Let’s talk about salary. This is going to be awkward. You see, when a candidate meets a company and falls in love, they need to have some awkward conversations before they can commit to each other and start having fun together. Salary is one of those conversations. Ugh. Okay, talking about salary doesn’t have to be awkward. The important thing is to be prepared. You need to do your homework and understand what’s fair. The last thing you want to do is to price yourself out of a job because you didn’t know you asked for too much. Or worse, sell yourself short because you didn’t ask for enough. (Psst! Can't get hired? Watch this free tutorial.) It’s business time… so, let’s get down to business. Here are some things you know before you talk about salary:
You just graduated from college. Thankfully, you received a job offer relatively quickly - what a relief! However, the salary the company is offering you isn’t as much as you expected. So, you’re probably going back and forth wondering, “Should I negotiate salary or would they laugh in my face?” So, is it ever appropriate for a recent grad to negotiate salary? The answer is: it depends. If you’re applying for an entry-level job with a set salary, then no, you don’t want to try to negotiate salary. The company was very clear about what it was willing to pay you and you have to be willing to accept that. However, in many cases, companies don’t talk about the salary in the initial stages of the hiring process. In this case, you would need to do your homework. Go to Glassdoor, look up this company, and check out the estimated salary ranges for this particular position. This will give you an idea of what to expect. You can also use Glassdoor to look up competitors to see what they’re paying employees in this type of role so you can compare salary rates. If the company you’re interested in isn’t paying the market rate for the role, you can go back to the organization after getting the job offer and ask for more money... BUT you NEED to have a game plan if you’re going to do this, according to career expert J.T. O’Donnell. “If you think about it, no company is going to pay you more money just because,” said O’Donnell. “You have to give them some valid reasons why.” If you feel like you can’t prove that you’re worth the additional income, then you can propose a six month review (instead of an annual review). If you can prove your value during that time, then they might be open to paying you more money at that point.
Trying to negotiate a salary? Here's a good way to look at it... Two years ago, I bought a new car. I was pretty excited, because it was the first one I had purchased in about five years . We all know that giddy feeling! All the new bells and whistles looked especially shiny, and I was pretty stoked about having such a sweet ride with all the new technology add-ons. But unfortunately, something bad happened along the way to happy car ownership. The vehicle ended up being a complete and utter lemon. I kept making the 40-minute round trip back to the dealer trying to get the problems fixed, but to no avail. Frustrated, I realized that it was probably best to dump the problem vehicle and bite the bullet... buying yet another car in hopes that starting from scratch would be the best option. So, here I found myself in the dealership yet again. Most of us grit our teeth in dreaded anticipation of the grueling negotiation process on the actual price of the car. Me? I actually like it. It tests my mettle and gives me the opportunity to practice the art of negotiation. Being relaxed about the process and not caving to emotion helps me understand my negotiating strength as well as my emotional stamina... all valuable skills. Weird, huh? But if you think about it, the parallels between salary negotiation and buying a new car are actually uncanny: You each want a deal to happen. Car dealerships want to move inventory and you need a vehicle... and similarly, you want the job and they have brought you in for the interview because they think you could be an asset to the organization. That’s what brings you both together. Each of you should have a good idea of what your end product is worth. The employer has a finite line that they won’t cross in terms of what they will and won’t pay in salary… and you have to be the same way. Know your value, and stick to it. Otherwise, it will be a mistake you’ll live to regret... even for years to come. You both are trying to get the other person to tip their hand on what their “final number” really is. It’s the big dance, actually, like to adversaries slowly circling each other and trying to find out the other’s weak spot. The weak spot being what that number is and how it can be worked to considerable advantage in the final deal. Be fair, but also be cautious when disclosing that final number. Give yourself (and the employer or car dealer) a little wiggle room to be reasonable, but stick to your guns. Each of you are trying to highlight the selling points of what you have to offer. Like trade-ins with a few dents, sometimes our work history has a few dents too. So, we are working hard to polish up the rest of our background to make it outshine those imperfections. Make sure your selling points are standouts to justify your value. Keeping emotions out of the negotiation game is paramount to getting what you really want. The moment you reveal how badly you want something, you’ve just made it infinitely harder to actually get that because you have just handed over significant negotiation power over to the other person... it’s call the law of supply and demand... otherwise known as not putting all of your eggs into one basket. Just like that moment when you start to WANT that car or job more than anything else in the WORLD… you have made an emotional connection that can tear at your good sensibilities and cause you to make decisions you’ll regret later… like taking a lower salary. But the one place that many job seekers don’t pay attention to is this: They aren’t willing to walk when the offer, value, or fit isn’t right. Of course, it’s one thing to walk when you are discussing buying a car; but a job interview represents your livelihood and has much more on the line in terms of life impact than the car decision. But why not treat it the same way? Survival jobs aside, how many times have you taken a job and ground your teeth later that you KNEW you should have walked away and declined accepting the position? These are the jobs where our hair is on fire, our stomachs churn with acid, we have sleepless nights, and our therapist is getting wealthy from all of our sessions. Those are the jobs that make us sick every single day, and we hate going to work. And the kicker? We know in our heart of hearts that we should have held out for a better deal. Salary and job negotiation is just like buying a new car… you need to be savvy about what it is that you offer, know what you bring to the table, and be very clear on your “final number” and what you will/won’t accept as the final deal. Keeping these in mind can help you keep your sanity as well as negotiate to a better outcome. What happened to me today at the dealership? I got a square deal. I got a fair price on my trade-in and on the new car. The dealership still made some money, but they were in the ballpark of where I wanted to be. I walked out with what I wanted at a price that I liked, and they got some profit and moved some inventory off the lot. Creating win-win scenarios are what successful job salary negotiations should be all about!
Handling salary negotiations can be tricky. Would you laugh if someone told you to put down how much you’ve earned under each job listed on your resume? Obviously, yes. Why on earth would you do that? But what if an employer directly asks you to tell them how much money you made in your previous positions? Um... excuse me? Chances are you’ve had this happen before. This request is an all-too-often ploy used by many employers to try to force job seekers’ hands into showing their salary "cards" and effectively sweeping any negotiation power out of the candidate’s hand. Many unemployed people are afraid if they don’t "play nice" in the employer’s cat and mouse game of salary negotiation, they'll lost the job offer. Have you experienced this at some point in your career? Then you know the drill. You are in the hot seat for an interview. Things are getting towards a definite "close" and it is clear a deal is now in the works. Then the employer drops their bomb in an interview by casually asking, “So, what are your salary needs,” or “What are you earning currently,” . Maybe in the application process, they require you to state your salary history or requirements in your cover letter. So, it all comes down to this moment. Time to deal the cards and start playing strategically…what you do now completely impacts your financial earnings over the course of your entire career. So what is a job applicant to do? What are your options? Here are five approaches you can take when it comes down to handling the thorny issue of salary negotiation. There isn’t any "perfect" way to negotiate because each situation is subjective to the company culture and the person interviewing you/making the hiring decision. But being educated about your options and also having a good "read" on the internal company environment can help provide you with the necessary business intelligence on the best way to approach this discussion.