When people are in the process of accepting a new position, they often feel vulnerable and expendable. This leads to one of the most common career mistakes: accepting the first salary offer received. Most people do not go into these conversations prepared to negotiate or even thinking that they should. Yet, failing to negotiate can not only lose you income, it can also impact your earning-potential in the future. So, here are a few tips that will empower you to negotiate successfully:
Do thorough research. To negotiate an appropriate salary, research is required. First, get an idea of what market and salary research says about their target position (GlassDoor is a great site). Many people underestimate their value to companies and, without the numbers to back them up, are prone to accepting lower offers.
It is also important to get a feel for the specific company. Sometimes there is salary information from the company available online or you can get an informational interview with a current staff member. The financial situation of the organization should also be taken into account. Your offer will change if it is a highly profitable company, a non-profit working under a grant or a start-up just gaining ground.
Be firm, but flexible. With some solid research as backup, you can present your salary negotiations confidently. Being firm is important so that the company can see that you know what you are talking about but it is also important to keep an air of flexibility. The conversation must remain in the realm of collaboration instead of confrontation.
Finding a balance in the tone of negotiation is especially difficult for women as they are, unfortunately, operating under a double standard. Women who do not demand higher pay are seen as passive while those who do are sometimes labeled “hard to work with.” Women who prepare themselves for the conversation can be confident in their right to negotiate a fair salary while collaborating to do so.
Think outside the box. Salary negotiations are not just about the salary, but also about the benefits package. Although many benefits packages are fixed, you should ask about vacations, medical benefits and especially opportunities for trainings, skill building, funds to attend conferences and even about mentorship opportunities within the organization. This will not only secure your ability to advance professionally in the future, but will also show the company your creativity and dedication.
Wait for the moment. Bringing up the salary conversation at the wrong time can hurt your chances of landing the position. It is better to wait until at least the second interview or until an offer of employment has been made. Remember that the power of negotiation lies with the person who speaks second, not first. Waiting for your potential employer to bring up the point but being prepared to enter in with a solid offer and solid questions is key.
Focus on added value. Although you may have specific desires for your salary and benefits, keep the tone of the conversation focused on the value that that you bring to the company. For instance, instead of saying, “I was hoping to earn [ ]” it is more powerful to say, “A candidate with my potential is worth [ ] to this company.”