A few years ago, a friend was asked by a potential employer, “What would you need to get paid in order to not resent the fact that you have to do the work?”
Talk about being straightforward.
For me, salary negotiations have always been a bit of a stumbling block, an awkward dance between speaking my mind while also appeasing an employer or potential employer. There seems to always be a magic number, but neither party is anxious to disclose what their magic number is right off the bat.
In the past, I’ve simply crossed my fingers and hoped that discussing salary wouldn’t change the course or the tone of a conversation.
Now, I come prepared.
Here are a few tips to being a proactive participant in salary negotiations and increasing your odds of getting what you want.
Tip #1 – Do your research.
You may have a desired salary in mind, but if that number is inconsistent with the field you are in, the chances of a potential employer taking your request seriously are slim to none.
The only way to come prepared in this aspect is to do your research . Websites like Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com can give you a snapshot of the average salaries of people in your industry based off of information submitted by others in that field. Salary.com, on the other hand, offers salary information submitted by employers themselves.
Any of these websites should give an approximate range you should be shooting for and can at least ensure you won’t be way off the mark.
Also take into consideration the city and state of the job you’re applying for – a gig in New York generally would offer more than that same gig in Iowa, for example.
Tip #2 – Check your ego at the door.
It’s always important to ask for what you want and what you believe you deserve. However, with that in mind, companies aren’t too keen on hiring people who speak in strictly egoic terms.
Place more emphasis on discussing your qualifications and skill set and less on what you expect to receive in return from the company you’re interviewing with. Tell them why they can’t afford to pass you up – not why they would be lucky to have you.
Put your best foot forward and you’ll be more likely to receive what you want in return – without having to strong arm the other party into giving in.
Tip #3 – Know your bottom line.
Before entering into any type of salary negotiation, you should have at least two numbers in mind: your desired salary and your bottom line salary.
Your desired salary – or asking salary — can be on the high end of what you believe is reasonable to ask for given your education, experience and career field. Starting on the higher end can ensure that, even if the final number is a bit lower, you can still be satisfied.
Your bottom line salary is your indicator of how low you’re willing to go before walking away from the offer. This number should allow you to cover all your financial bases while still ensuring you won’t be resentful of your employer down the road.
Knowing your desired salary and bottom line salary before going in to an interview ensures that you don’t end up accepting something that won’t work for you in the long run.
Tip #4 – Don’t lie.
It may be tempting to skirt the truth if a potential employer asks for your salary history, but lying – especially when it comes to finding a job – generally isn’t worth the risk.
When moving from position to position, considering you probably have more experience and time on the job, it’s fair to ask for a raise. In fact, most people are looking for an increase in pay when they begin a job search.
If you need to justify why you are asking for the amount you are given your salary history, then take the time to do so. Having an employer discover that you fudged numbers, even just a smidge, indicates to them that there’s a bigger problem there – one that they aren’t willing to take on for a new employee.
Tip #5 – Put it off.
Salary might be your main concern, but that doesn’t mean you should be the first one to bring it up. Focus on speaking about what you are bringing to the table so that the potential employer doesn’t get the impression that you are only in it for the money. Not only could this severely damage your chances, but a premature salary conversation could actually affect the amount you are offered in the end.
Steer the conversation away from money until you believe you have successfully made your case, and, even then, wait until they bring it up.
Have you successfully negotiated a satisfactory salary in the past? What did you do to get what you wanted? Share your tips below.
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