For many job seekers, the thought of negotiating the terms of a proposed compensation package inspires a flurry of discomfort. Is it the discussion of money that breeds the anxiety? Are job seekers worried about attaching a financial value to their skill set? Could the rules that govern the negotiation itself be causing their concern?
Whatever the case, their apprehension is pressing enough to discourage many job seekers from engaging in the practice. Glassdoor data shows that a surprising 59%, 3 out of 5 American employees, accepted a salary from their new employers without trying to negotiate a better deal for themselves.
Salary negotiations give you the opportunity to hammer out a mutually beneficial arrangement for yourself and your potential employer. Making your peace with the dance, and securing a better starting salary for yourself can keep you satisfied in your job for longer, which benefits those on both sides of the table.
Use these five tips to help quell your anxiety and boost your confidence:
1. Define your range: While all US government jobs provide a salary range in the job post, more than 50 per cent of US companies don’t share this information upfront. Knowing the pay range helps you decide if the position could be a financial fit for you.
[Related: Whose Salary Would You Want to Know?]
Either way, consult Glassdoor as part of your interview prep to check the salary range for the job you’re seeking. Interestingly, nearly 60% of the companies Payscale surveyed report using online salary data to generate their salary ranges.
2. Identify what you need: Consider your household expenses, and decide what you need. Think carefully about the impact what you earn has on you and your family. This is your backstory for how you arrive at your target earnings figure. You don’t mention this during your negotiation.
You’re not saying to a hiring manager, “I need to earn more because I’m in three weddings out of state this summer” or “my daughter is going off to college.” The thought of tying your salary negotiation to your personal needs is incredibly uncomfortable.
[Related: 10 Dos & Dont’s of Salary Negotiation]
The hiring manager has a budget that drives his or her decision about what can be paid out. You have a budget that drives your decision about what you can accept.
3. Justify your request: It may seem abstract to attach a financial value to the work that you do. But your work has tangible, financial value. If your years of experience have yielded a faster way to get work done, that’s a great justification. If your creative ideas have drawn more attention to your company’s website, then there you go. If your database savvy has enabled your team to generate better and faster reports, there it is.
The skills that set you apart are the perks that this company gets for hiring you. If they give you a great offer, they get you and you’re likely to stick around. It’s a win-win. Don’t shy away from selling your skills.
Nick Corcodilos, who’s been a headhunter in Silicon Valley since 1979, is a perennial adviser on PBS’s “Ask the Headhunter.” He writes:
“You must show how the added value you will deliver is worth more money. Employers love it when you reveal you have thought carefully about the work and how you would do it profitably. It shows you are motivated to make the deal a ‘win’ for the employer.”
4. Know when to ask for more: Negotiate a better deal for yourself if that’s what you need. You have a number in your mind for what you need to earn. If the hiring manager falls short of that figure, then work with him or her. Compensation matters. If you lowball yourself because salary negotiations make you feel uncomfortable, you will have a more uncomfortable project down the road when you feel you have to look for a new job to get a salary boost.
This is the time. Do your research. Practice with someone whose professional opinion you trust. Then take the plunge.
5. Know when to take the offer: If the hiring manager pitches you a figure that works for you, then take it. The point of this is for you to earn what you deserve. If the hiring manager pitches you the figure you’re looking for, then accept the offer.