The job search process can be long and arduous. Even when things move quickly, finding employment is still pretty stressful. So, when you’re offered a position, it’s understandable to want to jump on it and accept the job right away. But, should you negotiate that offer instead?
Although negotiating salary often pays off, quite literally, a lot of folks don’t do it. Only 39 percent of respondents to a recent survey, from staffing firm Robert Half, said they had tried to negotiate pay with their last job offer.
Why would so many people choose to skip this potentially lucrative step? Well, salary negotiation isn’t always easy. You may find yourself wondering whether or not you should negotiate your next salary offer. There are a few things you should think about.
1. Know your worth
The first step in knowing whether or not you should negotiate a salary offer is to understand if it’s really a solid offer in the first place. Are they proposing a fair salary and total compensation package? In order to know for sure, you have to know your worth. Assess the pay rate that professionals like you earn by using the PayScale Salary Survey. This will help you decide whether or not to negotiate, and where to aim.
2. Keep in mind that it usually pays off
Statistics show that it usually pays to negotiate. PayScale’s research has determined that 75 percent of people who ask for a raise receive some kind of increase.
Armed with the knowledge of your salary target, you may even want to make the bold move of being the first one to throw a number out there. It pays to be an active participant throughout the process of negotiation.
“Don’t wait for [an employer] to mention a figure. Traditional advice says to never be the first to mention a salary target, in case they were planning to offer you more than your wildest dreams, but let’s be realistic—they’ll throw a low number out to see if you’ll take it, and once that small figure is on the table, it may be uncomfortable to go after anything substantially larger,” Elizabeth Becker, client partner with PROTECH in Charlotte, North Carolina, tells Monster.
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3. It benefits you even more over time
Remember that any raise you earn through negotiation will pay off for years to come. Employers give raises based on your current earnings. The percentage increases you enjoy for the rest of your career will be larger as a result of your current pay.
“I tell my graduate students that by not negotiating their job at the beginning of their career, they’re leaving anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime,” economist Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University tells NPR.
4. Remember that there is a time for “Yes!”
Amid all this talk of the value of salary negotiations, don’t forget that there is a time to say yes and accept an offer. If you’ve done your homework and the offer is fair, or even toward the high end of your range, you may decide to accept it.
If a company tells you that this is absolutely their final and best offer, for example, it might be risky to keep pushing. When you can’t think of any good reason to say no, the best answer may be yes. Just keep in mind that there are other ways to increase your chances of making more in the long run. Consider asking about bonuses, or an earlier review and salary discussion — or look for opportunities to improve your skills and thus your salary request during future job searches.
5. Don’t forget about other aspects of compensation
Remember that compensation is about more than just salary. Benefits account for 31.6 percent of compensation on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are lots of things you can negotiate for other than salary. Don’t forget about aspects of compensation like vacation time and flexible work options. They can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy your work and in the overall quality of your life.
For more tips on creating your salary negotiation strategy, read PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide.
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