Job seekers spend so much time fine-tuning résumés and preparing for interviews that they are often unprepared for the salary proposal that accompanies a job offer. The company has made a significant investment in filling that vacancy and may be willing to come to more attractive terms, but many candidates fail to realize that employers are open to salary negotiation.
A 2013 study by The Creative Group revealed that professionals who accept an initial job offer may be leaving money on the table. More than 60 percent of the executives surveyed are at least somewhat willing to negotiate compensation when extending a job offer to a top candidate.
"Job seekers often have more leverage than they realize when negotiating a starting salary," Donna Farrugia, then-executive director of The Creative Group and now CEO of Nelson Cos., said in a statement. "Businesses that have gone through the process of selecting a top candidate are motivated to hire that person, even if they have to sweeten the deal."
Because salary conversations are delicate and can easily go off track, Farrugia said job candidates who are thoroughly prepared for negotiations are the ones who have the most success. The key to a good, mutually respectful negotiation is informed and honest communication. Here are six tips to help you get the salary you deserve. [7 Salary Negotiation Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)]
Prepare for your negotiation
Research a reasonable salary for the position considering your education and experience. Do not base your counteroffer solely on the wage you would like to make. By approaching the negotiation with appropriate information and a reasonable expectation, you will make a better impression on the employer as well as position yourself reasonably from the start. In an article on The Ladders, career expert Amanda Augustine suggested looking up how your current role compares to the market rate, and then changing some of the variables to match those of the companies you're applying to.
"If the roles you are targeting are in different industries or locations, or the size of the company is very different, this could have an impact on what salary you can expect to make," Augustine wrote.
Keep personal issues out of it
Do not use your mortgage payment or other bills as a reason you should be paid more. Employers may be sympathetic, but that is not a reason to provide more compensation. Instead, focus on the increased value you bring to the organization. Stress your unique qualities, experience, education or some other feature to demonstrate benefit to the company’s goals, vision or purpose.
Honesty is always the best policy. If asked what your previous salary was, don't lie about it. While you may fear that it will weaken your position, it instead provides a strong foundation for your future working relationship. A reference check will reveal a lie, which could result in the offer being withdrawn altogether.
Remember that compensation is more than money
Salary offers include benefits such as vacation time, sick days and other work-life-balance options like a flexible schedule or telecommuting. Those items may also be negotiated. Depending on their importance to you, maybe an extra week of vacation is worth a little less in pay throughout the year. Consider the offer as a whole, and be open to negotiating aspects other than money.
Be willing to compromise
How you conduct yourself during a negotiation is as important as what you say. Be kind but firm, confident yet compromising. Your tone and demeanor will keep the conversation going or shut it down completely. Delivering ultimatums seldom works, and if it does, it can result in a negative atmosphere for future interactions.
Don't lowball yourself
Many employers will ask you for a salary range on your application, during your interview or when they first contact you with a job offer. Whatever your very bottom number is, make sure the lowest number in your salary range is still above that (but within a reasonable range based on your research). If you go in with your minimum acceptable offer, the final number may be dangerously close to that.
Further information about negotiating your salary can be found in the following articles:
- "How much money to ask for in a salary negotiation" (Business Insider)
- "Top Ten Tips for Salary Negotiations" by Michael Chaffers (Monster.com)
- "Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer" (Harvard Business Review)
- "Why Women Must Ask (The Right Way): Negotiation Advice From Stanford's Margaret A. Neale" (The Muse)
This article was originally published in 2013 and was updated Dec. 1, 2015. Additional reporting by Business News Daily senior writer Chad Brooks.