A new job is a good opportunity to improve your salary, but salary negotiations can be quite stressful. How do you maintain a friendly relationship, even when the negotiations get tough, and how do I make sure my opening offer is at least in the ballpark? Even though negotiating your salary is a very difficult skill to master, with a few tips and good preparation you can create a head start for yourself. Being factual and prepared ensures that your argument is taken seriously. Keep reading to see how you can create the right conditions for a successful salary negotiation.
Know what you are worth
Before you start negotiating your salary, it is important to know the boundaries of what you can ask: too little means not earning to your full potential, but asking too much might close the door all together. By using online platforms like LinkedIn or Glassdoor.com you can research what other people with similar positions and experience are earning. This gives you a good idea of the possibilities. It is also a good idea to ask around in your own network: former colleagues or classmates are a great source of information when it comes to earning potential.
Know who you are negotiating with
During negotiations a lot rides on the person you are negotiating with. By understanding who this person is and what his or her responsibilities are in the organisation, you can better estimate the wiggle room that you have. At the same time this shows that you invested time in researching the organisation and that you are eager to work for the company, making negotiating a whole lot easier.
Career vs. Salary
During your application, it is best not to mention salary too much. Mostly, you will be wanting to communicate that you want the position based on the work you are going to do, and the opportunities that come with it. This shows that you are motivated for job, and excited about the company rather than the salary, giving you a better chance at getting the position in the first place. In this sense, timing and dosing is really important: taking a tough stand doesn’t necessarily have to work against you íf your timing is right and you created the right conditions.
Be honest about your current earnings, the truth will eventually catch up with you if you choose to be dishonest about this. However, being honest doesn’t mean you should be an open book: your current salary is a good indicator for employers to determine their opening bid. It is therefore best to avoid an exact number, this way you keep some wiggle room later on. You can also reply that your current salary is not relevant for the position that you are applying for, or that your salary doesn’t quite fit with the responsibilities of your current position.
Don't forget about secondary employment benefits
When it comes to benefits, salary is not the only factor you should take into account. Is there room for growth, is there a budget for employees to follow courses or training programmes? Does the company have a work-from-home programme? Be sure to ask about the fringe benefits that you feel are important to you: financial bonuses for meeting your targets, a company car or a work phone for example. Even if the company can’t quite match your salary request, good fringe benefits might tip the scales for you in certain cases, so be sure to think about these beforehand.
Create wiggle room
Don’t be too exact in your opening bid. It is better to ask a salary that is roughly ten percent higher than your desired number. This way, the process of giving and taking during the negotiations is more likely to end up closer to your desired salary. Be aware, however, in some companies there are strict policies regarding salaries, making it almost impossible to find that wiggle room. Be sure to research this beforehand by doing research or asking people that you know that work for the company.
Don't take the lead
Don’t be the first one to mention a number. Just like haggling on a local market: by letting the other person make an opening bid, you can estimate how close your desired salary is to the offer and decide your strategy from there.
This approach can yield either one of two results:
The initial offer is too high
This sounds perfect, but you should ask yourself if there is a ‘catch’. Was your old salary simply way too low and you’re finally catching up? Or does the position you are applying for entail more responsibilities than you thought? In the case of the latter, be sure to ask what exactly is expected of you. We hear cases where developers work against an hourly wage higher than their usual rates, making them uncomfortable, with a great sense of pressure or responsibility to live up to the high expectations that come with it.
The offer is lower than you expected
Don’t panic. Explain why you think you deserve a higher salary. Be factual and concise, highlight your experience and the projects that you did in the past. After this, you can put your counter offer on the table. If you find this difficult, you can also ask some time to think about the offer and reply at a later moment.
Hopefully both parties feel good about the final offer. If you don’t, or still have some questions left: mention this! This is the only way to ensure you don’t regret accepting the offer at a later moment, possibly leading to a lack of motivation.
Other factors to take into account
It can be quite overwhelming to conduct salary negotiations, or doing a job interview in general. However, you shouldn’t forget to also look around. Try and get a feel for your potential new office and colleagues. Pay attention to the atmosphere: how do colleagues communicate with each other, what style of leadership is being used? Be mindful of these things and weigh them appropriately when making your decision. You should look forward to your first day and not dread it.
Last, but not least
Did you agree on a deal? Get it in writing! It sounds like an open door, but you’d be surprised at how often people forget this. Make an overview of everything you discussed and agreed on, and write it down. This prevents unpleasant surprised or miscommunications later down the line.
Good luck with your next job application!