A list of 14 rules to help you get through your salary negotiation. We have compiled research to bring you the most valid and helpful information and divided it into manageable guidelines. Start with your market value, decide on your ideal number and your minimum number, then work your way forward with confidence.
Learn The Art Of Salary Negotiation Using These 14 Rules
Salary negotiation is probably one of the toughest things to deal with, whether you’re starting a new job or you’re looking for a pay raise in your current position. It’s not easy for many people to put a price on their worth, and it can be a seriously stressful situation if you go into it unprepared.
But fear not, we’ve put together a list of rules for you to follow that will help you on your way to successfully negotiating your salary and approaching the issue wisely.
1. Know Your Value
This is going to be your first step, even before you really start salary negotiations. You need to know what your actual market value is and how to sell that. Research is your friend in finding out exactly what others with your skills are earning. You can talk to recruiters in addition to searching the internet, just make sure you’ve researched enough that you’re confident in what you’ve discovered.
2. Find Your Number
Now that you know your market value, you will need to know the exact number that you ideally want for your salary, and don’t use a range. A range will tell your employers that you’re willing to go lower, and that’s where they’ll start, so have a specific goal number in your mind. You’ll also want to have a maximum (a padded number to start with), and a minimum where you’ll draw the line.
3. Have A Walk-Away Number
It’s possible that you’re not going to get even the minimum salary you are aiming for, despite any attempts to negotiate. Know what your lowest acceptable salary is, and be willing to walk away if it isn’t met. Sometimes you can work the negotiations up from a lowball offer (20% below your minimum), but it can be very tricky and will require a lot of skill and research.
4. Timing Is Everything
After a performance evaluation is actually not the best time to be angling for a raise because management may have already decided to grant one for your whole department, and they’re not going to give you another one on top of that.
Instead, aim for 3-4 months before performance evaluations, as that will give you plenty of time to look for ways to go above and beyond and really show them that you deserve the raise you’ll be asking for.
Also, it has been suggested that the day of the week you pick may also have an effect. Thursdays and Fridays are at the end of the work week, and everyone is ready for the weekend. Nobody wants to take work home with them, so you might have a better chance of walking away happy if you negotiate on one of those days
5. Confidence Is Key
If you can’t actually be confident, “fake it ‘til you make it” is an excellent mindset to get into when you’re going into salary negotiations. Even if you’re not really feeling confident, act the part. In fact, if it makes it easier for you, imagine it as a role you’re acting out on a private stage.
Some people say this makes a huge difference, allowing them to walk in confidently and get through meetings much more easily. If confidence isn’t a problem, you’re one of the lucky ones, so make sure to walk tall and make use of your firm handshake.
6. Show And Tell
Sadly, you can’t just waltz into the room with your proposed number and have that be it. You have to show what you’ve done to deserve the salary you want, and you need to have an idea of what you will do in the future to make their investment worth it.
This is the time to pull out a prepared brag sheet, listing successes that put more weight in your corner. Don’t be shy here; if you’ve done something stellar, make sure you bring it up. Don’t gloat, nobody likes a Braggy Betty, but do factually and proudly state your achievements.
7. Focus On Your Market Worth
You can mention your current salary or not, it’s up to you, but if you do it should be in passing and not the focus of your discussion. Don’t bring up personal needs, such as raised rent or medical bills as a reason for needing a pay raise.
Everyone has those kinds of issues, and it’s probably not going to be a bargaining chip you can use. Stay on your marketable skills, market worth, work performance, and personal achievements. That’s where your focus should be, and it’s your job to direct their focus to those as well.
8. In Their Shoes
Consider the other person’s position as you work through your salary negotiation and listen very carefully to everything they say. Really make the effort to understand what their position is, and listen to understand, not to reply. Listening and understanding their point of view can help you find a solution that works with everyone.
Also consider the people in your life that will benefit from the desired salary other than yourself, like family, your own future self, and your employer. You don’t have to mention them but do keep them in mind as motivation. You’re more likely to come out on top if you have more to fight for than just yourself.
9. Be Positive, But Firm
Focus on positive experiences you’ve had with the company if you’re going for a raise or positive outlooks if this is a new job opportunity. Be kind and respectful, but also be firm on your number and what you want.
Definitely do not make threats about leaving if you don’t get what you want or hang other job opportunities over their heads. Not only is that unprofessional, but it will leave bad feelings all around no matter the outcome. Stand your ground, but do it with respect.
10. Pad Your Bid
Not only is this a salary negotiation, this is a bidding war, so pad your bid. Go for the high end of your market value range and ask for more than what you want. You’ll probably have to haggle for it, so put your high number out first and set the bar just as high. This will give you more wiggle room to get to the salary you want and will hopefully stop any lowball counteroffers that you can’t consider accepting.
11. Other Perks
There are other things you can keep in mind in addition to your salary during negotiations. Job perks, office location, vacation time, a better title, your pick of projects, and signing bonuses may be things you want, and maybe even more than a higher salary.
You also might have to settle for some of those other options if they won’t budge on salary. Prioritizing your list is good preparation, just in case your first option isn’t available. You may miss out on a pay raise, but you could end up with a lot more vacation time or a signing bonus to make up for it.
12. Don’t Be Afraid Of “No”
It’s not really negotiating until there’s a “no,” so don’t be scared of it when it comes. You might hear “no” for a lot of different reasons. They will probably not accept your first offer, but if they make a really low counter offer, don’t be afraid to question it.
In fact, as you negotiate you might get a lot of “no” until you reach an agreeable number. You may even end up getting a “no” altogether. Don’t let that discourage you, though. It’s just a “no” this time, and you can try again later.
13. Use The Silence
If you’re having a meeting in person, silence is actually a powerful weapon in your arsenal, as is patience. When they make an offer, don’t immediately go “hmm” or “um.” Take a few seconds of silence to consider it. Give yourself that time not only to think, but also leave to them in suspense. They may even improve their offer before you reply.
14. Use Email When You Can
Have you ever noticed how your words come out much more concise and reasonable when you’re writing versus when you talk? Make this work in your favor. Corresponding through email in the early stages of salary negotiation will give you a chance to make your words very clear-cut and well put. You won’t be able to do the entire negotiation via email, but if you can tackle a part of it this way, it could be a good idea.
If this seems like a lot of rules, that’s because it is, but that’s due to salary negotiations being a big deal and hard to navigate, especially if it’s your first time. Following these rules, or at least treating them like a guideline, can get you started and provide you with a basic idea of what you might come up against during your negotiations.
Salary negotiation really is an art, so devote a little bit of time to studying it. Being prepared will likely be the biggest help and give you a solid base to jump from as you begin your negotiation.