Congratulations, you’ve done it! You’ve made it through the interview process and have an offer on the table. Now comes the hard part – negotiating your salary. This subject is one that produces anxiety and stress in the hearts of many. You might be thinking, “Why negotiate at all? After all, I’m being paid something, right? And this position is an opportunity to gain invaluable experience… right?” While those things may be true, failure to negotiate your salary can have implications throughout the entire trajectory of your career.
Did you know that the vast majority of income growth happens in the first 10 years of your career? Furthermore, studies have shown that pay raises begin to diminish over time, resulting in your salary eventually becoming relatively stagnant. The fact of the matter is that most employers are likely to anchor your new wage based on previous ones. While there are laws coming into effect to help mitigate such factors from having influence during the interview process, there is nothing impeding potential employers from doing so once an offer has been extended. This may not impact your starting salary, but can be used to set a benchmark, which then all future raises can be based on. As you can see, the need to understand your worth and position yourself for long-term success is now more important than ever, whether you’re just starting out in your career or are trying to make up for time lost. With that being said, below are four tips to help you navigate the negotiation process and come out feeling like the capable candidate that you are.
- Do the Research and Know your Worth. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Before heading into any negotiation it is key that you understand your own market worth, as well as salary data for your job title. It is not sufficient to look up market data and determine that a “Business Analyst” makes “x” amount for their annual salary because it fails to bring into account your own marketability in reference to knowledge, skills, and ability. You will need to do an industry-specific search, and there are many tools online that can help you do so. Once you have determined the industry range for the position, assess your market worth in that field, and develop a personalized range within the industry one.
- Don’t Reference Personal Circumstance. We all have financial needs that in one way or another can, and will impact our need and desire for a certain income size. While childcare, rising rent costs, and everyday bills may absolutely attribute to determining what your “walk-away” point is, they should never enter the negotiation. Make sure that the conversation stays focused on what you have to offer to the position, your applicable experience, and the market research you spent the time to gather. Legally, an employer cannot grant you an increased salary or wage based on personal circumstance, it needs to be about your own personal merit and job fit.
- Go in with a Collaborative Mindset. Do not make the mistake of going into a negotiation with a “me versus them” mindset; this doesn’t have to be adversarial! Starting the conversation off with harsh demands and wild ultimatums will only bring the discussion to a screeching halt, making it far less likely for the two parties to come to an agreement. Instead, see this as an opportunity for you and the employer to build a compensation package that makes sense for the both of you. Tell the employer that you excited and eager at the opportunity to discuss salary with them, and thank them for their time and willingness to do so. Approaching the situation with optimism and positivity will lay a good foundation for discussion to flow freely and provide a great jumping off point.
- Practice Makes Perfect. You’ve done all the research, learned your market worth, and know exactly what you want to say and the approach that will get you there – but now you have to do it! There is nothing scarier than sitting down in front of the employer you like, with the job that you desire, and engaging in negotiations about your compensation package. The whole idea is downright intimidating, and chances are if you haven’t practiced your approach ahead of time the whole plan will fly out of your head the moment you sit down. Do yourself a favor and run through it a couple of time at home, possibly with a friend or family member. Not only will rehearsing it help solidify it in your mind but hearing you say out loud why you’re worth it and what you have to offer can boost your confidence and increase your own belief in yourself. Additionally, this can provide an opportunity for feedback on areas where you may need to improve or beef up your research. At the end of the day, you want to exhaust all resources so that you are able to head into that meeting feeling composed, confident, and ready.
The value of having these experiences and getting well versed in them early on in your career cannot be overstated. The ability or inability to negotiate your salary can and will have long-term effects on your career. It will be important to use your intuition to gauge the individual and circumstantial factors that every negotiation will have, but there are also standard things to know and do.
Being prepared is key. Though preparation may not entirely stop the butterflies in your stomach from popping up when the times come, and negotiations may certainly never become “easy”, preparation can provide you with the tools to push past that anxiety to the finish line: a salary that is comparable to your worth!