10 salary negotiation tips to help you get a better job offer

More than half of US employees don't negotiate salary with their new job — that's millions of dollars left on the table.

I've been helping friends lately negotiate their job offer, both startups and bigger tech companies. Here's some salary negotiation tips I've learnt:

  1. Asking for a higher salary is totally normal: frankly, the other sides expects you to negotiate — don't feel anxious about negotiating salary
  2. Never, ever give up your current salary (in many places, it's illegal for a prospective employer to ask). If you're asked about salary expectations or salary requirements (especially while you're still in the interview process), just say you want to learn more about the team and you're confident you'll be able to get to a good agreement when it comes to that.
  3. Let the other side throw out the first number, and only after you've really made your mind on the company: don't trigger the negotiation process unless you're mentally ready to commit
  4. Think about the total compensation package: base salary, equity, signing bonus, performance bonuses, benefits package/perks — all important considerations.
  5. Try to find out the salary range/band for the position. When you get the first offer, ask for band for the role (in California, the employer legally has to share the band) and pick a starting salary/target salary that's towards the upper end
  6. Understand equity (and the different between stock options & RSUs), that's where there's the often the most flexibility. See the Holloway Guide on equity compensation for an in-depth look.
  7. Get the right market value data: Don't rely on glassdoor, payscale, etc.: they have no equity data, Salary Project is a better place to start
  8. Competing offers rule: try to get a competing offer if you can, otherwise counter-offers from your current employer can be just as good
  9. Don't be adversarial: Most recruiters are good people: they're on your side and they're incentivized to fill as many job offers as possible. Work collaboratively, not adversarially with them.
  10. Don't forget the hiring manager: you'll be negotiating primarily with the recruiter, but especially in smaller companies, the hiring manager also has a lot of behind the scenes influence. Keep them updated and if things stall with the recruiter, you can nudge the hiring manager.

Above anything, the biggest mistake you can make is not negotiating: everyone regrets it. If you want to go deeper, the best resource I've found is this article on how to negotiate salary — do you research and you'll feel a lot more confident in your next negotiation.