This guest post from Christine Ko, my co-author for our latest salary negotiation book, Five Minutes to a Higher Salary.
A while ago I met with a couple of my friends for dinner. All of us had recently gotten jobs, and I asked them if they negotiated their salaries for their positions. Not surprisingly, they both said no.
These were their reasons:
Friend 1: It’s a really big, established company. I’m sure they have strict guidelines for their positions, so I didn’t bother negotiating.
Friend 2: I’m working for a small startup, so I bet they don’t have a lot of flexibility in what they could pay me. I’m sure they offered me what they could.
Two completely different companies in their size and focus and yet both of my friends assumed that the pay wasn’t negotiable. That leads me to the first salary negotiation tip:
1. Always assume the salary is negotiable. salaryBOOST wouldn’t even exist if salaries were always written in stone. You wouldn’t go into a car dealership and frankly tell the dealer that $30,000 was the most you were willing to pay for a certain car. Instead, you tell them that you won't go higher than $24,000, even if that isn't really true. Your employer is trying to do the same thing. They want you to join the company (just like you want the car), but they want you for the lowest price (just like you want to pay as little as possible).
2. Don’t disclose your salary expectations until you actually get an offer. And especially do not include your salary requirements as early as the cover letter for an interview. Acting like you got the job before they offer you a position will put off your recruiter. Stating requirements before the job offer also limits your ability to negotiate later. If you quote too high, they might screen you out, saying that you’re too expensive. If you quote low, they might try to pay you less than what you’re worth. You’ll lose your rapport with the employer if you backtrack and say that what you quoted before was too low.
3. Look for win-win situations and be positive. Many people avoid negotiation because they don't want conflict. So here's an easy olution: don't make it a conflict. Having a pessimistic attitude will also make you lose confidence in what you can earn. If you don’t think you can negotiate and earn more, your recruiter will notice your lack of confidence and leave a negative impression.
4. Only use relevant, professional reasons as to why you deserve more. Don’t include personal reasons. My friend’s negotiation positions would have been weak if they complained that college was becoming very expensive and that they needed to get a new car.
5. When explaining your accomplishments, try to be very specific and add (real) numbers. Claiming that you increased your previous company’s sales by 32% sounds more convincing and impressive than just saying that you helped the company increase their sales. Include non-work related accomplishments only if they are actually relevant to your job description. You might mention a game you developed in your free time that had 3 million users, or that you were the president of a professional board.
6. Be prepared with answers to common rebuttals your recruiter might say. What will you say if they ask what makes you different than others in the company in the same position? What will you say if they offer you the choice of a company car or a company laptop?
Hopefully these tips will help you next time you are faced with a salary negotiation. It always helps to know a little extra, so share with your friends and family who might have to negotiate soon.
Photo credit to Simon Cunningham