So, you’ve aced the interview phase for a new job, and the next step is salary negotiations. Few people relish this process, but overcoming a few psychological barriers combined with time spent on market research helps prepare job seekers to negotiate from a place of confidence.
Here are a few tips to help you in your next salary negotiation.
Use Your Resources
It’s difficult placing a dollar amount on self-worth, and that’s what the person you are negotiating with is asking you to do. If self-doubt starts to rear its ugly head, set it aside by considering the facts. Your experience and skills are a commodity, and in this tight labor market – unemployment is at a 48-year low – employers need people who’ve already proven themselves and that includes you (thus, your seat at the table).
Employers today want team players more than ever, so demonstrating success as a team leader with project success rates, testimonials from team members, colleagues, etc., would boost your value immensely.
Survey after survey of employers in recent years finds soft skills are sorely lacking and those who have them will go far with or without a specific skill set. Training can get most employees up to speed with evolving technology, but soft skills – knowing how to collaborate, listen, adapt to change – are at premium.
When stating your value during negotiations, be sure to include ways you’ve applied these skills to improve the culture of your current and previous employers. Websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor and Payscale are good places to start when determining the salary amount to request. In addition to average salary ranges per industry and job title, you may be able to access salary information by region. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a great resource for this kind of information.
One aspect to this process that most experts agree on is to wait. Wait until an offer is made. Inquiring about pay too early in the hiring process signals a lack of professionalism. Once an offer is made, the key word once again is wait. Don’t express positive or negative feelings about the number, just thank them and ask for time to think it over.
Deciding what number you want to counter with will be based on your salary research and how much value you believe you’re bringing to them. How have you saved your previous employer money per efficiencies you created? How much in revenue can you attach to your previous roles? And, of course, provide a complete overview of your track record with successful project completion.
You may have a magic number in mind well before an offer is made. Some people decide the stress of transitioning to a new position simply isn’t worth anything less than a 15-20 percent bump in pay. For others, the new position is an exciting challenge, or a chance to escape a dysfunctional work environment. In those cases, a slight, or sometimes even a lateral pay scale move is acceptable.
After you’ve stated your case, i.e. made the case for your value based on salary research, previous project success, demonstrated soft skill mastery, etc., it’s time to counter. Consider this step just the start of a process. Sometimes, they’ll respond with a number that splits the difference between what they initially offered and your counter. Your next move is to offer a few percentage points more until you hear, “..and that’s our final offer.”
If they won’t move to a number that you want, try negotiating perks: vacation days, flex time, professional development opportunities, stock options, etc. The financial value of these add-ons may compensate enough for the lower-than-hoped-for salary offer.
Negotiating a salary can be daunting, as it’s not exactly something we do every day. So, practice with a friend or spouse. Seriously, it may sound odd, but if both parties take their “role” seriously, it’ll calm your nerves and help you make a confident, highly competent impression – one worthy of that number you have in mind.