

  1. Head to LinkedIn Jobs
  2. Search for your target role
  3. Change the location filter to “Colorado, United States”
  4. Find 10+ job descriptions for roles at your target companies and note their salary ranges
  5. Calculate the averages for both ends of the range
  6. Search for a Salary Adjuster online
  7. Add in your average, and select your location to find the salary range for your target role

Salary Research Tools

Researching the salary range for a position can be a time-consuming and difficult task but there are resources available to help you, including online job boards, government sites and databases, industry-specific websites, and more.

To start with, research the salary range for the position in your area. Leverage job boards such as Indeed or Glassdoor to find out what people currently make in similar positions. If there is no clear trend on earnings based on experience level, research companies with similar titles in different industries. This information will help give you context when negotiating compensation packages later down the line!

The following tools are some of the most commonly used salary research tools to help you get started with research.

  • LinkedIn Salary Tool provides you with job salary insights and helps you understand the various factors that impact pay for roles so you can make more informed career decisions.
  • Indeed Salary Calculator is free to use and provides helpful information on general salary numbers. You can browse by industry, company, or job title. The database is made up of 450,000,000 data points.
  • Glassdoor is one of the most popular websites for finding salary information. It offers a wealth of salary data by location and industry, as well as reviews from current and former employees.
  • Fishbowl is one of the fastest-growing online communities made up of professionals from various industries. You can ask work-related questions, whether it’s about the role, team culture, or community they are a member of.
  • The Salary Project® by Career Contessa is an online salary database (submitted by real users) that will give you FULL access to thousands of salaries that you can sort and filter.
  • SalaryExpert is a powerful salary calculator tool based on data provided by ERI Economic Research Institute’s Global Salary Calculator. The Global Salary Calculator provides compensation data for over 45,000 positions in 8,000 cities in 69 countries.
  • Payscale is another popular salary research tool that has a free estimate. Enter your zip code and position, and it’ll give you an estimate of what someone in that role makes.
  • Salary.com is a good resource for finding salary information and other details about employers. Enter your zip code and position, and then select from four different options: “National Average,” “Local Average,” or “Industry Specific.”
  • TheLadders is a unique site that provides salary information for $100K+ jobs.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers regional data on average annual wages by industry as well at both state levels and metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).

Related Post: 6 Tips to Help You Nail Your Next Job Interview


How to Negotiate Salary in a Job Offer

So, you’ve done your research and you have a good idea of what salary you should be asking for. But how do you go about negotiating in a job offer? It can be tricky, but it is definitely doable. The first step is to ensure that you are aware of the full range of benefits available to you.

The hiring manager should generally be the first to address pay during the interview process. It’s not your role to bring it up. That way, you can avoid coming across as presumptuous, and you’re not left requesting a figure that’s higher or lower than the employer’s range. Allow the hiring manager to start the conversation and they will likely start with a figure.

If you’re not ready to discuss the salary yet, you can counter them with your questions. If they ask about your salary range, you can say, “I don’t usually discuss compensation until I have a job offer. Is that the case here?”

If the hiring manager starts the conversation on salary by asking you what you’re looking for, you can explain to them that you’d like a fair compensation package based on the position and what you bring to the table. You can ask about bonuses, commissions, or other types of compensation. If they ask for a specific number, consider offering a range. Make sure that you already have a range in mind.

A range is valuable because it offers the company flexibility. You’re likely going to end up in the middle to the high end of the range, but it’s also important that the lowest number in your range is still a number you would be comfortable with.

How to Negotiate Salary Plus Benefits

Oftentimes, employers will sweeten the pot with additional benefits (beyond just salary) when they are trying to close a deal. Once you know what is on the table, it’s time to start negotiating. When broaching the topic of salary with your potential employer, always aim high and be prepared for them to counter. Remember that it is okay to walk away from a negotiation if things get too heated – there are plenty of other fish in the sea!

It’s estimated about 30% of employees would take less salary for better benefits. Have you considered how to negotiate salary including benefits that may contribute to the total salary package? When choosing between a job with benefits versus high pay, employee benefits package can save you money in the long run, and you may be happier with a lower salary that includes health benefits. In general, larger organizations are able to pay more in total comp and offer more benefits and perks because of their ability to negotiate lower prices.

A potential employer may ask about your salary history. Don’t feel obligated to disclose that information, but if you are comfortable sharing that information with them, it may help a hiring manager ensure that the salary they can provide you aligns with your expectations.

You must be honest with the information if you share your salary history. Stretching the numbers is never a good idea. If you aren’t comfortable disclosing your salary history, you may find it helpful to steer the conversation back to the range you’re proposing, as opposed to your past salaries.

When responding to a low salary offer, reiterate that you’re very interested in the role and have a lot to offer to the company. Use specific examples of the value that you bring to the table.

You can also say, “Through my research, I learned that the average salary for someone with my career experience and skills at a similarly sized organization is in this range. Would you consider increasing the salary for this role?” You may have to politely decline the offer if the employer says no. Since you have done the research, you should be confident in the range that you’re requesting. 

Finally, don’t forget to thank your interviewer for their time once everything has been finalized. They may have helped you secure an amazing new job – now go out and crush it! How did negotiations go in your most recent job offer? What tactics did you use?

So, you’ve done your research and you have a good idea of the salary range for your desired position. This guide will help you nail your next job interview and walk away with a salary that meets your needs.

Are you ready to start planning for your next career move? If so, be sure to check out our other blog posts on how to prepare for a job interview and how to follow up after an interview. Good luck!

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