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Congratulations! After the grueling application and interview process, you’ve landed a job offer! But before you sign the dotted line, you’ll need to exercise a critical skillset: salary negotiations. Pushing for more money and asking for what you’re worth can be nerve-wracking. Here’s how to negotiate your salary during the hiring process.
Prepare for salary negotiation before the interview
Research, research, research
As you’re applying to new jobs, take some time to research the value of your experience and skills in your industry. Learn what roles may best fit you and determine what the company (and others like it) pays current employees.
You can find this information through publicly available salary postings or networking with current or former employees. Websites like Payscale, Salary.com, and Glassdoor offer salary comparisons across various roles and industries.
Be as informed about current salary trends as you can. This inside scoop will give you an edge to understand your worth. Plus, you can respond more confidently if you find you’re in the running for one of those hot jobs. The employer may be having a tough time finding someone with enough skills and experience, which opens the door to negotiating higher pay.
While preparing for your interview, check out the top 5 interview mistakes from the experts.
How to negotiate salary during the interview
Make a connection with your employer
Research a bit about the person you’re meeting with before the salary negotiation begins. According to the Harvard Business Review, it’s more than being polite – knowing some background on your interviewer will help navigate some of those nerves while negotiating. Think about: What motivates them? What are some things highlighted in their biography, employer’s website, or LinkedIn profile? What has this person mentioned in past conversations?
On the day of the salary negotiation, try to call out something in the person’s office or in the background of a video call you can bond over.
Tell the employer why you’re the best fit
When you are negotiating with someone, you should start by pointing out the incentives for that person. Detail up front how hiring you will benefit your potential employer. If you’re asking for a higher salary, they should know you’re worth paying that much because of what you bring to the table.
Never bring up salary first
If the employer raises the salary conversation before you have a job offer in hand, try to deflect by speaking more generally until after they have formally offered you the job.
If you throw out the first number, you might be negotiating against yourself – the employer may be willing to make a higher salary offer than you propose. Try to ask questions like “what is your budget for the role?” to understand what the employer is considering salary-wise. This tactic will also help save you time in the long run by knowing upfront what they may be able to pay you.
Consider more than just the salary
You have more to consider than just your paycheck for a full-time role. Ask about potential benefits or perks that come with the job. Think health insurance, 401k, paid leave, and office supplies if you’ll be working from home. It may be nice that you’re getting a cushy check, but imagine having to spend half of it just on health insurance because the company doesn’t cover it.
If there are fewer benefits, don’t be afraid to ask if there’s room for a sign-on bonus to make the offer more enticing. It’s best to put all your cards on the table upfront during the negotiation process, so you do not have to check back later.
How to counter offer a salary
Now that the employer has given you an official job offer, you may realize that it falls short of your expectations.
Ask how the employer came up with the salary
Find out how the employer determined your salary. If you asked about the budget for the role earlier in the interview, you can mention any discrepancies. You could follow up with: “How much are you willing to negotiate?”
Try to get an idea of the projected salary range. Keep in mind that whatever it is, you can aim higher. Be confident that you’re the star candidate the employer wants!
Explain why the offer falls short
It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for additional compensation if you feel the offer is lacking. In a recent Robert Half survey, 86% of respondents said they were more likely to negotiate salary with a new hire than a year ago.
Refer back to your research and share what people in similar positions in the same industry and location earn. Reiterate how valuable your skills, credentials, and experience are for the role. Pitch yourself just like you did during the application and bring up all your relevant skills and experience before proposing your base salary.
Another important reminder: be honest. Don’t invent inflated salaries or competing job offers just to make yourself look good.
Keep the tone light but firm
Yes, you’re here to get your coin, but you also don’t want to come off arrogant. Keep the same interview etiquette in mind, such as being polite and friendly, preparing questions, and maintaining rapport with the other person.
In a professional and friendly tone, convey your gratitude for the offer and then follow up with why you need better terms for the job. Explain what you’re missing out on by leaving your current role or the typical salary that a similar position would offer.
Punctuate each point with evidence, like your projected salary after an annual raise or a bonus you’ll miss if you accept this offer.
What to say when negotiating your salary
Be confident and direct but show appreciation for the interview. Here are some examples of dialogue you can use:
- “I’m very excited about the position and know I’d be the right fit for the team. I’m thrilled about your offer and know I’ll bring a lot of value to the table based on my experience we discussed. I’m wondering if we can explore a slightly higher starting salary of (whatever you want). My market research showed this to be the industry average for this area, and I’m confident you’ll be pleased with my contributions to the team and department.”
The manager may come back and say they only have a certain amount of money budgeted. You can respond with something like:
- “I definitely understand budgeting issues, and I want to be as flexible as possible to work with your team. I’m still very excited about joining your organization. I would like to explore whether (your ideal salary) is possible given my specific experience and skill set or if there’s potential for any bonuses.”
In the end, the worst thing that can happen is that the manager says no. At least you know you tried, and now you have the tools and know-how to try again next time!
Can you lose a job offer by negotiating salary?
The short answer is yes, for a variety of reasons. The hiring manager may already have another candidate willing to accept a lower salary, or they simply cannot match your ideal rate.
However, this shouldn’t deter you from going through the negotiation process. It’s a normal step while interviewing, and hiring managers expect it. Decide what is non-negotiable and what offer would work best for your situation.
What is the average salary in the US?
According to the May 2020 National Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates by the BLS, the average salary in the United States is $56,310, with a median wage of $20.17 an hour. Research the industry and role you’re applying to and what the average salaries are. Consider factors like your experience level, responsibilities, and location.
What are the highest paying jobs?
Healthcare jobs topped the list of the highest-paying jobs in the United States. The industry continues to grow year after year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in healthcare is projected to grow 16% from 2020 to 2030—adding about 2.6 million new jobs. Are you wondering what specific roles top the pay scale? Consider a career as an anesthesiologist ($331,190/year), oral and maxillofacial surgeon ($311,460/year), or a obstetrician-gynecologist ($296,210/year).
Do your research and know your worth
Finding a new job can be stressful, and the negotiation process can seem intimidating, but confidence is key! Prepare your case to present to the hiring manager and practice your answers to tough questions.
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