You’ve got the job—congratulations!—but what you don’t have is a salary offer that makes you want to shout from the rooftops with joy. Luckily, you don’t have to take the first salary offer you’re given—and we’re not talking about rejecting the job entirely. Instead, you can negotiate up to $15,000 more per year with these insider secrets from Josh Doody, salary negotiation coach and author of Fearless Salary Negotiation. So let’s get down to haggling.
Oh, and if you’re nervous, don’t be—the pluses of negotiating a starting salary significantly outweigh any perceived negatives. As Doody points out, negotiating “literally pays off in terms of a bigger paycheck, which means you can take that extra vacation, get out of debt faster, or save up for your new house. It also sends a signal to potential employers and to yourself that you are a business-savvy person who thinks about more than the day-to-day responsibilities of your job; you think about value to the business, and that’s appealing.”
Don’t divulge too much.
Your potential employer may ask you to share what you earn in your current position, but Doody warns against it. He says, “do not disclose your current or expected salary. You will very likely cost yourself money and make it difficult to negotiate your offer later on.” Also, if you live in New York, California, Oregon or cities like New Orleans, it’s illegal for a company to ask you what you make; if they do, it may be a warning sign that this is not the best company to work for.
According to Doody, a lot of companies will low-ball an offer, leaving money in the company coffer in case you’re the kind of candidate who is unafraid to negotiate. With that in mind, “my rule of thumb is that you should counteroffer between 10 percent and 20 percent above the initial offer,” says Doody. “You will often end up somewhere under your counter but over your initial offer.” And 20 percent could very well mean another $15,000.
Don’t stop too soon.
“Counter offering … will be your biggest tool for negotiating a better job offer,” says Doody. “But even after you counter offer, there may be opportunities to improve non-salary aspects of your offer if you keep negotiating.” If the potential employer doesn’t give you a firm “yes” to your salary request, “then the door is still open to negotiate things like vacation time, signing bonuses, or equity,” Doody points out. Not all of these are cold, hard cash—but they have value that can quickly add up over time at the company.
Know your worth.
One of the biggest keys to salary negotiating success is knowing what you are worth, both at the company and in the marketplace. To determine your worth, you must find your market value for your skill set and experience in your industry, geographic location, and at the specific company to which you’re applying, says Doody. “I recommend salary research tools like Glassdoor’s to get a ballpark of your market value,” he says. “And you can also learn more about what other folks with a similar skill set and experience are making through conversations with professional colleagues—at a conference, for example.”
Negotiating may not come naturally to you—but there’s no reason to say you’re sorry for going after a more sizeable salary. “Negotiating is uncomfortable, and our natural tendency is to try to smooth the edges on a difficult conversation,” Doody says. But, “saying ‘sorry’ could signal to the recruiter or hiring manager that you might be willing to back down, and that could be expensive. Don’t apologize for negotiating.” Be confident!