How to Negotiate Your Salary and Benefits

How to Negotiate Your Salary and Benefits
Written by Robin Okwanma

Being offered a dream job role after a lengthy interview process may get you so excited. Perhaps you have been on the hunt for just that kind of job for a while. Then comes the issue of salary and other added benefits that may appear okay at first. 

But have you stopped to consider if the base salary meets your needs? Or does the entire salary package match your skills, experience and qualifications? And if the base salary falls short of your expectation, are the added benefits attractive enough to keep you happy on the job? Rather than merely accept a new job role without questioning the offered salary package, stop and consider the overall picture. Because now is the time to really decide if the entire compensation will be good enough for you. Or you should negotiate for something better.

In fact, you may get far more job satisfaction from the extra incentives that the base salary. And yes, you can negotiate for a higher pay, whether your focus is on getting a higher base salary, or negotiating for favourable benefits. Truth be told, the extra incentives or benefits are often the true determinants of how much the new company and boss values its staff. You may be offered some work days off, pension benefits, health insurance, free equipment, and/or a work-from-home option that are pleasing alternatives to a higher salary. 

So decide which aspect of your proposed salary package needs adjustment, and plan towards negotiating it at the onset. So it will not adversely affect the happy working relationship you look forward to having with your boss later on. 

Useful Steps to Take in Negotiating Your Salary and Benefits

Overcome any Fear or Self-doubt about Salary Negotiation

Firstly, understand that it is good to ask for what you believe you deserve (and worked for). In fact, it is a duty to oneself to seek better compensation for work done. You should not feel guilty about it. You may or may not get all the conditions you asked for at the negotiation table. But you have the opportunity at this initial offer stage to discuss your needs with the hiring manager. So don’t waste it. If you don’t get a higher base salary, perhaps you can agree on better or added benefits. 

Sarah Woehler in her web article “Beyond Salary: How to Negotiate Your Benefits Package” suggested several benefits you can negotiate for outside the base salary. They include: 

  • Stock/equity options
  • Better health benefits 
  • Flexible work (e.g. flexible hours, remote work, or hybrid work) 
  • Increased paid (or unpaid) vacation time
  • Learning stipends or tuition  reimbursement
  • Paid or increased parental leave 
  • Performance-based bonuses 
  • Stipend for work-related subscriptions
  • Free and/or upgraded company equipment 
  • Wellness programs and related benefits (e.g., gym membership payment, fitness tracker, meditation apps, etc.)

(career contessa, 2023)

Check Yourself: What Valuables are You Bringing to the Job?

To negotiate for a well-deserved salary package, you need to consider what your boss stands to gain from you. What valuable personal assets are you bringing into the job that would deserve a pay raise? Your boss or hiring manager needs to understand your worth or value. What you have, and what you are able to achieve when you join their team. So consider the following personal assets that wil strongly influence your salary package:

  • Your education level (are you a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree holder? And in what areas of specialization?)
  • Your skills: soft skills and/or professional skills
  • Your physical/geographical location, and transportation costs to and from the office. Are housing costs and costs of living in your area quite significant? You must factor in the issue of overall costs.
  • Your leadership skills
  • Your years of relevant experience
  • Your professional certifications and/or licenses 

Make Findings About the Idustry Average Salary for Your Job Role

Another valuable negotiation tip is to find out the prevailing industry average salary for that job role offered to you. You can research that on Google, which will likely present you with some standard sites that collect data on industry average salaries. Indeed and Glassdoor are two of such sites.  Use that average to propose a reasonable salary range surrounding  it. Do not forget to check the industry average salary for that same (or similar) job roles in your immediate area, your state, country and even across the globe. 

You can then combine your findings with your assets to prepare a strong case to justify your demand for a salary raise. 

Also Read- The Top 10 Tools for Remote Work Productivity

Practice Your Negotiation Ahead of Time

If you want to gain more confidence and better negotiation skills, try practicing the meeting ahead of time with a trusted friend, relative or colleague. If possible, someone who is good in corporate and business relations, that can give you honest feedback for improvement. You can alternatively evaluate yourself by practicing in front of a mirror, or using a recording device to record and playback your speech. 

Choose an Appropriate Time to Discuss

It would be good to call up the hiring manager to decide when you want to discuss the job offer. It may even be better to do a video call or in-person meeting, so both of you can have an in-depth discussion to negotiate the offer. Remember to stay polite but come out clear on what you need. 

Show Gratitude, but Put On some Confidence

Start your discussion with the recruiter in a confident but polite way, thanking him or her for selecting you for the job role. Then proceed to state the reasons for requesting for a better salary or benefits package, with your prepared points as justification. Your show of confidence is essential in encouraging your recruiter or hiring manager to reason with you. And see that you truly deserve what you asked for. 

Prepare to Ask and Answer Questions to Justify your Negotiation

Expect the hiring manager to ask you questions. Surely he/she in attempting to reason along with you, wants to know your true motive. Some of the questions may appear challenging but – thoughtfully and confidently answer his/her questions in an honest way. You can also politely ask your own questions to understand why the recruiter may not accept to renegotiate the offer in spite of your defense. 

Target the Higher End of Your Proposed Salary Range 

Even though you have chosen a desired salary range ahead of the discussion, raise the upper end higher. Present a higher salary boundary than your original plan. If the recruiter agrees to negotiate, he/she would likely want to go for something lower than your upper boundary. Eventually he/she would likely settle for a salary amount reasonably within the range you planned at the onset. And you are better off in the end.  

If the Negotiation Does Not Favor You  – Honourably Move On

You may find out that the hiring manager or boss is not willing to offer you the negotiated salary, or the satisfactory benefits you sought for. Or perhaps the recruiter cannot offer you as much as you requested for, even though he/she agrees to increase the payment package. Think for a while and consider if accepting the new job role is more rewarding than where you are coming from. If so, you may accept the job. 

However if the salary does not please you or meet your needs, you can honorably reject the offer and search for better opportunities elsewhere. 

Ask for a Formal Written Agreement/Contract Stating the Negotiation Terms 

Finally after all said and done – you may have succeeded in getting your desired salary or benefits reviewed upwards or adjusted. It is important to have the entire agreement documented in a written and formal contract (or employment letter). And both you and your employer need to sign the work contract. Whether the company offers such a document or not, it is your entitlement to demand for it. The full working conditions, compensation and job roles must also be stated in the written contract, for avoidance of doubt. 


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About the author

Robin Okwanma

Hi, I'm Robin Okwanma. Software Engineer || Django, Python || React, React Native || Blogger. Technical Writer.