How to Negotiate a Better Hourly Wage

Amber Shiflett |
additionalText.categories: Career Advice, Working

Believe it or not, you don’t have to accept the hourly rate a business offers you during your job search. Sometimes the manager is firm on what they’ll pay, but a lot of times there’s some wiggle room. Many people think salary negotiation is only for jobs that require a lot of experience and a college degree. Not so! Everyone can negotiate. After all, the worst thing that could happen is the manager says, “Sorry, we can’t pay that.” Playing your cards right can put hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket. Don’t leave that money on the table!

We’ve heard that negotiating salary requirements in a job interview is an art. But we think it’s a skill everyone can learn. Here are a few salary negotiation tips you can use with a potential employer.

  1. Know what you’re worth! Many job seekers apply for a job with no clue about what the pay should be. That’s the easiest way to ensure they'll just accept the hourly wage they’re given. Dig around in our job descriptions to find the job you’re applying for (we’ve got a ton of ‘em and they all list an hourly or yearly salary range). Use this information to your advantage. Once you’ve educated yourself about what you’re worth, don’t accept a penny less!

  2. Hmmm… So, you made it through the interview process. You've got the skillset the company's looking for. And you got the job offer. Now you’re talking about pay and the manager tells you the hourly rate is $12. Even if this is more than you made at your last job, STOP! Take a breath. Repeat the number. Pause and then say, “hmmm…” You already know the company wants you because you got the offer. You’ve done your research, so you know what you’re worth to them. Don't accept the first number that's thrown at you. Go for a higher salary. 

  3. Counter-offer. After you say “Hmmm…” is when you counter-offer. You can follow it up with, “$12 seems a little low.” You can also ask, “Is that the best you can do?” But be very careful with your tone so you don’t come across sounding like a jerk. Continue by saying, “$15 an hour is what my research shows a job like this typically pays.” Don't be afraid to give a specific number, even if it's way above what you make at your current job.

    The manager might or might not have the authority to say “yes” or “no” right away. So, don’t be disappointed if they say they have to talk to their boss first. That means they’re considering your counter-offer. If they do approve, guess what? You just made an extra $120 a week (assuming you work 40 hours)!

    If the manager comes back and says they can only offer $13.50 an hour, you have to decide if that’s acceptable. If it is, great! You’ve made a successful negotiation to an extra 60 bucks a week with your first offer. If it’s not, you can always counter-offer again, but be prepared to walk away if they don’t accept.

  4. It’s not always about the green. Really! You can negotiate for things other than money. If the hiring manager rejects your counter-offer, see if you can get extras like these instead:

  • More paid time off

  • A better job title (for example Executive Assistant instead of Secretary)

  • A performance bonus after 90 days on the job

  • A promotion after 90 days on the job

  • Health insurance (some companies make you wait 60 days. Ask if you can get it on day one.)

By following this simple advice, you could be on your way to earning far more money than you think. Give it a try when you're applying for your next new job!