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How to Negotiate Salary Over the Phone

Whether you received a new job offer or are preparing for your annual review, negotiating salary is a big step in your career journey. After all, you need to know you're earning what you're worth. It's part of being successful in a job you love.

In a world increasingly dependent on remote work, negotiating your salary in person may not be possible. In which case, you may be wondering how to do it over the phone or email. This article will offer guidelines for how to approach a salary negotiation and includes conversation examples.

Why negotiate salary over the phone?

Negotiating salary expectations over the phone is more likely to be successful than email because you get the chance to have a real-time conversation. Phone conversations allow for more back-and-forth, which is better than providing a list of demands and making a salary request over email.

The rise of remote work means that fewer work interactions happen in-person. Phone is the next best option.

Getting on the phone for a salary discussion can be intimidating, and emailing might be more comfortable. Yet the chance to talk can be a good opportunity to connect with your current boss or new employer and engage in some friendly conversation before diving into the big ask. Plus, having a back-and-forth conversation over the phone leaves fewer chances to misinterpret tone of voice.

How to negotiate salary over the phone

Here are a few tips for making it the most comfortable, productive, and successful experience possible — whether you're applying for a new job or approaching your current boss as an existing employee. 

During the interview process

Start with a strong resume

While applying for jobs, the first step is to build a resume that speaks to the job you want. Make sure your resume is tailored to the job you are looking for.

Use Teal’s Resume Builder to quickly compare the skills and keywords in the job posting to those in your resume. Make sure to add any relevant experience to your customized resume and to your application answers.

Teal’s Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score.
Teal’s Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score.

We also suggest making your career history, job skills, and select achievements stand out to hiring managers.

The job of your resume is to get you in the door. Optimizing it will help you land interviews for the next opportunities that excite you. Teal’s free Resume Builder can help you keep your Work History up to date and help you write metric-driven achievements using our Achievement Assistant tool.

Teal’s Free Resume Builder helps you write metric driven achievements.
Teal’s Free Resume Builder helps you write metric driven achievements.

Your resume isn't the only information recruiters, hiring managers, and potential employers might look at when you're applying to jobs. You might also consider reviewing and optimizing your LinkedIn profile to appeal to online recruiters.

A great way to check your LinkedIn profile is to download Teal’s Free Chrome Extension which includes an automated LinkedIn Review. Once you install the extension, just go to your profile page and click on the Teal logo. You’ll see a list of recommendations on how best to optimize your profile and can make updates as needed.

Teal’s Free LinkedIn Review Chrome Extension.
Teal’s Free LinkedIn Review Chrome Extension.

Know your target number

If you're living in a state with wage transparency laws, you might have a sense of the salary range for this position already. Otherwise, you can research the market salary for your position on a number of free websites. This can be valuable information to have while job searching so you know if the role is a good fit for you. When negotiating, it's okay to go a bit above the market value number, as employers often negotiate down.

Enter the conversation with confidence

While asking for higher pay can be an uncomfortable position to be in, you'll want to remain confident. Having the right mindset is an important part of the negotiation process. Most companies, or a potential employer, are not going to offer to pay more than they need to, so you need to be the one to advocate for yourself.

You need to sell yourself as the right person deserving of more compensation. To make this conversation successful, mention personal past achievements and focus on your value to the company culture and the organization as a whole.

A great way to maintain your confidence during a salary negotiation is to be prepared with market data, your personal salary history, and what an updated salary package can look like for your future.

Understanding what you need is really important before you embark into the negotiation. To help you do that, we've built a simple little spreadsheet tool, the Compensation Projector, that helps you calculate your budget.

This tool helps you calculate your budget, record your market value research, and helps you plan your target salary range.
This tool helps you calculate your budget, record your market value research, and helps you plan your target salary range.

Wait for the offer, then follow up

The traditional way to negotiate a salary is to wait until you have an offer in writing. That way, you can assess the job requirements, salary offer, and benefits package such as retirement contributions and paid time off. From there, consider what salary you'd actually like to ask for. 

Schedule your followup call by sending an email.

Here's an example of an email to send to discuss the initial offer and negotiate starting salary:

Hi [Hiring manager name],

Thank you for the offer of [position] at [company]. I'm excited about the opportunity! I'd like to schedule a phone call with you to go over a few additional questions. Do you have a few windows of time that would work for you this week?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

[Your name]

This message sets the stage with your excitement about the job while letting the hiring manager know there's still more to be discussed. Then, you can schedule a phone call to have the actual conversation and discuss all the details of your counter offer.

Here's an example salary negotiation conversation to help you get started:

Job candidate: Thanks for taking my call today! I'm excited about this position and I wanted to ask a few questions. 

Hiring manager: 
Great! What can I help answer for you?

Job candidate
: I noticed the benefits description include the potential for an annual bonus. Can we talk more about how the bonus structure works?

Hiring manager:
 Absolutely, your role includes an annual bonus up to 10% of your salary depending on company performance. 

Job candidate
: Thanks for the information. In terms of the base salary, I see I've been offered $75,000. After doing some market research for similar positions, I believe that a higher salary of $85,000 to $90,000 is more fitting for my experience and skill set. Would you be able to meet me in that range?

Hiring manager: 
Thanks for the information. I'll need to speak with the HR manager and get back to you with more information.

You can see by this salary negotiation example that these conversations are often just that — negotiations. In the end, you'll need to decide what works for you in terms of job responsibility, salary, and other benefits.

If you have interviewed for multiple roles, you might be in the unique position of receiving more than one job offer. If that happens, you'll want to see how the salary negotiation conversation goes with both companies before potentially joining one. In that case, you may need to ask for an offer extension. Within Teal's Job Tracker are communication templates you can use.

Use communication templates within Teal's Job Tracker to ask for an offer extension.
Use communication templates within Teal's Job Tracker to ask for an offer extension.

When you're already on the payroll

Prepare

You may think that since you're already employed at the company, you can just wing it when it comes to salary negotiations. Think again.

Even if you're remaining at your current position, it's a good idea to prepare ahead of any face to face, email, or phone conversation. Write down business related reasons, like your recent achievements, to share with your boss. It's okay to celebrate your hard work.

Know your worth

It's important to know your value, especially when approaching a salary negotiation. Do some research ahead of time about your industry and job market rates for someone of your experience level. Calculate your salary growth over the years, and narrow down your target salary. 

Once you start to have that negotiation conversation, whether it's in the interview, in the application, or once you get an offer, you want to be prepared and you want to be able to make your case for it.

  • Review your accomplishments and unique skills
  • Focus in on what the employer needs
  • Practice talking about your value
  • Knowledge & Expertise
  • Network & Contacts (Leads to business or hiring)
  • Leadership, Management, Team Building
  • Growth (Revenue or Product)
  • Savings and Efficiency

Located within Teal's Job Tracker are salary negotiation tips and steps to guide you through the negotiation process.

You can find tips on preparing for negotiations within Teal’s Job Tracker.
You can find tips on preparing for negotiations within Teal’s Job Tracker.

Give your boss a heads-up

Giving your supervisor advanced notice about what you'd like to talk about is always a polite gesture. Don't call them out of the blue and ask for more money.

Send a quick email asking for some time on the calendar to talk about your progress at the company. You can even let them know clearly, and respectfully, that you'd like to have a conversation about requesting a salary increase. 

Here's an example salary negotiation email to send to your supervisor:

Hi [Supervisor],

It's been a great [quarter/year], and I'm excited to continue working toward [department goal\overall company goal] at [company].

I'm writing because I'd like to request a meeting with you to discuss my current compensation package. As you know, over the past [number of] years, I have consistently met my goals and delivered excellent work. I've also taken on new responsibilities in the past year, including [responsibility] and [responsibility]. My work has also resulted in [tangible or monetary increase/improvement]. You may know that I also recently completed a certificate course in [skill/industry] and have heard some wonderful feedback from [clients/coworkers].

I would love to schedule a call to discuss this further. 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

[Your name]

When there's no room for salary negotiation

Sometimes, job candidates run into a situation where employers are unwilling to negotiate salaries, but they don't have to happily accept this. All is not lost.

Take the time to learn more about the entire package and other benefits that might be available to you if you do accept a lower salary than your goal, or desired salary. Other benefits with monetary value include:

  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Retirement plan contributions
  • Stock options and restricted stock units
  • Referral bonuses, commission, signing bonuses
  • Vacation days

All of these have merit when it comes to overall work benefits, even if the salary offered isn't ideal.

Whether this is your dream job or not, if the salary initially offered does not meet your requirements, this might not be the right fit for you at this time. And that's okay! Job seekers don't have to happily accept job offers just because it was offered.

If your salary negotiation conversation didn't go as planned, you have the option to decline the job offer. Within Teal's Job Tracker are communication templates to help you professionally navigate conversations throughout each stage of the job search process.

Use communication templates within Teal's Job Tracker to decline a job offer that's not right for you.
Use communication templates within Teal's Job Tracker to decline a job offer that's not right for you.

Negotiating salary over the phone or email can feel daunting. These tips can help you organize your thoughts, prepare your key talking points, and approach the conversation with confidence. You got this!

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Monica Stockbridge

Monica Stockbridge

Monica Parpal Stockbridge is a content marketing writer, freelance journalist and author. She writes about career growth, technology, outdoor recreation, higher education and more from her home in Colorado.

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