Searching for a new job can be exciting, exhausting, stressful and everything in between. Once you find a role that suits you and receive an offer, excitement generally takes over. What happens if all of that happens, and the offer is underwhelming? Asking for more money can be even more stressful than the application and interview process itself. However, if you do not attempt to negotiate, you could be leaving money on the table. How do you negotiate a salary that reflects your worth?
Research Salary Before You Interview
The first thing you absolutely need to do, before you even interview, is to know the market rate for the job you’re seeking. It’s critical that you understand the market rate in the industry you’re in or trying to get into. This is true for everyone, no matter if they have 20 years of experience or are just out of school.
While the salary will vary between those vastly different experience types, there should be more than enough background to give you a starting point. Researching salary can absolutely be time-consuming, and there is hardly ever a single agreed-upon number. Titles vary from company to company, state to state and so on. If you have the ability, it will also be extremely helpful to talk to people in the field who can help provide you with some additional data.
Build Your Case
Just throwing out a number is one of the least successful ways to get an increase. Instead, make your case. Tell your prospective employer why you feel like you deserve a higher salary. Start by discussing your strengths as well as discussing how the company will benefit from your experience and/or work history. This should not be an emotional argument, and that is key. It should be based solely on facts and values.
Explain why or how you bring something to the table that other candidates lack. If it’s applicable, mention that you have done the research and know the salary range at other companies in the same industry. It is most important that you tell the truth and don’t stretch the limits of your abilities, experience or history.
Do Not Forget Non-Salary Benefits
One salary area that tends to be ignored during negotiations is the non-salary benefit area. It’s important that you factor in health insurance coverage and costs, retirement savings and vacation benefits. During negotiations, you mayt be able to find some room to increase your vacation time, working from home, signing bonus, moving expenses, etc. While these peripheral benefits don’t have the same attraction as a base salary, prospective employers are often more likely to be more flexible on one or more of these rather than base salary.
Use Other Offers as Leverage
Do you have multiple offers at the same time? This could be helpful, as you can leverage one offer against another. This is admittedly controversial and could potentially backfire, but in some cases, it may be useful in your favor. Politely let the company know that you have other offers. Explain that the other offer has a higher salary, better benefits, more vacation, etc., and see if that helps move the offer in your favor.
Ask for More Money
It’s tempting to shoot for the stars if/when you make a counteroffer, but you should definitely not do that. That said, you should not be afraid to ask for more money. This goes back to doing your research beforehand so that you know what is practical and what is impractical. Employers often have a bit of wiggle room built into their offer as is, so asking for more money is not uncommon.
This is another moment where you do not want to be too pushy. Fall back on your experience and what you will bring to the company when you explain the reasoning behind your counter. Make sure you do not say things like: “I need more money” or “Here’s what I made at my last job.” Instead, say things like: “The salary range for this position in my market is XXX” or “People who have my experience and background are worth $X in the market.”
Wait, Wait, Wait
Once you have asked for more money, the last thing you want to do is be too pushy. The way most companies are set up, especially larger corporations, they require multiple levels of approval for salary. There is a strong chance that the person you are talking with is not the final decision-maker. Instead, that person likely needs to go back to their manager, department head, vice president or someone else to get approval to raise the base salary.
Try and remember that they have already given you an offer. You know they want you in the role, so don’t pitch them all over again. Instead, wait a few days and let them follow up.
What Happens If You Do Not Get What You Want
If you really want the job, accept it. There is always a concern that you will look foolish accepting at this point, but that is not true whatsoever. If this is a job you want, take it and be thrilled. Tell your point of contact that you appreciate their consideration and that you want to accept the job regardless. Don’t attempt to negotiate any more at this point. You could risk the offer entirely. Start the new role and prove yourself and allow them to come back to you with promotions and more money. That’s the best course of action from this moment forward.
Negotiating a starting salary is unquestionably nerve-wracking and stressful. It’s not a hard process as much as it is one that a lot of people fear could backfire. However, you should know your worth and understand that by negotiating you could very well open the door to a higher salary, better title, better benefits or something else entirely.