You did well in an interview, and you got an offer. But something’s wrong. Either in an euphoria, which you naturally experienced, you said yes to their initial salary offer, and just later, sitting back at home and thinking stuff over, you understood that you could get more money–that you deserve more.

Or you felt that it wasn’t appropriate to negotiate directly in the interview, that it could cost you the opportunity. Now, back home, when the hiring managers have already sent rejections to the other applicants, and you are the one man standing, you feel the power to negotiate. And you want to make it over a phone–which is, in my opinion, much better than sending letters back and forth

But how to do it? And what should you say on the phone to achieve your goal? I will try to answer this question with my step by step guide on how to get a better salary over the phone. Enjoy!


Step 1: Find the right person to talk to

Everything you may say or do, while trying to negotiate a better salary, is completely useless unless you speak to someone who has the power to make this decision, to approve your request for a better salary in your new job.

Now, this does not necessarily have to be a person you talked to in an interview. Especially if you interviewed for a manual labor position, or if your future supervisor or manager led the interviews, you can’t expect much from them…

In most companies either executives or HR managers decide about the salaries. You might meet the person briefly, at the end of the interview, or they might belong to the panel. But you may as well never talk to them, and will do so only before starting the job in the company.

Think carefully about the person you will talk to. You should aim for the highest rank, but obviously if you have just one phone number, you can’t really choose. Anyway, if you’re not sure whether they are eligible to negotiate about your salary, you should ask them:

… before proceeding, may I just ensure that you are the right person to speak with about the salary I will get in my new job? … if not, can you give me a number of someone I can talk to about this, and introduce me to them? …

Job candidate is nervous on the call with the employer

Step 2: Prepare your arguments

Nobody will give you a better salary just because you want one. You should have something to backup your claims, ideally something tangible (though it is not always possible).

For example, you should find out what the average salary for the position is in your city (if big enough to have statistics), or in your country. Just google it, and check the charts. You will find the information in most countries of the world.

Or you can prepare your salary history, and explain how much you earned in your last job and the one before, and say that logically you expect to earn at least as much, or more (depending on whether you move  up or down the corporate hierarchy with your new position).

I appreciate your offer, and understand you pay a certain salary to new hires on this position. But the average in the city, according to official statistics of the Labor Bureau  is $40,000 annually, and I believe that when you want to have the best people in your team, you should consider paying at least the average. What are your thoughts about this?

* May also interest you: How to ask for a raise and get it.


Step 3: Consider your negotiating power, and prepare your strategy accordingly

Everything is a question of supply and demand. Think about the following questions:

  • How many candidates interviewed for the same job as you did?
  • How badly do they need you?
  • Are your skills special, or can they easily find someone else who will handle the job?
  • How well did you fare in an interview? Did they look impressed?

You should adjust your strategy, as well as your tone of voice on the call according to your answers. Obviously when you are the only applicant, and you know that the offer has been up for the month and they couldn’t get any other applications (for whatever reason), your position is great, you can risk, and ask for much more than what they initially offered in an interview.

When there were ten candidates, and no special skills are required for the job, the situation differs. Your power increases in times of economic expansion (where companies struggle to hire new people), and is negligible in times of deep recession (when everyone looks for the job).

Think carefully about your situation, and do not ask for something you can never get…

Woman is planning her strategy for a phone call

Step 4: Make the call–as soon as possible

I’ve read some suggestions from other coaches and experts that it is better to call on Tuesday or Wednesday, and in the afternoon. Not at the start or end of the week, or month, since managers are busy at that time, or they are in the meetings.

In my personal opinion, this is a stupid advice. The best time to call is as soon as possible. As soon as you make up your mind about the offer, and think your strategy over. One hour after an interview is better than one day after it, and one day is better than one week.

The day of the week or an hour doesn’t really matter. If they really want you onboard, you are important for them, and they will pay attention to your call. The sooner you call them the better their memory of you (hopefully a good one). So don’t procrastinate, pick up a phone and make the call.


Step 5: Aim for a compromise

Once you found the right person, prepared your strategy and arguments, overcame anxiety and eventually picked up the phone, you should be ready to make some compromises.

That’s what negotiation is about–finding a compromise, finding a number that is good for both you and the employer. At the end of the day they should have some authority. They should feel that they made the decision–even if they didn’t!

Example: They offered you $40,000 annual salary, but after thinking it over and backing it up with arguments, you want at least $45,000. Aim for 50K in your negotiation over the phone. They will likely not grant it–it’s a negotiation after all, and most often then not the offer will end at $45,000 approximately. You can happily accept it (that’s what you original wanted), and they will also feel better about the entire experience, since you lowered your expectations in the process (it make take more calls until you reach the final agreement, but it doesn’t matter)…


A few important thoughts to remember before calling

  • Each company has their own policy about salary negotiation. Some businesses are very strict, and it doesn’t matter what you say or do, they’ll never pay you more as they pay to other new hires on the same position.
  • Try to keep the talk friendly, and ensure them that you still want the job, that you are as motivated as you were in the interview, just this little detail (the salary offer) has to be discussed.
  • In most cases it is much easier to get a raise one you work for the company, than to negotiate a better salary  before you start working for the corporation. If your negotiating power is low (check Step 3. from the guide), you should consider accepting the offer and trying your luck in three months time, when the probation period will end. See our How to Ask for a Raise guide for more information.
  • Always try to keep the bigger picture on your mind. Perhaps you won’t earn as much as you want from the beginning, but there are excellent career growth opportunities in the company. Or perhaps having this position on your resume will open you doors to other, more lucrative offers in one year time. It is great to live in a present moment, but once you make career decisions you should also think about what will happen in a year, three, or five…

That’s it. I hope my guide will help you to make the right choices, and negotiate a better salary. I wish you good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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