How To Negotiate your Salary (wether you want a better starting salary or raise)

I was underpaid in my first job and every subsequent job after that.

When I found out what other people doing the same position were being paid, it often left me feeling cheated and unmotivated to keep working.

Even as a freelancer, in the beginning, clients would pay me way less than market rate for the value of the work I was doing and my level of experience.

It took me a long time to stop feeling uneasy with negotiating and accept it as an inescapable part of any career.

Employers and clients are always looking for the lowest possible number they can get the best person for.

They come prepared and so should you.

Salary negotiations are not limited to when you are getting hired. You should, from time to time, ask for a raise in salary.

Employers are supposed to increase your salary overtime but if you sit and wait, the salary increments will be far between and a lot less than you deserve.

So here is how you can take charge.



Negotiating a starting salary begins with setting yourself up with a winning resume and great interviewing skills.

The employer will pay more for the person they want, not just one of the twelve people that showed up.

You need to wow the interviewers if you are going to get a job offer at all but to make leverage to negotiate your salary, you need to blow their minds.

How do you do that? By being the right person for the job.
Always read carefully through the job description, go through the companies website, do your research about these people and come give them who they need.

I am not talking about a caricature or playing a part.

I am saying, understand the value that you can bring to them before you reach for their pockets.

I know that some of you do not believe in yourself and you are wondering what could you possibly bring to the table that the twenty other candidates do not.

A willingness to work hard.

Be confident that you can work hard and help the employer achieve their goals which are ... (insert what you read on their website). 


Prepare for the salary discussion because it will certainly come up if you get the job.

However, never be the one to start it before you are offered the job. You do not want to sound like a hyena.

The best time to begin discussing the salary is when you receive a job offer.

The employer will likely not pose it as a negotiation.

They will simply tell you what they are paying for the position (often a very low number).

They are playing chicken, holding their breathe hoping you will not ask any questions.

One time I got a job offer and the issue of salary never came up.

It was in the employment contract that they gave me to go over for about thirty minutes before asking me if I found the terms satisfactory.

Research means that you ask around in your industry and location from people holding similar positions to find out what the average salary is.

You can also check websites such as for that information.

If you are asked directly what you would like to earn, your number should be around that figure.

If there is any reason why you should be paid more than the average, then state your case.

Do not quote a number that is too low and get cheated out of your money.

Do not quote a number that is too high and automatically eliminate yourself.

You want something fair. Industry standard. Your initial answer should be slightly higher than what you want so that you are able to compromise down.


Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich has the best guidelines to accepting a number you are not happy with.

If after negotiating, the employer insists on a number that you are not necessarily happy with but you can live with, take the deal, unless you have something better lined up.

However, tell the employer how excited you are to start working with them.

You love the company, you believe in what they are trying to do and you are willing to take the salary they are offering.

Only you wish that after six or twelve months, they can evaluate your performance and if you have done an extraordinary job, they will be willing to review your salary upwards.

Immediately you start the job, ask your supervisor or manager exactly what they expect from you and blow it out of the park.

Enters how to ask for a raise.



At my last job, I was working for an understaffed legal department earning an entry level intern salary.

I quickly carved a niche for myself by undertaking all the research and legal drafting work that came in the office.

We were three interns, after five months, my boss called me aside and offered me a Legal Assistant job that paid almost five times as much (because interns are basically paid peanuts). 

What distinguished me form the other two is that I was known for something I was really good at and I would do my best at everything else. 

It did not hurt either that I was nice to everyone in the office.

My boss heard from other people how I had helped them out. Had she not offered the raise, I would still have had leverage to ask for one.

Here is what you do, as soon as you start working somewhere, you understand the direction your boss is trying to take things and you do everything you can to move them closer and closer to their goal.

To be completely honest, I never worked a minute past office hours.

I was out at exactly five and I never came in to work on weekends.

My point is this, you may need to put in extra hours on special occasion but productivity is not measured in hours, it is measured in results.

According to Lauren of The Broke Millenial, you should find a way to track your achievements at work.

You should have a folder where you document milestones and everything you get recognized for at work.

This will come in handy in the actual negotiations.


Timing is everything. Do not ambush your boss.

Make a meeting and tell them you would like to discuss your compensation.

The best time is during performance review season. 

During the conversation, chose your words carefully so that you are not immediately shut down or met with defensiveness.

Express yourself clearly and concisely. The more you talk, the more you lose.

Begin by explaining how much you love your job and the direction the company is going etc and how you love being a part of it.

Then, armed with your research on how much people of your position should be earning or how much you have done for the company, simply state your case.

“It seems like I am being underpaid. I found that people with my experience and same job description are earning X,” or “here is what I have been able to achieve for the company in the past six months.

In light of my contribution, I am requesting if you could be open to increasing my salary.”

Then let them talk. They will probably begin explaining how the economy is not doing well and very many other problems.

Empathize but those are not your problems. A few thousand dollars will not sink the company.

At which point you explain that you understand but you are an extraordinary worker (I hope you are) and are not being paid at the level of others with your experience and expertise.


Whether you are negotiating a starting salary or a salary increase, you need to know that sometimes, the employer will not match your number, may not even want to hear it.

In certain companies there really is no salary flexibility (all of them say that but it is actually true in very few).

In some places they already have a system for salary increments or bonuses for great performers. Just follow the guidelines.

At which point you will have to just look for ways to earn a promotion or a better paying job.

For many people, you will end up leaving your first job after college for  a better paying job and they will just replace you with another person fresh from college.