How to Effectively Negotiate Your Salary

How to Effectively Negotiate Your Salary

by Zuhal Uluturk

Do you remember when you bought your first car? Did you experience the excitement of talking the salesperson down from the original price? Negotiation is part of our lives, and we need to practice it now and then in order to get the best value. So why don’t many of us consider negotiating our salaries? 

As an HR professional, I’ve experienced salary negotiations numerous times on the employer’s side of the table. I don’t remember how many times I’ve gone through this dance of negotiation; however, in my experience, it mostly occurs with senior-level roles. 

It would be interesting to find candidates who negotiate at every position level, regardless of whether it’s an entry-, mid- or senior-level role. After all, filling vacant positions within a respectable time frame is one of HR’s most crucial performance criteria. However, very few candidates do.

Everyone should value their qualifications and join the ranks of negotiators rather than trying to rush through the process of signing a contract. But it can be nerve-racking because it can feel like you are jeopardizing an opportunity.

After attending a guest speaker event on salary negotiation hosted by YWCA FOCUS@Work  and listening to Dawn Longshaw, a professional recruiter and HR consultant, I realized that everyone, regardless of their seniority, can follow her recommendations for effective salary negotiation and conduct a discussion with their next employer for better compensation. Here are my takeaways from this valuable workshop.

Just like any goal, you need a plan. Before sitting at the salary negotiation table, make sure you have one. Follow the three steps below to build your negotiating plan:

1. Preparation

Do your research. Visit websites such as GlassdoorIndeedHays or Robert Half to see the typical salary for the industry/role that you work in. Talk to the people who are already working at similar jobs. Know the pay range so that you are prepared for questions about your salary expectation and use this range. Know your own value. Where do you measure up in the job? Are there areas of the role for which you are under-qualified or over-qualified?
Next, go through your monthly expenses to define your budget. Then decide what your minimum salary requirements are and apply to jobs that meet or exceed that amount.

2. Practice

Show that you know the market. The mantra is: “My research tells me that for this type of role in this industry, salaries typically range from ... to ….” Practice using this mantra and saying the words out loud. Be able to articulate your value and ready to discuss more than the salary. Examples of other things that can be negotiated include asking for an accelerated salary review, flexible work schedules, paid conferences, sponsored certifications or annual dues, the amount of vacation you receive, work from home perks and bonus packages.

3. Get What You Want

After receiving the offer, it’s ok to take some time to think it over. You don’t have to accept the first offer - it’s not always take it or leave it. Counteroffers are reasonable; it’s appropriate to say, “I am really excited about this offer and would like some time to think it over.” Come back the next day with a counteroffer and be prepared for counters to your offer. Chances are you will either achieve a better salary or better benefits that make you feel valued and appreciated.

Here are other quick tips shared by Dawn:

  • Don’t get rattled by a hard style negotiator - stick to your plan.
  • Don’t get fooled by a soft style negotiator - you’ll still have to ask for what you want without feeling guilty.
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that negotiating will hurt your future relationship.
  • Don’t take negotiations personally - detach your emotions. This is about business, so stay professional and be mindful of not burning bridges.
  • Remember: the salary you start with is the salary you’ll live with (raises, bonuses and pension contributions are all percentages).
  • Get in writing - verbal offers are not worth the paper they are printed on.

Know what you are offering to the employer and keep your focus on presenting it. Compensation is just the final phase of the presentation. If you play your cards right during the game, you’ll sit at the negotiation table in an advantaged position. Do your research, practice and get what you want!

Zuhal Uluturk is a recent graduate of the YWCA FOCUS@Work program. She has recently moved to Vancouver from Istanbul, Turkey, where she built a solid career as a human resources leader. Zuhal holds her CPHR designation, has a keen interest in the “future of work” and is very excited about building a life, career and network in Vancouver.

YWCA FOCUS@Work is a free program that helps women obtain sustainable employment. The program offers a Guest Speakers Series to current and past participants covering a range of topics from self-care to career and personal development. For more information, visit the YWCA FOCUS@Work webpage or email