More Data, Less Worry: How to Negotiate Your Salary in 5 Easy Steps

Salary negotiation requires time and energy, but data drive results. It’s hard not to worry and obsess over the process — especially if you’re overcompensating for a lack of due diligence. While thinking like a job seeker, you must also look for issues like an employer.

Obsession will only promote worry, which will cloud your judgment. You’ll need reliable information to get the desired response from employers. Are you convinced yet that research is critical? Good.

That is why it’s wise to put compensation in perspective.

Your approach has to include anticipating what employers want from you.

Laws regulating fair pay will not resolve existing wage disparities. Many employers attempt to disrupt laws protecting job seekers. I believe it’s a game of chicken.

To get the best possible salary — and peace of mind in the process — understand these truths about achieving a fair compensation package:

  1. Conduct rigorous research. Use websites such as PayScale as your salary and compensation resources. Look for niche industry sites containing salary information such as Paysa. They publish detailed salary information on the tech industry. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be when the time comes to test your value with the company.
  2. Unearth detail and intelligence about the market. It’s not sufficient to find out about pay in general. Are you comparing city-to-city and region-to-region? Are you finding salary information to compare by niche? Collecting this intelligence will help you navigate the process and prepare for the conversation. Want to work overseas? The international career site Job Mob contains more than 100 salary tools. Job seekers can research their salary potential by country.
  3. Let your research be evident during compensation conversations. If you show clear understanding of your value, negotiating your compensation package will be easier.
  4. Get an inside view. Filter opinions about an employer from industry insiders and outsiders, although the most reliable intel will come from industry insiders. There are no rules about asking a current employee their salary or salary range. An HBR survey showed more than 33 percent of respondents would answer a direct salary inquiry from job seekers researching salary.
  5. Rely on temperance and reason to guide your instincts and not emotion. The temptation to feel anxious during this time is real. But it’s good business to expect fair compensation for your value.

Start preparing for negotiation long before the interview.

  1. Make a personal budget. This is as essential as asking for more money. For many people, the more money they make, the more they spend.
  2. Be confident in your market value. This will allow you to respond to their offer without panic. Your preparedness will support good judgment. This is true even if (as recommended) you decide not to respond immediately to an offer.
  3. Be clear in your objectives. Clarity provides room for self-control, in case you receive an undesirable offer. Many job candidates panic; they want what they want without reason, research, or justification.
  4. Customize your negotiation to each employer without generalizing. What’s appropriate for one role might not be appropriate for another.
  5. Never rely on one number. There is a whole package compensation to consider, not just the salary.

Remember: you have gotten to the negotiation stage because you proved your value to the employer. There is nothing to worry about. In fact, it is to your advantage to relax and make sure they don’t see you sweat.