Five Fantastic Salary Negotiation Tips

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negotiate your salary

First-time salary negotiator? Get the tips you need. Many-time salary negotiator? Get the reminders you need.

Negotiating a salary with your potential new employer can be intimidating, but we’re here to help. Check out our five fantastic salary negotiation tips—and put them to work next time you pass the interview phase.

1. Conduct research.

No, that doesn’t mean visiting the top-ranked salary site and searching your position; it means that and much more. While that salary site might provide you with a starting point, there are lots of factors that could make for a much different end point. Ask yourself these key questions during your research:

  • What do online reviews say regarding a company’s pay? Ignore overly-negative, one-off reviews; spot trends instead.
  • How big is the company? Typically, bigger companies possess bigger hiring budgets, although there are exceptions. It might help to blend company reputation and size.
  • How big is the local market? Generally, the bigger, more competitive the market the more companies pay. But remember to factor in cost of living, as raw compensation numbers can be deceiving.
  • How specific is the position? For example, registered nurse is very specific with equally specific pay, but marketing manager is broader with a potential wide range of salaries.
  • Now, what about you? Are you over- or under-qualified for the position? A shoo-in or a long shot? Where you reside on this spectrum can affect your impending offer and negotiation tactics.
2. Talk to your friends.

Discussing salary openly is becoming more popular. In fact, nearly half of millennials surveyed in this WSJ article said they talk about compensation with their friends, and for good reason.

Quickly-spreading Prior Pay laws (they are now in act in 22 states) are stopping employers from asking you what you made at your previous job to try and use that as a benchmark for what they’re going to offer you. This should make you that much more confident to ask for the salary you think you deserve for the position, but can also leave you with a lot of pressure to get your ask right. After you’ve done all your own research, if you’re still feeling unsure, what better way to verify your number than to run it by a friend in a similar position?

Other added benefits of salary transparency with your friends? What about the potential to help close the gender wage gap, or a less awkward negotiating process because you’ve had practice discussing salary with others? Use your judgment in how you approach the conversation, but approach it nonetheless. The more confidently we can discuss salaries with our peers, the more confidently we can work towards true equal pay and less nerve-wracking negotiations!

3. Exude confidence.

Be confident, not cocky. In person, via email, via phone… however you’re communicating and at whatever stage of the process. How exactly should you exude confidence without going overboard? Here are some tips from our very own employees and recruiters:

  • Look the part. No, you don’t need a three-piece suit. In fact, a more casual sport coat or blouse with slacks might show more confidence. You’re being yourself, not putting up a facade.
  • Talk the part. Be clear and concise, not ambiguous and longwinded. This shows you know what you want—and the salary you deserve. Employers are more likely to be appreciative and candid in their responses.
  • Stay calm and collected. Don’t allow your demeanor to be controlled by emotions. Whether you’re on the same page, or not even in the same ballpark, keep your poker face—you don’t want to reveal your emotions.
4. Leverage options.

Assuming you have other job offers, or even potential job offers. If you don’t, this one might not apply to you. Then again, it could always apply to you in the future.

This goes back to negotiating 101. If you have options, use them as leverage. An employer is much more likely to feel pressure to strike a deal with you if they know they’re competing with other employers. But how do you let them know you have other options? Subtly and tactfully.

Instead of saying “Look, I have another job offer I need to consider,” say, “Thank you. I have a lot to consider and will get back to you as soon as possible.” Just remember not to wait too long to get back to them; Otherwise, they might use some leverage of their own… with other candidates. It’s a balance act for both parties.

5. Be creative.

Salaries can be complex in the sense that they change and evolve over time. And, in a way, benefits and bonuses are so closely tied to salaries. Why not get creative and use them in your negotiations?

Instead of agreeing on a number, say $50,000, why not think more long term? Perhaps you accept the $50,000 contingent upon being eligible for a bonus six months in, instead of a year in. Or perhaps you accept the $50,000, but with a greater chunk of profit sharing. Maybe you work in some sort of commission or other performance rewards.

The point is, there are creative ways to receive greater compensation. It’s not always as simple as back and forth negotiation and settling on a concrete number. If you sense the situation requires this type of creativity, use it.

Remember, after a long dry spell, we’re back in a candidate-driven market, where low unemployment and growing companies rule. You have an advantage. Take advantage by using all of our tips above!

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