Negotiating salary is a scary proposition for some people. It’s also quite difficult if you are rusty on your negotiation skills. I’ve put together a few tips for helping you get through the process with less sweat and more leverage.
Step 1: Don’t discuss salary until the employer makes an offer
A good rule of thumb is to refrain from mentioning salary expectations in your resume. If the the ad you are responding to requests past salaries as some do, then comply. Otherwise, don’t bring up salary at all. If asked during the interview, try to avoid the question. Respond in a manner such as:
- “If you decide I’m right for the position, then I’m sure you’ll pay a fair and competitive rate, right?”
- “I’d love to discuss salary with you, but before we get to that, I’d like to know more about the position. Tell me more about ______.”
- “Is this a formal offer?”
- “The going salary range for that level of responsibility is between _______________ and _______________. You pay in that range, correct?”
Step 2: Allow the interview to make the offer
She who speaks first loses. In salary negotiations, the first figure mentioned is the starting point. You don’t want to sell yourself short. Let the interviewer make the offer and you go from there. That way, if the salary they offer is way off base and you don’t see any way to meet in the middle, then you can gracefully bow out.
Step 3: Do the research
Don’t negotiate in the blind. After your potential employer makes an offer, do a little research to determine the going salary range for your level of skill and experience. Check a variety of sources for the sake of comparison or you could end up getting less than you deserve.
One useful source of information is the U.S. Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics). They publish annual salary data by occupation.
You can also perform a Google search to find other salary information online. Be aware that salaries can vary according to location and whether or not will be employed in the public or private sector or in a profit or non-profit organization.
Step 4: Let negotiations begin
You want to get the highest salary possible. Your employer wants to pay the lowest amount to increase their bottom line. You should strive to be fair while maximizing your own value.
Determine your value to your company and make an offer based on that.
Step 5: Close the deal and keep negotiating
Your salary is only one component of the negotiating process. You can also negotiate perks and benefits such leave time, profit sharing, bonuses, etc.