Dollars and Sense: 5 Tips You Need for Negotiating Salary

A womans hand is moving a piece on a chessboard

As a job candidate for an administrative position, you wouldn't dream of going to an interview unprepared. You practice how you'll answer questions, think about things you should ask the employer and carefully choose what to wear. But what happens when a job offer has been extended, and it's time for negotiating salary? Have you put the same amount of thought into a negotiating strategy? Or is your game plan to wing it and hope for the best?

Most new hires mistakenly think there's little they can do to prepare for a salary negotiation discussion. But a lack of preparation is often the reason they sometimes feel their confidence waver during this important step in the hiring process.

Fortunately, there are some things you can and should do to bulk up your negotiating skills before going to the mat.

Following are five tips for negotiating salary with a new employer:

1. Let the employer kick things off

You shouldn't be the one to throw out the first pitch at the meeting. Let the employer bring up salary first and name the opening figure. Then, use this as a springboard for negotiation.

2. Know what you're worth

It's hard to know if an employer's offer is on par with the going rate for administrators without doing some research first. Consult administrative professionals or recruiters in your network or use a salary tool, such as OfficeTeam's annual Salary Guide and Salary Calculator to identify a current pay range commensurate with your experience and skill level.

3. Keep a cool head

Be prepared if an employer names a figure that's below the expected range. Suggest a reasonably higher amount based on your research and substantiate it by pointing out how your skills and expertise can benefit the company. If your proposal is rejected, don't just dismiss the employer's offer out of hand. Ask if you can have a day or two to think it over and do a little more research before making a final decision.

4. Consider your end game

Money isn't always the only bargaining chip an employer has to work with. Before dismissing an offer that's less than what you were expecting, consider some of the other things that may be included in the compensation package. For example, a flexible schedule might be appealing if having a healthier work-life balance is important to you. Or, training or tuition reimbursement for career advancement might be a plus. Perks like these are often more valuable in the long run than a larger starting salary.

5. Recognize the bottom line

Sometimes, an employer has a limited negotiation range and can't comfortably match your expectations. If you think the salary is too low to consider, it's best to turn down the offer, but be sure to part on good terms. It's not uncommon for an employer to rethink the matter and decide it's worth pushing out of their comfort zone to hire an administrative professional with in-demand skills.

It's natural to feel a little awkward when negotiating salary, but you shouldn't be intimidated. Employers respect administrative professionals who bring their A game to the bargaining table. These five tips will help you negotiate like a pro when it's time to talk salary with a new employer.