If you are like most people, you don’t like negotiating. But despite it being about as enjoyable as a crying baby on a flight, it’s also necessary. It is not the place where you want to screw up.
A mistake during the salary negotiation portion of your job interview, no matter the career level you are at – or worse, your failure to negotiate at all – could end up costing you thousands.
There are a variety of pitfalls along the way. Don’t fall into that or you could derail your chances of success.
Funnily enough, the biggest mistake people make is actually not negotiating a salary at all. Most are just fearful that asking for more will make them look bad. But the interesting thing is that hiring managers almost always expect a candidate to negotiate. No matter where you are in your career, you always have room to ask for more, and hiring managers almost always have an extra budget to accommodate those requests.
And here are the 7 most important points to take note of when you negotiate your salary.
1. Make sure you get it in writing
Always get the offer in writing. No exceptions.
Too many employees who were verbally promised one thing, never saw it materialized upon being hired. And without a written document to fall back on, it’s a messy case of your word against theirs.
Ink on paper – make sure you get it!
2. The first offer is just the starting point
Almost all companies expect you to negotiate.
Many people don’t pay attention to that. In fact, 43% of people we surveyed last year didn’t negotiate at all when offered a job, and 68% of those people later regretted it. So take their initial offer, think about it right there in the interview, and if the time is right, say thank you for the offer and counter with something more. Whether it’s a salary, a bonus, health benefits, or vacation, ask for more.
The crucial element of negotiating salary is to remember that the person you’re negotiating with expects it. It’s a routine part of looking for a job, so try not to let your emotions make you soft on the negotiation. Don’t rush yourself, don’t simply accept the first number that’s offered, and come prepared with current research that backs up your requests.
After all, if you’ve got the offer you have the advantage of already knowing they want you. Leverage that in an intelligent and reasonable way.
3. It is not personal
This is one tough cookie.
What’s more personal than someone telling you what they think you’re worth? It makes sense. But at the end of the day, you need to remember it’s business. They’re looking for the best possible candidate they can afford. Their best return for the buck. If you are not their first choice, tough luck. Getting personally insulted during a salary negotiation will only lead to hard feelings. Good decisions are not made when emotions kick in. Too much room for error and missteps, so try to stay calm and even-keeled.
4. Don’t Go Over the Fence with Counteroffers
Negotiating is good.. However, be aware of the fact that there is such a thing as negotiating too much.
They make you an offer and it’s low? No problem. It’s perfectly acceptable and even expected that you’d make a counteroffer of some kind. But try to avoid excessive back and forth. Pick the one or two most important aspects of the offer and focus on those. But after a drawn-out negotiation concludes, try to avoid bringing up entirely new things when it’s thought to be settled. One too many trips to the well could end up burning bridges.
5. Don’t Talk Salary Too Soon
The hiring manager or HR wants to know what number is in your head. And although strategies vary on this depending on the person dispensing advice, I’ve always gone with the theory of getting them to throw out the first number.
First and foremost, talking about salary before they’ve made you the job offer is not wise. Try to make sure they really want you first before you start negotiating salary. Once they put out the first number, assuming it’s in the acceptable range, negotiate up from there while making sure you made your research. Make sure you have the offer because you know they want you and it strengthens your bargaining position.
6. Make Sure You Consider Non-salary Items
Contrary to popular belief, your base salary is not the only negotiable part of the process.
If your potential employer can’t do much about the base salary but you really want to work there, there are other options. Is there a signing bonus? Stock options? Relocation package? Or perhaps a week or two of extra vacation is worth a small decrease in base pay. The point is you have a lot you can negotiate in addition to your base salary, and you should tailor it to suit your needs.
7. Consider Your Employer’s Needs
It’s great to have self-confidence and totally necessary to advocate for yourself. Just try not to take things too far.
When you negotiate, you must put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. You can state your case without coming across as demanding. And if you’re going to negotiate that strongly, you need to remember negotiation is largely about compromise. Which is to say while you’re trying to get as much as you can, your employer is likely trying to keep within their budget. Keeping that mind will help you negotiate effectively without coming on too strong.