Salary negotiation is a key part of the employment process that isn’t always discussed. For most people, talking about money, and specifically, asking for more, can feel intimidating, but it is important to know that compensation is how a company reinforces your value. Check out these four tips that will help you view this financial conversation as more of a dance and less of a disaster.
Know the numbers.
Whenever an applicant heads into a salary negotiation, there are three numbers to focus on: the industry average, the value you bring, and your bottom line.
Industry average –
It’s important to have an understanding of what professionals in your field are being paid so that you can form a fact-based argument of what you deserve. Do your homework with resources, like Glassdoor, that factor in job title, location, years of experience and additional skillsets. Source others in your professional network, such as LinkedIn, to find out what you can expect or browse different job postings to see salary ranges.
Your worth –
Are you just starting out or have you been in your field for a significant amount of time? Your “magic number” should accurately reflect your demonstrated abilities as well as the nature of the job.
Your threshold –
Of equal importance is knowing what you want, while determining what number you can’t or aren’t willing to dip below. For example, if you have to make $30/hour to pay for childcare and still make a profit, then don’t accept less than that; you’ll resent the employer before you even complete new employee orientation.
Let them start.
Whether we like it or not, the party that discloses a number first is the one setting the starting point. Ideally, you don’t want this to be you. While it seems counterintuitive – you want the ball in your court – by telling them what you’re currently making or what you want to make, you might actually be lowballing yourself.
Think about it.
If a company is prepared to pay a candidate up to $75,000/year and they’re going to offer you $60,000/year, but you say you have to make $50,000, you might even walk away with an offer for less than what they were prepared to pay you. When asked what you’re currently making or desired salary, flip the script and ask what someone of your value and experience would be worth to the company. The sooner you get a starting point from them, the sooner you can start negotiations.
Leverage your experience.
A great technique for salary negotiation is the term “I get.” Any time you can leverage work you’ve done and what you’ve been paid to get a higher rate is a good thing (so long as you’re not starting with the number). This is particularly helpful when the company has offered you less than what you can take.
For example, if a company offers you $50/hour to manage a project, try countering with, “I typically get $100/hour for a project of that scope. Do you have room in your budget to meet that number?” All it takes is one project at that rate for you to be able to say that’s what you’ve been compensated. Highlighting that someone else has been willing to pay you that figure showcases both worth and experience.
Look for loopholes.
So you’ve said you need $100/hour and they’ve come back with $60/hour and ‘they absolutely can’t do more.’ This isn’t the end quite yet.
This is where you look for perks, accommodations, incentives, bonus opportunities and benefits. Based on the nature of the work, there might be some hidden opportunities that could be priceless to you. A few extra paid days off each year? A work from home day each week? A flexible schedule? If you can make it work for $60/hour, then you’re sitting in the driver’s seat now. Go for it.
The art of salary negotiation doesn’t need to be intimidating. Approach the conversation armed with your numbers and the knowledge that you have the skill to do this dance. We know you’re worth it. Now it’s time you know it, too.