Whether you’re being considered for a new position at a new company or you’re trying to climb the ladder within your current company, the name of the game is a higher salary. Yes, the work is supposed to satisfy us, but for most people it’s all about how much you bring home so you can pay those never-ending bills.
If you’re in a position to negotiate a higher paycheck, here are a few tips to help put yourself in the most optimal bargaining position:
Salary negotiation shouldn’t be viewed as a battle, but you should be prepared. Make a plan; it will increase your confidence, and with confidence comes control.
“Planning helps you understand the situation and organize your thoughts prior to the meeting,” says Ted Leonhardt, a leading negotiation expert and author. “Start by making a list of what you know and what you don’t know.”
According to Leonhardt, things you already know — or can discover easily — include your job description and company history, while unknowns may include the salary range, your interviewer’s background, and the group dynamic of which you may eventually join.
When planning ahead, “The more unknowns you can move to the ‘known’ side of the ledger, the better you’ll feel,” he says.
Know Your Salary Range
While the salary range for a particular position may be an unknown, it’s best to try to find out.
“Every position has some kind of a predetermined salary range,” Leonhardt says. “You need to know what it is before you sit down at the bargaining table.”
He suggests using simple search terms like, for example, “starting salaries for designers” — or whatever your field. Talent agencies, trade media, and professional associations all produce salary surveys.
“Professors, friends in the business, and family can also have good insights on what people are paid,” says Leonhardt.
Start With the Right Tone
Salary negotiations are just that — negotiations. This can sometimes be confused with “demands,” but this tactic rarely works out in the employee’s favor. So enter the process humble and respectful.
Come to the Table With Leverage
If you’re in the prime position of having multiple offers, use that leverage to your advantage. It’s a slippery slope, for sure — you don’t want to ask for so much that you price out a competitor — but you do want to negotiate for as high as you think one will reasonably go.
“The very best way to negotiate a salary increase is to have multiple job offers in hand,” says Joni Holderman, professional resume writer. “Just be very clear in your own mind which job you prefer.”
Push the Limit
Once you know your reasonable salary range, you have the opportunity to influence the outcome in your favor by pushing the limit.
“Research has shown — and I’ve experienced this — that by starting high you’ll end high. So, if the range is $20,000 to $30,000, ask for $32,000,” Leonhardt suggests.
And then there’s your bottom line.
“Just as important as asking for slightly more is knowing ahead of time what’s the lowest figure you’ll accept and still be happy. Having that ‘below this, I walk’ number in mind will save you from taking a low offer in one of those weak moments that we all have,” he says.
Negotiate Each Term Independently
Not all salary negotiations are one and done.
“If you bring out all your requests right from the start, you’ll overwhelm the employer; instead, dole out one request at a time,” advises Jordan Wan, founder of a sales recruiting platform for tech companies. “Start with your biggest priorities: If your top requests get rejected, you can work your way down the list. You’re more likely to get something you want this way as there’s more pressure for the employer to compromise after saying having said ‘no’ to something else already.”
Chances are, potential employees like you are a dime a dozen. Let your potential employer know that this position is important to you and that you plan to exceed expectations.
“In a fierce negotiation, you need to remind your employer that you’re excited about working with them,” Wan says. “Otherwise, they’ll think you only care about the money. Sprinkle these reminders throughout tough conversations to reassure employers that, in spite of your requests, you’re passionate about the company mission and the team.”
Sleep On It
There’s value in taking time to think about any opportunity that’s presented to you, especially when there are multiple offers on the table.
“Here’s a phrase to remember: ‘You have all the time in the world,'” Leonhardt says. “Even if they present an offer you’re thrilled with, tell them you’d like to think about it overnight, assuming that’s okay with them. They’ll probably want you to sign on the spot — but they’ll usually agree that sleeping on it is the right thing to do.”
Photo Credit: Becker1999