It’s not surprising that most people aren’t comfortable asking for more money once their job search has ended and they have an offer in front of them. If the salary is reasonable, they don’t want to jeopardize the opportunity now that they’ve come this far. And, let’s face it, money just isn’t an easy topic whether you’re trying to buy a new car or land a new job.
But with today’s talent scarcities where job candidates are in the driver’s seat, you’d be literally leaving money on the table if you don’t negotiate, especially if you have specialized skills and an impressive resume.
Job seekers seem to be getting this. In a recent survey by Robert Half, more than half of workers polled (54%) said they tried to negotiate a higher salary with their last employment offer.
See our salary negotiation infographic for more survey findings.
But even in a job candidate’s market, it would be a mistake to bluster into the discussion without some preparation. Most hiring managers will give you the opportunity to do some thinking about the offer and won’t expect an immediate answer.
Here are eight do’s and don’t’s for how to negotiate salary that can help you tactfully and confidently ask for what you want:
1. DO familiarize yourself with industry salary trends
You may think you deserve a higher starting salary in your new position. But what do the national and local job markets say? Information is your biggest ally.
To enter a negotiation fully informed, consult Robert Half’s Salary Guides to determine the going rate for your position and experience level. Use our Salary Calculator to see adjusted figures for your geographic area.
Pay particular attention to our Positions in High Demand or Jobs Employers Want to Staff Most section of the Salary Guides. If you’re in the running for one of today’s hottest jobs, the employer may be having a tough time finding someone with enough skills and experience, and that opens the door to negotiate higher pay.
2. DON’T fail to build your case
Don’t just counter with a higher salary number. You’ll be more successful if you explain why you feel you deserve more. Highlight your strengths, detailing all the extras the firm would get from someone with your track record.
Before the job interview, think of concrete examples of how your skills and experience will benefit your new company’s bottom line and jot them down. Possessing certifications or specialized technical skills, for example, can enhance your ability to do the job, so don’t fail to mention them. By tying your strengths to the role you’ll be taking on, you’ll make a solid case for why you should be paid more than the initial offer.
3. DON’T stretch the truth
Professionals who know how to negotiate salary successfully understand that complete honesty is paramount. There’s no better way to see your offer withdrawn than having a hiring manager find out you invented a competing job offer or inflated your salaries from past jobs. Skip the bluffing, and be honest about your expectations.
4. DO factor in non-salary benefits
Salary negotiations often include some give-and-take on employee benefits. It may be less costly for the employer to give ground on extra vacation days, flexible hours or a work-from-home schedule.
Consider what’s valuable to you and what would make an offer more attractive. If you’re considering multiple offers, remember to directly compare health insurance coverage, retirement savings plans and other benefits to make an informed decision. Also factor in perks that reach beyond compensation, such as advancement or professional development opportunities with the potential employer.
5. DON’T wing it
Once you’ve decided on a strategy, ask a friend or mentor to rehearse the conversation you’re likely to have with the hiring manager. The ideal partner is someone from the corporate world — a business-savvy person who can coach you on projecting confidence and answering unexpected questions. Having run through your delivery several times can make you feel more sure of yourself during a salary negotiation.
6. DO know when to wrap it up
A reasonable employer won’t withdraw an offer just because you tried to negotiate. But dragging out the salary negotiation can frustrate the hiring manager and start out your relationship on a sour note. If the company can’t meet your requirements after a few discussions, respectfully withdraw and focus on opportunities that better match your compensation expectations.
7. DON’T forget to get everything in writing
Once you and the hiring manager settle on a compensation package, ask for documentation of your salary and any special arrangements (a signing bonus or allowance for moving expenses, for example) in writing, along with a job description and a list of responsibilities for your new role. Ensure the document is signed by both you and the employer.
8. DON’T make it only about you
Don’t forget that most managers don’t love negotiating, either. Your future employer is not your adversary. Keeping your tone positive will help you more effectively navigate the discussions. While your goal is to earn what you’re worth, the manager most likely has limitations on what the company can offer. When negotiating salary and perks, be polite and tactful. If they can’t meet your demands, either accept the job or decline it gracefully.
If you’d like to get a better starting salary offer, you have to ask for it. Job seekers too often accept the first number that's put on the table. When presented a job and a salary offer, tact and homework are the keys to your success
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