Salary negotiation is among the most awkward topics of conversation to have with your boss or potential employer.
Salary is a taboo subject, something to be kept private. The only problem is, when we are so used to avoiding it, we get out of practice when the topic emerges.
Most would rather accept the first offer for fear of seeing a job offer or promotion withdrawn.
However, negotiating your salary is important, not only to ensure you get the best compensation for your skills but also to set the trajectory for future raises. Remember, each increase in your salary is based on the previous number, meaning any raise you negotiate will benefit your career forever.
Here are eight tips for a successful salary negotiation.
1. Salary negotiation typically happens during a job offer or review.
Your potential boss should begin the negotiation process when they offer you the job. At that point, they will offer you a number, and you will make a counter offer. Remember, you can also ask for a raise during a six month or annual review. If your boss doesn’t automatically offer a review after an agreed amount of time, don’t be afraid to request one.
2. There’s more to consider about a job offer than money.
When finding a new job, remember money is not the only factor to deliberate. You should consider whom you‘d be working for, your career trajectory, and how challenged you’ll feel in the job. There is no sense in taking a well-paying job if your career stagnates after a couple of years because there is no room for growth.
3. You can negotiate outside of your salary.
Even if your boss cannot budge on pay, you can negotiate elsewhere. For example, perhaps there is an option for a signing bonus, more vacation time, increased retirement contributions, or they can pay for skills training.
4. Do your research before going into the negotiation.
Before going into negotiation, you should equip yourself with adequate knowledge so you can make reasonable requests. Look carefully at the sector you’ll be working in; non-profits pay less than the private sector and campaigns pay less than non-profits. Also, carefully consider where you’ll be living and the costs associated, as well as the size of the organization and the market value of your skills.
To understand the salary you should be negotiating, there are many resources available to you. For jobs in the government or on Capitol Hill, sites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other public records can be helpful. Other sites like Glassdoor and Payscale.com are great for the private sector and non-profit jobs, and 990’s are useful for non-profits too. Also, if you feel comfortable, have a conversation with your network.
6. Don’t say a specific number, give a range.
When you are asked about your salary requirements, give a range rather than a specific number. Remember, it’s a negotiation, not a demand. If you’re hoping for $50k per year, I recommend you say you would like to make $48k - $55k. If they can’t meet your minimum, don’t forget, you can negotiate other benefits.
7. Don’t accept the first offer they give you; ask for time to consider.
If you’re nervous about the negotiation process, thank them for the offer and ask for a day/the weekend to think about it. When you speak with them the next day, be ready with your counter offer. Remember, when you’re making your counter offer to emphasize your value, not why you need more money.
8. Stay positive and respectful.
Remember to keep the negotiation civil. Consistently highlight your interest in the position and your excitement at the prospect of working there. Remember, you are going to have to work for this person after the negotiation is over.
Finally, salary negotiations are awkward, but if you handle them correctly, you will come away with a better employment deal, which will continue to benefit your career for years to come.