How to Ask for a Higher Starting Salary

Brandi Glass
5 min read
How to Ask for a Higher Starting Salary

Asking for a higher starting salary might be intimidating, but you should never accept a job offer without doing so. For one, employers typically expect you to negotiate your salary, and they often budget for it.

And perhaps even more importantly, asking for a higher starting salary can add up to significantly higher pay rates years down the line. Let’s say you receive a starting salary offer of $55,000 — the average starting salary of a US graduate — but you managed to negotiate $60,000 instead.

You then receive a 3% pay rise every year over the next six years. Your pay will have increased by $11,643 a year instead of $10,672, no extra negotiations required on your end. What’s more, that seemingly small difference is only going to grow, every single year.

So although it can be nerve-wracking, it’s worth negotiating your salary before signing on the dotted line. Let’s explore how to ask for a higher starting salary, as well as some of the phrasing you can use.

When Should You Ask for a Higher Starting Salary

It’s important to pick the right moment to discuss salaries. You don’t want to discuss specific figures too early because you won’t have the full details of what the job will entail. You could end up under-selling yourself. Instead, wait until a job offer has been made.

Additionally, if there are other points you would like to negotiate, make sure to bring them all up at the same time. Otherwise, you can annoy your interviewer and leave them feeling misled.

How to Ask for a Higher Starting Salary


How much do people typically make in this role? How much do employees with your skill sets, experience and qualifications generally earn? What’s the average salary range for your location, and what are the living costs?

Before you negotiate your salary, it’s important to do your research. This will help you recognize good offers as well as make the case for a higher salary.

Some good starting places in your research include the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale and Glassdoor. You can also look for networking groups, both offline and online, where you can discreetly ask about reasonable salaries.

Decide Your Stance

The next thing you need to know is your goal. Ask yourself: What’s my ideal salary, and what’s the minimum that I will be happy with? Am I willing to walk away from this job? What would I potentially accept in place of a higher starting salary, e.g. better benefits or the option to work from home?

Your stance doesn’t have to be set in stone. As you negotiate, you may discover new information that changes your perspective. However, knowing what you hope to achieve can help you make logical decisions, and if you’re nervous about negotiating, reduce your anxiety levels.

Prepare Your Case

If you want a higher salary, you’ll need to make the business case for it. Make sure you know why you’re worth this rate. Even more importantly, make sure you can persuasively and clearly explain why you’re worth it to the recruiter or hiring manager.

Some things to consider include your experience, skills and qualifications, not to mention your passion for the role or industry. You could also bring up your wage and opportunities for career progression in your current role, as well as the average salary paid in the area.

Ask for a Higher Starting Salary

Now it’s the moment you’ve been working up to: salary negotiations. Often the hardest part isn’t the negotiation itself but rather confidently yet professionally broaching the topic. You could lead into it with:

Thank you for this offer. I’m excited by the prospect of working with (your company), but the starting salary is slightly lower than I was expecting. I’m confident that I can bring a lot of value to the team. Would you be able to explore a starting salary of…?

You could switch out that third sentence for something more specific, such as My research shows that the industry average for this area is around X; In my current role, I’m earning Y; or I have expertise in…

Alternatively, if you’re willing to walk away from the role, you could use stronger phrasing. For example: I thoroughly enjoyed our interview and would be thrilled to join the team. However, in light of…., I was looking for a salary in the range of X—Y. Please let me know if your company would be open to discussing that.

Regardless of the approach you take, the keys to success here are expressing excitement about the role and not making the conversation unpleasant. The latter often happens when you feel uncomfortable about negotiating or personally insulted by the offer, so try to separate your emotions from the conversation. Instead, try to treat it as if you were asking for something as mundane as a different interview time.


Finally, it’s time to negotiate your starting salary. Don’t be afraid to counter-offer or ask for a reasonable amount of time to consider their counter-offers.

Useful phrases for this stage include:

  • I understand your budget constraints. However,...
  • Would there be room in your budget for…?
  • I appreciate the counter-offer, and it’s definitely given me something to think about
  • I want to be as flexible as possible, and I’m still extremely excited about this role. Would you be able to…?

If you can’t negotiate as high a starting salary as you would like, you could also ask for a salary review in six months’ time as opposed to the standard twelve months’ time.

Can You Negotiate an Entry-Level Salary?

Entry-level applicants often feel nervous about negotiating their starting salary, but don’t let that put you off. 53% of employers are willing to negotiate entry-level salaries. So, do your research, decide your stance and make your case. Although you might not have as much previous professional experience to draw on, you can still mention skill sets, internships, your studies and more.

Create a Strong First Impression with a Professional Resume

Salary negotiations can be intimidating, but remember: it’s simply a business decision based on the department budget, among other factors.

A well-written resume that highlights your strong points will help you not only get more invitations to interview but also present your case for a higher starting salary. It may be the last thing the company reviews before deciding whether to agree to your request. So it’s important that it shows off your best features.

Your resume needs to be customized to the role in question, machine-readable and well-presented. Here at Rocket Resume, we’ve published over two million ATS-optimized resume templates that will help you get started. No matter how much experience you’ve got or which industry you’re working in, we’ve got a template for you complete with recruiter-approved phrasing.

Build your resume today so you can start negotiating salaries with confidence.