How to Use Data to Negotiate Your Salary

We all know the deal about negotiating your salary during the hiring process: Especially if you're a woman, don't undersell yourself and leave money on the table. But you may be worried about the opposite problem, asking for too much and losing out on the offer. How do you build your case and set yourself up for success?

Over at The Muse, recruiter Jessica Vann has some insights about calculating your should-be salary. The biggest takeaway? Remember that some value isn't always going to be monetary.

One tactic is to rely on a salary calculator. Websites like Glassdoor or PayScale offer aggregate estimates of what people with your job title can make in different cities and industries. These data points are often self-reported by users, so you should expect a certain amount of variation. Experts do agree that when you're discussing salary with a recruiter, you should not mention salary calculators as such, but having that number in your head can help you determine whether the offer is reasonable for your skill level and cost of living.

That's just the first part of the process, though. Vann advises that you also consider some intangibles when weighing a job's salary offer. Do you get increased flexibility, or some other tradeoff? Is this company able to accommodate a higher salary? (Think of nonprofits versus a tech company.) Are you more junior or senior than the average person with this job title? Can you point to accomplishments and trends in your work that would justify nudging up your salary? What value are you adding to this new company?

Know how to bring up those points clearly and concisely. You want your recruiter to understand that you're a great get for the company, rather than implying from the beginning that your potential bosses are already lowballing you. Getting your salary right from the outset is one of the best ways to ensure your financial security for years down the road. (No pressure!) It's a nerve-wracking process, but you can use data to tell a story about what you offer your future employers, and why that value deserves a little more pay.