After several rounds of interviews, you finally land an offer to join a terrific creative team. You may have made it through the most challenging part of the job search process, but there's one final step before you can start collecting a paycheck: salary negotiations.
The good news is that most hiring managers appear to be open to salary negotiations. In a survey by The Creative Group, 63 percent of marketing and advertising executives polled said they are willing to negotiate compensation with top talent. If you have extensive experience, deep expertise and an impressive portfolio, you may be leaving money on the table if you don't inquire about a higher starting salary.
But salary negotiations are tricky conversations. One false step can not only reduce your paycheck, but it could also prompt the employer to rescind the job offer. Here are six do's and don'ts to tactfully and confidently handle salary negotiations:
1. DO get familiar with industry 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.
Consult annual salary surveys to determine the going rate for your position and experience level. And if you're going for one of the hot, highest-paying jobs, the employer may be having a tough time finding someone with enough skill and experience – which opens the door to a higher salary.
2. DO demonstrate your capabilities
Particularly for higher-level positions that involve managing other people, you can make a case for a fatter paycheck by proving that your talent extends beyond superb design skills. Are you good at motivating employees? Even if you haven't been a supervisor before, can you demonstrate your leadership skills? What other soft skills have you leveraged to help a former organization? Are you adept at handling difficult clients, for example? Your potential employer may pay a premium for those abilities.
3. DON'T make it only about you
Salary negotiations are a two-way street. When talking about your capabilities, you need to demonstrate what the employer will gain in return for giving you higher compensation. Give concrete examples of how your skills will benefit your new company. Talk about how your expertise and experience can help develop new business, save money or grow revenue.
4. DO be honest
Successful salary negotiations depend on honesty from both parties. There's no better way to see your offer withdrawn than having a hiring manager find out you invented a competing job offer just to score a bigger paycheck. Skip the blustering and bluffing, and be honest about your needs and expectations.
5. DON'T overlook the intangibles
Salary negotiations often include some give and take on benefits, not just dollars. Can you arrange for an extra week of vacation, flexible hours or a regular work-from-home schedule in lieu of additional money? Consider what's truly valuable to you and realize that it may be less costly for the employer to give ground on benefits.
6. DO know when to say when
If, in your back-and-forth salary negotiations, the employer has made reasonable accommodations — a higher salary, improved benefits package or better work-life balance — then consider accepting the offer. Appearing greedy could make the hiring manager rethink the decision to bring you on board.
Salary negotiations can also be necessary during your annual performance review, not just when you're interviewing for a new position. If you think your strong performance warrants a raise, remember these do's and don'ts. Do your homework, present a case that shows how your work has benefited the company and be gracious.