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How to Negotiate Your Starting Salary

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated February 26, 2016

478992109Knowledge is power and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to negotiating your salary at a new job.

Nobody wants to get underpaid, but at the same time lying about what you make is only going to hurt you down the road. That’s why researching the going rate for the position you are interviewing for will come in handy when dealing with the often dreaded “how much do you currently make” question.

“When you embark on the search for a new role, you should do as much research as you can around what the role is really worth,” says Paul Slezak, co-founder of RecruitLoop. “Track down up-to-date salary surveys, look at what advertisements for similar roles are indicating, and speak to people."

Knowing the range of salary based on the years of experience will keep you realistic when it comes time to discuss compensation. You may think you are worth $100,000 but if the top end of the salary range industry wide is $85,000 it’s likely you won’t be offended when that type of offer is made.


If you do think you deserve the high end of the salary range, then Slezak says to be prepared to provide solid examples in your previous job that showcases why you deserve the upper end of the range. If you can’t think of anything to back up your worth in your mind, you may want to rethink how much you are willing to accept.

Many job seekers wrongly assume the employer is asking how  much you made to figure out how to pay you the lowest salary possible, but career experts say it’s used to screen out candidates that are simply too expensive. “Recruiters and hiring managers tend to enter these conversations with a budget state of mind,” says Amanda Augustine, TheLadders job search expert. “They don’t want to waste their time with a candidate whose salary requirements far exceed what the company is willing to provide."

While you may be asked on the first interview how much you want, career experts say to try to avoid that topic until an offer has been made if possible. That’s because you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate if they decided they want you for the job. “Once you have an offer, you are negotiating from a stronger position because the employer has invested time, money and emotional energy to select you,” says Terry Pile, principal consultant at Career Advisors. “They aren’t going to cut you off just like that.” Unfortunately these days may companies use recruiters and they will want to know upfront what your current salary is or what you were making in your previous role. That’s where the research comes in. You want your salary to be within the correct range or you may not even get that first interview at all.

In a perfect world the salary you have in your head is the one the company offers you, but if you do get a lowball offer it’s important to stay level headed and thank the company before launching into negotiations. “Demonstrate that you are very interested in the position -- you don't want to give the impression that money is the only thing on your mind,” says Pamela Skillings, co-founder of Skillful Communications. “You want to position it as asking for what you're worth and what's fair for the position -- not simply quibbling for more dollars. Money is not your primary consideration, but you do want to be paid fairly.”

One of the worst things you can do when receiving a lowball offer is accept it and hope for a raise in a couple of months. According to Slezak 99% of the time that strategy doesn’t work and the new employee ends up bitter and unhappy.

Sometimes no matter how much you research and demonstrate your worth you are going to get a lowball offer. In a tight job market it may seem like the best move to just accept that salary, but, according to Augustine of TheLadders, it can hurt your career down the road. “If you’ve attempted to negotiate and the entire compensation package – including tangible and intangible benefits – is not enough, you have to decide whether you’re willing to walk away from the offer,” says Augustine. “By accepting a lowball salary offer, you’re setting yourself up to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your career.”