If the thought of negotiating your salary has you heading for the hills, you're not alone. More than half of all employees have never even made the attempt in the first place, citing fears like being generally uncomfortable with the process (28%) or not wanting to be seen as pushy (19%) as the main culprits.

But the truth is, most employers expect you to negotiate your salary, especially when taking on a new position. And the longer you put it off, the lower your overall career earnings may be.

The key to acing your salary negotiation lies in formulating a plan ahead of time and backing your numbers up with data. Just doing these two steps alone will alleviate many of the uncertainties you may have about negotiation, and we'll walk you through all of them here.

1. use a salary comparison tool

You don't want to overwhelm your new employer with an outrageous offer, but you don't want to sell yourself short, either. That's why the first step to preparing for a successful salary negotiation is to come up with a fair salary range based on current market data.

There are plenty of salary comparison tools online which can help you get an idea of what others in your field are being paid in locations with similar costs of living to yours. Use the average salary that you're given and set a range of plus or minus $10,000 on either end depending on your level of experience. These will be the numbers you'll use when heading into your negotiation.

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use a salary comparison tool to find the right salary range for your position.

2. prepare to state your passion

Remember all those great points you made on your cover letter and in your interview? Don't forget them just yet. Many of the traits you emphasized to land the job, like conveying your passion and highlighting how each of your skills and experiences will contribute to the company's success, will be arguments you need to make again when it comes time to solidify pay.

3. highlight major responsibilities

Your negotiators are well aware of the role they're hiring you for, but it doesn't hurt to remind them of some of your new position's biggest responsibilities to strengthen your case.

Look over the job description to get a sense of the duties that are most central to the role. Job ads tend to throw a lot of responsibilities, skills and qualifications at you all at once, so try to zero in on the major strategic or managerial tasks that carry the most weight. Bonus points if what makes your new job valuable to your employer happens to align with why you're excited about the position. You can convey your passion and excitement, all while underlining the importance of the role in supporting business functions.


be prepared to discuss your new responsibilities: reread the job ad for strategic or managerial tasks to highlight.

4. bring it all together in the meeting

Once you've done your research and prepared your talking points, it's time to ace the meeting. It may be that your new employer will start negotiations by naming their price; other times they may wait for you to go first, so you'll want to prepare for each scenario.

In the event you're presented with a number first, you'll be glad you did your salary research in step one. That way, you'll be able to immediately assess whether or not it falls within the fair market range. If it does, you may not end up having to do much salary negotiating.

If they ask you to go first, pick a starting point within the range based on your years of experience. When you present your number, preface it with a quick summation of how you arrived at it in the first place, emphasizing that it's based on current research into salary data for nearby markets.


pick your starting point based on your years of experience within the range you found on the salary comparison tool.

If they counter your offer with something lower, or if their opening offer was outside the fair range, now's the time to use the points you planned to discuss in steps two and three to justify a higher offer.

Remember, you and your employer are on the same team, so be polite and respectful throughout the discussion. If you ever find yourself in doubt, remember to rely on your salary data and skills when making your arguments, and you should be able to come to an agreement together in no time.

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