Mastering The Art of Successful Salary Negotiations

BY: Stephanie Hancock

When I graduated from college, I was excited to receive my first job offer as an Office Manager. I assumed that I would be making more than my present position and be receiving full benefits such as medical, dental, vision, and a 401K. I was wrong. When the offer was extended I asked, “so when do my benefits begin?” I was shocked to learn that none would be provided. Even though I was disappointed with the salary and the benefits, I accepted the job without eben thinking about negotiating or declining the offer. That decision cost me thousands of dollars during my six months there.

Before I accepted the offer for my next position, benefits were at the top of the list. I was excited to receive an offer with full medical benefits that were covered by the employer so I immediately accepted the offer. However, when I analyzed the total compensation package later that day, I realized that the salary was not more than I was currently making. Additionally, I increased my commute time by 45 minutes. I would still be coming up short. Again, this cost me thousands of dollars because I was paying more for those additional expenses. I was afraid to ask for more. I thought doing so would cause them to rescind the offer.

If you are one of the many people who feel anxious when it comes to discussing salary you are not alone. In a recent salary survey conducted by, 57% of respondents had never negotiated for a higher salary. Over the course of one’s career trajectory, that could be leaving millions of dollars on the table. This article will provide tips to prepare you to successfully negotiate your salary.


Have a solid understanding of what your salary needs will be for the next 12 months. Depending on when you begin, you may not be eligible for a salary increase during the merit cycle. That means that you could go 12 – 18 months before receiving an increase.

During the interview, inquire about the company’s compensation model. As an example, if it is a pay-forperformance model where employees are incentivized and rewarded for achieving goals and/or objectives high value is placed on top performers and increases typically occur during an annual merit cycle.

Research to learn what similar jobs in similar companies are paying. When doing this be sure to identify companies that are in the city in which you are applying. Not all cities, counties, or states pay the same. Sites such as or can be useful resources.

As you move along in the process ask the recruiter for the benefits package to review. Doing this allows you additional insight into what changes you may need to make in this area. Compare these benefits to the current package to identify any gaps. Some employers cover medical benefits 100% for an employee and offer reduced rates for spouses, domestic partners, and children. While other employers cover 70% – 80% of the cost for the employee. This is critical information as healthcare costs continue to rise annually and could impact your take-home pay. If you or your spouse or child have specific medical needs, you may ask to speak with the person in charge of employee benefits to discuss this information in greater detail.

Once you have completed the interview process, ensure that the company and the role align with your values, needs, and professional goals. Determine your range. You will want your high number and your lowest number. Keep in mind that employers do expect negotiation so be confident in the value that you will bring to the role and the company.

To minimize your anxiety, practice the conversation as much as possible. Rehearse by yourself, with a friend, mentor, or trusted colleague. The most important thing to focus on is your belief in yourself and knowing your value. Silence the negative chatter in your head, and do not embrace terms such as “Imposter”. Know and believe your worth!


By educating yourself about the company, and the role, and identifying how your skills, and accomplishments can support the business needs you will be ready to discuss the terms of the offer once extended. If the offer does not meet your expectations using the following tips may support a productive conversation



 Shalanaa Pirtle, Partner and Chief Talent, Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Parker Poe Attorneys & Counselors at Law, understands the art of negotiation. I asked for her insights and top three tips for sitting down at the table and rising with a higher compensation package. She shared the following:

“Schedule time for the conversation. It is essential for both you and your leadership to be focused on this specific issue and to plan to set aside time to have a discussion focused specifically on this issue. You might also simply lay the groundwork by telling your leadership that you plan to seek an increase or would like to talk about increasing your compensation at a later date, whether that falls within the normal comp cycle or outside it. You’ll want to avoid catching your leadership unaware as they may be unprepared for the conversation when you bring it up. You also don’t want this very important conversation to seem like an afterthought, or something you are timid or not serious about.”


Know your numbers! It is critical for you to know what metrics are considered the basis for your compensation, and what performance measurements are most important to your leadership. If you work in a sales or production-based environment,you absolutely must be able to articulate how you performed in the preceding fiscal period compared to your peers as well as to your prior performance. Even if you work in a field with less easily quantifiable results, you must also be able to articulate how your performance translated to measurable results for your team or the business overall. Did you meet or exceed your stated goals? Have you received kudos from other team leads and stakeholders? Did you take the lead on executing a project critical to the overall business plan and knock it out of the park? Prepare a short memo, no more than two pages, highlighting your wins and providing the necessary context for any misses. Even if you don’t produce the memo to anyone else, you will be that much more prepared with your key talking points. It will also be important to know compensation ranges for your position and industry, as well as the varying possibilities you might request – increased base compensation, increased incentive compensation, adjusted metrics to make incentive compensation more attainable, increased Paid Time Off, additional professional development opportunities, and any other perks.


 After you’ve prepared for the conversation, scheduled the conversation, and are having the conversation, be sure to CLOSE the conversation by asking for what you want. Salary negotiations can be stressful, however, with the rising cost of inflation, and an unsteady economic landscape it is necessary more than ever. The more you believe in yourself, and your abilities the easier these conversations are. Practice until it feels natural. You may be pleasantly surprised with an offer that meets or exceeds your expectations. If you don’t you are ready to negotiate for what you want.

Sources: I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi Overcoming Under Earning by Barbara Stanny

 Getting to Yes Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Stephanie Hancock is the Owner of Career Rise, LLC. She is a Career Strategist, HR professional, and a member of the John Maxwell Team. She is an avid reader and is passionate about professional growth and development

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