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How I Negotiated a 30% Higher Salary

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Learn about how I was lowballed in my job offer and how I was able to successfully negotiate a 30% higher salary! I will share with you my story as well as 3 key negotiation tips for you to use in your next job offer.

My Story

It was 4 years ago when I decided to make a career change. I had just found out that I passed the CPA exam and was going to get designated soon. It was one of those milestone moments where a lot of people at a Big 4 decide to leave as well (check out my blog on Exit Opportunities). For me, I was tired of living in Vancouver, since I have lived my whole life here. I was itching to move somewhere else, and so I looked for opportunities in both Toronto and Korea.

I had applied for a tax position in Toronto and had went through the interview process. The firm liked me and had provided me with an offer letter. When I checked the salary, it was similar to the one I was getting in Vancouver. For those who are not familiar with salary ranges in Vancouver vs. Toronto – Toronto provides higher salary of 10 to 30%, even higher in some cases. I had known this because I had a couple of friends working in Toronto. However, instead of getting mad about being low balled, I decided to do some research on competitive market salaries for someone with my experience and background. Also, I decided to reach out to friends and ask about what their salary ranges were. After I gathered all my information and feeling confident about my value, I had responded back to the recruiter.

I had fine combed my employment contract, came up with a list of questions. For my final question, I simply inquired, “After talking to some Tax Senior Associates in the Toronto office, my understanding is that the salary for second year Seniors range from $X to $Y. I was just wondering what the difference relates to with your firm?”. The recruiter then got back to me right away with a revised offer, that was not only higher than the range I had provided, but was 30% higher than my original offer! As part of my list of questions, I was also able to negotiate the starting date, moving expenses, and sponsorship of continuing education (such as the Tax In-depth course).

After going through the whole process, I actually ended up not accepting the offer from Toronto because I decided to move to Korea as part of an international secondment. If you want to learn more about how I was able to land an international secondment opportunity, feel free to check out my blog here.

If you are enjoying my video so far, hit the like button! Now, let’s jump into 3 Tips you can take away so you can successfully negotiate your salary

3 KEY TIPS to Negotiate a Higher Salary

1. Do your Research

The first step in being able to negotiate a higher salary, is to do your research and understand what the market ranges are for someone of your skill and background. You can’t blindly go into a negotiation and pick a number out of the sky. Some ways to research are going on websites like glassdoor and even reaching out to peers who work in the position or city you want to work in. Another important question to ask yourself is if you are being reasonable. Don’t lowball yourself, but also don’t convince yourself that after 2 years of work experience, you deserve a 7 figure salary.

2. How you Say it Matters

Salary is often a sensitive topic, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring it up. It all depends on how you say it. Be polite, professional, and confident when talking about salary. There are two ways to go about it – (i) you can bring it up at the final stages of an interview or (ii) you can bring it up after getting the offer letter. I like to play it by ear.

If it’s during the interview, I like to bring it up at the end when the recruiter asks if I have “any questions.” I would usually say something along the lines of, “I’m really interested in working with the company and feel we are a good fit. I was just wondering what the salary ranges are for this position to ensure we are on the same page.”

If the recruiter asks during the interview what your expectations are for salary, you can mention “My understanding of salary ranges for someone with x years of experience and after talking to my peers in the industry, is $X to $Y. Based on the value I can provide to the company based on my skills in A and B, I believe I can expect salary in the higher range of $Y.” Make sure the lower end of the range is the minimum you are willing to take from an offer.

Another approach is to make sure the interview goes smoothly and you’ve convinced the Company that you are the right person for the job. You can guage what the Company thinks based on their initial offer to you. The offer can be better or it be lower than expected, as the range and expectation was not defined before. Obviously, if you like the offer, you can accept it. If you feel that you are being low balled, you can negotiate. I don’t like to be aggressive, rather, I like to ask questions and push the responsibilities to company. As mentioned in my story, I would show the company that I know what the competitive rates are for someone of my skills and experience, and inquire why there is a difference. That way, it puts the pressure on the company to explain their reasoning.

Salary negotiation is perfectly normal and I don’t believe it should negatively impact how the company views you. Rather, I believe if you are able to confidently negotiate, you would show up more favourable in their eyes as someone who is proactive.

3. Know your Worth

Going into any job application process, you should know your worth and the minimum you are willing to take. If you are competent but you are being lowballed based on your skills and experience, don’t be afraid to walk away from an offer. That shows the company that you are confident in your value and that you will not be pushed around. I would say something along the lines of, “I’m really interested in the position and believe I’m a great fit with the team. However, I believe I can provide a lot of value, and based on my skills and background, the competitive salary is $X. I don’t believe I can accept the offer at this time, but please let me know if you are able to offer something along this line in the future.”

This may not be applicable to everyone, but having landed another job offer with a competitive salary is a great leverage in a negotiation. Though you need to be prudent in how you bring it up so you can use it to your advantage and to bid up your salary offers by competing with each other. If you are curious how, let me know in the comment section below.


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