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How to Negotiate Your Salary? The Art and Skill of Doing it Right

As per a report by CNBC, 60% of job seekers never negotiated for a higher salary in the previous year. It gets even worse for women. Only 30% of women employees negotiated for a higher salary. More interestingly, another survey suggests that initially around 52% of the employers generally offer a lower salary than what they actually intend to offer.

And hence, there is a possibility of a huge loss, if you don’t negotiate. While most job seekers know that they should negotiate, they often don’t. So, let’s delve deeper into this and find out some top reasons why people don’t negotiate their salary.

Here are some reasons why people end up not negotiating:

  • The general economic or the industry condition is not favourable for salary negotiation.
  • Job seekers do not know what they are bringing to the table.
  • There is fear that interviewers will reject the application if they ask for a higher salary.

But is it really wrong to negotiate and try to get more if you believe you deserve a higher pay-check? The answer is yes and no both. Yes, if you are confident that you deserve a higher pay-check, and no, if you don’t.

Also, read our blog Building Your Best Resume – 8 Tips that Can Get You Shortlisted to understand the best resume writing practices.

If you do wish for a higher salary though, it is very important to handle the negotiations as skilfully as possible to turn the tide in your favour.

There are some rules of salary negotiations with some dos and don’ts. Let’s start with the don’ts first:

Don’ts

1. Giving numbers first “My last job paid $XYZ, so I’m looking at something higher.”

During an interview, you may be asked the golden question, “So what are your salary Expectations.”

Employers often look for ways to make you share your salary history so that they can know what you might be expecting. But do you know that this practice is, in fact, illegal in some places such as Philadelphia and Massachusetts? The reason behind this move is to ensure that employees are paid on the basis of their qualification and job profile and not their previous salary history.

While it may still not be illegal in your country or city, still, talking about what your previous company paid would not really help the negotiations. Moreover, this can also work against you. By sharing your salary history, you will be the first to throw in the numbers.

Rather,

 Let your employer offer a number first as this leaves more room for negotiation:

Example Statement, “I am open to negotiation depending on what range we are looking at. Do you have a range/budget in mind?”

This puts the ball back in your court.

2. Giving a Number Not Backed by Research

When you are cornered to share your figures

Remember, interviewers have probably been doing salary negotiations for much longer than you can imagine. Thus, while you may be able to put the ball in your court, they may still be able to corner you to quote a figure. In these times, if you are not prepared, you may often quote a figure that is either too high (making you risk the job offer altogether) or too low. Thus, it is important to quote an appropriate figure.

Give a figure that is backed by proper research

But how do you find out the salary that you can quote? To deal with this, be aware of the value proposition that you bring to the table. Along with this, also research on the industry standards for a similar position job within the same geography. This will give you a figure that you can quote confidently to the interviewer.

If you have quoted the right figure, the interviewer will mostly quote their figure which may or may not coincide with yours.

3. Making closed statements such as “This Is Not Enough.”

Once you get a Final Quote

Salary negotiation is never about what’s enough and what’s not. As a matter of fact, it is not even about what you need or what you deserve. The process is all about trying to get more than what is offered. A blunt statement like “I need more” or “This is not enough” will only have negative consequences.

At such times, it may be better to frame an open-ended question than make a bold statement:

When you make a statement, you leave little room for conversation. On the other hand, an open-ended question can lead to better conversations and hence, room for negotiation.

Example Response: Is this Negotiable? Are you open to negotiating this?

4. Making Vague Statement that cannot be measured such as “I am a hard worker.”

When the table is open for discussion/negotiation

If the employer is open to negotiating the salary quoted by them, that means they are looking for reasons to offer you a higher salary. However, at those times, making a vague statement that cannot be measured can make you lose the game. If the company is hiring you, they expect you to work hard irrespective of what salary they offer. So, arguments such as being a hard worker is not really going to impress the employers.

Same is the case with tall promises like “I will work day and night” or “I don’t mind working on weekends”. If you are actually a good employee, you’d definitely know when it’s time to work and when it’s time to call it a day.

Rather,

Discuss the specific skills you have and how it can help the company grow or save their costs

It is essential to let the employer know how you are bringing value to the company. And most companies see value in one of the two things; when you help them grow or help them save costs. Thus, make sure you are able to bring that out during the interview.

Example Statement “I am a certified XYZ with so many years of experience, and I intend to use this to grow the market share by 20% if I get the offer.”

Now, let’s look at some dos:

Dos

1. Make your negotiations clear by making statements such as “I’m on board if you do this.”

Once they have understood your value

If you have been successful in showing them your value, the next thing they are mostly looking to know is what it would take to get you on board.  Just like you, the hiring managers too are generally very anxious with regards to salary negotiations and want the process to get over as soon as possible.

Thus,

It is time to spell out what you are actually looking for exactly

And make sure you stick to your negotiations and not move around. For instance, negotiation on lesser workdays may not be the recommended idea if you are negotiating on salary.

Be clear on what you are negotiating for here. While it might be turning in your favour, you could still lose it by making unreasonable requests/negotiations.

Example Statement; “I am quite excited about the offer, but I would need a 10% on your last quoted figure. I’m on board if you can do this.”

2. Take time to accept the Offer and make statements such as “I’ll need a few days to consider the offer.”

When there is no more room for negotiation

If the offer does not meet your expectations or just about meets it, you may want to take a break and re-evaluate everything. While companies may also take time, sometimes they may ask you to give your acceptance to the offer.

It is best to ask for a few days to consider the offer

This will provide you with time for considering the offer, working on the counteroffer, and collecting information and data for building a case to support the counteroffer.

Moreover, if the offer was given in person, this request will mostly move the negotiations over email. As compared to one-on-one conversation, you are generally more deliberate with the things you say over email. Just make sure that you do adequate research during this period and are reasonable with the counteroffer amount.

Mastering Salary Negotiations during Interviews

Negotiating salary is an art that you can only master and make into a skill with practice. But by not negotiating your salary at all, you will never get to learn this essential skill that can play a crucial role in your professional life. In the end, it is all about being a skillful conversationalist and selecting everything you say as carefully as possible.

Rest assured that after a few times, you will have a new sense of confidence that could actually help you get what you are truly worthy of. The points discussed above can be an excellent starting point for building your salary negotiating strategy. Irrespective of whether this is your first job or you already have several years of experience, strategies built on these basic dos and don’ts will continue to help you forever. 

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