Once you’ve been offered that great job you’ve been waiting for, the next – and maybe most uncomfortable – stage is negotiating your salary. Having a solid idea of what your skills are worth in the workplace can help you advance and make a better living.
Know your worth.
Keeping up to date on your industry and how much others are making in your field can help you understand your own worth. Some due diligence on your part goes a long way. Utilizing websites such as Glassdoor or PayScale will help in being knowledgeable about salaries for your local market. These websites are fairly accurate in pay rates because members who work at the actual company anonymously post their salaries. After reviewing these sources, you should have a good grasp on the typical salary range for your job, experience level and city of residence.
Know the value you bring.
It’s important to know that your worth and value are not the same thing. Your current value as a professional should include essentially all your special skills, expertise and even your level of likability. If a company values the skills you bring to the job and you’ve hit it off with them, they’ll know that other companies will like you too. Your value makes you an asset worth fighting for, and being aware of that value can give you an edge during negotiations.
Be upfront about it.
Once you know your ideal salary, you should be prepared to explain why you deserve that amount. Before you rattle off your salary demands, though, try and let the company put a number on the table first. You may be surprised to find this number is higher or lower than expected. If their offer is higher or on par with what you want, then great! If it is lower than you were expecting, then it’s the time for you to talk about your salary requirements and why you are worth the extra investment to the company. Be sure to use an exact number, not a range.
For example, if the company is offering you $45,000 per year and you know you need $50,000 minimum to be comfortable with moving forward, counter with $55,000. Being firm with your counter doesn’t have to come off as aggressive as it may seem. Add a little polish to your wording – something along the lines of, “I am thrilled about this opportunity and would love to get started right away if we can come to an agreement on salary. Is there room in the budget to come to the $55,000 mark?” Pause here and let them reply. If it’s a favorable response, then great. If it’s unfavorable, then try one last effort with a statement such as, “I don’t want to let salary disagreements ruin this opportunity, so I could try and meet you in the middle if you can make it work.” You’ll be surprised what you find out just by giving it two shots instead of one.
A disagreement in a starting salary pay is not the end of the negotiation. There are still several aspects that can be negotiated. Remote days, health benefits, sick days, vacation days and a mutually agreed future performance review to visit pay again are just a few things that can be worked out. We all can agree a remote day or two in your PJs with your laptop is worth something. The money you will save on gas and eating out for lunch will help offset the difference in starting pay. Health benefits are also a big way to save additional money. Some companies don’t start benefits until 90 days after your hire date, but you may be able to move this down to 30 days or even day 1. Be sure to open the conversation around this if you are looking for an alternate route to solving salary disparities.
Know how to handle the outcome.
If you end up accepting a lower salary, stay motivated and show your passion to prove you’re worth the additional investment from the company. It’s always a good idea to mention that you’ll happily accept the position regardless of the salary difference to get your foot in the door, prove your worth and become an asset to the company. If you put in the work and show them what you’ve promised, there should be no reason the difference in salary requirements should last too long.
In the end, you both want what is fair and reasonable for your position and the market where you’re working. The process is all about coming to an understanding as to what both parties think is fair. Be prepared, and remember money is not the only thing on the table. Most employers don’t have the budget to fulfill higher salaries, but remote days, vacation days, sick days, health benefits and future pay increases are easy for them to work out if they really like you.
Many people choose not to negotiate and just take what the company offers because they need a job. It’s a personal choice, but determining your worth and going out on a limb to negotiate a better salary will in turn give you a better chance to live the life you want.
Krista is a Creative Circle candidate, creative writer and content creator in Los Angeles. Her background includes news, marketing, copywriting and editing. If you are interested in working with Krista, please contact Creative Circle LA.