You made it through a grueling interview process and you’re the last man (or woman) standing. They must really like you!
So, now that the company has confessed its love for you, how do you negotiate a salary that will get you fair compensation for your work?
Start with what you know about the company you’re negotiating with:
They want you and they are willing to pay for your services. But, where do you go from there?
This is tough. Most people feel very uncomfortable negotiating. Especially in a setting in which you were just doing everything to impress the guy on the other side of the desk. In fact, a study by Salary.com demonstrates that most people that don’t negotiate, don’t do so because they are not confident in their skills.
That study shows that about 18% of people NEVER negotiate, 44% ALWAYS negotiate, and 37% negotiate occasionally.
These statistics are alarming and very unfortunate, especially considering that studies confirm that the average person can lose an average of $500,000 over the course of their career if they do not negotiate.
If you think you can’t negotiate your salary because your skills are not good enough, remember, they just told you that you are offering them something better and more valuable than anybody else. In addition, negotiating a salary just one time can up your value for every future position you hold during the course of your career.
In short, it’s worth it.
The following are steps you should always take when negotiating your new salary:
Preparing for the Salary Negotiation
Research comparable position’s salaries
Take a look around the internet for similar positions and their general salary range. There are tons of websites out there which can give you great insight into the average salaries for comparable positions. Payscale.com is an awesome one to start with.
Another great resource for finding the average salary for specific jobs are recruiters. Recruiters spend all day acting as middlemen between employers and potential employees, there is no one more knowledgeable about average salary.
Before walking into a negotiation, it’s absolutely essential that you have a good idea of what the employer is EXPECTING to pay someone to do this job. By going out and finding comparables, you will be walking into the negotiation with a solid number range in mind.
Research salaries for individuals with similar skill sets
Your salary in a given position should be a product of a combination of the going rate for similar jobs and the value of someone with your skill set.
So, to properly and effectively negotiate your salary, you must also find out what someone with your skill set is worth.
If you are a part of any related organizations ask around. If you;ve been working in the specific industry for a while, ask around your network.
Recruiters can be a great resource for this too. As we talked about before, they spend all day negotiating for and researching different positions, no one will have more comprehensive knowledge of adequate salaries.
We would love to give you some suggestions for finding a great recruiter but the process is quite different depending on where you’re looking, Google is never a bad place to start. If you’re looking to expose yourself to a large number of recruiters in your industry or region, check out ziprecruiter.com.
Come up with a solid number
If you’ve done your due diligence and research, you should have a very solid range of salary numbers for those with your skills and position.
It’s important to walk into the negotiation with a solid number. Make sure you have a range in our head, but when actually negotiating start with a number at or near the top of that range.
This is important for a few reasons.
- You must show that you’re confident in your ability. Asking for top pay shows that you believe you are entitled to it. The employer offered you the job because they think you’re the best person for the position. Act like it.
- The employer will likely counter with a bit smaller number. If you start at the top of the range, you will have plenty of room to move while still landing at a number you are satisfied with.
Another VERY IMPORTANT thing to remember: come in with an EXACT number. That means, don’t ask for something around $100,000, ask for $105,500.
Why? Because if your specific, it demonstrates to the employer that you’ve done extensive research and that you have a very good understanding of what your worth.
If it is clear that you’ve come prepared, you will have an instant leg up during negotiation. Proper preparedness will immediately demonstrate your seriousness and determination to get a fair offer.
The Salary Negotiation
Prepare yourself mentally
Relax, read a little, have a coffee. You don’t want to walk into the negotiation feeling nervous or anxious. If you’re at ease, the person opposite you will be at ease too. It will make the whole negotiation process smoother and easier.
Equally importantly, be confident walking in. Use your body language to make it clear that you’re there to make a deal that you’ll be happy with. The person you’re talking to should know you’re there to stand your ground and come to a fair agreement.
Demonstrate your value
Before jumping right into the negotiation. Ask a few casual warm-up questions and spend a minute or two reminding the employer why they wanted you so bad in the first place.
Be the first to put out a number
The first number put out is very important because it’s usually used as a starting point for the negotiation. Your leverage in the negotiation process will increase greatly if you’re the one to choose the starting point, so make sure you do!
You need to start with a firm number, not a range. The number should be higher than the number you’re aiming for because you should expect a few counters.
You need to be ready to explain how you chose the number. Bring attention to the research you’ve done to prepare. Have examples of comparable position salaries available. Reiterate the special skills that you’re bringing to the company.
A number is meaningless without justification. As important as it is to be the first to present a number, it’s equally as important to be able to justify that number.
Negotiations can get intense sometimes, but it’s incredibly important to keep a cool head on your shoulders and be thoughtful about every aspect of the exchange.
A great way to make sure you stay thoughtful is to intentionally pause after each exchange. Think every comment through and answer rationally. Don’t get heated; it will only cause the conversation to take a turn for the worse and may screw everything up.
Ask good questions and, when the time comes, don’t be afraid to respectfully argue a counterpoint or make a counter offer. Of of the hardest parts of negotiation is making repeated calm and respectful counter offers.
Negotiation is not a pleasant experience for most people, but it’s a necessary evil if you want to be paid your worth.
Do your due diligence and come in ready with an initial offer and target number in mind.
Stay calm and remember, negotiating will net the average worker over $500,000 during the course of their career.