Salary negotiations are one of the most intimidating parts of the job search process. Even those that are confident through every phase of interviewing can sometimes be stumped about how to approach salary discussions. How you approach salary negotiations, from the research you conduct beforehand to questions you address during the interview, will not only impact how much you earn but also how your employer perceives you when hired. Following are some approaches to take as you begin any discussion on salary.
- What are you worth? Before you even begin to discuss salary with a potential employer, it’s imperative that you have a baseline idea of the compensation-range for the job. Use online tools like Salary Search. They offer a good gauge of salary for the majority of jobs. Also, if you have friends or family in your chosen field, approach them for some guidance.
- Do you have any connections within the company? If you know someone in the company, then try to use that connection to research salaries within the company itself. While salary calculators will offer you a good framework to begin your discussion, pay scales do vary from company to company. Sourcing salary information, if possible, will provide you with a more definitive idea of what the company is willing to pay for similar positions; arming you with better data to negotiate. Remember, any data you do obtain is for your background information only. Do not refer to persons in name or salary tools you have used. At this point your job is to understand the compensation for your field - not to divulge sources of data.
- Know when to talk about salary. You should only discuss salary when you either have a job offer or if you feel confident that one is imminent. Even then, you should not be the one to bring up salary first; it should be approached from the employer’s side. If you are directly asked what you make now, it is always best to provide a salary bracket. Make sure to also include any compensation you have received - such as bonus, car allowances and the like. The purpose of negotiations is to uncover the highest salary you can receive. This means the lower range of your bracket should be slightly higher than what you want to make. Remember, companies want to save money and you want to get hired for as much as possible.
- Is it all about the money? When discussing salary it sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes it’s best not to always make it all about the money. Talk about the position, show your enthusiasm, ask about future projects and demonstrate your confidence. Provide examples of your worth; your background, your experience, qualifications and skills.
- Apart from salary, what else can you negotiate? If the salary offered is set in stone, you can negotiate other compensation areas such as a sign-on bonus, stock options, 401K, flex time, the start date, vacation time - anything that is important to you.
- Do you accept an offer on the spot? The answer is no. First find out if it is a firm job offer. If it is, you should ask for some time to respond. Also make sure you are clear on the job description and ask for the offer in writing. The offer letter should outline your evaluation procedure, if you will have people reporting to you and who you will be reporting to. Having the time to reflect on the different aspects of the job will help you organize and prioritize the points of negotiation.