Do you dread talking about monetary compensation for your work? There comes a time, whether you are starting a new job or you have been with a company for several years, when you need to talk about the “S” word. Beginning this process is often distasteful or difficult for some people. A recent Indeed survey shows that 58 percent of respondents claim to never, or rarely ever, negotiate their pay. Some do not even know they CAN negotiate. This, however, can have a negative effect on lifelong earning potential. Furthermore, employers expect candidates to negotiate.
Please note that this article pertains mostly to those negotiating salary for a new job offer and those asking for a raise in an existing position. Some of the points and recommendations may not apply to freelancers and contractors unless, perhaps they are candidates for projects through agencies, in which case there might be room for some negotiation.
Why is it hard to talk about salary?
You have gotten through the interview process with flying colors, and now comes the hardest question from the interviewer: “What are your salary expectations?” Many candidates do not negotiate their salary because they are afraid of losing a job offer. In such cases fear seems to hold them back. Others say that they do not want to appear greedy, while some say they just don’t know how much to ask for. They may not have the confidence or the skills to negotiate. Some of these factors may even differ between men and women. Men are four times more likely to negotiate salary than women. When women do negotiate, they often ask for less and subsequently receive 30 percent less than men.
When is the best time to negotiate salary?
When negotiating salary for a new job, the best time is after you receive an offer. You have the most leverage after you've proven that you are the best candidate for the job and you fully understand the employer's expectations. It is best to avoid negotiating salary during earlier stages of the interview process. Sometimes, however, employers will ask about your salary expectations earlier in the interview process. If so, you can ask what the pay range is for this position, or you can give an open response, such as “compensation commensurate with this position.”
How to approach salary negotiations
Given that negotiating can be stressful, here are some empowering ways to approach it tactfully and confidently:
Work with a career coach to develop your skills and hold you accountable. Career coaches can walk you through the job interview and salary negotiation processes. They can provide helpful resources, practice sessions, and accountability. Working with a career coach can also boost your confidence through this process.
Research market trends and salary ranges for your industry.
Salary data is available, and the more you understand your value, the better you will be able to counter. You can search for a particular job title on career websites, such as Indeed Salary, Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth, or Payscale to find a range that you can use to negotiate your salary. Use salary verification apps and metrics to determine appropriate salary ranges for the position. You can also ask other professionals in the field, as well as recruiters about the appropriate range of salary. It is recommended that you ask for the top of the range, as employers are apt to negotiate down and you may want to have some wiggle room to obtain the salary you want.
Reflect on your worth, value, unique skills – all that has gone into bringing you to this point. Exude confidence and demonstrate to the employer why you deserve to be paid a certain amount. Confidence in your abilities can help you sell your qualifications and help you avoid falling into imposter syndrome.
Remain positive and show overall interest and enthusiasm in the position, the company, and the team. Focus on what you can do for the company. Steer the conversation away from questions regarding what salary you had in your previous job. Have the mindset of mutual interests – yours and theirs. This win-win approach will put you in a position of strength.
Practice what you are going to say and how you will say it. Write what you want to say, and rehearse it over and over. Take into account various scenarios, so that you can prepare your reaction to them. If salary negotiation is not adequate or an option, be ready to present alternatives, such as additional vacation time, flexibility with schedule and/or location, child-care benefits, tuition reimbursement, merit bonuses, and other compensation-type benefits and perks. You could also ask for a 6-month review for an early raise consideration. Be creative with alternatives! This also demonstrates that you think outside the box.
Think about salary negotiation as a conversation instead of a confrontation. Listen closely to what the employer says. Refer to details you heard during the interview and point out how your skills match and can contribute to their goals. Specific examples you mention may increase your bargaining power. Present your data confidently and factually, then put the “ball back in the employer’s court.” Keep focused on the market value and what the market is paying people like you.
Know your bottom line and when to make a decision. Carefully decide what you will and won’t accept as the final offer. When considering your amount, know your “walk-away point,” a final offer that is unacceptably low for you. There is also power in saying “No” when you are not satisfied with the salary offer. If you need time to consider it, explain that you want to think about it for a couple days. Ultimately it will be important to be true to yourself and to feel valued. This will ensure that you feel good about yourself and about the job you’re entering.
If you are negotiating a salary raise in your existing job, start three or four months before your annual performance review by letting your manager know that you would like to discuss compensation. This is often when the budget is determined. After that conversation, write an email stating your length of service, the research you have done about current salaries for your position, and your desired increase. Also, highlight your achievements, customer and co-worker testimonials, as well as problems you have helped solve and the impact you have made.
Whether it is negotiating salary for a new job or a raise for your existing job, once you and the employer have reached an agreement, get it in writing.
Finally, acknowledge the result of the salary negotiation, and learn from it for when you engage in this process in the future. At the end of the day, both you and the employer need to feel positive about the transaction and the results. While negotiating salary may be a numbers game, it also brings up feelings of worth, validation, fairness, and trust. These are all critical in bringing your best self to the workplace.
What to do TODAY?
Karen Natasha Coaching helps many people access awareness about themselves. We help people shift their energy, so that they can move forward with assurance, confidence, and renewed energy to achieve their goals and bring their best selves to work. Whether it is negotiating your salary for a new position or a raise for your current position, we can help you gain confidence, skill, and practice. Contact Karen Natasha Coaching for a consultation to experience how we can help.