You’ve successfully managed the interview process, and now the employer of your dreams has extended an invitation to join the company. Now comes the tricky part: negotiating the job offer. If the very thought gives you sweaty palms, fear not: a little preparation ahead of time will give you a better chance of getting the salary and benefits you deserve with the least amount of discomfort and risk.
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Prioritize: Companies expect you to negotiate, and the first offer you get will reflect that. Granted, you don’t have to negotiate for more money just because you are expected to, but the offer that you get will be on the lower side of what your future employer is willing to pay. You need to figure out if that’s good enough for you, and what’s most important to you at work. If salary isn’t as big a sticking point as the nature of the work, or the opportunity for advancement, or having the flexibility to telecommute, then spend your time addressing those concerns instead. Unfortunately, in the real world, you can’t have everything. So focus on what’s most important to you and you’ll know how much energy to spend on your negotiations — and where.
Do your research: Before you begin your negotiation, understand the pay structure, the compensation plan and the market pay for your job. You can start by doing your research at PayScale’s Research Center, reading about your future company and understanding market trends and verifying your research. Talk to people at the company, if you can, and understand the benefits offered, the increment cycle and how it would affect you. Many organizations have cut-off dates for annual increases and if you fall within the increment cycle, you would get a standard increase that organizations offer to most employees within the year.
Be confident: If you are able to convince your future employer that you are a valuable resource, then you will be in a great position for negotiation. Be secure in what you have to offer, but not brash or arrogant.
Don’t lie about your current salary or reasons you need to be paid more. Lies just don’t work in the long run. Orville Pierson, author of the Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search and a former senior vice president at the outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison says in the Forbes, “It’s highly counterproductive and the person you’re talking to is going to be your next boss. Your career depends on your reputation.” Do not compromise your integrity.
“Your salary history is no one’s business and employers are perfectly capable of figuring out what your work would be worth to them without needing to know what you’ve been paid previously. To avoid having future offers tied to past ones, consider declining to discuss your previous salary altogether. If you can’t do that, try pointing out that you took a lower salary previously because you were working for a mission you cared about, or learning new skills that would make you more marketable in the future or whatever other context you can provide. Instead, keep the focus on what you want to earn now and why you think you’re worth that.”
Be transparent: Rusty Rueff, author of Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business and former head of human resources at PepsiCo and Electronic Arts, says job seekers should be transparent about why they need to make a particular salary.
“It’s just like applying for a mortgage or a student loan,” he says. “The hiring manager wants to know there’s a rational explanation behind what you’re asking for.”
If you are asked to relocate to a new city or commute longer, present your case. Be open with your concerns in a professional and honest way.
For more tips, check out our tips on How to Negotiate Your Salary (Without Being a Jerk).
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