How to Negotiate a Higher Salary (Even if you Feel Uncomfortable)

By Jane Cui

March 29, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

money rollIf you want to be financially savvy, you can’t just rely on saving. There’s a finite amount of money that you can save from every paycheck. Soon enough, you need to be thinking about ways to get paid more. Do you know anyone who is a master of negotiating their salary? Maybe not, but I bet you do know at least a couple of shy, awkward people who would rather swallow a whole stick of butter than ask to get paid what they’re worth. The truth is, everyone is terrible at negotiation. So the good news is: if you negotiate your salary decently, you will probably get that raise.

Note that salary negotiation is not something that people are born with – it can be taught with practice. With that being said, you can’t just read articles or books on negotiation. You have to practice it with a friend or a coworker before you call a meeting with your boss. In this article, I will go through steps to negotiate a higher salary.

How To Negotiate Your Salary Before Accepting A Job Offer

“I don’t like to talk about money. It makes me nervous.”

“I have never negotiated with anyone in my life!”

“I’m freaked out! I don’t want a pay cut from my last job!”

You might be thinking all these things before negotiating your salary for a new job. So when the Hiring Manager gives you an offer, you get sweaty palms when she asks you “What are your salary requirements?” The number one rule is: Don’t give a salary range. Have the company give you a range instead. Know that you are not obligated to give out any previous salary information. And you also don’t have to give out the “minimum amount of compensation you require” for you to accept the job. A recruiter’s job is to get you on board for the least amount of money. The company may have allotted $70,000 a year for you, but if you give them a range or tell them that your previous salary was $50,000, they are probably going to give you just that. They’re thinking: “Yay! I saved $20,000 of company money!” All the while. you are sitting and wondering if you could have gotten a better wage.

#1 Rule: Don’t tell the recruiter the least amount of money you will accept for the job.

Negotiate Your Total Compensation Package

Your total Compensation package includes salary, benefits (health insurance, 401ks, health savings account), Bonuses, vacation time, and equity (company stock). Negotiate them separately. Write down how much you want for each of them. If the hiring manager says no to a salary increase, move on to the next thing: benefits. Keep going down the list. Most companies are more flexible on certain types of compensation than others. For example, startups are usually more flexible with equity.

How To Ask For A Raise At Your Current Company

Common Myth: I deserve a raise because I’ve been working here for X months.

Pretend that you go to your boss and say: “I’ve been working here for 7 months, and I’m much more efficient. Please give me a raise.” Your boss will look at you, raise her eyebrows, and reply: “Why should I pay you for doing the same thing you were doing 7 months ago?” You are not entitled to a raise. You have to earn it by doing work that is high value for the company. This is why you must prepare ahead of time before your negotiation. First, spend a week to write down all these items in a word document:

Top 3 business problems for the company that you are able to solve
How you will solve the problems in a specific timeframe? (Example: I will fix your Advertising Copy in 1 month by doing X, Y, Z.)
A record of what you did for the company in the past 6 months.
3 Accomplishments you have made during your time at the company
Salary trends for your position from

Save that word document, and print it out. When you sit down to negotiate with your boss, tell her “I wrote down the top business problems at this company and I have proposed a plan to solve it in X months. I believe I should get a raise because I will solve these problems, as I have a history of solving business problems with this company.” This is what your boss will think: “Ok, my employee is proposing these solutions, he’s written everything down, if the proposal is good, I can give him a raise.”

Your boss is extremely busy and has a million things on her mind. Make it easier for her to say “yes.” Do not give her any doubts about you. All she has to do is look at your printed document, say yes to some proposals, say no to some proposals, and give you a raise right then and there. If you prepare for your negotiation with a printed proposal, it shows your boss that you thought about this ahead of time. It shows direction, initiative and an ability to plan ahead. If I was a boss, I would feel comfortable giving someone like this a raise because I know what they plan to do to make the company more money.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

If you’ve been wanting to negotiate a raise for a while, give yourself 1 week to practice. And please, find a real, live person to practice with. Don’t just say “I feel awkward practicing with a real person” or “No! I’m too embarrassed.” If you don’t practice, you will fail the negotiation and you will lose thousands of dollars. Most people (especially women) don’t negotiate their salaries at all, and they lose money over the course of their lives because of it. Don’t worry, if you are a woman and you feel nervous about the negotiation, read the next section for recommended negotiation books for women.

Some Negotiation Books To Read:

Ask for it: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get what They Really Want, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

Get Paid What You’re Worth: The Expert Negotiators’ Guide to Salary and Compensation, by Gregory B. Northcraft and Robin L. Pinkley
Salary Negotiation Tips For Professionals: Compensation That Reflects Your Value, by Ronald and Caryl Krannich

Jane Cui

Jane Cui is a Content Writer and Career Specialist at She loves to write about job-hunting, personal finance, and workplace management.

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