Salary and Raise Negotiation

Salary and Raise Negotiation

By Erin Wolfram and Melissa Johnson

Have you ever asked for a raise or tried to negotiate a better job offer? According to a recent survey by the staffing firm Robert Half Talent Solutions, just over half (54%) of workers said they attempted to negotiate their salary during their last job offer. [EW1] In addition, 70% of hiring managers said they expect candidates to negotiate job offers. Whether you are applying for a new job or have been working for the same employer for several years, do not be afraid to negotiate a higher salary if and when you feel it is warranted. The key to a successful outcome is preparation, research, and timing. Some tips to help you effectively navigate the salary and raise negotiation process are as follows:


A prospective job change can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. Because so many unknowns exist when making a professional move, it is important to weigh the pros and cons to make a well-informed decision. One of the deciding factors regarding an individual’s decision to accept or reject an offer often is the salary associated with the new position, which may be something you can influence. The salary negotiation process can seem daunting, but it is a crucial part of any job search. The following tips will help you be prepared the next time you consider a job offer.

  1. Research your industry and current salary trends. When preparing to negotiate, it is imperative to determine the typical salary range for the position you have been offered. Use online tools such as, Payscale, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn to search similar salary ranges for job titles related to the position. Also, remember, salary is typically associated with years of experience and level of education; therefore, make sure you access salary data that aligns with your qualifications.

The type of facility can also impact salary. For example, a director of grounds managing the property of a small college, typically, will be paid less than a director of grounds within a Major League Baseball organization. To help you gather comprehensive information, it is also recommended that you search for other job postings with a similar title in an equivalent organization to find comparable salaries. You may find such positions listed on the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) job board ( or resources such as or LinkedIn.

Tip: Avoid negotiating any part of the salary or benefits package until after you have received a formal job offer.

  • Thoroughly review the benefits package. While base salary is important, benefits can make a significant impact on total income and your overall wellbeing. If you currently hold a position, compare the entire offer to your existing package and expenses.

For example, organizations may:

  • Offer health insurance at a rate higher (or lower) than your current employer
  • Provide a vehicle and/or phone that can, within reason, also be used for personal use
  • Have an accessible gym or pay for a gym membership
  • Offer free or reduced counseling services
  • Match retirement plan contributions up to a certain percent
  • Provide life insurance
  • Pay for additional education or professional development opportunities
  • Offer free parking or other commuter benefits

These are expenses you may currently pay for on your own that could potentially be covered by a prospective new employer, which can result in significant savings. If you are not sure if an organization provides a certain benefit or service, be sure to ask!

  • Calculate the cost of living (if applicable). If you are considering relocating, the cost of living in your new location may vary drastically from your current location for better or worse. For example, if you make $50,000 in Salt Lake City, you will need to make around $69,500 in San Diego to live a similar lifestyle.

Utilize free online resources to help you estimate your salary needs if you are planning a move:

Tip: If you are relocating, do not forget to ask if the new organization offers cost reimbursement or a stipend to help with moving expenses.

  • Know your value, and be able to articulate it. Once you have done your research and have identified the typical salary range for the position, organization, and location, it is time to evaluate your value so you can effectively demonstrate why you deserve a higher salary than what was offered to you. It is not enough to simply think you deserve more money. You need to prove it with specific examples of how you could bring value to an organization!
  • Ask any clarifying questions to help you better understand the job you will be performing, the expectations, time commitment, benefits package, etc.
  • Compare the offer to your current salary and the typical salary range you found through your research.
  • Thoroughly review the job description and compare your experience and qualifications with the required and preferred qualifications, as well as the job responsibilities.
  • Make a list of all the qualifications that you meet and/or exceed.
  • Consider any assets you have that make you a unique candidate.

If you find that you meet or exceed most, if not all, of the qualifications and requirements of the job and/or have unique credentials that few other candidates possess, you likely have room to negotiate. Use this information as evidence to prove your worth and advocate for additional compensation.

  • Request a meeting to discuss the job offer. Start by expressing gratitude for the offer and enthusiasm about the position. It is important to maintain a positive tone throughout the negotiation process. Next, demonstrate your value and propose a new salary based on your research. Be respectful with your request. You do not want to offend the organization by demanding an unreasonable amount of money. A requested increase of up to $5,000 is usually appropriate, but this will vary depending on your industry and specific situation. Be prepared to discuss where you accessed information on comparable salaries. Additionally, prior to the meeting, you need to decide how much money you are willing to take and when you will walk away from the offer entirely. Your initial request may not be accepted; however, you may receive a counteroffer that meets your requirements.

Tip: Practice what you are going to say with a close friend, mentor, or career coach before you meet with the hiring manager.

Sample Salary Negotiation Conversations:

Sample 1: “I sincerely appreciate your offer and all of the details you shared throughout the interview process. Before accepting your offer, I did want to discuss the proposed salary. As I stated in my interview, I have more than 10 years of experience successfully leading grounds crews at a variety of collegiate and recreational sports complexes. I also recently completed my certification in horticulture. Based on my background and experience as well as the requirements of this position, I feel that a salary of $93,500 would be a fair figure. I would love to discuss this with you in more detail.”

Sample 2: “I am very excited about this position and the opportunity to work for such a highly regarded organization. After researching comparable positions in the area, I found the average salary for someone with my level of experience and skills is in the range of $75,000 – $85,000. Would you consider increasing the salary for this position to achieve this range?”    

  • Consider alternative forms of compensation. Due to a variety of factors, some organizations may not be able to budge on salary. However, that does not mean you cannot negotiate other benefits that may add value to the compensation package.

For example, you may be able to negotiate:

  • Additional vacation days
  • Late start or early release during the slow season
  • Memberships in professional associations
  • Covered expenses for a new certification, license, or training
  • Relocation cost reimbursement or stipend
  • Your start date
  • Get it in writing. If you choose to accept the offer (or counteroffer), make sure the agreed-upon salary and any additional negotiated information are included in a written offer letter and/or contract before you submit your formal letter of acceptance.

Remember, when an offer is made, you do not have to accept the job or the initial proposed salary. It is important that you and the organization are a good fit and the professional relationship is mutually beneficial. By thoroughly evaluating all aspects of the offer and not making a rushed decision, it is more likely you and the organization will be happy with the final outcome.


Requesting a higher salary can seem intimidating at any stage of person’s career. However, if you have recently taken on more responsibilities, made significant contributions to your organization, or received an exceptional performance review, it may be an ideal time to ask for a raise. Many of the steps for negotiating salary may also be beneficial when asking for a raise; however, there are a few additional key considerations.

  1. Determine the best time to ask for a raise. Timing is key when requesting a raise in salary. If the facility has been experiencing budget cuts, hiring freezes, furloughs, lay-offs, etc., you may want to wait to initiate a pay increase discussion until after the financial situation improves. It is also important to understand the fiscal year within your organization and when the budget is typically set. To help the leadership and accounting teams plan accordingly, it is recommended to discuss a potential raise before the next annual budget is finalized. Additionally, consider when raises or merit increases have been awarded in the past. These often occur at certain times of the year based on annual evaluation or budget cycles. Preparing to discuss a salary increase during one of these times, likely, will be most appropriate.
  • Demonstrate why you deserve a pay increase. If you have taken on more responsibility in terms of tasks, oversight, or staff supervision, document this information to help demonstrate you have been doing more work for the same amount of pay.Identify measurable outcomes that resulted from your actions that made a positive impact on the organization. This will help you prove your worth, especially if any of the results saved the organization money, reduced time on task, or increased revenue. Write down additional training or education you have received. If you have earned a degree, license, or certificate or participated in an extensive training program that has provided added value to the organization, share direct examples of this contribution.
  • Carefully consider your worth. Use the online tools recommended for salary negotiation to determine what the current market value is and how your salary compares to peers in similar positions with comparable experience/background.

If an increase is not possible, remember, you may be able to negotiate other benefits such as a few extra vacation days per year, professional development funding, or a more flexible work schedule. Finally, don’t be afraid to revisit this conversation in the future.

When approaching any wage negotiation, preparation, research, and timing are key! Knowing how and when to request a higher salary is critical to a successful outcome. Negotiating your salary should not be a one-time occurrence. As you take on new roles and responsibilities, be sure to reassess your salary and research industry trends to ensure you are being fairly compensated. Remember, in the words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Therefore, if you feel you deserve a higher salary, then build a strong case and ask for it!

Erin Wolfram has more than 15 years of experience in career services, and owns and operates Career Advantage Golf (, specializing in career services for those in the turf management field. She has a podcast called A Year of Career: 52 Practical Answers to Your Questions, where she provides quick career and job search advice. Wolfram has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary English Education, Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, Master of Science in Educational Technology, and is a certified professional etiquette consultant. She can be reached at

Melissa Johnson has more than 20 years of experience working with individuals from a variety of careers and industries. She specializes in one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter development, and job search assistance. Johnson has a passion for providing individualized support and guidance for each of her clients to ensure they can achieve their career goals. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology.