Prepare for Your Next Salary Negotiation

Entering into a salary negotiation can be one of the most intimidating parts of the job search process. Knowing the correct questions to ask and the proper way to handle the situation easily can be the difference maker between thousands of dollars on your annual salary. Being able to approach the negotiation in a professional and informed manner can make the process not only profitable but also stress-free.

I entered my first salary negotiation extremely unprepared. It was my first job after college, and I was excited to have simply received an offer. Prior to my interview, I focused on honing my skills and responses. I spent little time thinking about my salary, let alone the necessary knowledge I needed to enter into a professional negotiation.

I quickly realized that I had overlooked a major component of my job search process. I felt clueless when the employer asked me about my salary expectations when offering me the position. I realized I should not have spent all my time researching possible interview questions; instead, I should have also devoted energy to investigating the position’s average salary and some negotiation tips. Although I felt confident with my responses during the interview, I knew my inexperience during the salary negotiation led me to accept a much lower salary.

Although this early blunder most likely cost me thousands of dollars, it helped me understand the importance of salary negotiations during my next job search. I quickly understood that employing a few simple tips would provide me with the necessary tools to confidently discuss my salary during my next job search.

When preparing for a salary negotiation, a perspective employee should begin by researching the average salary for the position. Luckily, there exists multiple websites that that provide salary information to perspective employees. I found of a number of these resources helpful, particularly when interviewing for a position outside my traditional field of employment. These websites allow perspective employees to not only research the average salary for a given profession but also the average salary for an array of companies-primarily large corporations. Having a basic understanding of the salary range for a given position allows for a perspective employee to develop a starting point during the negotiation process.

Knowing when to discuss salary requirements is also crucial to the negotiation process. Although an interviewee might be eager to enter into a discussion about the position’s salary, it is inappropriate to discuss during the interview process-unless the employer brings the topic up first. Instead, a perspective employee should wait until they are offered a position to begin negotiating their salary.

More importantly, they should try to begin the discussion by inserting what they feel is an amount appropriate for their skills and experience. By initiating the first offer, an interviewee is able to control the negotiation from the beginning and causes the employer to work around the presented offer-a crucial tactic during any negotiation. From my own experiences, making the first offer allows me to feel in control and significantly boosts my confidence during the process.

If an employer brings up the salary requirement first or responds to an initial offer with a lower counter-offer, it is appropriate for a perspective employee to reiterate their initial offer. This response should be framed in a proactive manner that highlights the specific skills, experiences and goals that qualify the candidate for the position. I have found that by reiterating my skills and discussing perspective goals, I was able to not only remind the employer why they had offered me the position but also was able connect clear, concrete examples of why I deserved my requested salary-a win, win situation.

While many employers may accept the salary requested by the interviewee, some might wish to discuss the offer with their human resource department-a common occurrence. A perspective employee should honor this request but also ask that the employer respond within a specific deadline. Stating that an answer is time-sensitive due to the presence of other offers positions a candidate as sought after and competitive. Furthermore, a perspective employee should restate their interest in working for the company to make them feel like their first choice. I have found employing this approach allows the conversation to end on a positive note and without any damaging miscommunications-such as leaving the impression the position is not your initial choice.

Finally, an interviewee should always remain professional during the negotiation. Making an aggressive demand or offering an ultimatum to a perspective employer rarely works. Being assertive is expected but being rude and pushy can cost a perspective employee the job. I always make sure to keep my voice level and ensure I am not taking an aggressive tone that would offend the employer.

As you prepare for your next salary negotiation realize it is normal to feel overwhelmed or intimidated. By following a few simple steps, such as being prepared and remaining professional, you can ensure the process is not only positive but also a confidence builder. It is impossible to build skills overnight, so understand mistakes are expected; however, being able to minimize those mistakes can add thousands of dollars to your annual salary.