"Wait, How Much Did You Say?" 5 Tips For Negotiating Your Salary

Niya Allen-Vatel Certified Career Coach

When you’re looking for a new opportunity, it can be easy to fall into a routine of feeling desperate. You’re so excited to be offered anything that you sell yourself short, leaving money on the table because you fear the offer will be taken away. Just as an employer can smell a desperate job seeker, they can smell a lack of confidence. Here are a few tips for boosting your confidence and getting the salary you deserve.

Timing Is Everything

Do not — I repeat, do not — discuss salary until the end of the interview process, when you are sure they want you. Know that it’s the employer’s goal to hire you for the least amount of money you’re willing to take. They don’t care if you have a mortgage, kids, or student loans on your back. Their job is to save the company money. During the negotiation process, do not provide a desired salary range. Let the employer speak first. Why? Because at this point, you do not know what they’re willing to offer.

So, let’s say the employer, Mr. Clark, asks, “What is your desired salary?” and you reply with, “Well, Mr. Clark, I’ll accept $40,000 annually, with benefits.” What if Mr. Clark was prepared to offer you $50,000? You just left $10,000 on the table. Let’s try it again. Mr. Clark asks, “What is your desired salary?” You could reply with, “Based on what I’ve seen, I do have a figure (or range) in mind, but I’d be interested to hear what you have in mind, since you created the position.”

Know Your Numbers

I cannot stress the importance of knowing your numbers enough. Do your salary research both online and off, learning what typical salaries are in your industry, region, position, and sometimes even the organization you’re interviewing for. If you decide to reveal your desired salary early on, numbers are your leverage. There are many free sites available to assist you with your research, like salary.com, myplan.com, and salaryexpert.com.

In addition, use your resume achievements to solidify your position — especially for a higher salary. Remind them that they’re getting more bang for their buck due to what you bring to the table and the immediate impact you’re going to make.

Be Mindful of Your Language

Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”? Well, that definitely applies to negotiation. The word “sorry” gives the impression that you are apologizing for trying to get what you’re worth. “Later” says you’re a procrastinator. “Try” lets the recruiter or hiring manager know you’re taking a passive approach to your career.

Avoid speaking in negatives. For example, instead of saying “No, that salary offer is too low,” you can say, “While that offer is generous, I would be more comfortable with….” Simple language changes eliminate loopholes in your negotiation strategy in favor of a more direct and solid approach.

Research the Positions around You

Again, your numbers are your leverage, and knowing the average salaries around you will let you know if the employer is lowballing you. For example, if you’re being hired as a project manager, and you do your research and find out that an assistant project manager salary is $45K, and a senior project manager makes $55K, then your desired salary range would be $47K to $53K. Having this knowledge will help you identify lowball offers.

Get the Offer in Writing, Signed

Several clients have told me about exciting job offers they received, only to be disappointed when they’re sitting in Human Resources ready to sign the paperwork. There’s always a chance that the salary promised in the interview is not the final offer. Is the employer playing a vicious game? Not all the time. Most of the time, they just forget.

Receiving a letter of agreement or employment contract is standard in order to solidify your acceptance. If one is not presented to you, don’t be ashamed to ask for it.

By the time you get to the negotiation process, your confidence and excitement should be high. And it should be. You just secured a new job! However, don’t let your excitement turn you into a yes man or woman. Fight for what you’re worth!




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