Freelance or full-time, here’s how to advocate for yourself without the angst.

Share story

I haven’t always been the best at advocating for myself where money is concerned. But I was recently reminded by a former manager that I held a hard line about relocation expenses for a job that would take me across the country. I also asked for and got the salary I deserved. Whether you are in talks for a full-time or contract gig, here’s how to negotiate like a boss.

Do your research. There are plenty of sites to assist you with determining a competitive salary for your region, role and industry. Try or

Show your worth. Let a prospective employer or client know what they are getting for their investment. How will you contribute to the bottom line, either through growing the business or saving money? For example, you may charge a higher hourly fee, but you do excellent work in a fraction of the time it takes other people. Efficiency merits compensation. Use examples of past achievements to drive the point home.

Don’t overlook your own needs, expenses and personal goals. Do you want to buy a house, build a retirement fund, save for a vacation? Don’t look at a salary calculator and forget to figure in your financial goals. Sure, you can live on a reasonable salary, but does it move your life forward?

Figure out your range. What’s the offer that would make you say yes immediately, and what’s the least you’re willing to work with? Keep this range in mind as you enter into negotiations.

If at first you don’t succeed … If you don’t get the initial salary or fee you were aiming for, ask to sit down in three or six months to revisit the arrangement. Pinpoint deliverables and measurable skills from the get-go, so you can show how you impacted the company and developed in the role.

Don’t be offended by a lower-than-expected offer. It’s not about you. Most companies start with lower offers, knowing you will want to negotiate up. It may be uncomfortable for you, but they expect a counteroffer.

Ask for what you’re worth. Asking for a serious salary or fee means you’re taking yourself and your skills seriously. And the company or client will, too. As Michelle Obama said, “Know your own value.” And then go out and get it.