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How much money to ask for in a salary negotiation?

How much can I ask for in a salary negotiation without leaving a bad taste in the employer’s mouth or losing the job offer?

When you’re finally down to the wire on your impending job offer, there will come a time to talk numbers. That one last conversation — where you negotiate salary — can unnerve even the most savvy job seeker.

While most employers expect you to come back with a counteroffer, many job candidates avoid the practice and leave money on the table. You don’t have to be one of them. You’d be well served in your career to become comfortable with the process. You get one chance to accept a final compensation package at your company, so be prepared to make a persuasive argument.

So how do you stay true to your target without alienating the hiring manager or hurting your prospects?

First, to prepare for that discussion, you’ll want to do your research ahead of time and figure out what someone with your experience and skills typically makes in this particular role.

Once you hear their offer and it’s time to negotiate, you should keep those numbers in mind, but also consider the nature of the first offer and how much bargaining power you think you have. And think about whether you’re currently under- or overpaid.

As a general rule of thumb, however, it’s usually appropriate to ask for 10% to 20% more than what you’re currently making. 

That means if you’re making $50,000 a year now, you can easily ask for $55,000 to $60,000 without seeming greedy or getting laughed at.

If the original offer is on the low side of the scale, you have more leverage. If you get an offer for 20% over your current salary, you can still negotiate for more — ask for an additional 5% — but know that you’re already in good stead.

The bottom line: Do the math (and your research!) beforehand — know what a 10% to 20% pay increase would total, and what the going rate for someone with your skills is — and ask for that amount. Worst case scenario, the employer says “no.”

Written by Jacquelyn Smith of Business Insider. Based on an interview with Lynn Taylor, a National Workplace expert.

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