Tips to Master Salary Negotiations: When, How & What Else to Consider

Whether starting a new job or being offered a promotion, negotiating your salary can be crucial in advancing your career and ensuring you are compensated fairly for your work. If you are feeling uncomfortable negotiating, you are not alone. It's common for individuals to feel uneasy about discussing salary expectations as part of the job search process or with a promotion on the table. If the proposed compensation is fair, they often hesitate to risk the opportunity they've worked hard to secure by negotiating further.

Know your worth in the job market

Before you even start your job search, know what the market is paying for similar roles. It is incumbent for you to be your own advocate and understand the salary ranges. Getting this information today is much easier than in the past as most job boards list salaries, and several websites offer further insight on compensation such as Indeed,, Glassdoor and Payscale. As the demand for pay transparency is adopted, more and more job posts will include the salary range or hourly rate. In fact, many states and British Columbia have already adopted laws to make pay transparency mandatory.


When comparing your salary expectations against the market there are many things to consider. Most often there are several variables that will impact your salary not just the role title. Some of them are:

  • Location
  • Years of experience
  • Relevant experience
  • Education
  • Additional relevant certifications and designations
  • Industry or sector

Once you understand where your salary range is and the competitive landscape, you are better informed and able to negotiate.

When to negotiate a salary increase

Salary negotiation is a standard and expected part of the employment process, and it's often viewed positively by employers when done professionally and thoughtfully. Advocate for your worth and take control of your financial future by seeking fair compensation for your skills and contributions that is aligned with the market. Negotiating a salary increase is important for several reasons, as it can significantly impact your career satisfaction and financial well-being. Here's when you may consider negotiating your salary:

  • Read the job post or work with a recruiter:
    If you have an expectation of X and the posted salary is well below that, you can invest your time in applying and interviewing but recognize that the salary range was given for a reason and that rarely do you convince a hiring manager to deviate significantly from their budget. In fact, you may do some damage to your professional reputation if you go through the entire process only to reveal at the job offer stage that you expect X % more. Similarly, be honest with your recruiter if they are working with you on a role, tell them what you expect to make. They will know how much stretch the hiring manager has in their budget and whether it is realistic to pursue the opportunity.
  • During the interview process:
    It is important to have a discussion about salary and compensation early in the process if you do not have any intel on the company’s compensation culture. Now is not the time to negotiate specifics but make sure that your expectations align with their range or you are both are open to continuing the interview process.
  • During the job offer: If you are not working with a recruiter and you receive a job offer, this is often the best time to negotiate your salary. Employers are typically more flexible during this stage because they want to secure top talent.
  • Annually or at performance reviews: 
    Many companies have a yearly performance review process where salary adjustments can be discussed. If your company follows this practice, use this opportunity to negotiate based on your achievements and contributions and not just cost of living increases.
  • After a significant achievement: 
    Timing is key – if you've recently achieved a significant milestone or completed a high-impact project that has positively affected the company's bottom line, it may be an excellent time to request a raise.
  • After a promotion: 
    When you're promoted to a new role with increased responsibilities, requesting a salary increase is reasonable to align with your new position.
  • Market research: 
    Regularly assess your salary compared to industry standards and colleagues' salaries in similar roles. If you're underpaid, it's a good time to negotiate.

Remember, negotiating a salary increase is a normal part of career progression. Approach it with confidence, preparation, and a focus on your value to the organization. Having the skill to engage in salary negotiations is valuable for optimizing your income potential throughout your career. Did you know that only 37% of people always negotiate their salaries—while an astonishing 18% never do? The biggest reason for not asking for more is fear. Below are some tips on how to start the negotiation process with confidence.

How to Negotiate a Salary Increase:

  • Prepare and research: 
    As stated above, research industry salary benchmarks for your role and location and assess your accomplishments, skills, and contributions. When you determine the specific amount you're requesting, be prepared to justify it.
  • Schedule a meeting: 
    Request a one-on-one meeting with your supervisor or HR to discuss your salary. Ensure it's a private and professional setting.
  • Make your case: 
    Present your accomplishments and contributions, highlighting how they have added value to the company. Mention industry benchmarks and salary data to support your request. Be confident and concise in your communication.
  • Be open to negotiation: 
    Your employer may disagree with your initial request. Be open to compromise and alternative solutions, such as bonuses, additional benefits, or a future review.
  • Practice effective communication: 
    Stay calm and professional, even if the conversation becomes challenging. Listen actively to your employer's perspective and concerns, and avoid making ultimatums or threats to leave the company.
  • Consider non-monetary benefits: 
    If your employer cannot meet your salary expectations, explore other benefits like flexible working hours, additional vacation days, or professional development opportunities.
  • Be prepared for all outcomes: 
    Be ready for the possibility of your request being denied. In this case, ask for feedback on what you can do to improve your chances of a raise in the future.
  • Stay professional: 
    Regardless of the outcome, maintain professionalism and perform at your best. The negotiation process should not negatively affect your working relationship.

If salary negotiation is not an option, there are still several aspects of your compensation and employment besides money that you can negotiate. While base salary is often a significant compensation component, other benefits and perks can enhance your overall compensation package.

Here are some alternatives to consider negotiating:

  • Bonus structure: 
    You can discuss the potential for performance-based bonuses or incentives. While these may not be part of your base salary, they can significantly increase your overall earnings if you meet specific goals or targets.
  • Stock options or equity: 
    In some companies, especially startups or those in the tech industry, you can negotiate for stock options or equity in the company. This could lead to significant financial gains in the future if the company performs well.
  • Benefits and perks: 
    Explore options for enhancing your benefits package, such as health insurance, dental and vision coverage or RRSP contributions. You can negotiate for higher employer contributions, lower deductibles, or more comprehensive coverage.
  • Vacation and paid time off
    Negotiate for additional vacation days, personal days, or flexible scheduling arrangements that allow you to maintain a better work-life balance.
  • Remote work or flexible schedule
    If you value remote work or flexible hours, discuss the possibility of working from home part-time or adjusting your work hours to suit your needs better.
  • Professional development: 
    Request opportunities for professional development, including training, courses, workshops, or conferences paid for by the company. Investing in your skills can enhance your career prospects.
  • Title or role adjustments: 
    If a salary increase is not feasible, consider negotiating a change in job title or an expansion of your responsibilities that aligns with your career goals.
  • Workplace amenities: 
    Negotiate for additional workplace amenities, such as better office space, access to a fitness centre, parking privileges, or upgraded technology and equipment.
  • Performance reviews and promotions: 
    Discuss a clear path for performance evaluations and promotions, including the criteria and timeline for advancement.
  • Sign-on bonuses: 
    While not part of your ongoing compensation, you can negotiate for a sign-on bonus to help with immediate financial needs.

When negotiating these aspects of your compensation, you must be well-prepared, research industry standards, and clearly articulate your needs and preferences. Always approach negotiations professionally and be willing to compromise to find mutually beneficial solutions. The latest labour market report has shown that job seekers will experience less open roles, more competition and won’t necessarily hold all the cards when negotiating job offers. So keeping an open mind and being flexible will help you survive the time of uncertainty while improving your career satisfaction and financial well-being.


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