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Salary Negotiation With Real Leverage

Negotiating for a role can feel daunting. There are a ton of variables to consider, you often don’t have nearly as much information as you might like, and the person sitting across the table is likely more experienced than you! While we can’t boil the down the entire process into a single blog post, we do think there are some key areas to focus on:


First and foremost, you have to be willing to walk away from the negotiation. The best way to do this, is with real leverage, having multiple strong offers at the same time, a reasonable amount of personal runway financially, and the self-confidence to be patient and ask for your full worth.

Spend an ample amount of time beforehand understanding the ecosystem, who you will be interviewed by, and stay current on industry relevant news and events.

Know what is most important to you, and ask for it, “Salary is only one piece of a complete compensation package, which can also include health insurance, time off, flexible hours, loan forgiveness, and bonuses. Other factors, like a connection to the organization’s mission, professional advancement, and opportunities to break into a new field, can also be considered as forms of compensation.” (NYU 2)

Garner support from multiple places: previous employers, social proof from a strong online presence, and outside certifications and courses can all be reputable places of signaling that show you are a top candidate.

Using Numbers and Data

Your references can be strong, and depending on your field the work you do may even speak for itself, but a quantifiable impact is always a firm foundation to stand on.

If you are able to numerically state your value add and the impact you had on your team, that is always optimal: “Led a team of 10 to complete an Android app that had 10,000 downloads in its first week and customer lifetime value of over 15$ USD per user”. Delivering results that improved the bottom line, while being careful not to overstate your contribution can be a potent combination!

Creating context around your experience and salary range can be powerful as well. There are a number of factors that impact salary: experience, cost of living, competition, recruiting fees, etc. So be sure you have multiple data points to ground your salary and benefits request.

Open and Close

From your first email interaction, to the clothes you choose to wear in the interview, set a professional tone but also allow your personality and individuality to shine through.

In all that you do, signal that you are competent and understand professional etiquette. How you communicate across multiple channels, the content and color of your speech, along with the warmth you display will all be critiqued many times over leading up to and during negotiations.

If possible, anchor the negotiation, begin the back and forth with a salary range and benefits request that is based on verifiable data in line with your level of skills and amount of experience.

It is possible that if you are prepared, use data to your advantage, and manage the timing well you can receive the offer you are looking for at a company you’re excited about! It can be a long process, and “winning” as an individual is definitely commendable, but as reminded by our friends at the Stanford GSB, it is best not to gloat.

If you remember anything from this article, it’s to put yourself in an advantageous position that allows you to walk away from any negotiating table!

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