Very few people enjoy negotiating salary, but that doesn’t mean you should let it go. Failing to ask for what you deserve, especially at the offer stage, could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career. What’s more, most hiring managers expect candidates to negotiate.
“Any employer that doesn’t respect the negotiating process — even if it declines to increase a job offer — is doing bad business,” says Nick Corcodilos at Ask the Headhunter.
Of course, knowing that negotiation is OK and feeling comfortable doing it are two very different things. Data collected for PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide show that 28 percent of those who have never asked for a raise refrained because they were uncomfortable negotiating salary — even though 75 percent of those who asked for more money saw an increase.
So how can you get comfy talking about money with hiring managers? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall — practice, practice, practice. Beyond that, it pays to have a few tricks up your sleeve.
- Don’t wait — name your price.
This goes against the usual advice, which is to wait until a hiring manager names a number, so that you can be sure you’re neither pricing yourself out of competition nor leaving money on the table. But there’s something to be said for speaking first.
If you’ve done your research — for example, by taking PayScale’s Salary Survey and getting your free salary report — you might be better off starting negotiations with a number that reflects your worth on the job market.
- Pick a precise number and don’t round up (or down).
To signal that you’ve done your research and know your worth on the job market, pick a precise number, e.g. $42,000 instead of $40,000 or $45,000. Research from Columbia Business School shows that using an “odd” (as in, not rounded up) number can give negotiating partners the impression that the asker has done his or her homework.
“Precise numbers are these potent anchors,” says Malia F. Mason, an author of the study, in an interview with Quartz. “…Know that the numbers that you use imply something about the state of your knowledge. Be a little more precise than you’d otherwise be.”
- Go for a salary range.
The same study’s authors conducted further research on negotiation, and found that offering precise numbers as part of a range can be even more effective — depending on the circumstances.
“Context is important,” Mason tells Time. A precise number could say that “you have done your homework. But if it seems important for you to appear flexible, then you could signal that by offering a range.”
- Get (a little) personal.
We’ve talked before about how it’s a mistake to negotiate based on the circumstances of your personal life, e.g. your student loans or looming rent increase, but getting just a little bit personal can help. It’s all about schmoozing.
One study showed that students who negotiated over email were much more likely to be successful if they shared personal information first — for example, about their hobbies or hometowns. Fifty-nine percent of the “sharers” reached a deal, compared with only 40 percent of the tight-lipped folks.
The lesson? Personal connection pay off.
- Tie your request to a communal concern.
The last trick is especially useful if you’re a woman, because women are more likely to pay a high social cost for negotiating salary.
“One thing I would encourage women to do is to have a communal motivation for asking for more,” says Margaret A. Neale, Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, in an interview with The Muse. “If I’m a man and I’m negotiating a salary, I can talk about my competencies. What women need to do is yoke their competencies with a communal concern.”
Neale reports using this technique in her own negotiations with Stanford.
“The whole theme was, ‘What can I do for Stanford and what can I do to help the Dean solve the problems that he has?'” she says. “This communal orientation — it’s not about me, but it’s about what I can do for you — mitigates the negative reputational effects for women.”
Do you deserve a higher salary? Find out by taking PayScale’s free Salary Survey.
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