Young African American woman weighing employment options

Smart Ways to Negotiate Your Salary- How to Know Your Worth in Your Next Role

Effectively negotiating the salary you want entails a collaborative, fair, and healthy conversation between you and the hiring manager. In this article, you’ll learn how to handle salary negotiations professionally with insights from Patrick Boyle, Equiliem Recruiting Manager.  

Salary negotiation is an experience that’s often perceived as an intimidating push and pull between a candidate and a hiring manager. Some candidates will completely steer clear of the compensation conversation, while others end up defensively vying for the number they feel they deserve.

Regardless of which side of the spectrum you end up on, fear is often associated with this negotiation experience. It can make the whole discussion feel like an emotional roller coaster. While these emotions are valid, when we objectively strip down the process of negotiating your salary, the act of negotiation is a collaborative conversation.

Hiring Managers Are on Your Side, and Most Will Understand If You Negotiate

Almost 90 percent of employers are willing to discuss salary after sending a job offer. They’ve put much thought into their choice and decided that you can be a great addition to their team. While they may not always say it, they are putting their best effort into creating a winning team for themselves and presenting an offer that is reasonable for you. It’s because they value you.

Taking an intelligent posture in negotiating your salary is about looking beyond the money. It’s looking at the person on the other end of the table. How you handle the conversation is an opportunity to make a lasting impression on your hiring manager. You’ll stand out from others who advocate only for themselves when you remember to communicate with the other person in mind.

Thinking about negotiation in terms of everyone winning is a great way to demonstrate maturity and empathy and build a positive relationship with the hiring manager.

Recruiters Are Negotiation Partners Who Can Advocate for You 

One smart way of navigating salary negotiation is to leverage recruiters as negotiation partners. Recruiters are in an excellent position to understand your needs and priorities and champion you for the best salary offer possible. They spend a lot of time understanding the market, evaluating talents, and interacting with clients; they are an excellent bridge between you and the hiring manager.

Patrick Boyle, Recruiting Manager at Equiliem, says, “The value of any employee is the amount someone is willing to pay.” Boyle says that post-COVID, he’s talking with candidates who are more comfortable knowing what they are worth in the market. “Having empirical data adds validity to your salary request.”

Recruiters can provide a layer of insulation between you and your future employer. As you leave the conversation about money to them, you can focus on why you are the right fit for the role and present yourself in the best light.

“We ask our candidates not to initiate the salary conversation,” says Boyle. “Leaving the negotiation process up to us allows the candidate to speak to the value they bring to the table and how they can help the employer.”

To help set you up for a successful collaboration with your recruiter and hiring manager, we’ve listed four tips to help navigate the art of salary negotiation.

Benchmark Market Trends and Salary Ranges

Objective research is the anchor of a great counteroffer. Your goal isn’t just to demand a number you desire. Instead, it’s to communicate an amount that objectively represents your fair market value. It is where research is essential.

This information is not just helpful but also empowering, especially when you know your position’s fair market value. Understanding the appropriate salary range equips you to negotiate your worth realistically and provide a counteroffer confidently.

Below are some ways in which you can get an idea of market trends and salary ranges:

  • Consult multiple channels on market trends.

    Salary guides are rich sources of market trends. At the same time, job sites like PayScale and Indeed are great places to get a realistic view of advertised salary packages. Suppose you want to dig deeper and gain insight on a candidate level. In that case, you can tap into crowdsourcing platforms like Glassdoor and Reddit for more information.

  • Research salary structures.

    Salary structures can vary based on geography, including whether you live in the same locale as the company headquarters. Review sites like Glassdoor can come in handy in understanding a company’s salary structure and how they approach future salary increases.

  • Look up the pay transparency laws in your area.

    Each state has different regulations regarding whether the interviewee can ask for the information. The pay transparency trend continues with more states considering legislation requiring employers to provide clear salary information. Depending on where you live, this trend may help your job search process. But there will likely be discretion within the pay range that allows further discussion.

Ask About the Employer’s Criteria

Approaching a negotiation through a wide lens is essential. Your goal is not only to present your fair market value but also to consider the salary evaluation criteria of the hiring manager.

Most companies have different opportunity brackets of salary ranges based on market studies on candidates with the same experience, education, and skillset to do the job in a particular industry and region. By understanding the experiences and skills the company values, you can position yourself realistically during the negotiation and manage your expectations. Once you’ve got a complete picture of the salary landscape, you can begin to evaluate yourself. Work with your recruiter to provide a counteroffer.

In instances like this, you can ask a recruiter to give you more insight into the criteria the hiring manager is gauging you with:

  • “Can you tell me more about the basis of the offer?”
  • “Is it possible to know the hiring manager’s criteria so I can have realistic expectations?”

Even if you fall short on a few of their criteria, you can take that information and process it proactively. Use today’s setback to set yourself up for success in future salary negotiations, whether you take the job or not. Take note of your skills and experience to understand better what areas you can develop to reach your desired pay rate. Then, ask a recruiter to let you know of opportunities that fit your profile and experience best.

Communicate Your Expectations to a Recruiter

A recruiter’s primary objective is to find a job that will not just align with your skills and priorities but also place you in the environment you need to thrive in your role. A negotiation is genuinely successful when both parties can pursue true collaboration and work towards a win-win situation. Being honest with your expectations is a part of that.

Let your recruiter know about your preferences, goals, and aspirations. Even though they are experts in matching candidates with options, they still need your collaboration. Accurate information on the target salary you are looking for and why you are motivated to make a job change will help them do just that.

Your honesty can significantly increase the chances of a better job, organizational fit, and, ultimately, a more fulfilling and successful career.

Be Flexible and Stay Positive

A successful negotiation isn’t determined by how high the number is on your contract; it’s about meeting the needs of both parties.

Hiring managers often do their best to provide a salary offer that they think is fair and reasonable. However, they must remember that your counteroffer isn’t the only thing they will consider. They also work within the company’s existing salary structures and criteria. Boyle suggests that if your target salary exceeds the range, consider setting specific goals with the employer. “If you know the key metrics that are in play for your position, for example, profit or efficiency measures, you can attach a bonus or raise based on reaching those goals within a time period.” Accepting a lower start rate may be worth considering as long as the measures are not ambiguous.

Flexibility matters most, mainly because money is not the measure of your value. In such cases, you can consider non-cash components to negotiate a compensation package closer to your goal. List down all the benefits and perks vital to you and make a job offer more attractive. Then, sort these into your nice-to-haves and non-negotiables and communicate them to your recruiter.

Most Common Negotiable Benefits and Perks

  • Extra vacation days

  • Allowances (medical, transportation, food, clothing)

  • Flexible working hours

  • Remote work setups

  • Health insurance coverage

  • 401(K) retirement savings plan

  • Career development opportunities such as annual percentage increases or promotions

  • Stock options

Knowing what you want and be willing to truly listen and understand the hiring manager’s criteria.  Staying open and clear will pave the way for a collaborative conversation.

Boyle says, “It’s our job to find employers great people who check all the boxes, so we’ll present someone who does, even if their target is above the pay range.”

The ultimate job fit creates a win-win scenario for the employer and candidate. Stay focused on the expectations and goals of the role, and approach negotiation with an empathetic perspective. It will go a long way toward creating a positive relationship with the hiring manager.



About Equiliem

Equiliem ( believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive. 

Across the U.S., leading companies in healthcare, government, light industrial manufacturing, professional services, and energy rely on us for their workforce solutions. Our recruiting and HR services include contract and direct hire staffing, Payrolling/EOR, Independent Contractor Compliance, and Managed Services.

Since 1995, we’ve helped shape our industry. Today, we continue to research, ask questions, and continuously enhance the candidate journey and client experience.