6 Ways to Approach Salary Negotiation

Whether you’re starting a new job or vying for a promotion, you should always be negotiating your salary. The reality is that only about 20% of people negotiate their salaries while up to 40% never do. The largest reason for the lack of negotiation is fear. Fear of seeming demanding or “coming on too strong” or of losing the offer. Negotiating may be scary, but it’s much worse not doing it. How do you approach salary negotiations? Here are 6 ways to think about the conversation before calling the meeting. 

What Are Salary Negotiations?

Salary negotiations including how to counter-offer on salary are discussions between yourself and a representative of your current or prospective company that aim to help you secure a higher salary.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a long-time employee or a new hire: if you feel that your salary isn’t enough, you should feel empowered in understanding how to negotiate a salary offer to get what you deserve.

Why Should You Negotiate Your Salary?

Even if you’re intimidated by negotiating your pay, it’s an essential part of your career and getting the compensation you deserve. Depending on your company’s potential for growth and other factors like the economy, getting higher pay without leaving your company down the line could be more difficult if you don’t start at a decent pay level. 

Starting at a pay level you’re comfortable with can give you a sense of motivation, and as you progress and move forward with the company, you can later ask for a raise that aligns with your expectations.

When you decide that you want to negotiate for a better salary, be prepared to:

  • Build your case: You will need to prove that you are worth investing in, with specific examples of what sets you apart to employers in your career.
  • You will face some resistance: So be prepared to answer questions, especially, “Why do you deserve this salary?”
  • Strike a balance between firm and flexible: Your salary negotiations won’t go well if you refuse to give any ground or say “yes” to a minimal salary increase. Be prepared to counter-offer during negotiations and be sure that any compromise reached is acceptable.

A 6-Way Approach to Negotiating Salary

Like anything else, going into salary negotiations feeling prepared is your best bet. Taking steps to calm your nerves so you come off self-assured can go a long way in projecting confidence to your employer even if you have to fake it till you make it.

Know Your Worth

It can be helpful to research your profession and industry before settling on a number. Begin by checking the salary ranges on job postings for your profession. Working for public organizations versus private can make it easier to find salary ranges because they have to be more transparent about pay.

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Gather Information

It is important to research salary ranges and what pay is like in the current market before you go into salary talks. You can also come up with a list of reasons for your valuation.

Check resources for your particular job field to see what the market is currently paying. You should also look at your specific title and see any open job listings and if they list the salary range, as some employers in some areas are required to do. 

Factor in Your Prior Experience

Every position you’ve ever held contributes to your experience and expertise. It’s important to look at your overall experience versus focusing on your achievements in the past year. The more reasons you can gather to warrant a pay increase, the better your chances should be of receiving what you ask for.

Highlight Your Accomplishments

Key the focus on your strengths. Do you have extensive experience in one area that is important to your current company? Have you worn many hats in previous roles? Everyone has strengths that can be desirable to employers and sets them apart. It can even give you a bit of a confidence boost by looking at all that you have done in your career, which will help you go into the talks feeling more self-assured and comfortable.

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Know the Right Time 

Timing your salary negotiation talk may not always be possible, but when it is, choose a time when your boss is relaxed and free to talk. So, a day filled with back-to-back meetings is probably not the best time to spring a discussion on them. Be sure to schedule it with plenty of notice and accommodate your employer’s schedule and time demands.

Prepare for a Counteroffer

You can choose to maintain your position and ask for a higher offer; you can negotiate further to meet in the middle, or you can accept the counteroffer. Be sure to accept the counteroffer graciously, whether you plan to take it or not.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Negotiating

There are some pitfalls to look out for when negotiating your pay. Avoiding these common mistakes can keep you on the right track in your negotiation and prevent giving your employer any reason to deny your requests.

Not Negotiating a Salary At All

The biggest mistake people make is actually not negotiating a salary at all. According to a survey by Salary.com, 18% of job applicants don’t negotiate at all. Most people hesitate to do so or just fearful that asking for more will make them look bad.

Downplaying Your Accomplishments

It’s not the time to be humble or self-effacing. Be sure to come prepared with a list of your accomplishment and the value you bring to the company and roles.

If you think you deserve a higher salary, you have evidence to support it, it’s extremely unlikely that your employer will hold a grudge against you for trying to negotiate salary or that a company will rescind your job offer.

Not Doing Your Research

Last but certainly not least, always do your research. The biggest mistake you can make is to go into salary negotiations without understanding the industry. Know what other candidates in your position are getting paid, and what kind of benefits packages are available. A quick search online can help you get a better understanding of what an average salary in your field is.

What are some of the ways you prepare for a salary negotiation?