How to Negotiate Your Starting Salary

01 May 2022

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Whether you are in the process of interviewing for a job position or have just received a job offer, understanding the methods to negotiate a starting salary can help you establish your financial needs while remaining poised and professional.

In this article, we define what is meant by the phrase 'starting salary,' discuss when it is appropriate to negotiate starting salary, how you can go about negotiations and examples on how to approach the topic with your employer.

What is a starting salary?

A starting salary is the amount of pay you receive during your first months or year of employment. This information can be disclosed in the original job description, during a company interview or in an employment contract. While some starting salaries offer no room for negotiation, you can achieve a higher starting salary by applying the right tactics.

When should you negotiate your starting salary?

A challenging part of salary negotiating can be figuring out when to discuss the topic. The following section reviews several situations in which it is appropriate to open up a discussion about your salary expectations with an employer.

  • After your interviewer brings it up in an interview. Wait for your interviewer to bring up discussions about pay. You want to make sure that although pay scale is important, you are focusing on the job, company culture and what you have to offer. By seeming too eager to discuss your starting salary expectations, you could be perceived as more money-driven than passion-driven in your job search. If your interviewer does not offer up this topic, consider inquiring about starting salary expectations toward the end of the interview when they ask if you have questions.
  • Once you have been offered a position. Once you have been offered a job position, you can use this to your advantage to negotiate your starting salary. Consider asking for a salary that is five to ten thousand above the original offer and see what your prospective employer can offer you in terms of higher pay.

How to negotiate your starting salary (tips and examples)

In order to approach starting salary negotiations, you'll need to be prepared. There is no guarantee that you will achieve your desired salary starting out, but you might be able to leverage your qualifications to receive more than the original offer.

  1. Do your research.
  2. Highlight what you can offer.
  3. Disclose salary information from your previous job.
  4. Discuss livelihood requirements and needed benefits.
  5. Discuss Job offers you have received from other companies.

1. Do your research

Prior to applying for a job, you should complete research on salary expectations within your industry. Consider how factors such as location, job title and education can influence starting salary levels. If a job description offers a salary range that is to be expected, compare the starting salaries of similar positions offered by their company's competitors.

This can help you identify how your qualifications, as well as environmental factors, could affect your starting salary and the potential to negotiate a higher salary than the company originally advertised.

Example: "I understand that the starting salary allotted for this position is set at $50,000, but I have done some research on state data and some of your industry competitors, and each source sets starting salary expectations at $60,000. Is there any room for a starting salary of $60,000 within your budget for this position?"

2. Highlight what you can offer

Remind yourself of your personal and professional attributes that you can contribute to a company and its continued success. Think about factors such as responsibilities you held at your previous job, the skills you have acquired, the level of education you have received and aspects of your personality such as being hardworking, motivated, friendly or collaborative.

You can use these elements to enhance your employability by including them in your application materials, and also by discussing them during a job interview.

Example: "As a passionate digital marketing professional with over five years of industry experience, and a master's degree in digital media, I would be open to offers starting at $65,000."

3. Disclose salary information from your previous job

Disclosing the salary you received at your previous job could be a useful negotiation tactic, especially if your former employer gave you a higher salary than the starting salary that is offered by the company you are considering at present.

Example: "In my previous job, I made approximately $45,000 a year. I understand that the offer is for $40,000 but I would like to consider offers around $45,000 and above to meet my qualifications."

4. Discuss livelihood requirements and needed benefits

If you have a family, long commute or would have to relocate in order to be employed by a company, these are factors you can bring up when negotiating your starting salary. It is important that these factors have a level of significance to you and they should enhance your reasoning for deserving a higher starting salary. Do not mention factors such as car payments, desire to travel or desire to purchase material goods.

Example: "I am a father of three with another on the way, and so in order to fulfill my job responsibilities to the best of my ability, I need to know that my salary will adequately support the needs of my growing family."

5. Discuss job offers you have received from other companies

Another way you can negotiate your starting salary with an employer is by disclosing information about other current job offers which promise a higher starting salary. You should mention this information in a respectful manner and include your desire to work for the employer.

Example: "Another marketing agency has just offered me $80,000 a year to manage twenty social media specialists, but your company's welcoming environment and passionate employees are keeping me from accepting that offer, is there any leeway you can offer me in terms of pay?"

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