Negotiating your salary during the hiring process can feel like a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce for some time and/or are concerned about losing a potential job offer if your proposed salary is too high. However, the consequences of shortchanging yourself can last for years and impact both your short-term and long-term goals. What’s more, feelings of dissatisfaction or low morale can creep in if you feel you aren’t being paid a fair wage.
If you’ve been offered one or more jobs but aren’t content with the salary/benefits package, don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Here are some tips to help you discuss the matter with employers in a tactful yet effective manner.
Know Your Worth
It’s not hard to find information about the average salary for someone in your field. Websites such as salary.com, indeed.com, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offer insight into the average median wage for any given profession. The BLS also provides statistics for the median wage for any profession based on geographic location, industry, and other criteria. However, there are also other factors you’ll need to consider when determining what would be a fair salary for someone in your field.
Do you have any job experience? Many potential employers value related on-the-job experience as much as a diploma. Do you have certifications in specialized fields? Are you bilingual? Do you bring a specialized skill set to the table? In addition to these questions, you’ll also want to consider supply and demand in your city for employees in your field. Can a potential employer find a replacement for you fairly easily? Take all these factors into account when deciding on a fair salary/benefits package for yourself.
It’s also important to calculate your expenses into the equation. If you would have to move in order to accept the position, it’s entirely fair to ask your employer to consider raising the starting salary and/or providing monetary compensation for the move. If you would have a long commute to and from work, ask for a higher salary to compensate for your time and additional expenses.
Determining your worth isn’t just about deciding how much to negotiate for. It’s also about gaining self-confidence in your skillset and what you have to offer potential employers. If you know employees with your skills are in high demand and you’re aware that many companies need what you have to offer, you’ll have the confidence to negotiate with any hiring manager.0
Prepare your Pitch
Once you know what you’re worth, it’s time to prepare your pitch. Write out what you want to say, along with some talking points explaining your point of view. Make sure it’s tactful yet clear. Additionally, you’ll want to prepare answers to commonly asked negotiating questions regarding your job search. Your interviewer will likely want to know if his or her company is your top choice, if you’ve had better job offers, or if you’re willing to start work immediately if the company agrees to your demands. These are fair questions that deserved to be answered clearly and honestly.
Practice your pitch with a friend and ask for constructive criticism on your performance. If you intend to send the pitch in writing, ask someone your trust to look it over to check for spelling/grammar mistakes. Getting a second opinion from someone who isn’t emotionally involved can ensure your pitch is clear, tactful, and appealing.
Presenting Your Pitch
Bear in mind that, by the time the salary/benefits package is discussed during the interview, you’ve already been informed of the details of the job, what it entails, and what your job responsibilities would be. Begin by thanking the job interviewer for considering you for the position and mention that you are looking forward to working with the company but feel that X would be a more appropriate starting salary. State your reasons why you feel the initial salary offered is too low and mention that, if your offer is accepted, you’d be happy to start work right away.
Once you’ve said your piece, listen carefully to your interviewer’s response. Your interviewer may tell you that he or she would have to discuss your proposed salary with the HR department, without offering further information or opinions. If so, thank the person and state that you look forward to hearing back from him or her.
On the other hand, your interviewer may disagree with your point of view and point out reasons why the company would not agree to the salary increase. Listen carefully to what the interviewer says, without interrupting. He or she may point out benefits that you may not have considered, and these benefits may equal or even outweigh your request for a larger starting salary. Alternatively, the interviewer may tell you that the company isn’t willing to negotiate on the salary but could be willing to add benefits that could be of value to you. Consider what is being said and let your interviewer know you will consider the company’s position. Don’t give a definitive positive or negative answer as it’s best to consider the matter instead of making an instant decision you may regret later on.
Learning how to negotiate your salary isn’t easy but it’s well worth the effort. Not every employer will be open to salary negotiation but you’re sure to find plenty who are willing to either raise your starting salary or provide additional benefits that could be just as valuable in the long run. What’s more, you’ll learn how to value yourself and what you have to offer once you discover how much companies are willing to pay for someone with your expertise, experience, and skill set.
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