Salary Negotiations Part 1: Some Tips

Image credit: Pixabay

By: Marie Donlon

Salary negotiations are an especially tricky thing, particularly where a job offer is concerned. The discussions around this topic can set the overall tone for the duration of your employment with a company. Great news if both you and your employer get what you want. Not-so-great news if one of you doesn’t.

The following are a few tips about having the often incredibly difficult discussion about salary.

Asking Price

Typically, when you have submitted your resume, hiring managers and employers ask you to list what you are looking for in terms of salary. If you can’t avoid answering this question (say, because it is a required field on an online application), try to put that amount in parentheses so that the employer knows that the amount is negotiable.

But, make sure that the amount you begin with is at the higher end of the range that you’ve investigated (more on this below). The function of this move is two-fold: You are attaching a value to an item that is undetermined (you) and you are dropping an "anchor" amount. Dropping that anchor amount is a strategic move that keeps salary negotiations within proximity of that number.

Now, let’s backtrack to a time before you are presented with an offer.

Know Your Value

Before you are presented with an offer, you should know what someone doing what you do is worth. Look that information up using a variety of the resources available on the internet. In fact, try to average out a few similar positions and their salaries so you have a range of numbers to work with. That way, when you are presented with an actual offer, you will have a greater understanding of where they fall within that range and if the company is willing to pay you what you are worth. Many sites with salary tools will determine what you are worth based on factors such as position, experience, and geography.

You also might want to reach out to recruiters working in your area and industry to make sure your asking price is within a similar range. Also, you can consult the number of online resources such as salary calculators to double-check your asking price.

If you don’t know your value, then you have no idea if the amount being offered by an employer is fair or not. If you request a salary that is lower than the going rate, it is a signal to the employer that you are unsophisticated or unprepared.

Go In Hard

Begin a negotiation with a number from the top of the salary range you have investigated. Going high communicates to the employer that you know and value your worth.

After all, you have nothing to lose by starting with a high number and everything to lose by going with a low number.

A Walkaway Amount

Once you have identified an average range of salaries for your position and geography, make sure, before any salary negotiations, to settle on a walkaway amount. A walkaway amount is the figure you establish that acts as a signal for you to walk away once negotiations have hit it.

Informing a potential employer of this amount can also jeopardize salary negotiations. Making this strategic mistake will give the employer the upper hand and will keep negotiations hovering at this amount with little chance of moving above it. If they know you are willing to entertain offers above this amount, they will keep the offer low.

Likewise, you don’t want an employer to know what your "settle" amount is because that will keep negotiations flirting with that number as well. This will hamper any possibility of increasing that sum. It also gives the employer leverage. Avoid revealing this amount if possible.

Check back next week to read part two.