Maybe you just got offered a new job offer (congratulations!), or perhaps you’ve been with a company for some time now and are looking for a well-deserved raise.
Either way, at some point in your career, you’ll face the tricky situation of having to negotiate salary. And let’s face it, negotiating salary can be scary, no matter the situation. Whether you’re afraid of speaking up or prefer to avoid confrontation, it can feel like a very uncomfortable conversation to have.
Knowing how to negotiate salary can make the whole process smoother. The key to asking for that raise or negotiating that job offer is having all the necessary information in hand before you do so. Yet, let’s dive deep into why you should negotiate your compensation.
Why You Should Negotiate Salary
Negotiating salary is a part of work-life. Although it might not seem like it, you are one of many workers seeking fair pay.
According to a 2019 study, 70% of managers expect candidates to negotiate salaries when hiring staff. So you have nothing to worry about – when done right, negotiating can set you on the right path to the compensation you deserve.
Before scheduling an appointment to talk to your superior, here are a couple of tips to help you negotiate the salary of your dreams.
Tips on How to Negotiate Salary
Negotiating salary will always be more of an art than a science. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some best practices to follow. The following tips can help you achieve the raise you’ve been looking for or take your job offer to a whole new level.
1. Know Your Worth
Before discussing what your salary should be, you first need to know what you are worth. Knowing the average salary in your field or position is essential to avoid accepting an offer way below the industry average or avoid asking for an unreasonable compensation.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For a Higher Salary
According to Victoria Pynchon, the founder of She Negotiates, you’re entitled to top pay.
Asking for top pay, or more than what you initially had in mind, will help your negotiation lead to a salary you are comfortable with. After all, your employer will almost certainly negotiate down, which is why you need wiggle room to still end up with a salary that fits and pleases you.
3. Know the Exact Number
According to Columbia Business School, asking for a precise number during salary negotiations can give you the upper hand.
The results of their 2019 study showed that when people use a precise amount versus a rounded-off amount, they are perceived to be more informed about their ideal wage. When managers believe that you are well informed, they think there is less room to negotiate, and therefore, you receive less pushback when negotiating.
Example: Instead of asking, “I am looking for a salary of 50,000 dollars per year,” try “I am looking for 50,520 dollars per year.”
4. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
When negotiating salary, you are essentially making a case for yourself. Therefore, you need to approach the situation with concrete reasons why your experiences and skills justify the compensation you are seeking.
Having a strong resume is a good starting point for coming up with these reasons. But also remember that you possess other characteristics that make up your worth, whether that be good communication skills, analytical thinking, or other traits. Try thinking about what you could bring to the job and jotting them down, no matter how silly they might sound.
Kathleen O’Malley of Babble recommends making a “brag sheet.” A brag sheet is a one-page summary of your accomplishments, awards, and customer or colleague testimonials.
As Forbes writer Amanda Brinkman said, “It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be convincing.” Make a case for yourself and show them why you would be an asset to their company.
5. Understand Their Constraints
“Your job is to figure out where they’re flexible and where they’re not,” says Edward Barr, author of Ask the Right Questions; Get the Right Job.
Depending on the size and progression of the company, they might not be able to offer you a higher salary. However, flexibility on vacation time and bonuses could still be negotiable.
The better you understand their limits, the more likely you will be to find a middle ground where both parties are happy.
It’s important to be clear about what you want, but remember that being too pushy or stubborn can have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Listen to what the manager has to say and show your understanding.
Example: They are offering less money than you are willing to accept. Try to understand and seem understanding. Be aware of when to stop pushing and when to walk away. It is still essential to make a good impression and leave on a good note – you don’t know how it might help you further down the line.
6. Know Your Negotiator
Although people might sometimes forget, bosses are human, just like everyone else. Get to know their likes and dislikes, whether through your work or their information on LinkedIn. Knowing their background and experiences can help you understand what they are looking for in an employee, and thus what can you do and say to help you when negotiating salary.
Additionally, finding things in common is an essential part of getting someone to like you. You should never underestimate how strong the effect of someone liking you can be.
7. Be Likable
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Being nice goes a long way – remember, negotiating is a conversation between two people.
Being friendly and likable can help you have a productive discussion. Approaching the negotiations in a harsh and confrontational way can make the hiring manager question the job offer altogether.
But like the Harvard Business Review points out, “this is about more than being polite; it’s about managing some inevitable tensions in negotiation, such as asking for what you deserve without seeming greedy, pointing out deficiencies in the offer without seeming petty, and being persistent without being a nuisance.”
8. Rehearse With a Friend
Although it might feel silly, rehearsing can help with performance.
Plan your talking points and go through them with a friend. They can provide feedback and help you improve your pitch. Alternatively, you can practice in front of a mirror or record yourself on your camera webcam.
This can also help you ease your nerves. Negotiating can be scary – practicing can help you feel more confident and comfortable talking about money.
After Everything, Know When to Walk Away
A Silicon Valley career coach, Kyle Elliott, says, “enter salary negotiations with a bottom-line number and be prepared to leave the offer on the table if the company is not willing to meet it.” Of course, negotiating might not always go your way, so remember: be confident about your worth and know when to walk away.
Negotiating salary is an essential part of working. Although it might seem difficult at first, the more you negotiate, the easier it will get, and the better you’ll become at it.