Career Advice

7 actionable tips to negotiate a higher salary in 2021

Published by
Lethabo Ntsoane

Starting a new job or about to have a salary review or looking forward to getting a promotion?

Salary negotiation can feel like a whole session of physical exercise. The anticipation before negotiations take place can give you sleepless nights.

It’s hard to go to your boss to ask for a salary increase in the first place. Questions like should I ask for a salary increase in this economic climate?

Am I really worthy of a promotion that comes with a salary increase?

How much should I ask for?

These questions increase the doubt of getting a salary increase or even fears of getting fired.

No matter how afraid you are, at some point you will need to ask for a salary increase. Otherwise, you will work for the same salary even if you are worth more than that.

Your peers who do the same job will be getting more money than you because of fear or lack of negotiation skills.

It’s not surprising to find 2 employees working the same job but earning different salaries. The secret is in the art of negotiation

It is time to move from your comfort zone and get remuneration befitting your skills. These 7 tips will help you negotiate your salary in a smart way.

1. Understand the value you bring to the company

Understand the value you bring to the company

It is said an employee should be paid 5% of whatever they bring into the company. This is where you need to start. It is not an easy mathematical task, but valuating how much you bring to the company will make your job a lot simple.

You need to know that you deserve the raise that you are gunning for. Don’t just shoot in the dark and ask for an amount you think you deserve because your peers are getting that much.

Not knowing the figure you want as salary will expose you to the hiring manager who will control the conversation and end up walking with little or no raise. Be prepared with an exact figure, if possible increase the figure to allow the amount to be negotiated.

Making calculations on how much you bring to the company is not the only way to evaluate your worth. Your experience, skills, educational achievements and proficiency in other fields also count in determining your value.

The company will be getting you as a whole with all your skills and qualifications, so you need to use them to your advantage.

You need to be practical when evaluating yourself. Also, demonstrate your skills using current problems that the company is facing and solve them. This will solidify your skills/problem-solving argument.

2. Do research to support the amount you have come up with

Talk to recruiting agents to start your research. Recruiters are well qualified and know exactly how much a person like you should earn. Engage with them and share how much experience you have in the field, your contributions to the company, educational level etc.

The number that you will get from recruiters may not be specific but they will give you a good idea of what you are worth

Conducting a research will help you being objective on your calculations rather than being subjective. You will be able to compare your own totals with those from third parties. In the process understanding better the salary valuation for your profession.

Use a website like payscale to check how much you should be earning working on your job. Payscale has a filter that you can use to adjust for level experience and qualifications you hold.

3. Don’t limit your thinking on base salary

Hold it in your psyche that you are going into that negotiation to negotiate beyond the base salary. Have a range of desired amounts, from the most ideal salary to the lowest you are prepared to accept.

Should you not get the ideal amount, be prepared to supplement your loss by asking for a better retirement package and better medical aid. Your compromise can be matched by asking for a better retirement package and medical plan.

The Supplementary deal should not just be monetary. Try to negotiate for more leave days, more holiday days and work from home packages. These are more likely to be accepted as a compromise.

4. Wait for a right time to ask for an increase

Timing is very important when asking for an increase. Many wait until the time for review arrive and ask for a raise. At this point, chances are that your bosses have already valuated your worth using their own yardstick. Imagine going to your boss with his/her mind made up of what you truly deserve. It probably won’t end well.

Ask for a raise months before the salary review period arrives. Companies write their budgets in advance, by the time the salary review period approaches, the budget would be completed by then. They may not be willing to alter their budget just to accommodate you. Instead, ask for an increase before they draw up the budget for the coming year.

5. Prepare for a rejection and ask high

Since you now have a salary range, its time to shoot. The minimum is what you can accept and the maximum is the amount you will be more than happy to take home.

So your desired increase has to be between the minimum and the maximum. Start with asking for the maximum but keep in mind that there are slim chances that your offer will be accepted. Prepare to go back and forth with your employer or hiring manager.

Be prepared for a “no” on your initial offer but if things go accept then you are better off.

6. Explain why you want the increase

From the research you conducted use it to explain why you deserve the figure that you have stated. It’s all about persuasion and to persuade your employers you need to show facts and evidence that you gathered.

Try to solve a difficult problem that a company is having, by doing this you will be demonstrating your skills.

Be objective in your explanations and include both the company and yourself. Going an extra mile for an increase can charm your employer in understanding your situations better.

He or she will admire you for your efforts whether they agree with your request or not.

7. Show confidence at all times

The way you conduct yourself will show if you are deserving of an increase or not. It’s not fair but it is what it is. If you come in then sit down with your hands wrapped around you and feeling small, you will be showing that you are not sure about what you are saying or shy that you are asking too much.

Be free and keep eye contact and enlarge yourself in the room. That way your presence will be felt. Your voice needs to be more authoritative and sound confident and professional.


Competition is very stiff in South Africa when it comes to job positions. You need to be careful on how you go about asking for a salary.

Understand your employer’s current economic climate and work from that. Sometimes companies work on a strict budget so you must consider this. The level of competition in your workplace also plays an important role.

Do your research deligently and ask what you truly deserve.

Lethabo Ntsoane

Lethabo Ntsoane holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of South Africa. He is a Financial Product commentator at Rateweb. He is an expect financial product analyst with years of experience in reviewing products and offering commentary. Lethabo majors in financial news, reviews and financial tips. He can be contacted at

Published by
Lethabo Ntsoane