Salary Negotiations de-mystified

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Receiving a job offer is incredibly exciting - and many times we want to believe that it’s a great fit for us. Your mind begins to think about the possibilities and what you can bring to the position. There’s only one problem - they offered you a lower salary than you expected. With time ticking, you have two options, take the deal or negotiate.

Which would you choose?

Surprisingly, PayScale.com found that only 37% of millennials ever #askformore. What’s even worse, is that it’s costing us, big time. Over the course of our careers, we could be losing up to $1 million! WOW right?

If the large sum of money doesn’t catch your attention, there are a number of other reasons why asking for more money is important. Establishing yourself to a new or existing organization is incredibly important. For one thing, when we feel confident to have that type of conversation with human resources or the boss, we carry ourselves differently, perform better and see ourselves moving up with great pace.

If negotiating gives us more money and confidence, why do we shy away from it?

Mainly, as I’ve heard and experienced time and time again, it’s the fear of no. This is quite a common fear and it ranges from asking for personal development opportunities to an increase in responsibilities and salary. I argue in another blog, Smiling Your Way through No, that we psyche ourselves out when we truly have no idea what the outcome will be. However, with a little bit of mindset preparation, you can be ready to negotiate like a professional in no time. Like anything else, it could take some practicing in the mirror, and getting used to saying numbers out loud in a tone that feels confident, yet authentic and rooted in your abilities and talents to do the job.

The salary negotiation literature is plentiful with different tactics to help you make more money. Some, including Jack Chapman (author of Negotiating your salary: How to make $1,000 a minute) suggest a method that involves placing more pressure on the employer to make the initial offer (or boss if it’s a raise discussion). This is all about deferring to the company in the moment, so politely requesting that they make the initial offer is crucial. It can certainly feel awkward to do this, so practice you must!

On the other hand, experts like Robin Pinkley argue that you should throw the highest number that you can defend out there first. This isn’t without caution though, you’ll need to do your research to make sure what you’re asking is reasonable, and it’s not below what you’re worth. This can be ideal for understanding the range that your position can go, and allows you the opportunity to negotiate with ease rather than throwing a ball into a dark hall.

Let’s go back to your job offer - and if you go back to the offer with a counter, and the answer is, no we can’t make that work - NOW what?

Alternatives exist to negotiating your base salary. For one, you can look at things like benefits package, paid time off (PTO), and even your hiring bonus. All of these are on the table, and may be easier for the employer to give you if you don’t have the salary you requested. For example, if you’re married and have insurance covered through your spouse, trying asking if they can raise your salary since you won’t need medical benefits. PTO and flexible work location/hours are also an option to negotiate to allow you more freedom. This freedom can be used for side hustling too, if that’s the route you want to take.

The best practices for salary negotiation may depend on the situation, but there are timeless tips that will help you for your next conversation:

  1. Do your research, use payscale.com or glassdoor.com to help you get a sense of the range for the position. ALSO ask your network for someone who actually does the job and discuss the range of the position.

  2. If you decide to give them your salary requirements first, remember not to go too low on your scale - the employer doesn’t need to get a “deal” on your education, talent, and expertise.

  3. Remain calm if the answer is no, and seek alternatives. The more open you are to finding some way to make it work, you might be surprised that the employer will get creative as well.

Remember, your experience and education are more lucrative than you may realize. Focus on your mindset to get yourself ready to respond to a counter offer. Whether or not you think you can do it, you’re in the best place to do it when you are out in the market chasing your dreams - don’t forget that!

Lea