How to Negotiate Salary Over the Phone

Before saying 'yes,' learn the market for your position and determine what's important to you in benefits as well as pay.
Cara Smith
By Cara Smith 
Edited by Rick VanderKnyff

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So, you got the job offer, and now it’s time to negotiate your salary. Where to begin?

If you’re like most job seekers in today’s job market, you’ll likely negotiate your salary over the phone or on a video call. That has its advantages: Before the negotiation, you can arm yourself with research on what similar jobs are paying, as well as any relevant cost-of-living information that can bolster your argument for a higher wage.

See how your offer compares

Given the increasing number of wage transparency laws, many employers are posting salary ranges on their job listings, says Michael Steinitz, senior executive director of professional talent solutions at Robert Half, a human resources consulting firm.

You can start negotiation prep by digging into similar job listings and seeing how your offer stacks up against the competition. There are also several salary guides that offer a national perspective on average salaries, hiring trends, growing industries and in-demand jobs. Steinitz recommends checking out Robert Half’s salary guide. The employer review site Glassdoor offers a similar resource. And Hays, a global recruitment and human resources firm, offers a salary guide as well.

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Is salary the only consideration?

At the same time, it’s important to remember that salary isn’t everything in wage negotiations. For example, if your prospective employer's job offer includes robust benefits or extra paid time off, they may be less incentivized to budge on the starting wage.

Outside of negotiations, you may want to consider whether a lower-than-ideal salary is worth taking if other benefits or perks would improve your quality of life, according to Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review. 15 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer. Accessed Aug 15, 2023.

“Obviously, you want to make as much money as you can, but you want to weigh everything that’s associated with [the offer], because sometimes compensation isn’t apples to apples,” Steinitz says.

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Show you're serious

Another piece of advice from Harvard Business Review: Make it clear that you’re serious about the job. Companies are less inclined to engage in negotiations if they think there's a chance you'll decline their offer. You can simply state your serious interest in the job or even share specific initiatives you’re excited to tackle in the role

Harvard Business Review. 15 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer. Accessed Aug 15, 2023.

And if negotiating a salary makes your stomach churn, Steinitz offers a solution: working with a recruiter.

“Quite frankly, it’s the same reason why athletes should work with an agent — so they don’t have to have the awkward negotiation discussions,” Steinitz says.