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10 Steps to Successfully Negotiate Your New Job Salary

Posted: 02/26/2021 | Author: Jim Lochner for Creatives On Call | Tags: Guides and Resources

10 Steps to Successfully Negotiate Your New Job Salary

Congratulations on your new job offer! The interviews are finally over and the next chapter in your career is on the horizon. But before you sign on the dotted line, you have one more hill to climb—negotiating your salary. 

If the thought of money talk makes you break out in a cold sweat, there’s some good news. According to a recent study, 9 out of 10 organizations are willing to negotiate a salary once a job offer has been made. (XpertHR) And even a $5,000 increase could make a huge difference over the course of your career. For example, a 25-year-old who enters the job market with a starting salary of $55,000 and earns 5% annual raises will take home an extra $634,000 over the course of a 40-year career than someone who starts out at $50,000. (Harvard Law School

Check out these steps to help you prepare for the negotiation and receive the compensation you deserve.

1. Do your homework

Before you even land that first interview, research the company and check sites like GlassDoor,, and to find out the market value for your job title. If you’re moving to a new location, NerdWallet and can help you compare salaries and the cost of living in various cities around the country. Also, download our FREE Creative 2021 Salary Guide for a look at top high-paying jobs in 2021, in-house vs. agency compensation comparisons, salary data on nearly 100 creative jobs, and more.

2. Think long-term

The job you’re applying for probably isn’t your final job. It’s setting you up for the next step in your career. While it’s only natural to concern yourself with “year one” money items like salary, bonus potential, and signing bonus, negotiate for your long-term success by focusing on the value of the entire deal, including job responsibilities, location, travel, flexibility in work hours, opportunities for growth and promotion, perks, support for continued education, etc. How far you should look into the future depends on your age and experience. For instance, recent college graduates may want to plan only one or two years ahead, while five-year benchmarks might make more sense for seasoned professionals.

3. Consider those perks and benefits...

Compensation is more than money. Though totals vary by industry, your benefits package accounts for approximately 32% of your total compensation, adding potentially tens of thousands of dollars on top of your base salary. (U.S. Department of Labor) And though it may seem easier to use vacation time or some other perk as a bargaining chip, keep in mind that only 32% of companies in a recent survey said they were willing to negotiate benefits, while 42% were willing to negotiate bonuses. (XpertHR

4. Figure out a range

When you’ve got some idea of what the statistics say your job is worth, figure out a reasonable salary range between 5%–25%, with your ideal salary anchoring the bottom. For instance, if you think you’re worth $70,000, ask for $70,000–$80,000, not $60,000–$70,000. By doing this, you’re subtly communicating a walk-away price, even if that amount isn’t your lowest acceptable offer. More importantly, you’ll show the employer you’re open to negotiation and that you’re considering their needs.

5. Practice

Like the old joke says, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!” Find a friend or record yourself on video and practice building your case for why you believe the salary range is appropriate. Focus on enumerating how your skills and expertise will solve the employer’s problems and eliminate their pain points. While you can’t predict how a negotiation will play out, the more you practice, the more confident you will feel going in and the better “game face” you’ll have during the process.

6. Be ready from the get-go

Employers are bringing up compensation discussions earlier in the recruiting process, sometimes even during the first interview. Have your range ready, but only discuss money after the employer has brought it up. At this stage it’s not a negotiation; it’s just a broad conversation for the employer to gauge your wants and desires. If you come on too strong early in the game, you could eliminate yourself from consideration for the position. Repeat after me—there’s no negotiation until a job offer has been extended.

7. Don’t accept the first offer

Employers today generally expect negotiations when they make a job offer. Evaluate the offer on your own time, and schedule a meeting 24–48 hours out to come back with your counteroffer.

8. Submit your counteroffer all at once, not piecemeal

When you submit a counteroffer, make it clear you’re serious about working for the company by respecting the employer’s time and proposing all your concerns at once. For instance, if you ask them to “do something” about the salary, you’re subtly indicating “fix this and I’ll be ready to make a decision.” If you come back with “one more thing” later on, they are much less likely to remain generous or understanding.

9. Keep it positive

The end goal in a salary negotiation is a happy working relationship for all involved. Continue to be honest, gracious, understanding, appreciative, and thankful for the opportunity, no matter the outcome.

10. Be willing to say “no”

Some employers simply can’t (or won’t) budge on salary. If the offer doesn’t meet your expectations, financial need, market value, or simply what you need to feel good about doing the job, it may be time to walk away. If you have to say “no,” don’t let the relationship stop there. You made it this far and the employer was interested enough to offer you the position, so keep the communication lines open for future opportunities. 

* * *

Negotiations are complex, and there’s no one-size-fits-all, especially when it comes to money. But it doesn’t have to be an uphill climb. Arm yourself with the above tools and tricks, and you’ll be on your way to a successful new position with the compensation you deserve.

Don’t forget: Download our FREE Creative 2021 Salary Guide to read up on the latest trends.


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