How To Negotiate A Better Salary When You’re Already Underpaid


Some people graduate college, land a great job with a huge salary, and are making bank by the time they’re 25. Then, there are people who graduate college, land a great job, but one that pays below the industry average for the role. And as a result, they’re still underpaid even when they’re promoted. If you’re in the second group and you’re negotiating your salary for a new job, you probably feel pigeonholed into accepting a lower offer than you’d like, and it seems impossible to make the $15k jump you deserve. Luckily, there are ways you can boost your paycheck without lying about your previous salary and without waiting another decade to get what you’re worth. Here’s how to negotiate your butt off, and potentially see some serious payoff in return.

1. Do the research.

No, we don’t mean look into your potential company’s values and what type of culture it has. Look for the industry average salary of the position you’re applying for. Pay attention to salaries for companies that are of similar type and size as yours. For example, if you’re joining a start-up of about 100 employees, you might want to look into salary postings for similar-sized start-ups on sites like Glassdoor. Before you give your potential employer a number to consider, make sure it’s in the ballpark of the industry average, and then make your case. You can say something like “I’ve done research on Glassdoor this is the standard range for this particular position, and I’d love to see if it’s possible to agree on a salary at this level.”


2. Discuss the company’s potential return on investment (ROI).

Communicate to your potential employer exactly what benefits and results it can expect from hiring you. This could be in terms of increased revenue, increased sales, increased production or some other metric the organization works to achieve. So if you’re a data analyst, explain how your projects and work will directly impact the company’s bottom line. The idea is to focus on the results you’ll produce, going beyond why you’re a great fit for the role in terms of your resume and credentials. If you’re a social media manager, say that you drove 5X more page views in your last role through specialized campaigns than you would have if you just met the basics of your job description. In essence, you’re saying “your investment in me will have a great return.” It may sound long-winded, but you need some serious ammo to explain why you’re a good investment and worth the increased pay. No matter what you have to do, sell yourself well.

3. Negotiate a performance bonus.

If all else fails and the company won’t budge on your annual base salary, ask about the prospect of a performance bonus. Basically, if you exceed the expectations of your job based on agreed-upon benchmarks within a certain period of time, you’ll get a bonus that’s equal to a specified percentage of your salary. It may not be the exact outcome you wanted, but you could end up with the same amount of cash, if not more than you would have, at the end of the day.