Mastering Salary Negotiations
Updated: Feb 7
Negotiating salary or asking for a raise can be an uncomfortable conversation for any working person to have. Especially when it comes to young professionals, knowing your value and what you bring to the table is not easy to justify to an employer who is expecting you to give them a number. While having these conversations may be unavoidable, with the right amount of preparation anyone can learn to dodge that discomfort and successfully master salary negotiations.
Do Your Research!
Arming yourself with information, before you even walk into a meeting, is the first and one of the most important steps in conversations involving money. Websites like Indeed contain helpful salary information from a large number of industries. Research a few salary comparison websites to determine what the average salary should be in the area that you live for the type of work that you do. With this information, you will have learned what the demand is for the role that you are interviewing for. If you are someone hoping for a raise, take a look at how your years of experience factor into what you should be making in your industry.
Know Your Unique Value
No two people are exactly the same. We each bring different skills and personalities to careers, which add value to the company. After you have found the job you want and know what to expect as far as salary, do a mental review of yourself. Recall what you have made in the past and what you see as a fair progression moving forward, taking into consideration what you have learned and the skills you have gained. If you have been with a company for a long period of time, start keeping track of the projects that you have been given. Ask to take on responsibilities outside of your normal duties and show your manager that you are interested in progressing. Everything that you learn at a job is a factor in value! With each passing day, you are learning and growing as a professional, especially if you are aiming to go above and beyond each day at work. Be ready to discuss the areas where you have excelled or taken on additional work for the company, this is the value that you add. If the company is well-run, they are looking to reward an employee like that.
Salary Never Comes First
It is very important to remember that, while salary is a huge factor, it is not the only factor to consider when interviewing with a company and should not be brought up right away. Asking the question too early can be a red flag for a hiring manager and can indicate that you are someone who is only concerned about money. Normally, a successful employee is one that enjoys the work that they do and is passionate about what the company does. If money is your sole motivation then it will be very easy for you to walk away when a better offer comes along. That is not good for the company that has invested time and money into hiring and training you. A good rule for this is to wait and discuss salary when the interviewer brings it up. This way you do not seem overeager and also you can get an expectation of what they can pay before you introduce a number that is too high or too low. To raise negotiations, even though it is clear that money is the focus of the conversation, make sure you spend a healthy amount of time talking about value and performance first. This will help you when the time comes to justify the amount of money you are asking for.
Consider the Perks
Benefits, time off, work from home, flexible hours, health incentives, training incentives, overtime, paid holidays, and car and phone allowances are all perks to consider when negotiating your salary. A manager might want to reward you for the work that you do or the experience you have, but they are not able to meet you at the number you are looking for. Every company’s benefits package should factor into your salary expectations. Some managers have flexibility when it comes to what they are able to offer, so don’t be afraid to ask about perks if it will help to close the deal. If you are already an employee you should have a better understanding of what your company offers. Asking for a company to cover the costs of a class or training could save you money and also benefit both you and your employer.
You Don’t Have to Say "Yes"
It can be difficult to say no to an initial offer, even when it is lower than what you were expecting. To save yourself some stress, decide ahead of time what your minimum salary would be for any given job. Take into consideration that this number may change depending on how passionate you are about the role, how exceptional the company is, or the different types of benefits they are offering. After you have thought about these factors and you have settled on a minimum salary number, don’t be afraid to say no when you don’t get it.
Saying no the first time opens up the negotiation process. Typically, a company’s initial offer will be on the low end of the range previously discussed or shared. If that is the case, ask politely if a higher amount (specify a number) would be acceptable and then wait for them to respond. Don’t say a word until they respond, just wait. How they respond could be taken as an indicator of how eager they are to have you join their team. Once you have settled on a number that is acceptable to both sides, shake hands and get excited about your new role!
Throughout the negotiation process, be sure to stay gracious. Try not to forcibly make demands or expect a company to always be able to meet or exceed your original expectations. There are many factors to consider and companies must be mindful of their specific budget goals. If in the end, they won't settle on giving you a raise, it might be time to consider moving on and finding a job elsewhere. Job hopping isn't always ideal but sometimes it's better to move on and show your talent somewhere else. They may not be trying to slight you as much as just not able to meet your demands at that time. So be patient, know your worth, and try to enjoy the process.