No one likes to negotiate a salary. These conversations are always a bit awkward and unpleasant. But, like so many other things in life, salary negotiations are a necessary evil. It may not be fun or easy, but learning to (and becoming comfortable with) negotiating your salary is an essential part of your career growth. With the right preparation, these important career moments should be a walk in the park. Here are a few tips:
Don’t Be Afraid – Don’t shy away from negotiating a salary. If an employer is extending an offer to you, they already want you. Companies will often be impressed if you negotiate, not offended. In many cases, hiring managers will lowball you on an offer, expecting you to counter, and leaving themselves plenty of wiggle room before both parties settle on a final number.
Do Your Homework – It is important to understand the benchmarking tools companies use when deciding salary levels. Companies will compare pay rates with: average pay at other companies in their industry, average pay for professionals with your level of experience and education, and average pay for professionals in your field or area of the country. Today, compensation information is more available and transparent than it has ever been. Websites like salary.com, glassdoor.com, and payscale.com have tools that help you find out what you’re worth. When you come to your negotiation meeting, bring hard evidence to support your case. Graphs and other data will help prove your value.
Be Professional – Remember, it’s not just about what you say, but also how you say it. Avoid phrases like, “I don’t know if you’ll consider this, but…” or “I don’t know if there’s room for this in the budget, but…” Be confident and professional. You have to prove that you’re worth the money- that you’re a rock star. Also, don’t be the first to talk about compensation. Even though the subject is burning in the back of your mind, wait for the hiring manager to bring it up. You don’t want to look like you place money before being a good fit for the company’s culture. Lastly, be polite, smile, and don’t bring up any personal reasons why you need the money.
Remember the Details – Don’t just focus on the cash. Make sure you cover all parts compensation, such as: bonuses, insurance plans, commissions, and other benefits. If a company refuses to meet your salary requirements, ask about performance-based pay. And, as is the case with most negotiations, get everything you can in writing.
Close on a Good Note – Remember to thank the hiring manager for his or her time and end the conversation on a friendly note. You are not just going to be hired for your skills, but your personality as well. A little small talk goes a long way. If everything goes smoothly, it should seem not like a negotiation, but like a conversation in which both sides come to an agreement.