Receiving a job offer is exciting, no matter how much work experience you have and especially if you receive an offer for the first new job you applied to. Unfortunately, sometimes the salary that comes with the offer isn’t as appealing as the offer itself, and negotiation may be required. Negotiating a salary is tricky business: You don’t want to undervalue your skills and experience by asking for too little, but you also don’t want to ask for too much and scare off the employer.
Salary negotiation can happen smoothly, but it often takes specific steps to get there. Companies usually have a limit to just how much they can offer you, and the employer or human resources liaison will probably be hoping that you require less. If you want to negotiate the best salary for you in the right way, here are five tips to try.
1. Know your worth
One of the strongest negotiation tools you have includes knowing your experience and skills, and knowing just how much you are worth. The first step is to consider sites like Salary.com, because you can compare what similar jobs in your area pay. You also should factor in your own unique experience and skills. You already know that if the company offered you a job, they want you, so that is a plus. Now, you have to determine if they can pay you what you are worth and what number actually fits your worth. If the company gives you a lowball offer and you can say that people with similar experience and education in the are area making more, you will be in a better place to negotiate.
2. Be willing to work for it
If you applied and were offered a new position at a company that you are already working for, you might be able to negotiate a higher salary by showing that you are ready to work for it. This requires consistent hard work and being willing to take on extra projects and be a team player. If you have already done these things in the past, explain to the person doing the negotiations why you deserve more more, and provide specific examples. Explain that you are willing to go above and beyond the minimum job requirements. This should only be done if you have reached a standstill in negotiations, otherwise you are offering up more work for free.
If you receive an offer from a completely new company, proving that you deserve more money might be a little more difficult. You should only promise to take on work if you really plan to do it. If the job description makes it sound like you are going to be as busy as you can handle already but you are receiving the red light when trying to negotiate more money, then you might have to settle for less or find a different job.
3. Be respectful and grateful
If the job offer comes in at a much lower pay rate than you expected, it might be tempting to act angry or frustrated, but this won’t help you get the salary you want. Instead, respond by being firm about what you deserve while still showing gratitude for the offer. It’s OK to say that you truly appreciate them offering you the job and the offer that they gave you, but that you think you deserve more (and then explain why). This goes back to point one, but make sure that whatever you say in response, you show respect and gratitude.
Even if the employer comes back and says that all they can offer is the initial offer, you can try one more time. Don’t give in and jump to rejecting the job; simply reiterate the fact that you are worth more and then wait to see what they say. An employer isn’t going to walk away just because you ask for more (unless they have made it clear that this is the last offer). If you’ve made it to the salary negotiation, the company wants you and knows that they may have to pay more for you than they would for their second or third choice.
4. Remember that there are other variables
Even if you go back and forth with the company and you can’t agree on a salary that works for both sides, the discussion doesn’t need to end there. You can discuss your benefits, time off, the job description itself, how often you will be reviewed for a promotion, and possibly even your work hours. Sometimes a company that offers great insurance at a low price and multiple paid days off, actually ends up paying more overall than a company that offers a higher salary but less benefits.
Also remember to factor benefits into the salary, as well. Although these items can be considered during negotiations, it’s important to remember that they affect the total package that you are being offered.
5. Be reasonable
While the first offer you receive probably won’t be the best the company can give you, that doesn’t meant you should counter with an outrageous amount. If the company offers $30,000 less than your minimum, they probably can’t pay you what you need. At that point, it might be best to just explain the minimum you will take and see what happens. Otherwise, if they can’t come close, then you will waste a lot of time by negotiating. In addition, asking for too much can make you look ridiculous.
Do your best to bring the conversation back to the company itself during interviews (for example, if they ask how much money you need, ask them what a typical range is, or indicate that you are really interested in the opportunity). When it comes to the actual offer, let them speak first and then come back with a reasonable (and backed-up) counteroffer. If the company asks about your previous or current position, and you are hoping to get a lot more, be sure you can explain why you deserve it.
In the end, it’s up to you to negotiate your salary. A Salary.com survey found that only 37 percent of people always negotiate their salary, and more than 18 percent never do. It can be scary to negotiate, and you need to know when to stop. At the same time, remember that most employers expect you to negotiate, and if you do it respectfully, you may end up making thousands more than you would have if you took the initial offer.