Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation

Salary Negotiation Many people don't negotiate job offers because they fear that asking for more will damage the relationship with the hiring manager. But negotiating effectively is not about being aggressive or giving ultimatums. It is about working collaboratively to get what you want while satisfying the needs of the hiring manager. Below are some tips to help you negotiate your next job offer more successfully.

Understand your market value

Sometimes people undervalue themselves. Often they make decisions about salary based on what they feel they need rather than what the market will bear. All a salary really represents is what someone is willing to pay you to do a specific job at a certain point in time. That salary may have little relevance to the market value of the next position you apply for, even if it is in the same industry or in a similar functional area. In order to know your market value, you should:

  1. Speak to industry contacts.
  2. Review job posting boards and classified ads.
  3. Contact recruiters and professional associations in your field to benchmark positions.
  4. Refer to salary survey sites such as Payscale and Glassdoor. While I don't recommend using these sites as the sole benchmark for a position, they can serve as a point of reference when you are gathering data.
  5. Be aware that every job has unique factors such as geography and industry that influence salary level.
  6. Try to determine the flexibility of the employer you are dealing with. Is it a large company with strict salary ranges or a smaller company that determines salaries on a case-by-case basis?

Understand your priorities

Examine what's important to you. This will improve your ability to negotiate effectively. You need to know what you are not willing to give up in order to decide what you would forgo to get more of what you want.

Uncover your competition

Figuring out where you stand in relation to other applicants can help you develop a more targeted negotiation strategy. If you are one of two candidates being considered, your chances are better than if you are one of 10 candidates. It is perfectly acceptable to ask a hiring manager how many other applicants they are interviewing for the position. You won't always get an answer, but it's worth a shot.

Don't be the first one to name a salary

Getting the first offer provides information and commits the company. If you are asked your salary requirements prior to receiving an offer, quote a range based on your knowledge of similar positions or ask the hiring manager what the salary range is for the job. Or tell them that you are confident that their company pays competitively and salary will not be an issue. Ask if you could learn more about the position to determine whether the fit for both you and the company is right before discussing the salary question.

Communicate salary information selectively

If you must discuss salary, discuss it in terms of your total compensation package rather than base salary alone. Benefits, bonuses, and overtime are all part of your overall compensation package.

Discuss compensation in terms of what is fair

Companies are willing to negotiate what is fair and realistic as long as it doesn't stray from their budget for the position or their organizational structure. Prove that the salary you are seeking is consistent with the value you will bring to the company.

Think outside the box and be flexible

To be successful, you need to convince the other side to adjust its thinking. Show that what you are offering is better for the company. Develop proposals that maximize benefits for both you and the company. For example, you may be able to guarantee completion of a certain initiative the company needs to complete within a designated time frame and link that project completion to a bonus or other reward.

Create an advocate

You are more likely to get what you want by getting the negotiator to be your cheerleader. If the negotiator seems to lack the authority to make decisions regarding the points you wish to negotiate, you may need to look past them to get the answers you need. For example, if HR is creating a roadblock, circle back to the hiring manager to engage your ally and get someone in a position of company influence to help close the deal.

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