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How to negotiate salary?

Importance of negotiating a salary after job offer

Instances of salary negotiation are an integral part of your career. At this stage, I will be there for you to confront, even if you are a fresh hire or a long-time employee in the company. Salary negotiations are those processes that are intended to help you secure a payment that you deserve or even exceed your expectations. This usually happens between you as an employee or a candidate with your employer or a prospective employer. The expected output of salary negotiation from the point of view of an employee is to set their salary at par with industry standards along with reasonable and essential benefits.

The process of salary negotiation is driven by your conviction that you deserve a better salary for the work you have been assigned to do. Be part of the interview process or otherwise, you must convincingly present your case with the support of evidence to solidify your case. There are many aspects for the successful completion of a salary negotiation from the point of view of the job seeker. Keeping apart the confidence you should have, it is crucial to understand that negotiations bias definition need not be adversarial for both parties or aggressive.

Old, similar notions regarding salary negotiation are discussed in this article. This is inclusive of the stages of negotiation to the common mistakes that employees usually commit.

Understanding the stages of negotiation in detail  

In the section of the article, we will be developing in debt to the different stages of salary negotiation.

1. The crucial preparation stage

Needless to say, background preparation is a crucial component of any career activity. Since it is the first stage of the negotiation process, this is highly decisive regarding the success of the negotiation. The main components of the first stage of the negotiation process are as follows.

❖    Understanding your value

There are many steps involved in identifying the exact worth of your professional activities. You can rely on secondary research or refer to some websites which give adequate information regarding the range of salary applicable to a similar position in the industry. If you are not sure about your value, you are throwing yourself to the mercy of the hiring manager who does not commit to giving you the highest salary. Alongside, you must take into consideration all factors that might affect your prospective salary. These factors are geographical proximity to the workplace, your experience in the same field, training and skillsets you have, along your confidence level.

❖    Talking to your colleagues

This is a process you can adopt in the recruitment process. Along with the background research, you may refer to your colleagues with whom you might have worked in the past or studied together at the college. This will give your ground reality and will equip you to make better decisions during the salary negotiation.

❖    Preparing your case

You must organize your thoughts to have clarity of mind. This is essential because any confusion you exhibit during the salary negotiation may backfire and will bring a disadvantageous position to yourself.

❖    The highest possible bid

With your primary and secondary research about the possible salary range of industry standards, you may end up with conclusions regarding the same. It is not wise to go with the median of your conclusion. Instead, you should negotiate for salary towards the top of the range. This is due to two things. You must set a top salary for yourself, which can potentially exhibit the confidence you have. On the other hand, it is almost certain that the recruiter will negotiate this down.

❖    Prioritize specificity over general

Presenting a specific or precise salary number to your prospective employer is a positive sign. This gives an impression to the hiring managers that you have done enough primary and secondary background research and came up with a solid answer. This initial confidence advantage you have will set your case on a higher pedestal. A precise salary number will reduce the possibilities of the recruiter to negotiate down your salary.

❖    The walkaway point

While preparing an expected salary, you must identify a walkaway point for yourself. It is that salary at which you will not be walking for the organization. Not having an idea about this may result in high regrets later in your career. You also have to inculcate the confidence to say a “no” if the salary negotiation is not going in your direction.

❖    Planning the time

If you are planning to initiate a salary negotiation discussion, you must choose the right timing for the same. If you wait too long for this, the prospective employer might have made up an idea for them. This will drastically reduce your chance to present your case with confidence.

❖    Practice, practice, and practice

You must prepare the components of your negotiation and practice it. You may receive before your family member or have a simulation with your friends. You may present for the salary negotiation when you are extremely comfortable to have such a conversation with confidence.

2. The conversation part

❖    High confidence

The level of confidence you exhibit during the negotiation process will determine the result of a negotiation. Your expression of confidence will send a strong message to the prospective employer about the research you have done and the confidence you have about your worth.

❖    Questions for starters

The negotiation process must start with a set of questions from both ends. As a job seeker or an employee, if you fail to ask questions in the beginning to seek clarification on those areas where you have doubts, it will hamper your arguments during the negotiation process. Starting with questions has an additional advantage too. It will help you to understand the position of your prospective employer and the mindset they are planning to apply to the negotiation process. These are high rewarding clues.

❖    Value addition to the company

The potential value addition you can bring to the organization is the core of your negotiation argument. As an already working professional, you can bring to their attention your achievements of the last few years and the success rates of your projects depending on the industry. As a fresh graduate seeking their first job, you may highlight your skills and strengths and connect them to the requirements of the job you have applied for. The entire idea of this exercise is to increase your relevance and subsequently raise the chances of successful salary negotiation.

❖    Talk about the future.

In most cases, you may have been underpaid now and are actively seeking a salary hike. Dwelling more about your past and current salaries may reduce the chances of a good salary hike that you deserve. It is quite natural that the recruiter will ask you about your previous salary. But there should be a conscious effort from your end to move the conversation in the right direction where you talk about the future. While talking about the future of you as a professional in the organization, you may highlight your skills, responsibilities, and the industry standard.

❖    The negotiator’s perspective

From the perspective of seeing salary negotiation as a competitive conversation, you must expect what the potential employer might say in particular situations. This will help you to control the conversation healthily and get the best out of it. If you are successful in predicting the thoughts and arguments of your negotiator, your job is half done.

❖    Staying positive throughout 

There has to be a responsible effort from your side to keep the conversation positive. In this regard, you can highlight your favorite experiences or those things which you liked the most about the organization.

3. Expressing your case

❖    Say it out your specific salary demand.

You must put all your effort into trying to control the direction of the conversation. The best way out is to put a specific salary number on the table to gently pressurize the company official to talk about it. In other words, keep in mind that whoever puts the salary digits will control the negotiation. On the flip side, always keep in mind that if the salary you put in is low, it is very difficult for you to get the final offer that you aspire to.

❖    Negotiate for the best

You should try for the best salary possible. Starting your salary negotiation with a median salary will probably end up in a situation in which you do not probably wish to be. There should not be any factors that make you afraid to ask for the best or make you hesitant to say your wish frankly.

❖    The salary range may not always help.

The vital advice for any negotiator is not to give a range of salary that you wish to receive. This will certainly leave a bad impression about you with the hiring manager that you haven’t done enough research and is confused. It is quite natural for the representative of the company to catch you with the minimum of the range you have set.

❖    Stay firm

Do not misinterpret staying firm with being arrogant or dominating. Considering the expertise you have and the confidence you possess, there should not be anything that pulls you back from being firm on the salary.

❖    Avoid mentioning your reasons.

The best strategy to negotiate is to focus on your skills, your achievements, and your confidence. It is a really bad strategy to mention your personal needs as a reason for the salary hike. It will not give a good impression about yourself as you might think it will. Your argument should be focused on your performance and achievements alone.

❖    Prioritize your demands

There may be a lot of things that come along with the salary in the name of health benefits or travel benefits. This will probably be used by the company to reduce the salary offer. You must set a priority for yourself so that you will not be confused during the negotiation process. Unexpected information from the negotiator during the negotiation can make you lose grip over the conversation. So expect those and prioritize beforehand.

❖    Listening is a part of the conversation.

For any conversation, active listening is a crucial component. It comes along with your professional etiquette. In this special scenario of salary negotiation, it is important that you lend your ears to every detail that the company representative might put forth. Not being an active listener will leave a bad impression, and you will not be able to find a middle ground if you haven’t listened properly.

❖    Always expect a “NO.”

In most cases, it is common that the company representative rejects your negotiation for a salary hike or high salary. From the negotiation point of view, it is quite natural, and even it is a part of the negotiation process itself. Understanding that the idea of negotiation is to find ground between two disagreeing points is applicable here, which will help you in this situation.

4. Processing the answer 

❖    Effective use of stalling in conversation

It is not an effective strategy to agree to the salary offer on the first go. You can put it to use thoughtful pause and silence to your advantage. It will always increase the chances of the negotiator hiking the salary.

❖    Relevant follow-up questions.

Both parties may have a bunch of follow-up questions to ask during this entire process of negotiation. The key advice in this situation is not to hesitate and ask questions directly on time. Leaving anything for guesses or confusion will not read the benefits you look for.

❖    Counter the arguments, if necessary

If there is an outright rejection of the arguments you made, do not stop the conversation abruptly but rather ask questions or put counter-arguments. The rule of thumb is not to leave anything for chance.

❖    Continue negotiation

It is always a better idea to continue negotiation until you are satisfied. This doesn’t mean that you will always get a favorable output through a negotiation. But the idea is to eliminate any regrets that may come up in the future with regards to the effort you put in during the negotiation process.

Negotiating salary during your job interview

Many tips are to be kept in mind while you do any negotiation of your salary during the job interview itself. Here is a list of things that you should be aware of. Remember that this is for a situation that comes very early in the selection process.

➔ It is not a great idea to give a precise answer regarding your expected salary in the early stages of the process. It is also true that the hiring managers do not expect the same. If you are forced to give some answer, the best way out is to give a salary range from a background preparation you have done.

➔ If the recruiters insist on your salary expectation, it is a good strategy to turn the tables and force them to give a range to you. This can be successfully pulled off with practice and background preparation.

➔ Another possibility in this situation is to give a strong case with supporting evidence and arguments which prove your worth in this field. If you tried to say a salary range without enough evidence, you might be chartered as an overconfident candidate.

➔ Another possible strategy in this situation is to ask for time so that you can come back with a more specific salary expectation. The following communications can be carried out through any professional channel like email. Dodging the situation of answering your salary expectations during the first phase of the interview is not a bad idea.

➔ Counter questions can be beneficial here. You may ask the hiring managers if the salary is negotiable. If it is negotiable, you can confidently ask for time and come better prepared for a solid negotiation.

➔ In the case when you are a fresh graduate, you can channel the discussion in the direction of asking them the strategies that you should adopt to bring yourself closer to the higher salary range in the organization. This will give an impression about you with them as a curious and enthusiastic job seeker.

Negotiating salary after the job offer 

● In most cases, it is quite common for the organization to offer you the job through the medium of email. This may make you very hesitant to discuss the salary matters and negotiate for the same.

● Even if you are underconfident about negotiating the salary, relying on the medium of email is not the safest option. In other words, any communication through email discussing your salary is not approved.

● The role of email comes in scheduling a follow-up conversation regarding salary negotiations. Once you receive a job offer, you may reply to the email expressing your curiosity to know more about other details of the job and clarify a few doubts. This set the base for a successful salary negotiation platform.

● If it is the case that you have to negotiate your salary over the phone, you might need to follow all professional etiquette for the phone call. You must cross-check all technical requirements for a phone call and find a quiet and silent place for the same. You must feel comfortable as it may directly reflect on the confidence. Alongside, it is always advisable to keep your notes ready and handy.

How to negotiate a salary hike?

The following are the steps that are advised to be followed if you are planning for salary negotiation for a salary hike.

❖    Research

Similar to any salary negotiation, you must prepare well in advance by having a good grip over the average pay for a similar position across the industry, data on the compliments and praises we have received in the past years, relevant documents matching achievements, and all other relevant information regarding the same.

This research also demands a complete awareness regarding the salary hike policy that the company may have. Alongside, you are expected to be considerate regarding various financial limitations that the employees may have. It is also possible that regardless of the circumstances and the strength of your case, they may not be able to give a salary hike to you as it is only planned for certain times of the year.

❖    Clarity of thought

Unlike the situation of a fresh job seeker, you must have a very clear Idea regarding the expected salary range that you are looking for. There should not be any room for confusion. With this clarity of thought comes a solid justification for requesting the salary hike in the first place.

❖    Expression of flexibility

It must be a good professional employee that you express your willingness for flexibility. It is not so professional to be rigidly rigid while requesting a salary hike. The flexibility can be in the form of a salary hike for an extended period, other benefits that can be a good substitute for the salary hike, or even a vacation. Being very rigid during the salary negotiation may affect the rapport between you and the company diminishing the chances for a healthy collaboration in the future. Always remember that even though the salary hike is extremely important, it may not be as important as the reputation you may get from the job.

❖    Timing and follow-up. 

Wild requesting for salary hike within the hierarchy of the institution, it is important that you maintain all etiquettes of professional conversation. You may present your request, which is supported by relevant documents and evidence, well in advance. The idea is not to put your employer on the backfoot by pressurizing unnecessarily for a quick salary hike. It is to be ensured that your arguments are rational and not arrogant. In other words, you shouldn’t seek an immediate answer from their side.

Do’s of negotiating salary.

Many things are of utmost priority during the salary negotiation process. Here is a list of some of those.

1.   Understand that the benefits are closely related to the salary and always negotiated for benefits too. This is a necessary step because many times, benefits may be negotiable even though the salary is not. Depending on the circumstances and your preferences, they may be able to provide a better deal even if your salary is lower than you expected.

2.   Do take ample time to make up your mind. You should not be forced to make a decision quickly as a quick decision has higher chances of being wrong.

3.   Always spend enough time to finalize the time and place for the meeting. This is decisive in determining the success rate of your salary negotiation.

4.   Always practice the tone, pitch, and pace of your arguments before the actual negotiation. You should not be hesitant to seek the help of your friends or colleagues for the same. A well-practiced negotiation will be highly comfortable.

5.   You must be gracious while being part of the negotiation. You mustn’t send out an arrogant face that holds the potential to affect your career prospects in the future.

6.   Always have a clear understanding of the positives of your professional journey for education which could be used as leverage to claim a higher salary.

7.   Multiple negotiation is an advisable strategy in this context. If you bring in different topics and different aspects of your negotiation plan, it will be highly rewarding in the sense that the situation will be turned positive for you.

8.   Do not shy away from negotiating the whole deal together. It may be the case that you may have higher benefits and low salaries or a higher salary with low benefits. Always put effort into understanding what better suits you. You may prefer flexible working hours and a closeby location rather than a high salary.

9.   You must focus on the hiring manager’s intent and not the literary question. They may be interested in asking a very unexpected question to change the mood of the situation. You should not be carried over by this. Rather, stay calm and focus on the end of the question.

Don’ts of negotiating salary.

These are the list of things you should avoid bringing up to the salary negotiation context.

1.   Do not jump directly to the salary negotiation part without an introduction. The best introduction possible is to spend some quality time explaining why you like the organization in the first place. You may also use your expected value addition and contribution to the organization shortly, helping it to achieve its goals. In short, setting the right tone for the negotiation is very crucial.

2.   Do not boast about yourself or be super proud of your professional capabilities. This will be taken as arrogance, and they will try their best to prove you wrong about the points you have made. This will be the worst possible start to a negotiation conversation.

3.   Do not threaten them by saying that you will quit your job if there is no salary hike. This is the most unprofessional way to deal with the situation. Always remember that walking in the same industry, you may need their help in the future even though a letter of recommendation.

4.   Do not be apologetic for being part of the salary negotiation. It is also highly unprofessional and not expected. If you are trying to make up for your uncomfortability regarding negotiation by saying sorry, it may backfire. It will probably send a message to the hiring managers that you are willing to settle for less and will essentially make things easier for them.

5.   Do not implement negative language in the salary negotiation process. Even if you want to outrightly reject an offer they have provided, the best way out is to use the maximum positive language possible. Consider this a part of your career, and it is not wise to ruin your career through this.

6.   Do not argue unnecessarily to make your case stronger. You must show positive emotions by being considerate and faithful to the company. It is always advisable to present each argument in such a way that you express the willingness for a mutually beneficial solution.

What steps follow after a negotiation?

➔ After the negotiation process, it is quite natural to expect that the hiring manager may have higher expectations from your end. You must put some real effort to impress them with your professional capabilities. If you are successful in crossing the expectation level that the company has set for you, your rapport with the company and your career will be safeguarded.

➔ Even if it is a case that the negotiation process didn’t go well, you must work your best to make your case strong now for the next possibility. Being lazy and unprofessional after a failed negotiation process will force them to question your commitment and dedication to the organization. Once lost, it is really difficult to win the faith of your manager back.

➔ You mustn’t end a salary negotiation in the wrong tone resulting in collateral damage. Through this, you are reducing the chances for good letters of recommendation and business contacts.

➔ Last but not least, it is advisable that you have good professional communication with the company regarding the revised expectations from you after a successful salary negotiation process.

Key takeaways

★ Take the negotiation process beyond monetary terms. If the company is facing resource constraints, you may try to add additional benefit packages which may be more useful in the long run.

★ Time and timing are so crucial in the salary negotiation. It is advised that you inform them beforehand and do not rush to them by surprise.

★ Building a strong case for yourself is decisive in the whole process. The factors that can contribute to this include your past performances, your achievements, the compliments you have received in the past, and the skill set you have.

All the best!

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