A How-To Guide to Salary Negotiation

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the application process and perhaps several rounds of interviews. Now they’ve made you an offer, and it’s time to talk about money. This is vital, not only because of the amount of salary you need to live on, but because if you start your job behind in this crucial area, you’ll never catch up.

Future salary increases are based on a percentage of current salary, so staring too low means you’ll always be underpaid while you work there. Billshark wants to help you avoid making this critical mistake by offering this guide to salary negotiations.

Successful Negotiating Strategies

First, realize that the offer the company makes is usually not carved in stone. Many people are unaware they can negotiate a salary offer, or—especially if they’re desperate for the job, whether from necessity or the fact that it’s their “dream job”—are reluctant to do so.

Understand this: The company is not doing you a favor by hiring you, any more than a car dealer is doing you a favor by selling you your “dream” car. This is a business transaction. They have a need and, by making you an offer, they acknowledge that you can adequately fill that need.

On the other hand, however, this is not the time to take that attitude to the other extreme, and become belligerent or even arrogant. Chances are, you’re not the only person alive with your qualifications. Especially if the person negotiating with you is your future boss, you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot in your relationship. The place you’re trying to get to is a situation where you both feel satisfied with the outcome; that is, that you’ve achieved a “win-win” for both parties.

To do that, you must be firm, professional, and friendly. It’s important to know that no company will rescind a job offer because you politely asked for more money. They’ve invested time and effort in interviewing you and others, and they settled on you. They want your knowledge, skills and abilities, and the simple act of not settling for their first salary offer won’t cause them to throw you out (unless, again, you display an arrogant attitude they decide they don’t want to work with).

Must-Have Tips and Tricks

Here’s a secret: Most firms have a salary range for each position, and will typically make their initial offer toward the low end of that range. Another secret: Avoid at all costs naming a salary first. If they ask what you want, say, “Is there a range for this position?” When you counter, the worst approach you can take is negotiating based on what you need to live on. Maybe your car is slowly dying and the landlord is pounding on your door, but that won’t interest prospective employers. It’s all about what you can do for them.

Therefore, you start by restating the benefits of “You, Inc.” For instance, maybe you have enough experience in your industry that you can “hit the ground running” with no downtime for training. Or you have an “in” with a potential client they’ve been aching to sign. Or you have some technical knowledge or insight that will fill a critical hole in the company.

Effective Examples

You should: a) research the various salary websites to find out what the range is for your position in your city, and, b) ask for a figure toward the top of that range.

“I’m really excited about this offer, but I’m a bit surprised at the salary. My research shows that the average salary for this position in this area is $50,000. Given my qualifications, I was actually expecting $60,000.” Then briefly remind the negotiator of the highlights of what you’re bringing to the table. “I know I can help you bring on the XYZ Company as a client, probably within six months, and I have sketched out some ideas of how to do that. Can we possibly get closer the figure I’m asking?”

If the person holds firm to the original offer, don’t say, “Okay,” and let it go. Explore other options, such as an early performance review, maybe at three or six months instead of the normal one-year time frame. Or you might ask about the possibility of an early promotion. This lets them know that you are so confident in your abilities that you know they’ll be happy with your work.

If they absolutely won’t budge, ask for the night (no longer) to think it over. Then do so. Can you live on the salary offered? Can you make it up with gig work on the side? Will the job afford you enough time to do that? Will this job provide experience or contacts that will prove valuable to your future career path?

Moving Forward

When you’ve made up your mind, be sure to ask for the final offer in writing. Any reputable company will do this as a matter of course, and it precludes any potential misunderstandings. The important thing to remember is that this is a professional business transaction, not a personal one. Negotiating a reasonable salary will keep you from feeling underpaid and undervalued throughout the time you spend with the company.

And don’t forget to let Billshark’s sharks check over your bills. We can save you hundreds and thousands of dollars per year.

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