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Many workers come out on the losing end of salary negotiations. Or worse yet, don’t feel they have the power to negotiate their compensation at all.
That is troubling, because on average salary negotiations lead to a 7% increase in pay.
While a few thousand dollars may seem insignificant at the time, and too small a prize to justify an uncomfortable, anxiety inducing negotiation, it can have a far bigger lifetime cost than just a couple thousand bucks. Since the best indicator of future pay is past pay, each poorly negotiated job has a ripple effect on lifetime earnings.
This means when you take that below-average offer, you will receive below average raises. Chances are when you finally go on to your next job, you will be looking for an increase in compensation based on your prior, below-market salary. Worse yet, they may ask for your salary to determine what they are willing to pay you– not what you are worth.
However, through careful negotiation and research, you can change the game and receive the salary you deserve.
This article covers:
Just like you research a company and position prior to applying to shine in interviews, you should research your market value.
After all, you can’t ask for what you are worth if you have no idea what that is. Luckily, the year is 2020 and online salary calculators can quickly give you a good idea of how much you can expect to earn.
You simply need to answer a few questions about your skills, education, and experience and they pop out the range similar workers are earning. The following calculators are a good place to start:
Other ways to research compensation
Using the tools above, you will have a pretty good idea of what type of pay your skill set should bring.
However, there’s a good chance they will ask you flat out, “Why do you deserve this salary?” Or some softer equivalent.
You should be prepared to explain your raise/salary expectations. Even if your request should be a slammed dunk. Good examples to bring up include:
Are you incredible at your job? Have you had exceptional results in a similar role? Remind them! This is a great opportunity to include some cold-hard numbers- revenue, sales, orders, whatever your industry equivalent is.
If you have years of experience, being able to state, “My nine years of experience in electrical engineering…” is a good justification for your higher salary expectation.
If you have rare, hard-to-find skills, this should naturally increase your compensation.
You have researched the going rates for your skills and experience. Use this newly learned information to explain why you command a higher salary.
The end goal of your negotiation may simply be “more.” However, it’s important to have an exact number in mind.
While salary ranges can be useful pre-interview or when discussing positions with recruiters, negotiation isn’t the time for a range. When you present a range, the company will gravitate towards the bottom.
You may know you need a larger salary to pay back those crushing student loans or because you are the sole earner in your family. However, “I need more money to pay my bills” doesn’t communicate the value you bring to the table.
Your research and sometimes even the job listing itself will have given you a general salary range. When choosing that exact number to present, pick one near the top of the range.
Negotiations often involve give and take. It is unlikely you will receive exactly the amount you ask for– so aim high, rather than low.
Getting a job offer is extremely exciting! It can be tempting to auto-accept. However, you owe it to yourself to carefully read over the offer, associated benefits, and determine whether it is competitive.
Many job seekers, especially those landing their first professional job, are nervous to negotiate. What if they hold a grudge, or worse retract the offer?
However, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth. Salary negotiations are an expected part of the American job hunting process. It’s as common as the baffling tug-of-war for who gets to pay the bill at restaurants.
In fact, your manager may respect your ability to navigate a salary negotiation. It is important to remember that any company that would rescind an offer over you having the audacity to negotiate, probably isn’t a great company to work for anyways.
Interviewing can be nerve wracking. It is perfectly acceptable to say you need time to think it over.
If you receive an offer over email, the company may even start off by asking for a reply within 48 hours or some other set time. It is okay to ask for more time.
You have already gone through the messy interview process and convinced them you are the right person for the job. They want to hire you. This is just numbers.
Sadly, not all job offers are good offers. Sometimes the difference between what a company is willing to pay and what you need to make it worthwhile are simply irreconcilable. That is okay. You can turn down this job offer, without burning any future bridges.
While salary negotiations are often better done in-person, negotiating over email allows you to carefully choose your words.
You will want to keep your email polite and professional, while avoiding phrases that can take your negotiation. It is perfectly appropriate to express excitement at the opportunity, but be direct that you would like to discuss the compensation.
However, you should avoid a hard-edged, “take it or leave it” approach, as that can hinder negotiations.
Below are some examples you can use to frame your emails.
Example: If They Offered You Below Market Value
I know my [skill/qualification/cool thing you did in the past], will come in handy as [Job Title].
However, I would like to discuss the salary. According to my research, the average salary for [Job Titles] in [Area] is [Salary Range.] Can we meet at [Desired Salary]?
Thanks again for the offer; I would love to join the [Company Name] team and look forward to talking with you again soon.
While this template is a good starting point, it is okay to personalize it. If you can’t wait to work at the company because of the collaborative environment or are excited to tackle a really cool advertising campaign, feel free to mention it. The goal of this template is to communicate you want to work at the company– you just want to be paid more.
Example: If They Offered You Too Little For Your Qualifications
Before signing the offer, I need to discuss the salary a bit further. With my track record, I was looking for an offer closer to [Desired Salary]. With my [2 skills/qualifications] and [biggest relevant achievement], I know I can really drive results for [Company Name].
I am still thrilled to receive an offer and would love to join the team. Is it possible to move the offer closer to [Desired Salary]?
This is what I call the rock star template. When should you use the rock star template? When you exceed the skills required to dominate the job or have rare skills that make you uniquely qualified for the position. In other words, when you’re a complete rock star.
Feel free to go a bit more in depth about what makes you specially qualified for the position and brag about yourself a bit. You know what sets you apart from other candidates in this role.
When to avoid this template? When this is a growth position and you have a lot to learn. Instead, you should use the first template.
If your desired salary is out of the budget, the company may be open to increasing benefits, as well. If you are as eager to increase your benefits package as salary, feel free to drop in the line, “I am also open to discussing additional [Benefit of your choice], as part of the compensation package.”
Example: If You Have Another Offer
Before signing the offer letter, I need to discuss the salary. Working at [Company Name] is my first choice. However, I have an offer for [Other Salary Offer] from another company. Is there any way you could match this figure?
Again, I would love to join the team at [Company Name] and know it will be a mutually great fit.
Look forward to hearing from you soon.
If you are sending out this template, you are in a pretty good position. You have two job offers and at least one is willing to pay you a decent bit more than the other.
Not only will most companies understand that it is hard to turn down a higher job offer, it provides a sense of urgency.
It is important to remember the value of benefits packages, and may be worth asking follow up questions to better understand the ‘hidden compensation’ you are being offered from each company.
For this situation continue to communicate your desire to work at this company! You might also want to pull a bit of the rock star template if it applies.
If you are negotiating for something a bit different such as a sign-on bonus or relocation benefits, check out these templates.
You are now armed with the tips and strategies to successfully navigate your salary negotiation. While you may not get everything you ask for, you are far more likely to get more than the original offer when you actually ask instead of just wishing quietly!
So, keep calm, stay confident, and remember your worth. By the time pay is being negotiated, you have already been identified as the best candidate for the job. You have the skills and success to dominate this job. Now you simply have to use these tools to get the maximum salary for the position.
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