Salary negotiation is awkward and uncomfortable, but it's the only way to get the salary you deserve. Here are some tips to getting it right.

So, you just got a job offer. Now it’s time for the scary part: negotiating your salary. But there’s just one problem… Your knees feel like overcooked spaghetti. Your palms are spewing more sweat than Niagara Falls. Your fear of rejection kicks in…

  • Is it impolite to negotiate?
  • I’m being selfish.
  • What if I scare them off?
  • I should just be grateful.
  • What if I mess this whole thing up?

First of all: deep breath in, deep breath out.


  There are a few tried-and-true salary negotiation strategies — even if you’re a recent college graduate new to the job search scene. Here are 10 of our favorites. MU30 Tip: There’s a free salary negotiation script at the end of this article you can use for practice!

1. Do your research

Is-An-Income-Based-Repayment-Plan-The-Answer-To-Your-Student-Loan-Problem The first step to untangling that knot in the pit of your stomach is to do your salary research. Find out precisely what salary range you should offer based on your location, education, skills, job title, and experience. The good news is there are tons of really great average salary information websites to help you do this. A few are, Glassdoor, Indeed, and PayScale. Comb these websites to see how much others are making for similar positions. This will give you leverage to fall back on when it’s time to make a counteroffer. Read more: 7 of the best salary information websites for negotiation

2. Map out your salary range

The next negotiation tip is to map out your salary range. This is the lowest amount you’d be willing to accept and the highest amount you’re realistically hoping to get. Your research will come in handy here. It would help if you had a really good idea of what others are making in similar positions, so use that as a starting point for your salary expectation. Adjust accordingly for your unique skills, experience, and education.

3. Anchor high during a salary negotiation

When you give your salary range, always start with the highest number first. This is called “anchoring high.” For example, say your ideal salary is $50,000 per year. You should start the negotiation by saying something like, “I’m looking for a salary in the range of $55,000–$60,000 per year.” The hiring manager will then likely counter with a job offer somewhere in the middle of your two numbers. And even if it’s at the lower end of your range, you’ll still be getting more than you want.

4. Know your worth

Thinking About Freelancing? Make Sure You Understand These 12 Hidden Costs - Education costs When a company makes an initial salary offer, there’s a genuine chance it’s at the low end of their scale. This is why knowing your worth is so important. Companies want you to negotiate with them — the hiring manager expects it. So when you don’t, you leave money on the table. All this to say, decide what base salary would make you feel happy and excited about working with a company ahead of time. Because if you pitch your hiring manager a number and they say “yes,” you can’t turn around and ask for more. Read more: How to negotiate anything (even if you’re shy or afraid)

5. Don’t reveal your bottom line too early

When you’re in the negotiation process, never reveal your “bottom line” right away. The lowest salary you’d accept should always be kept secret until all other attempts to negotiate a higher job offer or benefits have failed. Here’s why. If you reveal your bottom line too early in the negotiation, the company will have no reason to give you a higher salary. They’ll assume you’ll accept whatever amount they offer.

6. Use silence as a tool when negotiating salary

21 Ways To Land A Higher Paying Job: A Guide To Beating Out The Competition And Getting Hired - Answer thoughtfully Another salary negotiation tip is to use silence as a tool during negotiations. When the company asks you for your salary range, don’t answer right away. Instead, take a beat. Pause for 5–10 seconds before responding. The silence will make them feel uneasy, and they’ll start to wonder if they lowballed you — or if you’re seeing how it compares to other offers you already have. As a result, they may be more likely to give you a higher offer if they think you might walk away. Read more: The secret to a bigger raise? The awkward pause

7. Don’t accept the first job offer

Even if the company’s first job offer is close to what you were hoping for (or way more than you were hoping for), don’t accept it right away. Instead, counter with a slightly higher number. For example, if they offer you $58,000 per year, say something like, “I was hoping for something in the $60,000–$62,000 range.” That’s only a $2,000 to $4,000 difference for the company (a minuscule amount), but it can make a huge difference for you over time.

8. Negotiate benefits, not just salary

Everything in a job is negotiable — from your 401(k) employer match to the daily laptop you’ll use. So, if the hiring manager isn’t budging on salary, negotiating your total compensation with benefits and perks could be a good compromise. According to Indeed, some common benefits you can negotiate include:

  • A better job title.
  • Relocation assistance.
  • Paid time off.
  • Parental leave.
  • Signing bonuses.
  • Stock options.
  • Tuition and student loan reimbursement.
  • Child care reimbursements.
  • Remote work options.
  • Health and wellness reimbursements.
  • Cost of living raises.

Decide ahead of time what you’re willing to compromise on. For instance, maybe you’re okay with earning $3,000 less if it means landing a fully remote job. You get to decide what works best for you. Read more: Can you get a cost-of-living raise? Why and how you should ask your boss

9. Be prepared to walk away

21 Ways To Land A Higher Paying Job: A Guide To Beating Out The Competition And Getting Hired - Offer a firm handshake Remember, job hunting is a numbers game. And sometimes, the best way to get what you want is to be prepared to walk away from a negotiation early. If the company isn’t budging on their final offer, tell them you need some time to think about it and that you’ll get back to them. This will show them you’re serious about getting paid what you’re worth. And if they really want to hire you, they’ll find a way to make it work.

10. Practice makes perfect

This last salary negotiation tip is a biggie. Negotiating salary can be incredibly nerve-wracking. But practice makes perfect. The more you rehearse your negotiation speech (either to a friend, in the mirror, or to a potential employer), the easier it’ll become.

Salary negotiation script for college grads

If you’re not sure what to say, try rehearsing this salary negotiation script: Hi ____, First, thank you so much for this offer. It’s been a delight getting to know you throughout the interview process, and I think we’re a great fit. In full transparency, this offer isn’t quite in line with [the job market / other offers I’ve received / what I’m currently earning / my background and skill set as a {INSERT JOB TITLE}]. In order to give a resounding “yes,” I would need to see an increase in compensation to [INSERT DESIRED SALARY RANGE HERE]. Is that feasible? Once again, I’m super excited about the opportunity to work with you and the [COMPANY NAME] team. Thanks again. Best, [YOUR NAME]


Woman throwing her arms in the air excitedely, while sitting in front of a laptop After you negotiate your salary, self-doubt will bulldoze over you like a dump truck as you await the hiring manager’s response. Remember that you’re 100% in the right to advocate for your worth. And you deserve to earn the best salary possible given your skills, education, and background. These are just a few salary negotiation tips to help you get there. Read more: First job? Here are 6 smart money moves to make right away Featured image: Prostock-studio/

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About the author

Cassidy Horton
Total Articles: 51
Cassidy Horton is a finance writer who specializes in banking and insurance. She earned her MBA and bachelor’s degree in public relations from Georgia Southern University — and has since published hundreds of finance articles online for Forbes Advisor, The Balance, Money,, and more. When she's not helping Millennials and Gen Zers gain control of their finances, you can find Cassidy hiking around the Pacific Northwest, cuddling her two cats, and eating way too much fried chicken. Connect with her on or LinkedIn to see what she’s up to next.