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How To Talk About Salary (Without It Being Awkward)

How To Talk About Salary (Without It Being Awkward)

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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.

It’s business time… so, let’s get down to business. Here are some things you know before you talk about salary:

1. Always be prepared.

You never know when an employer will bring up the salary question – it could be in the job application or it could be during your final interview. That’s why you want to be prepared for it. Know your numbers before you apply for the position so you’re not caught off guard.

2. Don’t be the one to bring it up first.

A common mistake people make during the hiring process is bringing up salary too soon. This can hurt your chances of getting the job offer because the employer might think you’re only in it for the money. Wait until the employer brings it up, then go from there.

3. Know what’s competitive.

Do your homework. Know what’s competitive for that role in that industry. You can use websites like Glassdoor.com, Payscale.com, and Salary.com to research competitive salary rates for similar positions.

4. Know your “walk away” rate.

After you do your research, you’ll have an idea of both the highest and lowest salaries for similar roles in your field. This is an important thing to know because it will allow you to have a range to work with during negotiations (i.e. it will give you some wiggle room).

When you’re thinking about your range, it’s important to know your “walk away” rate. This is the absolute lowest offer you will accept without eating Ramen noodles for the rest of your life. You don’t want to take an offer that’s not going to pay you enough to live comfortably. Otherwise, you’ll likely be on the job search again looking for a role that pays you more money. However, you do want to understand the going salary rates for that position so you don’t a) price yourself out of the job, or b) sell yourself short.

5. Don’t limit yourself to money.

While you should aim to get a competitive salary, don’t focus only on the money. You can negotiate for other things, too, like work-from-home opportunities, flex time, vacation days,and other perks. It depends on what’s most important to you. Again, this will give you some wiggle room during negotiations.

6. Give them a reason to give you more.

In order to get the salary you want, you need to prove that you’ll be a valuable asset to the company and that your unique skills/experiences make you the best fit for the role. You need to show them that you’re worth the investment. In this article on Inc. Magazine, J.T’ O’Donnell tells you how you can demonstrate your value to employers and get the salary you want.

7. Don’t be afraid of “no.”

During salary negotiations, it’s okay to say “no” to a job offer if it’s not inline with what you feel is appropriate based on your research and needs. Remember, saying “no” opens up negotiations. Also, if the employer says “no” to your counter offer, it doesn’t mean he or she isn’t willing to work with you to find something that works for both parties (that’s why they call it negotiating!).

This is why you do so much prep work in the beginning. If you know your numbers, have a “walk away” rate, and demonstrate your value to the employer, you’re more likely to negotiate for an offer that works for you. If not, it might not be the right opportunity for you at this point.

8. Chill!

Yes, salary negotiations can be stressful. However, it’s a big part of the hiring process. If you choose to forgo the negotiation process because you’re afraid, you’ll risk selling yourself short. Don’t do that to yourself! If you get nervous, try practicing your negotiating skills with a friend or a career coach. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll get doing it.

See? You can do this whole salary dance! And it doesn’t have to be awkward. As long as you apply these tips, you don’t have to worry about salary negotiations.

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This post was originally written by Ariella Coombs.

Photo Credit: Bigstock


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Ariella Coombs Ariella is the Content Strategist and Career Coach for Work It Daily. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Follow her @AriellaCoombs or find her on Google+.