Does the idea of negotiating $ make you want to crawl under the bed covers? Too bad! Don’t do this and you are destined to a life of under-earning and fake Louis Vuitton bags. What’s important to realize is that your biggest opportunity to ‘negotiate’ often starts before you’ve even been offered the job.
You probably dread the question around your salary expectations. If you do, you either don’t know what to say (problem 1), or you aren’t confident enough in saying it (problem 2).
So for problem 1, the answer depends on if you already have a job or ‘real’ work experience. If you haven’t had corporate experience, you need to do some research. Check out job postings for other roles and read sites like vault.com. Don’t reference these specifically, but say that based on your research, you understand an average rate is approx $XXk, and so your expectations are roughly in line with that. You may also want to mention you’re interested in the overall rewards – i.e. comp and benefits (10 days vs 25 days of holiday is a big difference), any performance-based bonuses, etc. One caveat is ‘graduate’ jobs, where you’re joining a standardized program. Don’t negotiate here. There is no room to budge so the numbers are not going to move.
If you already have a job, you’ll be asked what you currently earn. Here’s where you have to make a tough decision. You either are 100% honest, or you slightly overestimate – not that I can recommend this. If you are going to be fully honest, make sure you say that while you are currently earning e.g. $70k, your expectations are closer to $82k, because…. (e.g. upcoming promotion, quitting means you’ll miss a bonus, etc). You should also highlight any generous benefits you receive, for example 4 weeks of holiday, and note if you earn overtime, get extra time off in lieu of extra hours, etc. The risk with the less than fully honest answer is that they could ask to see a pay slip or confirm through the background check. This is less likely with a small organization, but it could happen and you need to be confident taking that risk. At very least I think you’d want to be able to explain any difference, e.g. showing the number was salary + bonus + overtime + cashed in benefits and so on. Most people I know state a higher salary than they currently have, and it works for them because another employer knows you won’t move without a bump up. But this strategy doesn’t come without it’s risks.
Once you get your offer, don’t be greedy and ask for more if you’re genuinely thrilled about the offer. But if it’s not what you were hoping for, say so. Some people find this easier to do over email, but over the phone is good too if you have notes prepared for exactly what you’re going to say. If you’re not happy, you could try something like this:
“To be honest, I was expecting something in the XX-XX range. I am really excited about the company, the role, and the team, but the full package needs to make sense and I want to make sure I’m setting myself up to stay in the role over the long-term. If the compensation isn’t quite there, it’s not as sustainable and I’d like to commit feeling comfortable about all the details as it’s a big move/decision. If you could re-consider the base salary (or bonus or whatever other detail), I would really appreciate that.”
Here’s where you have to stop talking and listen to a potentially uncomfortable silence. Uncomfortable silences are super powerful, and a true ninja negotiation technique. Hang in there, resist the temptation to fill the silence, and I guarantee you the other person will speak. Get more $? Cue the confetti :) No? Well at the end of the day, if you handle this professionally, the worst that can happen is they say no but they also now know it’s something that you’ll want re-visited in the near future.
How have your $ negotiations gone? What do you find toughest about this topic? Let me know in the comments below.