This is the 9th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Go into your next interview prepared to negotiate.
One can argue that a well laid plan is never a bad idea. However, when it comes to negotiating a salary—it’s a must!
I am telling you this from experience.
When on the job search a few years ago in Denver, I accepted a really low salary because I wasn’t prepared to negotiate pay for what I thought was fair. I ended up feeling stuck in a low paying job with no chance of a near raise or bonus. So I sought the advice of a personal injury attorney, who advised me on the proper techniques for negotiating a fair salary that both myself and my employer were happy with.
Going into your next interview prepared with some rough salary calculations will keep your eye on the prize. And because salary negotiations in an interview can create a lot of anxiety—the thought of confrontation might leave you feeling nervous. Or you might end up sounding either too greedy if you ask for too much or just plain pathetic if you don’t ask for what you think you’re worth and just accept the base offer. Having a range in mind can take a lot of pressure off both you and your potential employer.
Follow these 5 steps when negotiating your next salary:
1. Settle on a suitable salary range before your interview
Going into an interview, you may be afraid of the uncomfortable point when the interviewer will ask you what your salary expectations are. You know it’s going to happen, so why not be prepared with a salary range? You can settle on a suitable salary range by researching the average salary of comparable positions in the city you work in. You will get paid more for your higher education and any special skills or qualifications you might have as well. Keep this in mind: if you ask for more than you want, the interviewer will be forced to negotiate if they really want you and you may end up with money than what the employer originally had in mind.
2. Don’t bring up salary
At some point during the meeting, the interviewer will want to talk about your salary expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be the one to talk money first. I recommend letting the interviewer bring the topic up, then ask about the range they are willing to pay, before you offer up an expected amount. This way, you get the upper hand by learning what they are willing to pay first (they are probably working within a budget). After that, you can aim for the high end of the employer’s range instead of guessing in the dark.
3. Always negotiate in a range
Never state a solid number and stick to it. It’s best to give the employer a high and low end to work with. This tactic is not meant to devalue your skills or education, but stating a range rather than a firm numbers shows that you are willing to work with the employer so that everyone is happy.
4. Support your worth
Your potential employer isn’t going to just agree to pay you what you want without some sort of explanation on your part. You will be expected to provide the “why?” Meaning “why” you think you deserve this range of pay. Your calculation should be based on the skills and work experience you will bring to the table (i.e., so your education, skills, expertise, professional accolades, and your years of service).
5. Remember there are bonuses to any salary
If the job is one that you know you will really enjoy, but the employer can’t pay you the money you expect, all is not lost! Negotiations as far as things like holidays, lieu days, and health benefits are still on the table. Many start-up companies and small businesses will offer employees lower salaries, but make up for it when it comes to additional holidays or bonuses until they can afford to pay employees more in salary. Remember, bonuses and holidays can bulk up your salary by almost half if you consider lieu days, reduced hours, and the option to work from home.
Learning the proper techniques for negotiating a salary means that you won’t end up accepting the base offer or agreeing to less pay than you think you’re worth. If you do, your whole job hunt could be for nothing because you’ll be unfulfilled financially and looking for a better paying job right away.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About The Author: Colleen Harding is a staff writer for a Denver personal injury attorney and guest blogger who specializes on writing about law. Today, Colleen hopes that sharing her knowledge will make us all happy, law-abiding citizens. She is also a member of Amnesty International as well as an active volunteer in her community.