Salary Negotiations Blog Series: Salary Negotiations

Salary Negotiations Blog Series: Salary Negotiations

This is the last post in my three-part series intended to help you secure the best salary you can when starting work with a new employer. In the first post in this series, I outlined a process for how to come up with your desired salary range. The second post explained how to communicate that salary range in emails and interviews. This post will go into detail about how to negotiate with an employer to get a salary with which you are both happy.

Before the Offer

The first thing you should do when you’re facing an intimidating (but exciting) salary negotiation, is to think about what it is that you really want in a job.

Think about what title you want. What scope of authority are you looking for? Do you want your own office? What sort of benefits do you need? Benefits aren’t as ubiquitous as they once were and may include a range of options such as vacation time, working from home, flex hours, telecommuting, or any of the more than two dozen negotiations items you’ll find in this article. Think about what you really want in the position and prioritize those items.

We tend to think about salary negotiations as being purely monetary, but it’s really about negotiating whatever is most important to you. This is crucial if you have multiple offers coming in from different employers, and it’s one way to play offers against each other—not only who will pay you the most, but the best all-around offer or compensation package that will get you what you want.

During the Offer

Once an offer arrives, whether in person or via email, express tremendous gratitude and excitement but never, ever agree on the spot. Always request time to talk the offer over with loved ones. The only time this would likely be an issue with an employer would be in a lower-level position. For any higher-level position that would be considered a career role, there won’t be a problem with you taking time to consider the offer.

Sometimes the employer will give you a day or a weekend to decide, others will give you a couple of weeks. If you have a certain amount of time you want, ask for it. Most people take at least a few days to think about it. If you’re expecting multiple offers at the same time but one or more hasn’t yet been tendered, you may need to string out the process a bit. If Company A has presented you with an offer but you want to see what Company B has to say, you may want to stall Company A so Company B has time to put their offer together. Tell both employers that you’re expecting other offers, so you need to take time to review them – they will understand this.

I had a customer recently who was in this salary negotiation process and had multiple offers coming in at the same time. He was very clear with his top-choice employer. He told them, “You’re my number one choice, but to be very transparent, I have had a lot of interviews and am expecting one, possibly two other offers.”

He wasn’t making a deliberate attempt at asking for more money, but he was trying to give the other employer some time to present their offer. But, a pretty great thing happened. The first employer wanted him so badly, they rescinded their initial offer and came back with a second one with a dramatically higher salary. They upped their own price because they wanted to give him an offer that he quite literally couldn’t refuse. This isn’t typical, but it does happen.

After the Offer

Once a job offer comes in and you’ve talked it over with the people who are important to you, think about it and evaluate how it measures up with what you said you wanted. That’s when you start staking out your negotiations position. If they offer you a title and you want to change it, you want more vacation, or they didn’t mention the option to pursue additional certifications, etc., make a list of what you want to change in the offer, including what you would like for a salary. Next, schedule time to talk with the hiring manager or HR representative to negotiate the offer.

In that conversation, it’s important to negotiate what you want in reverse. That is, start with the items that are least important to you first and gradually mention the items that are increasingly important to you. The idea is to get the employer to agree to your less critical requests first so that by the time you raise your more urgent requests such as a higher salary, they’ll see that request as the last stumbling block to your accepting the position.

When it comes to salary, if you want more money than is originally offered you will need to demonstrate to the employer why you’re worth it. Discuss your ROI in terms the employer will understand. For example, if it’s a sales role, talk about how much in sales you’ve generated or the impact you’ve had on new market penetration.

In other words, think about what the employer wants most from you in this role and showcase how you are the best person for the job. Be prepared to document your accomplishments with numbers. This information may have been in your resume, but repeat it again. This is the most critical time to repeat old news.

The employer may only have so much negotiation room and the person you’re dealing with may have to get permission to go authorize a higher salary, but some will say yes on the spot.

Your goal is to get as close as you possibly can to your negotiation salary range, recognizing you may have to give a little. But the point of your earlier work on pinpointing an effective negotiations range is that, even if you do have to compromise, thanks to that buffer you built around your desired salary range, you’ll still walk away with what you wanted in the first place.

I once had a client who wasn’t listening to my advice. He didn’t think he had to know how to negotiate. He didn’t do his homework, he didn’t know what salary he had to have, and he didn’t think he had to understand salary positioning. The time came for his big interview and when he was asked about his salary expectations, he said a really low number—well below what he really needed because he expected the employer would offer him a higher amount of money. Unfortunately, though, the company agreed to that number and offered him the job which he foolishly accepted right away. He later came back to me and said, “I wonder if I had said a higher number if they would have offered me more money?

I believe that yes, they would have. Candidates do that kind of thing due to lack of confidence. They’re scared if they negotiate, they’ll lose the opportunity. But if the company won’t negotiate, they don’t want you. They just want a butt in the seat.

The main takeaway here is that you must walk into your salary negotiation knowing what you want and what you’re willing to sacrifice and with the self-confidence to get the best offer you possibly can. If a specific salary range is not available to you, you have the option of requesting something in its place – a sign-on bonus, a raise based on specific performance, an earlier evaluation, more vacation, a sabbatical, and so on.

Because every salary situation and every negotiation are different, you may find it helpful to discuss your options with a Career Coach. If that happens, let me know. I can help.

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