To accept the salary? Or to ask for more? These are importnat internal struggles many of us face during our job search. Lynne evaluates the trickest part of the job search process below, and in the explored the issue in “How You Negotiate Compensation Impacts Your Relationship with Your New Employer”. Salary negotiations can be the trickiest part of the job search process and is often the aspect that most worries job applicants. Job seekers certainly don’t want to leave money on the table. It is also the best (and sometimes only) opportunity to ask for other concessions as well. This all must be done as a win-win to be successful. Salary negotiation is a misnomer because the negotiation is typically much broader than just salary.
Do Your Homework
A job seeker must do their homework in advance to be prepared for the process. Use tools such as salary.com and glassdoor.com to review benchmark salary data. Also use your networking contacts to get a sense if the company strategy is to pay high or low versus their competition. It is helpful to have a ballpark expectation prior to receiving the offer. Also get a sense of the breadth of benefits offered from reviewing the company website and leveraging your networking contacts. You also have to be realistic about the current state of the economy and the job market.
Define Your Personal Parameters
Know that the minimum salary you can accept would have to be to cover your expenses and your lifestyle. Knowing this gives you a frame of reference during negotiations.
Never Be the One to Bring Up Salary
Generally the longer you can wait to discuss salary, the better. Wait for them to be convinced that you are best person for the job before talking salary since this gives you more leverage. If asked your current salary earlier in the process, try to give a range instead of a specific number and suggest that you have some flexibility for the right opportunity. Often recruiters are trying to screen out candidates who are outside their range. Don’t get ahead of yourself in the interview process. Keep selling yourself for the opportunity. Salary discussions are more fruitful after they have decided you are the candidate of choice for the position.
It’s About More than Salary
Salary while important is just one component of the offer. It is always a good idea to ask if there is any wiggle room on the salary. If you can get a little more in your base it helps you going forward. But more importantly consider the full benefits package and your needs and priorities. If you can’t get a little more in salary it could be just as valuable to you to have an extra week of vacation. Maybe what you really value is the flexibility to work from home one day a week or a commitment to a specific level of training. Think about what matters most to you when considering what you ask for. Remember, you may not get a chance to ask again.
If the company can’t raise the base salary due to salary bands and budgets, ask if there is any flexibility for a signing bonus. It doesn’t increase your base but it puts money in your pocket. Sometimes that comes from a difference budget line so there is more flexibility. If there is no wiggle room on salary, ask if they can give you a six month performance review with an increase if you meet specific goals. That is better than waiting a year for an increase.
Ask Only Once
When you receive an offer, thank them and reiterate your excitement and enthusiasm for the position. Ask for 24 hours to review the specifics. When you call back to say you are very interested but have a few requests, clearly articulate your requests. You should only ask once so be sure to put the most critical issues on the table. If they say no to salary, you could then ask about a signing bonus but don’t suddenly throw other benefits on the table in the second round. State your desires up front. If they can’t say yes to everything, thank them for trying. Throughout the process stay positive and excited about the company and the opportunity.
Stay Focused on Value
Your salary discussions and any other negotiation should be based on the value you bring to the company. Focus on how you can make a difference for the company in this position.
Evaluate the Complete Offer
When evaluating your offer be sure to include the value of all compensation and benefits – bonuses, 401K, vacation, sick time, health insurance, life insurance, fitness benefits, education benefits, etc. all make the base salary more valuable. Don’t base your decision solely on the salary figure. Look at the full package the employer is offering. Don’t get so focused on the dollars that you lose sight of valuable experience you will adding to your resume or career advancement opportunities down the road.