This post appeared presiously at CamHR.
Even when you manage to find the job of your dreams, there is still the question of salary.
Is it possible to negotiate a higher starting rate?
Yes, it is, provided you take a good look at your own worth and present the case for your worth well.
Here are some suggestions to help you on the path to the last sell before entering the position.
Part 1: Preparing Yourself
1. Overcome any reticence about asking for a higher salary.
If you’re someone who feels reluctant to ask for more money for reasons ranging from fear of asking through to issues of self-esteem and a lack of confidence in your worth, it’s time to face your nemesis. Being so grateful to get work in hard times, anxious about receiving a “no”, or not being bothered to even ask are not good approaches. Whatever the reason stopping you from are ways of stopping you from getting the best deal.
2. Steel yourself.
Think about it: If you don’t ask, your future employer is not going to fill the gap for you––they’re not mind readers, nor do they suddenly feel like upping a salary offer without being pushed to do so. Remember that while “no” is one possible answer, so is “yes”, “we’ll see what we might be able to do”, and “how about a compromise?”. In each case, the employer is going to be listening to you, gauging your willingness to engage and seek the best, something that they will extrapolate to your work performance in giving and getting the best for the company. Even if the answer is a “no”, you’ve opened the employment relationship with a positive message of assertiveness and pluck, and it will be remembered when it comes time to discuss pay rises in the future––namely, that you’re someone to be taken seriously.
3. Be prepared for “no” as another possibility.
Know in advance how you’ll react if the answer is a “no”. Aim to be gracious but also try to think outside the square. Acknowledge that the employer came to the negotiating table in good faith.
4. Treat this as a business transaction, because it is.
Although personal to you, it’s an impersonal issue for the company, which simply wants your backside on their chair as soon as possible now, for as good a price as they can get you. It’s another chance to sell yourself to them in the comfort zone of knowing you already have the job, as well as a slight upper hand in being able to ask for a higher salary before accepting the job.
If you’re the sort who gets the jitters when asking for something and find this matter of salary negotiating even harder than attending the actual interview that won you the job, then spend time practicing asking. Stand in front of the mirror and out loud, give your reason for asking for more, the suggested figure and your reaction to possible questions, including rejection. This is time to develop your “pitch”, in the freedom of your own space.
Part 2: Building Your Case
1. Consider what makes you unique and valuable (apart from having been offered the position).
This is about establishing your professional worth, and is about clarifying and confirming to yourself the reason for asking for more. Compare your skills and experience against others in the same field and write down key factors that demonstrate why you’re a cut above these others. In particular, select your strengths that are outstanding and demonstrate your unique style, talent and draw card elements. While some of this will have come out through your CV and interview, there will always be more concrete facts you can present to win over your future employer, and this is a chance to show expanded, detailed evidence of your worth when stacked up against peers.
2. Do your research.
You can’t negotiate without the facts. Moreover, you can never assume your new employer has them all at hand––they’re not paid to watch out for your interests! Once it becomes clear to you that you’ve got the job, now is the time to know what others in your position are earning in the industry. Coupled with your specific expertise and experience, this should give you a fair and objective idea of what is a good salary for your position and to know whether the offer is reasonable, well under, or awesome (it being presumed that “awesome” is a fairly rare reaction to a salary offer!). Look for hard facts that back up your statements.
3. Know what final offer you will accept and what number you would truly love.
After conducting market research on your potential job and an evaluation of your previous company’s compensation, define a good counteroffer. For negotiation purposes, it is best to determine a number that will make you ecstatic and a baseline number that you will accept, given the value of the entire compensation package.
4. Be realistic and reasonable.
Don’t expect the stars when you have just been given the moon. A higher salary is a good goal but an astronomical one is edging on greedy or an impossible promise to live up to. Never ask for an amount above the top end of your position’s market worth unless you have an exceptional reason to do so. Again, this is about doing thorough research but it is also about using your intuition, general knowledge and knowing how to pitch this just right.
Part 3: Making a Salary Counteroffer
1. Ask about the full compensation package to evaluate what areas to push for in your counteroffer.
Ask for a breakdown (in writing) of the full compensation package including costs of offered benefits (dental, medical, etc.). A full compensation package includes not only your salary, but other benefits including vacation or paid time off, company phone and medical, dental, vision, wellness and life insurance.
2. Determine if you need more time or can make a counteroffer now.
If you can comfortably make a counteroffer after the initial offer is made, by all means go ahead. If you need more time to evaluate information and determine a counteroffer, say (as mentioned above) “I would like to have some time to think over your offer”.
3. Express your interest in the job.
Before making your counteroffer, express that you have great interest in the job and working for the company. This reassures the recruiter that they made the right decision by offering you the job.
4. State your ideal salary with an acceptable range as your counteroffer.
Based on your research as described above, provide your ideal salary followed by an acceptable range.
5. Back up why you are giving a certain amount for an ideal salary and salary range.
Let the recruiter know you did not just make up these numbers in your head.
6. Stand firm and be confident to increase the chance of your counteroffer being accepted.
If you did your research and used it as a guideline, your counteroffer should be reasonable. When making your counteroffer, it is best to sound firm and confident without mumbling, apologizing, or avoiding a number.
7. Assure the employer that you want to settle on something to give them time to consider your counteroffer.
The employer may need some time to think before making another counteroffer. If this happens and you are not yet ready to settle, it is important to let the employer know you are serious about the job.
8. End the request on a positive note, however it has been received by your future employer.
Whether or not you’ve been successful (and in many cases, you may not know as many employers will ask for time to consider your request), end everything politely and without begging. A simple “Great, thanks” to the employer’s response is a good and neutral way to respond. Keep smiling––your friendly and easy-to-negotiate-with approach matters.
9. Get the offer in writing.
Whatever your offer is, never take a job without the entire package being signed off, in print. Go forth you smart negotiator, your new job awaits!