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How to negotiate a job offer

Key takeaways

  • Negotiating a job offer can feel uncomfortable, but most employers are open to candidates doing it.
  • Most job candidates don't negotiate, but the vast majority who do get better offers than they had before.

Got a job offer? Don't rush to accept it. Knowing how to negotiate a better job offer—even asking for more money—could be worthwhile. A 2022 Fidelity survey found that 85% of Americans who countered on salary, other compensation or benefits, or both, received at least some of what they negotiated for.1

But negotiating can be awkward. You don't want to come off as ungrateful. You might even be concerned about losing the offer you have if you try to get a better one. That could be why most job candidates didn't negotiate their salary for their last job offer, the same Fidelity study found.1

Luckily, about 90% of employers are open to negotiating, according to a survey from XpertHR, an HR solutions provider.2 Still, there's a way to go about it so you stay in your new employer's good graces—and help your chances of getting a raise—or some other benefit you want. Here's how to negotiate salary and a job offer.

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How to negotiate salary and a job offer

If you got a job offer, assume the employer is motivated to agree to a deal that makes everyone happy. Then start planning for a job offer negotiation.

1. Schedule a conversation with the right person to negotiate with

Usually, whoever makes you the offer—whether it's a hiring manager, HR rep, or recruiter—is the person to talk to when you negotiate a job offer. So request a half hour of their time to discuss the offer as soon as possible after you receive it, but make sure you leave enough time for the following prep work.

2. Gather data

You may have done some research about salaries for this role before you interviewed. Now go deeper. Check job review sites and public forums for more info about salaries at your prospective employer. Look at competitors' details too, to find rough salary ranges for your role, area, and field. Save these numbers for your negotiating conversation.

3. Talk to your future coworkers

Maybe you hit it off with a peer during an interview panel, or a former colleague referred you for this job. If you're in contact with someone you trust at the organization who isn't your potential manager or a recruiter, you could ask if they successfully negotiated a job offer with this employer—and how. They might not feel comfortable sharing, and that's OK. If they do open up, then you get an idea of what works with negotiating that company.

4. Prioritize what you want to get out of negotiating

Consider what parts of the job offer—beyond salary—may be negotiable and asking for changes on:

  • Your title
  • Signing bonus amount
  • Start date
  • Stock options/restricted stock units (RSUs)
  • Remote work/schedule flexibility
  • Paid time off, family leave
  • Bonus payout %

That might not be all you can ask for, but don't ask for everything; pick the 2 or 3 benefits you care most about to focus your negotiating on. If the employer can't budge on your wages, bring up these other items.

5. Prepare your bargaining chips

You could take this job offer to your current employer and see if they'd counter. Or maybe you already have another job offer or you're interviewing elsewhere. These could all help you get a better deal from this employer. If another offer is better, you could ask this employer to match or beat that. If you're far along in the job application process at another company, you could tell this employer that you'll withdraw your application unless they raise your base salary.

6. Write out a strategy based on your ideal outcome

Don't wing it: Decide what you'll say first. Then think through how the employer might respond to your opening line, and come up with a response based on that. Keep going as deep into the conversation as you can. The more you prepare for every potential reply, the more successful you stand to be.

7. Stay polite during your conversation

The employer shouldn't be annoyed that you want to negotiate, but how you negotiate is important. Throughout the discussion, it should be apparent that you care about this role and this company—you're just trying to land on an offer that works for both parties. Be assertive, but not aggressive, and show you can find common ground with others, a skill you'd want to be known for in the workplace anyway.

8. Negotiate all the issues at once

Remember those goals you prioritized? Mention those 2 or 3 right from the get-go. It's not as effective to negotiate one at a time without sharing what else you're hoping to achieve in the conversation.

9. Ask a simple question

If you know exactly where you'd like to land on salary, and it's within reason, you could ask, "Are you able to offer (your goal salary)?" It's a basic question that could get you an easy yes.

10. Show them what you're worth

If their offer isn't on par with what similar roles pay, based on that data gathering you did, bring that up—plus any evidence that the salary is on the lower end of what's fair. Remind them how else you're valuable, whether it's a long tenure in this industry, experience at a competitor, relationships with prospective clients, or deep knowledge of a program the team is starting to use.

11. Be patient

It may be unlikely that the person you're talking to can authorize a better offer on the spot. Once you've made your case and they've agreed to take your request to the person with the authority to approve it, thank them for hearing you out, restate your interest in the position and the company, and then let them know you look forward to hearing from them. Then wait. If anything about your situation changes—say, another company makes you a better offer—by all means, let this employer know. Otherwise, give them some time to get back to you.

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More to explore

1. "Fidelity Study Shows Young Professionals on the Move," Fidelity, December 24, 2022. 2. "About Nine in 10 Employers Are Open to Negotiating Salary for Either Some Or All Positions, According to XpertHR's 2021 Survey on Recruiting and Hiring," XpertHR, February 9, 2021.

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