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Do’s and don'ts for successfully negotiating your salary

You won’t get the pay you desire if you don’t ask. While the majority of hiring managers say they plan to increase initial job offers for new employees, according to a recent CareerBuilder study, many will start lower with the expectation of negotiation. Employers are often willing to at least entertain a counteroffer. So: Always negotiate your salary.

Here, we lay out some dos and don’ts for successfully negotiating your salary:

DO keep a positive attitude

Remember that you and the hiring manager are on the same side. You both want to arrive at a fair number. Come to the conversation with some enthusiasm, and speak confidently and openly. Behave as though the negotiation will be successful, and you could land your asking amount.

DON’T forget to do your research

Research salary ranges for the position. You should be prepared to know what the average starting salary is for that role, in that specific location, and for someone with your experience level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and CareerBuilder's Salary Search are both helpful resources to determine ranges.

DO consider your take-home pay

Your base pay is not your take-home pay. Consider taxes, insurance, public transit charges, gasoline bills, parking lot fees, toll road tariffs and all sorts of other potential requirements that will eat away at that salary number, and use this information as a negotiation point. There’s nothing wrong with explaining to the hiring manager that, after taxes and insurance, your take-home pay won’t cover the median cost-of-living requirements of your area.

Use cost-of-living calculators like a city comparison calculator or living wage calculator to give you a sense of what your take-home pay will be before accepting a salary. Another point of leverage is bringing up what you can and can’t afford with today’s wages. For parents, the cost of childcare might be worth mentioning. You just might nudge the base up by a few dollars – and every little bit counts toward a victorious negotiation.

DON’T think you have to give an exact number

It's always beneficial to start by stating your salary request in the form of a range. That way you do not price yourself under or out of consideration, and show that there is room for negotiation.

DO ask about benefits

Salary is just one factor in the total compensation package, so don’t just get caught up on the number. The total compensation (base salary, benefits and other variable pay like bonuses and sign-on bonuses) amount is critical when making an informed decision.

To that end, remember that benefits can always be negotiated too, especially if there isn’t much wiggle room with your salary. Try to negotiate vacation time, personal days, bonuses and stocks if they're available. Tuition reimbursement, paid family leave and flex scheduling are also worth bringing up. Assume everything you care about merits discussion. If you can’t get everything you want right now, ask for a review in three to six months.

DON’T accept the offer on the spot

You’re not required to accept, counter or reject a job offer on the spot. It’s common to thank the hiring manager, and then let them know you’d like some time to consider the offer and get back with either your acceptance or negotiation requests. Just make sure you respond within 24 hours, or you might lose the offer.

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