You’ve found it: a (nearly) perfect job. As a job seeker, there are few things more satisfying than finding a job you’re qualified for at a company you’d love to work with. Your qualifications and experience meet their needs, you’re a spot-on culture fit, and your commute wouldn’t be too bad. The only problem: the starting salary is lower than you expected.
Salary can be a tricky thing when you’re searching for a job. It’s difficult to strike the perfect balance between what you’re willing to accept and what they’re willing to pay, and you might feel like your only choices are to accept less pay or keep looking for a higher-paid position.
The truth is: there is always room for negotiating salary when you’re considering taking a new job. (In fact, there’s room for negotiating raises, too, but we’re focusing on new jobs today.)
Throughout our years of staffing experience, we’ve picked up on some great tips for salary negotiation. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well-equipped to negotiate your salary, the next time the need arises.
Do market research.
Do you really know what you’re worth? You can’t always use your previous salary as your guide. Instead, do some research. What is the going rate for someone in this position? Make sure you take into account all of your qualifications, training, and certifications when doing the research, as well as any potential gender pay gaps. This research should help you get a ballpark estimate of what your salary could be.
Talk to recruiters.
Nobody knows hiring like recruiters. Working with a recruiter can be invaluable, not only because they can match you to open positions, but also because they can help you know what good pay (and what a good compensation package) looks like. Make sure when you have this conversation that you give the recruiter as much information as possible, including the job description and responsibilities, plus your specific skills and strengths.
Focus on the company’s needs.
This company will consider hiring you if you fill a need for them. And if they think you’re going to do a really good job at filling one of their biggest needs, they’re probably going to be willing to pay a little more. In any conversations you have, focus on the need they have and how you plan to address that need. It will help them see your worth before actual negotiations even start.
Start high (and go first).
If there’s one thing you can almost always count on in a negotiation, it’s that you’re likely to end somewhere in the middle of the two starting points. This means that if you start on the low end of your range, there’s no way you’re going to get more than that. So, start with the high end instead. Also, put your number out first. That puts the pressure on them to counter with a number that is reasonable in respect to your offer.
People tend to want to deal in round numbers when it comes to salary, but don’t be afraid to be more specific. This means that instead of asking for $75,000, you might ask for $77,750. Being specific communicates to the other party that you really know what you’re worth, and that you likely have data to back it up.
You wouldn’t go into an interview without preparing (we hope), so don’t go into a negotiation without taking some time to prepare yourself. Think of potential questions they might have or points they might make, and plan out your responses. Also, prepare yourself mentally. You want to walk into this negotiation feeling calm and confident, so do whatever you need to to to get to that place.
Be considerate (but don’t back down).
When you’re negotiating salary, it’s important to be polite. Employers will likely be turned off if you are laughing or scoffing at their salary offers. Respectfully recognize the fact that the salary you want is higher than they salary they initially offered, and courteously explain why you think you deserve more. If they aren’t willing to negotiate at all, don’t back down.
Don’t be afraid to go back and forth a bit with your offers. You shouldn’t feel like you have to accept their first offer. It can be awkward to keep counteroffering, but the important thing is to get to a number you are comfortable with. Don’t settle for less just to avoid a little temporary awkwardness.
Know when to walk away.
Unfortunately, there may be times when you just aren’t able to get to a number that you’re willing to accept. If that’s the case, it might be time to walk away. You know what you’re worth, and if the company can’t work with you to get closer to that number, you may not want to work with them anyway.
Negotiating salary can be awkward, but it’s worth the effort. Follow these tips and hopefully you’ll feel better prepared for your next salary negotiation. Best of luck!
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