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Salary negotiations can be tricky, but there's no escaping them.

At some point in your career, whether you're applying for a job or angling for a promotion, you'll find yourself in the middle of a salary negotiation.


These conversations don't have to be uncomfortable. Like anything in life, knowledge and preparation can make all the difference. As an employee, if you know your value and you can back it up with quantifiable results, you can make a compelling case during your salary negotiations.

However, there are always everchanging trends and things that job seekers should be on the lookout for as they prepare to negotiate their salary.

The Economy Can Change In A Heartbeat

COVID-19 has had an impact on the economy, jobs, and even salary negotiations.

This is an important factor to remember and 2020 was a good example of how quickly the economy can change. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down businesses and changing business models, many companies were forced to lay off employees.

With the availability of vaccines in 2021, businesses are starting to reopen but the market is completely different. For example, industries impacted significantly by the pandemic such as restaurants, retail, hospitality, and seasonal jobs are struggling to fill jobs and are raising wages to entice job seekers to work for them.

On the other hand, many employees got a taste of remote work in 2020, and demand for remote jobs is on the rise. A recent FlexJobs survey found that after the pandemic, 65% of people still want to work remotely full time, and another 33% prefer a hybrid work arrangement where they split their time on the clock between the office and home.

Many in-demand industries like tech & software, cybersecurity, e-commerce, gaming, and telemedicine are all jobs that lend themselves to remote work and the market for such roles will be extra competitive. If you find yourself looking for a job in one of these industries, or other in-demand industries, you may be going up against people who have very similar skill sets.

This could significantly impact your value, especially if you live in a market where there are more qualified people with your same skill sets than available jobs. In these cases, you'll have to go the extra mile to stand out, and you could still be looking at a small salary reduction.

But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you live in a market where your skills are in demand and there's not much competition, you may be able to use that to your advantage during salary negotiations.

Salary largely depends on experience, location, and economic conditions. All of these things can be very fluid and that's why doing research is so important.

Speaking of research...

Never Stop Doing Research

Salary research isn't just limited to those looking for work. It's something that all professionals should do.

Even if things are going well with your job, and you're not necessarily in the market for a salary increase, it's still a good idea to check the market sometimes to see what the average salary for your position is at any point in time.

The need for consistent salary research is even more important in the post-pandemic economy where there are so many fluctuations in the market. Every industry was impacted differently by COVID-19 and this will ultimately play a role in salary increases that companies offer current employees and salaries offered to new employees.

According to research published on the Society for Human Resource Management website, company leaders are expected to increase compensation in 2021 by between 2.6% and 3%, but industries will continue to be affected unevenly, just as they were in 2020.

There are free resources available that can give some valuable information about job salaries. Glassdoor has a salary calculator that allows professionals to enter information about their current career, job experience, and market to give estimated market value.

The more information you have about your value, the more comfortable you'll feel about negotiating salary. It's also important to remember that salary is only one part of the equation. Many companies offer strong employee benefits packages that include good health insurance and retirement benefits, along with generous paid time off and other perks.

Salaries Are Always Changing

An employee looks over their paycheck.

Just because you make a certain salary today, doesn't mean that it's going to stay that way or increase. Job responsibilities and requirements can change, and the best employees are the ones that are usually a step ahead and show a willingness to be flexible.

Take a step back once in a while and think about how your job is changing. Acquire the necessary skill sets that you need to stay ahead, and take time to find ways to go the extra mile and expand your job responsibilities. By doing this, you're not only growing within your job position, but you could be setting yourself to move up within the company.

These characteristics will prepare you for not only being able to justify your salary but give you some leverage in salary negotiations if you're seeking a salary increase.

Salary And Career Planning Go Hand In Hand

An employee celebrates getting good career news.

Salary increases don't typically just happen by accident. They're usually a result of hard work and continued career growth. From the moment you start a job, you should always be thinking about ways to not only meet expectations but exceed them.

By putting together a career map, you can plan out your goals and strategies for gradually increasing your value as an employee. As you check off these accomplishments, you can get a sense of whether you're on schedule, or even ahead of schedule, to reach certain career milestones.

Keeping track of these milestones is important because it can help determine the right time to bring up the topic of salary and bolster your case during negotiations. Remember, you're a business-of-one, and it's important to always know the value that you provide to your employer.

Some salary negotiation strategies will never change, but it's going to be important to keep track of post-pandemic trends and their impacts on salary, at least for the immediate future.


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