You wrote a killer resume. The interview process went off without a hitch. You can feel it: A job offer is coming your way. This is great news, but before you start planning your new commute, there are some final steps to getting the job that you’re going to want to focus on—and they all involve salary.
Negotiating your salary offer can be stressful, and you may be worried about turning off the employer by an unknowingly unreasonable salary requirement. Here’s what you need to do—and don’t need to—when negotiating your salary.
DO research beforehand
You may have a number in your head that you’d like to make, but basing your ideal paycheck on hard facts, such as industry standards, company billings and the availability of quality candidates for that role will get you further in negotiation talks. Cheryl E. Palmer, certified career coach and owner of Call to Career, says, “Employers generally have a range in mind for what they intend to pay a new hire. Job seekers need to do their salary research […] so that they go into the negotiation process knowing what the market will bear.”
Begin your research process by accessing resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook or CareerBuilder Salary Calculator. You’ll learn about salary trends, certifications that can get you higher earning power and how competitive positions are in the current market.
DON’T be the first to bring up salary talks
“Whoever mentions salary first loses,” Palmer says. “Generally speaking, once one side—either the job seeker or the employer—mentions a dollar figure, the other side is in a stronger position to negotiate. So if the employer asks you what you are looking for, it’s best to say, ‘Could you tell me what the salary range is for this position?’ If you immediately volunteer a dollar amount, the salary discussion will be based on that amount. The converse is also true. If the company representative states a dollar amount first, the salary negotiation process will start from there. Thus, it is your best interest to avoid mentioning a dollar amount first if at all possible.”
DO offer a salary range
If you’re pressed for a salary requirement, you still have options for negotiating your salary without losing the upper hand. “Don’t lock yourself in to a specific dollar amount,” Palmer says. Instead, she recommends giving a range that you’re open to. “That still leaves you room for negotiation. There is not a lot of wiggle room with a specific dollar amount.”
DON’T accept the first offer
If you’ve managed to persuade the company to offer the first salary figure, remember that it’s just that: the first offer. “Usually the first offer is not the company’s best offer,” Palmer says. “It is generally expected that you will try to negotiate even though the competition for jobs is stiff. You may not be able to negotiate the same salary that you could before the economic downturn, but it is still worth it to negotiate. You don’t want to feel taken advantage of after you start your new job.”
DO make a strong case
Not all negotiation talks will go smoothly, but that’s no reason to be deterred from getting money that’s on the table—in any form. “If you are lowballed, negotiate based on how well your qualifications match the requirements of the position,” Palmer says. “An employer will not be impressed if you try to negotiate based on what you made previously. The current job market is filled with qualified candidates. However, you are in a strong position to negotiate a higher salary if you are pretty much a perfect match for the position. The best thing to do is to reiterate what the position requires and restate the fact that you have exactly what they are looking for. Then you can say, ‘My salary research shows that the going rate for someone with my qualifications and experience is between $X and $Y.’ This makes your request for a higher salary objective instead of subjective.”
DON’T forget to investigate other benefits or perks
If you’re not able to get what you want from a monetary perspective, you may still have a few tricks left up your sleeve for negotiating a better employment package. Palmer says, “Health insurance and paid leave are worth money too, and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. These can be negotiable. For example, if you already have health insurance through your spouse, you could try to negotiate a higher salary level since the employer will not be paying your premiums. You could also try to negotiate more paid leave, especially if you plan to use that extra vacation time to do consulting work to boost your income.”
Though salary talks can be nerve-wracking, it’s a crucial final step to securing the job and ensuring that you’re fairly compensated for your work. And that’s a final step you definitely want to take.
For more information, check out the video below and the accompanying article.