Salary negotiation is one part dance, one part game, and all parts stressful. Remember, you are trying to maximize your return on your “perceived” value in the marketplace, and your potential employer is trying to maximize productivity for the least cost. The worst part of salary negotiation is feeling that your potential employer holds all the cards. Here are some quick tips that will tip the balance in your favour and give you some sense of control over your future:
1. Never bring up money first—virtually all employers have done their homework and have a pretty good idea of how competitive their salaries are in the marketplace. They also Twitter and use Facebook to find out how much your friends are getting, so typically you should not be surprised by the number. If they press YOU for a number, you need to ask yourself if they are bargaining in good faith. Say: “I am sure you have a range in mind that is commensurate with the role and responsibilities.” If they persist, you need to ask yourself if they are bargaining in good faith (or what else are they hiding.)
2. The offer is too low—there can be many reasons for this, so don’t be discouraged. Maybe the job is not as “senior” as advertised, so this may be a clue for you to move on. Maybe they want to see if you will “counteroffer” because this is part of the game. You can say: “well, I’m surprised considering what similar jobs are paying.” Now, you can trot out your ideal salary, so long as it is within 15%-20% of what they offered. This is a good range; any less than 15% isn’t worth considering (with some exceptions) and most employers won’t even consider anything over 20%, or they would have made a higher offer in the first place
3. You still want the job—here is where you can get creative about compensation. Salary isn’t everything. Perks and benefits count, too. Is there a training or education budget, are the people nice, are there good developmental or learning opportunities, is it a “cool” company to work for, will you be able to leverage what you learn to another, better job in 1-2 years.
4. Get a salary review in writing—if they still won’t budge on money, and you REALLY WANT THE JOB, agree to the terms with a written proviso in your employment contract for a salary review in 3- 6 months. Once you start work, it easy to forget the oral promises made at the start, the hiring manager may have moved on, etc. Everyone gets busy, including you, and it gets difficult to raise the issue again. Just be sure you have doing a great job!
Dr. Jack Muskat is an Organizational Psychologist and Career Management Expert who works closely with young professionals building their careers. He is currently Executive Coach for the Master of Finance program at the Rotman School of Management.
Photo: Above photograph used under CC license
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