How to Negotiate Salary

You have crafted an offer, presented that offer, and the candidate has countered. You have moved into the negotiation phase of the hiring process.

How to negotiate salary is a challenging topic for many hiring managers and human resources staff. By the time you have gotten to the offer, you have an emotional and financial investment in the candidate. You have envisioned the candidate in your organization helping your company achieve its goals. You have imagined your team gelling around the new hire and morale and teamwork improving. You also know that starting the search over again has a real bottom-line impact. Recruitment is expensive, and the longer a position is vacant, the longer those essential functions are not helping your business meet its goals.

Part of the reason so many people are uncomfortable with how to negotiate salary is that they frame the encounter as a conflict between a winner and a loser. The best salary negotiations are a discussion about impact and value. During this conversation, whether you agree or not, you have information about the position, your company, and the market.

You can implement strategies at every stage of the hiring process that will help you successfully negotiate salary.

15 Strategies to Consider

Before the Offer Phase

  • Research and plan. Some of the strategies take place before you even make an offer.
  • Benchmark your current salaries against the market. Does your company lead, match, or lag? This knowledge will provide a foundation for your salary negotiations.
  • Understand your current workforce, experience, and roles. Look for gaps, responsibility, and job title alignment. Assess internal equity.
  • Establish a salary range for the position and benchmark against the market. Know what the true ceiling is.
  • Know the value of your total compensation package and the components.
  • Understand the value of your company culture, position in your industry, and reputation.

At the Offer Phase

  • Keep an open mind about your other top candidates for the position.
  • Evaluate this candidate against the other candidates. Is this candidate uniquely qualified, and do they possess skills or experience that would bring additional value to the organization?
  • Offer a fair market value but leave a little room for negotiations so stay below your absolute ceiling.


  • Approach the negotiation with an attitude of curiosity and openness. Listen to the candidate’s values and aspirations. The relationship between employer and employee is about more than salary. It’s a mix of compensation, culture, and growth opportunities. Find out more about what factors led to the counteroffer. Identify the candidate’s priorities for compensation, work-life balance, benefits, career advancement, and skill development.
  • Assess the gap between your initial offer and the counteroffer. If the counteroffer is within the ballpark and at or below your ceiling, you might best serve your organization by accepting the offer.
  • If the counteroffer is above your ceiling, work with the candidate to explore alternatives to the base salary. If you offer exceptional fringe benefits, share the value so that total compensation is considered. Can you keep the base salary at or below your ceiling but offer a performance-based bonus to close the gap based on meeting key outcomes?
  • Find out if you sweeten the deal by providing noncash incentives like flexible time or additional PTO.
  • Explore the impact of meeting the counteroffer. Will it create internal equity issues? Is there an opportunity to add value to the role that would align better with the counteroffer? Adding responsibilities and high-performance targets could offset the higher salary.
  • Allow some time for both parties to consider.
  • Know when to withdraw the offer or end the negotiation. Sometimes you can’t agree. Take the long view: this candidate wasn’t the right fit at this time. It’s a small world, and this prospective employee may be a better match for a future vacancy. A positive candidate experience is excellent for your company whether or not the negotiation ends in a hire.

Contact Us Today

TANDIUM Corporation meets the Human Resources, Payroll, and Benefits needs of businesses and non-profit organizations. Our team of experienced Human Resources Specialists can help you implement the strategies for recruiting and hiring the right staff at the right salary. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.