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Let’s be candid. You may have negotiated a hostage release, brokered a major agreement between organizations, and mediated a dispute between workmates. But chances are you have NEVER negotiated your own salary. It’s time to learn how to negotiate a job offer!

The military very conveniently offers a fixed-price salary. No performance-based pay, no overtime – you need a promotion to garner a pay raise. Are you starting to get excited? Your post-military job will pay you what you are worth and proactively reward you for your progress, achievements and accomplishments. Or will it?

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of companies will not deliberately set out to lowball you on a salary offer. But this doesn’t mean the offer they give you is THE MOST they are willing to pay. Are you willing to miss out on thousands each year just because you didn’t feel comfortable asking for more?

There is a lot of research you need to do before talking salary with your potential employer. You should understand the market, your professional worth and the scope of the position on offer. Once you are ready to go, it is crucial that you keep these five rules in mind.

1. Your new employer couldn’t care less how much the military paid you.

That’s right. The salary you earn this year probably won’t factor into an employer’s offer. While military compensation calculators are valuable tools that help you understand what you earn, it is important to recognize that your military salary compensates you for your military job. Your future employer will base your salary offer on three factors: the scope of the new position, the relevant value and experience you bring, and your market value in the local area.

2. Timing is everything.

The ideal time to discuss salary is when you have a job offer in hand. If you start talking salary prior to an offer, you can price yourself out of consideration. Perhaps worse, you may reveal that you are willing to work for less than the company was planning on offering.

3. He who mentions money first loses.

Salary negotiations strategies are just like poker, salary negotiation rarely favors the candidate who plays their cards first. If you are the first to mention a number, it is unlikely you will receive more than that. If the employer provides you with their monetary offer first, you can probably negotiate an increase.

4. It is a business negotiation.

Don’t get personal, even if you feel offended by the offer. Remember that the people you are speaking with are part of the team you will be working with next week. Don’t get emotional, make sure you justify your requests, and be prepared to give a little and not just take.

5. Money isn’t everything.

Perhaps the company doesn’t have room to move on the salary. Perhaps they know their offer is slightly below market average, but they have a world-class professional development program. Factor in the benefit package when considering the salary offer. If the company can’t meet your salary request, you may be able to negotiate added extras such as additional leave, a hiring bonus, flexible work arrangements, or a course that you want to take.

Learning how to negotiate a job offer can be a daunting process for transitioning veterans, but rest assured, it will feel more comfortable each time you do it. As added motivation to start the conversation, imagine how you will feel six months from now if you learn that most people in your position started on a higher salary. Study the rules, watch out for our upcoming article on asking the question, and get ready to negotiate.

 

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