Salary negotiations need to be done respectfully and kept in the proper perspective. You don’t want to end-up receiving a salary that is less than you could have gotten… At the same time, you don’t want to lose out on a job that you could have received. Below are some pointers that can assist you negotiating a salary during an interview, and when completing a job application.
Analyze Your Current Situation
Carefully think about your current financial situation, career path, and your career goals. These 3 factors will help you determine the importance of the prospective job and how much you can truly negotiate.
Do Your Homework
Before you go to an interview, you need to determine your desired salary range. Research typical salaries for someone with similar experience in your industry. There are a few websites on the Internet that can assist you with this.
Carefully Think About Your Needs
Think about what income you need. You do not want to take an offer that leaves you pinching pennies. Before going on interviews, ask yourself some important questions. How much do you need to pay your basic expenses (rent, groceries, utilities, etc.)? What kind of salary do you need to live a comfortable life? What is the lowest salary you can consider? How much do you need to be able to save for the future?
Do Not Lay Your Cards On The Table
Many job applications and interviewers may ask you to name a salary requirement, always avoid providing a number. When it comes to negotiating a future salary, the golden rules are:
- Do not be the first person to bring it up
- Defer all salary talk until you know they want you
- Get the company to reveal its number first
An example of a question they may ask is, “What kind of salary are you looking for?” Try to use answers such as, “I’m sure that if I do receive an offer, it will be fair and reasonable,” or “I will consider any reasonable offer.” If they press you for a number, give a range rather than a specific amount. The bottom of your range should be the minimum you must make, with the top being a bit higher than your ideal number.
Under no circumstances should you respond to the “salary question” in this fashion:
“I just need a job; I’ll take whatever the job pays.”
“This position reports to you so you should know what the pay range is. I’d be interested in knowing what that figure is.”
Don’t Forget About Benefits
When you receive a job offer, it is very important to consider the offer in its entirety. This means paying attention to the company’s medical and dental plan, vacation package, retirement benefits, etc. If the company cannot meet your salary requirements, it may be able to make it up to you in other ways, such as additional vacation time. Keep in mind that a job paying $40K a year with a nice benefit package could actually be better than a job that pays $45K a year without one.
You Have A Right To Ask For More
A company is not going to offer you the highest salary they’d be willing to pay right off the bat. Most companies expect candidates to come back with a counter offer. If you are qualified, and have done your research and have supporting information to back up your salary wishes, don’t be afraid to let the company know that you would like something higher. However, PLEASE don’t make the mistake of playing hardball, thinking you are irreplaceable, or being unwilling to negotiate. If you receive a low offer, thank the company for the offer, let them know that you are excited about the position, and politely and respectfully request a higher salary. The worst the company can say is no.
When Completing A Job Application
If you are filling out a job application on paper, or if the online form allows you to type in whatever characters you want in that field, then leave an open-ended response that defers the answer until later. For example, you could write “Negotiable.” (favored option) or “To be discussed during interview.”
You may be wondering, “Couldn’t I just put in a range?” Putting a range comes in a distant second. Let’s say you currently make $50,000 and are hoping for a decent increase, so you enter a range of $55,000–$65,000. The problem here is that you broke one of the golden rules by providing a number first. What if the number the employer had in mind was $57,000, or worse, $67,000? Either way, you might be screened out for having too high a range, or you might leave a lot of money on the table if you “settle” for a number less than the mid-$60s.
If the “desired salary” field on an online application requires you to enter a number, and it won’t let you proceed without you entering something, then fall back on your research (see above “Do Your Homework”), and the number you’re aiming for. Just keep in mind that there is a risk that you will be screened out or undersell yourself.