Salary negotiation for your next job offer: tactics, definitions, and examples
Your job contract determines your livelihood for the next several years. Since it's part of your plan for lifelong success, it's sensible to speculate and negotiate your salary. Your starting pay determines how far along you'll be when you receive raises or promotions, so having this groundwork stabilized is essential.
The why and how of job contract negotiation
A new job means a lot of change in your day-to-day life. You may have a longer commute, need an updated wardrobe to meet with a new dress code, or even complete a full move. When this potential employer first chose your resume over everyone else’s, they did so because they knew you were the right candidate. They want you to work for them, so it’s appropriate for you to be upfront with what you need to make this new position work for both of you. As intimidating as it may be to look a potential new boss or supervisor in the eye and request a higher starting pay, it’s a standard procedure in the working world.
When is it appropriate to ask for your desired salary?
Before any salary negotiation, you need to wait for an official job offer. A job offer is a document that contains:
- A job description
- Job title
- Your expected start date
- An explanation of your benefits
- Your salary
The salary is, of course, what we’re focused on here. However, it’s worth noting that a job offer should also include an acknowledgment of the offer by the company and confirmation of acceptance from you. So, you have your job offer. Now, is it appropriate to negotiate the proposed salary? Yes, if:
A Lower Salary Negatively Impacts Your Quality of Life.
Factors like moving, commuting, and continuing education play a big part in whether you decide to take on a new role. If you’re currently working from home, but this new job requires a half-hour drive, you need to take the extra cost of gas into account. The same is true if your new role will require relocation. In this case, you should discuss whether the company is willing to cover relocation costs. Many companies provide opportunities for their employees to continue their education, either through college courses or skill-building events like conferences. If this new position compromises your ability to compete within the industry, you need to negotiate your pay.
The Proposed Salary Does Not Reflect Your Experience.
Experience makes all the difference! There’s a reasonable expectation to pay a seasoned employee more because of their greater experience. If you’ve been an accounts manager for ten years, and the company’s proposal only reflects five years of experience, this calls for a discussion. Examine your qualifications, see what you’re worth, and bring that information to the negotiation.
Their Benefits Package Doesn’t Balance the Lower Salary.
Sometimes, a lower salary can reflect a company’s willingness to provide their employees with some awesome benefits. Maybe the salary is $65,000 a year and the current market average is $75,000 a year, but the insurance premiums for a family of four make up the difference. Keep in mind benefits like medical, dental, vision, and retirement when you examine the proposed salary and find the balance that you need. Then, set up a time to meet with your potential employer to go over the contract.
When you shouldn't negotiate your salary
While salary negotiation is an expected part of pulling together an acceptable job contract, there are a few occasions where negotiating isn’t appropriate.
If They Say This Is The Best They Can Do.
The bottom line is what it is. A company has to look at whether they can afford you while also maintaining their status quo. So sometimes, the employer’s answer is that what they’ve offered is all they can do. It’s okay if their proposed salary simply won’t work for you. There will be other candidates for them. In this case, instead of opening salary negotiations, it may be best to walk away from the job offer.
Your Experience In The Field Is Limited.
Experience is essential to better pay, and you have to start somewhere. If this is your first time in a role like this, the company may offer you a solid contract based on your experience or education. Never sell yourself short, but also understand that entry-level positions do not mean expert-level pay.
You Have No Long-Term Interest In the Job.
Ultimately, if you have no interest in a job, you should probably look for another one. If you’re in a place where time is a factor and you need this is a job you need right now, but will want a new one as soon as you can find one, take the time to consider whether salary negotiations are worth your while. Learn More Here
Tactics to negotiate your salary
Decide What You Need From Your Job
The first step of any negotiation, whether it’s for your salary, benefits, or a proper coffee, is knowing what you need. Look at your monthly and annual budget, what you’re currently paying for retirement and insurance, what tax bracket this new position grants you, and go from there. Also, consider the work environment. Can you work from home part-time, or will you always need to commute? Perhaps childcare weighs in on your budget. These are all reasons to note and jot down, so you can let your potential employer know where you stand.
Examine the Job Offer
Now it’s time to take everything you’ve considered in step one and bring those considerations with you while you study the job offer. Take a close look at what the benefits are. Is there a 401k? Maybe they provide medical insurance, but it will be up to you to find dental and vision insurance. Look for opportunities to grow within the company, and think over what that would require of you. Are you eligible for these advancements now, or would you need a few extra college credits before they would offer you a promotion?
Research What Others Are Paying
Information is power, and knowing your worth is vital. Do a quick Google search for your job title and see what other companies are paying, what this company is offering, and what the national and state averages are. Glassdoor has an engine to search salaries and compensation, or you can use a national database like this one from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Consider Your Counter Offer
As mentioned above, companies expect salary negotiation. It’s part of the deal. So before you sit and talk with your new potential employer, consider your counter offer. A counter offer is essentially you saying, “This job looks great, but…” This is the part where you state what needs to change in the contract before you can seriously consider the job offer. Pro tip: Don’t go in with one number in mind. Decide on a range that would make the job acceptable and make sure the bottom of that range is still a reasonable living wage for you.
Schedule A Time to Negotiate
Now that you have your priorities in order and all the information you need, set up a time to speak with your potential employer. This might be prior to the secondary interview, or you may need to write a salary negotiation email.
Be Patient and Flexible
Companies are as busy as you are, and respecting the timeframe in which they can schedule a meeting to speak with you will help you two-fold. First, you’ll be showing your potential employer that you respect their time. Second, they’ll be able to give you their full attention at the scheduled meeting time.
If It’s Not For You, Walk Away
Everyone has their reasons for wanting or not wanting a job. Remember that this is a career choice and not a place that calls for friend-to-friend type etiquette. If the job isn’t for you, or if the compromises the company makes simply don’t meet your needs, that’s okay. There are respectful ways to decline the job offer. Learn more here.
Examples of salary negotiation
Negotiating Before The Second Interview
When the employer calls you back after the initial interview, that’s when the negotiations can begin. Here’s a sample script for you to prepare for this conversation.
Hiring Manager: Do you have time next week for a follow-up interview? We’d like you to meet our department heads.
You: That sounds great! Are you the appropriate person, and is this a good time to have a conversation about the proposed salary?**
HM: Sure, we can talk about that. Do you mind me asking what you made in your previous position?
You: At my previous company, my salary was around the same as what you’ve proposed. However, this position will require more administrative work and will make better use of my supervision skills.
HM: Understood. What is your ideal salary? You: I’m focusing on offers within a $70,000-80,000 salary range.
** If the person scheduling your second interview is not who you should speak with about a counteroffer, ask to schedule a separate call with them. Meanwhile, schedule a time with the current representative for the second interview. If negotiations don’t fall in your favor, you can still decline the offer at that time.
An Example of Email Negotiation
Like with any professional email, your Subject Line should be concise and address the focal point of your email.
Subject line: Salary Counter Offer Dear
Thank you for offering me the position of Accounts Manager at Davis Enterprises. I think my 7 years of experience has given me the skills and knowledge to keep your accounts diligently.
However, I wanted to discuss the listed salary and benefit details you sent this morning. As I mentioned in the interviews, during my five years in a leadership role within the accounting department at my last job, I saved our company over 42% over a fiscal year. I also formed initiatives that brought in an additional 18% revenue overall for the organization. With my expertise and specialization, I feel a salary between $100,000 and $105,000 is more appropriate than the proposed $90,000.
My work ethic will contribute to the increased success of your company, and I’m excited about the possibility of being a member of Davis Enterprises. Let me know when we can discuss the job offer for this position.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Negotiating your salary can be a daunting prospect. However, if you employ these tactics, you’ll be putting your best foot forward to get the salary you want.