Here’s a little secret you might not know:
Employers hardly ever make their best offer first, and candidates who understand effective salary negotiation strategies generally earn more than those who don’t.
Also – very often people who at least attempt to ask for a higher salary are perceived more positively, since they are demonstrating the skills the company wants to hire them for.
Here’s a step by step guide to negotiating your best salary yet:
Do your research. Before you go for an interview, you should find out what the market rates for the job you are looking for are. There are salary surveys available online, and if you are dealing with a recruitment agency, your consultant should be able to advise you on the salary range for the position you are interviewing for.
Also, think about what you want from the job, both in terms of the job itself, as well as remuneration. This will help you appear more self-assured during the interview and salary negotiation process.
Don’t talk money too early. You should never ask about a salary during the first interview – while we all of course want to earn more when we change jobs, no employer wants to hire someone whose only motivation to change jobs is a higher salary.
So how do you answer the inevitable interview question ‘What salary are you looking for?’
This is where your homework becomes invaluable. Hopefully you’ll know the market rates for the type of a position you are looking for. It is better to give a range, rather than a specific number – you don’t want to give a salary that is perhaps lower than the employer is looking to pay; but you don’t want to price yourself out of the market either.
Emphasize that you are primarily interested in finding the right job for you – and salary isn’t your main consideration.
Believe that you can you negotiate in this economy. It is true that it will be easier in some industries than others. In my experience, salary bandings in public sector are usually fixed and there isn’t much room for negotiation. When I make offers in my recruitment job, we take into account the candidate’s current salary, our salary ranges for the position, market rates and also what the other team members are earning.
If you have been selected as the candidate a company wants to hire, and you have some highly sought skills and experience, you are in an excellent position to negotiate.
Don’t be afraid to ask – but don’t demand either!
Know what you are worth and don’t be afraid to ask for it. No one loses a job offer because they ask for something… however you can have a job offer pulled because of the way you ask. It is important that your request is within the ball park of the salary range, so avoid giving a specific number until the employer is ready to make you an offer.
Remember to be enthusiastic, polite and professional during negotiations.
Communicate to your prospective employer by your tone of voice and your demeanor that your goal is a win-win solution. If you are too pushy, the employer may get the impression that you’re not that interested in the job (or only interested in the money) and withdraw the offer.
Keep selling yourself
As you go through the interviewing and negotiating process, remind the employer how they will benefit from your skills and experience. Let’s say, for example, that the employer wants to offer $50k, but you are looking for min. $57k base salary. Explain how they’d benefit by increasing your compensation. For example:
“I realize you have a budget to worry about. However, I believe that with the desktop publishing and graphic design skills I bring to the position, you won’t have to hire outside vendors to produce customer newsletters and other publications. That alone should produce far more than $7k in savings a year.”
In other words, justify every additional $ or benefit you request. Remember to do so by focusing on the employer’s needs, not yours.
Make them jealous
If you are interviewing for other jobs, you might want to tell employers about your offer – this should speed up the interview process. If they know you have another offer, you will seem more attractive to them and it might help you negotiate a higher salary.
Ask a fair price
You really need to ensure that your requests are reasonable and in line with the current marketplace. A few days ago I spoke to the candidate for an Analyst role who’s asked for a salary of 55k-60k. Since all Analysts at his level (3 years of experience) earn between 35-40k, this candidate has priced himself out of the process with his unreasonable demands.
However, if the salary offer is below market value, you might want to (gently!) suggest that it’s in the company’s best interest to pay the going rate:
“The research that I’ve done indicates that the going rate for a position such as this is $6,000 higher than this offer. I’d really love to work for you and I believe I can add a lot of value in this job, however I can’t justify doing so for less than market value. I think if you reevaluate the position and consider its importance to your bottom line, you’ll find that it’s worth paying market price to get someone who can really make an impact quickly.”
Negotiate extras and be creative!
If the employer can’t offer you the salary you want, think about other valuable options that might not cost as much. You can look at negotiating holiday days (e.g. if new employees must work for 6 to 12 months before receiving paid holidays, ask that this restriction be waived.); ask for an early salary reviews or negotiate a sign-on or a performance bonus.
Negotiate with confidence
Remember to use the confident body language and speech patterns. When you make a salary request, don’t go on and on, stating over the over again why it’s justified. Make your request and offer a short, simple explanation of why that amount is appropriate.
Finally, it’s a smart negotiating strategy to ask for a few benefits or perks you don’t want that badly. Then you can ‘give in’ and agree to take the job without those added benefits it the employer meets all of your other requests.
Ideally, both parties in a negotiation should come away from the table feeling that they’ve won. This is especially true when you’re dealing with salary negotiations. You want employers to have good feelings about the price paid for your services so that your working relationship begins on a positive note.