Negotiate Your Salary Like a Pro

Salary negotiation is part of the job search, but how do you know when to start the conversation or how much to ask for? According to Forbes, 70% of hiring managers expect some negotiations, whether they state the offer is flexible or not. However, less than 50% of potential hires try to counteroffer a starting salary. Don't let an opportunity pass you by! Put these trusted tips into practice and you'll be negotiating like a pro in no time.

Before Negotiations:

Know your worth

You want to walk into any interview or negotiation prepared with your market value, so do your research. Keep in mind that your current company may not be paying you enough for your position and loyalty, so don't automatically use your current compensation as a basis for salary negotiations. Do a deep dive into the local job market and investigate salary ranges for someone with your skills and level of experience.

Compare what you find to your monthly expenses and create a target salary you are comfortable with. Knowing a fair market salary range gives you room to negotiate. Not sure what your lowest acceptable salary point would be? Ask yourself: What is the lowest salary I can accept and still live within my means? If you're struggling to find information on salary ranges in your area, ask a recruiter! Find someone who knows your career field and has a comprehensive understanding of what the going rate for your position should be. You can also look out for local salary guides.

Prepare reasons why you deserve it

Salary negotiations are often about convincing the company that you are worth what you're asking to be paid. That means you need to come prepared with all the reasons they should hire you at the rate you want. You can do this by making a Made, Saved, Achieved sheet. Organize all your achievements, successfully completed projects, etc. so you can easily reference them during interviews and negotiations. To do this, build your achievements into the following statements:
  • What I've made the company….
  • What I've saved the company….
  • What I've achieved in (or for) the company….
To use the Made, Saved, Achieved sheet to the fullest, add specific metrics and numbers whenever you can. So instead of reading "Saved the company money by switching to a new automation process", your sheet would say "Saved the company $500K annually by switching to a new automation process." Show the hiring manager how your actions benefitted the company on a fiscal level as well as a production level.

During Negotiations:

Talk second

There is a saying in the employment industry, "Those who speak first lose." In salary negotiations, remain quiet about your salary needs for as long as possible and seek to learn what the company is willing to offer. If the hiring manager asks for your salary requirements first, simply ask, "What is the salary range for this position?" Though you want to avoid giving your salary requirements too soon, be careful to read the room. Don't go overboard by holding out for too long – the last thing you want is for a hiring team to walk away because they couldn't get a straight answer from you. If you can see they are even slightly frustrated, give them a salary range.

Go higher but stay negotiable

If you have to give your salary requirements before hearing the company's offer, inflate the research-based salary you've already decided on by 5-10%. Also, be sure you've factored in any additional expenses you may take on if you take the job (parking, commuting, or increased vehicle use are some samples). The company's initial offer will most likely be on the lower end of your request, but that's okay! Because you gave yourself a cushion, now you have room to negotiate and land on a salary that will satisfy your goals and the hiring budget.

Occasionally, your initial salary may be too high for a hiring manager. Be clear when your salary is negotiable, and you have a genuine interest in working for the company. Lean on your Made, Saved, Achieved list to convince them that your request is worthwhile based on your experience and successes. Likewise, if a company presents a salary that isn't going to work for you, ask if they're willing to negotiate. Maybe there are other items of value like additional paid time off, stock options, bonuses, or schedule flexibility. You may be able to work together to find a good combination that works for everyone!

Be willing to walk away

If negotiations aren't going well, you need to decide if it's worth your time to continue discussing the opportunity. If the company seems hesitant to pay more but is still willing to talk, that may be a sign to continue the conversation. Perhaps they just need a bit more convincing. If they're standoffish about salary increases and talks don't seem to be moving in a positive direction, then consider politely declining their offer and move on.

Keep in mind – always make sure you've evaluated the entire compensation package before making a final choice. If you choose to walk away from negotiations, be sure you're doing it for the right reasons and do so with the utmost professionalism. You never know what opportunities may arise in the future with the same company.

Did you hand in your notice to start your dream job only for your current employer to counter-offer? Here are a few
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