You are negotiating your salary for your first job or as a raise from your previous level. You know how significant your flexibility as well as assertiveness can be in handling this delicate issue; you are aware that decisions you make in this discussion can have a major, longtime effect on your income and life. As just one illustration, if you, as an employee, consistently underprice yourself by $10,000 in salary negotiations throughout your career, you will forfeit hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.
Your whole life and lifestyle will be altered. There are, though, several clear-cut rules to guide you through your salary negotiation, starting with the simple rule: Find out first as much as you can about your potential employer.
This is an extremely delicate subject. Don’t tie yourself to a specific figure until you’ve found out all you can. You might, for instance, remark, “I understand the range for this job is between $… and $… That seems right. Is this the range in your organization?” How simple, yet how revealing!
You might, say, receive an offer that exceeds your expectations for a specific job. Neither jump to grab it nor kick yourself for not asking for more. The point of negotiating a salary is not to stretch your employer to the breaking point but to strike a deal that satisfies both you and the company.
Many variables are involved. You should actually list your own concerns and take the document with you to the interview. The topics might include: salary, bonus, stock options, company incentive programs, expense account, staff, employment contract, “perks,” etc.
- Then during your salary negotiation, link each item to the job itself. How does it relate? How will it affect your ability to perform? Your satisfaction with the position and the company?
- Take your time when you negotiate a salary. Making a demand or even a suggestion before an employer has decided he wants to hire you is particularly dangerous.
- Be sure in advance of what you are willing to give up. If the job is exactly what you’ve been seeking, you can afford to be extremely flexible as you negotiate a salary.
- While you are negotiating, try to relax. Don’t think in terms of facing an adversary but of two parties aiming for the same goal.
- Briefly review your understanding of the job. This opens the discussion with an agreeable subject while connecting it to job specifics. Talk about what needs to be done and how well suited you are to do it.
- Have a salary goal and the lowest acceptable figure in mind. Tie your goal to your experience and to the demands of the job.
- Don’t get stuck early in the salary negotiations. If the potential employer says, “I’m not sure I can match that, but we shouldn’t be too far away from each other,” move on to some other concerns – say, benefits – and then return to salary discussions later.
- Be certain to bring up benefits. On this, don’t be bashful, for “perks” can add thousands of dollars to your income. If your immediate requirements cannot be met, try an alternate course of action.
For instance, ask that an earlier than normal review be built into your agreement, if the starting salary offered is below your needs. That way, again, compensation is directly related to your job performance. Basically, you are the only one who really knows the best direction to take when you negotiate your salary.
The characteristics of particular offers multiplied by the diversity of your individual needs indicates that no two salary negotiating situations will be precisely alike. But the fundamentals never change. Be prepared and know what to ask for. Then you can turn any salary negotiation into a positive experience both personally and financially.