It's OK to Negotiate a New Job Salary
With job opportunities still few and far between, many people wonder if it's OK to negotiate the compensation package when you're finally offered the position. Should you just be grateful for the offer, any offer, and take what they give you? Not, according to a new survey from Robert Half International. In fact, eight in 10 (81 percent) workers interviewed said they're comfortable negotiating a higher salary or better benefits.
When workers were asked, "How comfortable would you be negotiating for a higher salary or better benefits with an employer who has offered you a job?" only 17 percent were not at all comfortable. Those respondents would do well to buck up and negotiate. The timing is right.
"As the job market improves, professionals have more negotiating power," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of 'Job Hunting for Dummies,' 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "But, to keep compensation discussions headed toward a positive outcome, it's important for job seekers to understand just how much leverage they have. Researching prevailing salaries in their field can help professionals make more informed decisions."
Messmer added, "Salary is just one part of the overall compensation package. If a company cannot offer the desired base pay, job applicants should consider asking for extra benefits or perks, such as additional vacation time, a sign-on bonus or flexible scheduling."
Many employers see an initial offer as sort of an opening bid, and expect you to make a counter offer. In fact, some are disappointed if you don't. Why should they offer you more when you'll agree to less? They're often perfectly willing to pay more, but they have to start somewhere.
Robert Half identified the top seven mistakes professionals make when negotiating salary:
- Being afraid to ask. Some job seekers fear asking for a better offer because they think it could damage their relationship with the new employer. Remember: It never hurts to ask, and you have your greatest leverage when you receive the job offer.
- Failing to do your homework. Don't ask for a specific salary simply because it sounds good. Always conduct research to determine your market value by reviewing sources such as the annual Salary Guides and talking to colleagues and recruiters for their insights.
- Focusing only on salary. Consider the benefits package in addition to compensation. If higher base pay isn't available, perhaps the employer could offer a signing bonus or early salary review.
- Tipping your hand. If you're desperate to leave your current job, keep it to yourself. The conversation should remain focused on the position for which you are applying.
- Thinking you can't say "no." Some people by nature always want to be accommodating, but being able to say 'no' is critical when negotiating. If an offer is less than you think it should be, point it out politely then counter with your desired salary. If the employer can't meet this request, you will need to decide whether or not you can accept the lower pay.
- Failing to get it in writing. Once you've agreed on terms, ask the employer to draw up a letter that outlines the specifics of the offer. This will help you avoid any misunderstandings before you start the job.
- Forgetting your manners. Regardless of how the negotiations turn out, be professional and courteous. You don't want to burn any bridges. They might consider you for another position in the same firm when the opportunity arises.
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