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5 Salary Negotiation Tips for First-Time Negotiators

If you’ve never negotiated salary before, you’re in good company: 57 percent of respondents to PayScale’s survey said that they’d never asked for a raise in their current field.
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Why aren’t people asking for more? If you’re among that 57 percent, you won’t be surprised to learn that it mostly comes down to fear. Twenty-eight percent of respondents who didn’t ask held back because they were uncomfortable negotiating salary. Nineteen percent said they were afraid of being perceived as pushy. And 8 percent said they were worried about losing their job.

These aren’t crazy fears, especially if you — or someone you love — was laid off during the Great Recession. But the fact is that it’s in your best interests to negotiate. Doing so will likely earn you hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the course of your career.

57 percent of respondents to PayScale's Survey said they'd never negotiated salary in their current field. Most held back out of fear.Click To Tweet

Still reluctant to ask? These tips might help.

1. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Most hiring managers expect applicants to negotiate salary, once the interview process is in the offer phase. In fact, the single best time to raise your salary is when you get a new job. There’s very little chance that you’ll offend anyone by asking for more at that point — and if the worst happened, you’d have to ask yourself if you really wanted to work with those folks anyway.

If you’ve been working for the same company for a while, the situation is trickier, but it’s still entirely possible to negotiate without stepping on any toes. Support your request with data and approach the meeting with a positive mindset based on the idea that you’re negotiating partners, not adversaries. Request a meeting, instead of surprising your boss with your ask, and then come prepared to make your case.

Remember that a “no” isn’t the end of the world. Budgets may be closed, or you might have some work to do to get to the next level. Even negotiations that don’t lead to raises can be positive experiences, and lead to bigger and better things down the road.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

2. Do your research.

If you follow one piece of advice from this post, make it this one: do your research before you sit down at the negotiating table. That means having accurate salary data in your back pocket, not anecdotes about how much your colleague or friend is making. Take PayScale’s Salary Survey and generate a free report with a salary range based on your experience, skills, education and geographic location.

3. Leave emotion out of it.

Salary negotiations are about how much you can get, not how much you need (or even deserve). Focus your negotiations on data and what the market will bear for your skills. Now is not the time to mention your personal expenses.

4. Consider benefits.

Your focus will probably be on the cash portion of your compensation, and that’s good — but don’t forget other benefits and perks that could add to your bottom line and improve your quality of life. Would telecommuting privileges save you money and make your workday easier? Would educational opportunities allow you to get a higher paying job down the line? Focus on the cash, but don’t forget about the rest.

5. Prepare a script.

Know what you want to say and how you want to say it, before you schedule that meeting. These salary negotiation scripts can help you get started. (Although of course, you’ll need to be prepared to deviate if the conversation dictates it.)

Tell Us What You Think

Have you successfully negotiated a higher offer or a big raise? We want to hear from you. Share your tips in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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