Most job seekers I’ve come across are not comfortable with salary negotiation. Don’t be discouraged to negotiation a fair package when you receive an offer. Many employers actually expect candidates to negotiate and factor that in to the initial offer. Successful salary negotiation generally takes place at a specific point – after a job offer is presented. So, don’t jump the gun and ruin your chance of obtaining a salary you deserve by setting the bar too high or low.
It is always best to let the employer bring up the discussion of salary. There are a number of drawbacks to discussing this point too early in the process. The first interview is generally used to inform you about the position and company and to discover how your capabilities and skills may apply to the employer’s requirements. By discussing salary before even making a positive impression with the employer, you may cut yourself short. If you bring up the discussion, the next question from the employer may be about your expectations. Now, you are in a position to set the bar, but what if the bar you set is lower than what the employer was planning for? There’s also the chance you may be too over the top from what the employer had in mind and they may decide to discontinue discussions with you before there’s even been a chance to help them realize the true value of your experience and skills for the position and company.
There are some general rules to follow to ensure you have the best hand when it comes time to salary negotiation.
- Responding to Desired Salary: It’s a question that may appear on your application and what you may write is “Fair market value.” If you must specify an amount, offer a broad range, not a specific dollar amount. And if asked during an interview, the same rule applies. A generally good response to help you get out of specifying your desired salary is saying, “I am flexible and expect to earn what is fair market value for the position.” You can then follow up and ask for the salary range for the position, putting the ball back in the employer’s court.
- Conduct Research: Research the field and determine what a competitive salary is. There are a number of online websites offering salary information on different positions by location, industry as well as years of experience. This way, when it comes time to negotiation you have supporting materials to show your request is reasonable.
- Know What You Are Worth: If you have particular skills that are important to this position or have leverage over other typical candidates for the position, use it to your advantage to support your request for a higher salary. Negotiation needs to be focused on what you can bring to the table versus what you need.
- Schedule a Time for Negotiation: Follow up with your contact to schedule a time for an in-person meeting to discuss questions you have related to the offer. Explain you are very appreciative of the offer, but believe a few terms fall short of your expectations and you want to discuss it to determine if changes are possible.
- Ask Questions Rather Than Present Demands: In order to establish a professional and pleasant negotiation discussion, always present your terms in the form of a question, such as, “How negotiable is the salary?” And avoid questions that can lead to an easy response of “No,” such as “Is the salary negotiable?”
- Present Clear Terms and Know What It Will Take for You to Accept: Present to the employer exactly what it will take for you to accept the offer and be gracious, professional and courteous throughout this process. Negotiation should be a streamlined process. Know your minimum requirements to accept a position if your terms are not met or are only partially met.
- Create a Win-Win Situation: Negotiation is about creating a win-win situation. Everyone should come off happy with what is to be received. Employers do not want unhappy employees coming on the job feeling underpaid and an employer should not feel they have been left with the short end of the stick.
Never shy away from negotiating for better salary when you receive a job offer. Establish a professional discussion where you are courteous in your requests and ask based on terms that are reasonable within the market, and you will have a good chance of getting what you deserve and want.