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Salary Talk 101: A Practical Guide to Negotiating Your Pay with Confidence


Published on February 19, 2023

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TL;DR Negotiating salary can be intimidating, but worth it. Research salaries and develop a strong pitch to make a compelling case. Find your leverage points, have confidence, look for other knobs to turn, and not taking it personally are key. Best of luck!

Negotiating your salary can be intimidating, but it's worth the effort since it can help motivate you, reduce stress, and improve your overall satisfaction in life. Money can't buy happiness, though it sure makes it easier to choose to be happy. So, here's a no-nonsense guide to negotiating your salary.

Do Your Research

Don't wing it. Take the time to research the average salary for your job title. Use salary comparison websites like Glassdoor, SalaryExpert,, Indeed, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to get a ballpark figure, then factor in your experience and what intangible qualities you bring to the table. Use these as guides and not gospel. By doing your homework, you'll be better equipped and can talk with more confidence to make a compelling case during negotiation.

Develop Your Salary Pitch

A strong pitch will help convince your employer to pay you more. Your pitch should include a comprehensive explanation of why you deserve the salary you're proposing, as well as any other benefits you require to thrive in your role. Don't be shy about asking for more than just a higher salary - think about what else you need to succeed. Hardware, vacation, working remote, side projects, training, dedicated time for mentorship, heck even a DEF CON budget can be knobs to turn during negotiation.

Who Goes First?

There's an old adage that says, "The first person to say a number loses." While this might be true in some cases, it doesn't always apply to salary negotiations. In an interview, the HR rep will often ask you about your salary expectations early on. In this case, you can take control of the conversation by asking for more information about the budget and the compensation package overall. If you're not satisfied with what you're hearing, don't be afraid to push back. Larger companies typically have a pay band for positions whereas small companies typically have an idea of what the position will pay; however, will flex depending on the skillset of the individual.

Cover All Bases

During the negotiation, be sure to ask questions about any benefits that will be included with your salary, when you'll be eligible for promotions and salary increases, how much of your health costs are covered, and what metrics will be used to determine your success. The answers to these questions will help you determine whether or not to accept the offer.

Know Your Leverage Points

It's essential to understand your leverage points in a negotiation. Do you currently have a job? Do you have more experience than what the employer is looking for? These are just a couple of examples of leverage points that you can use to your advantage.

Confidence is Key

The most crucial part of any salary negotiation is confidence. Be confident in your self-worth and your wants. If you deliver a compelling case for why you deserve what you're asking for, you're more likely to get it. Don't be afraid to push back if you're not satisfied with the offer. You have the power to negotiate your worth, so use it.

Don't Take it Personally

Simply that, it is easy to wrap up salary as a personal measurement of self-worth. Don't do it. It is not healthy. There are plenty of reasons, completely outside your control that they might not budge on salary.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, negotiating your salary can be challenging and scary though rewarding. It's worth the effort. By doing your research, developing a strong pitch, covering all bases, knowing your leverage points, and being confident, you can successfully negotiate the salary you deserve. Remember, don't take it personally if they don't budge on salary. There are plenty of reasons outside your control. If you don't try, you'll never know. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Best of luck and hack on!