Do you dread talking about salary or benefits with employers? Do you think you left some money on the table last time you got hired? Are you afraid to answer interview questions about money or push too hard when it’s time to negotiate your offer? If the answer is yes, then you, my friend, are in the same boat as most job seekers. But negotiating your salary doesn’t have to be something you dread. Here are 5 tips for how to negotiate salary from the interview to the offer.
1. Ace the Interview
The best candidates get the best offers. So, put yourself ahead of the game by excelling in your interview. How do you excel in an interview? You over-prepare for it.
Know everything you possibly can about this company and this job. Practice answering interview questions (with an interview coach, maybe). Put together a brag book that illustrates your past successes. Create a 30-60-90-day plan that demonstrates that you can and will be successful in this new job. Assemble a strong list of references who can speak to how great you are. Go above and beyond in your interview prep so that you ‘wow’ them.
2. Research Salary Before the Interview
Part of your interview prep should be finding out what a good salary range would be for this position. Salaries vary in different parts of the country with costs of living, and because of other factors like experience and job level.
Good places to research salary are Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com. Job posting sites may have salary ranges listed in their job descriptions, too.
3. Don’t Talk About Money Until You Have an Offer
Some people have the mindset that they need to find out how much this job pays before they spend a lot of time interviewing for it—and that’s wrong. Why? First of all, asking about the money before they’ve gotten to know you puts a bad taste in their mouth about you that is very difficult if not impossible to overcome. Second, a whole variety of factors may affect your views on this job besides the money. They may have perks that make up for a lower salary. The salary may end up being higher than they planned based on how impressed they are with you. Many of my candidates who brought a 30-60-90-day plan have gotten offers for jobs above what they interviewed for, when it was all said and done.
Spend your time focused on what they need and how you can solve their problems. Make them want to hire you, and THEN you can talk about the money.
4. If They Ask About Money, Set a Bias
Ideally, if an employer asks you how much money you expect for this job, you will deflect. Don’t answer that question. (Here are some ideas for how to answer interview questions about money.) If you can’t avoid an answer, then set a bias.
Setting a bias means to draw their expectations up. Set in their mind that you will expect a good offer. If you’re still employed, this is easy to do: “Well, of course I couldn’t accept a salary less than I’m making now, and any offer would have to be significant enough to make it worth the change in my personal and professional life. I have a really good job now and I’m valued within my organization, so it would have to be a solid opportunity with growth potential in order for me to take your position.”
5. When You Get an Offer, Negotiate Positively
Companies typically expect candidates to push back on the offer, at least a little. They won’t get mad and withdraw the offer if you ask nicely for a little more. I teach my candidates how to negotiate salary from a positive point of view. For instance, you might say, “This job seems perfect for me and I’m very excited about it. I’d like to ask for X more salary for it.”
If you think they’re topped out on salary, you could ask for other things that are also valuable. More vacation time or bigger bonus percentages can be relatively easy to get. You may ask for flex time, or for them to cover parking fees or club dues. Those things can add up financially or benefit your quality of life in a significant way. What you ask for will depend on your job and your situation. Just be flexible in your thinking and be reasonable.
As in all negotiation, you may not get everything you ask for, but if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t.
If you’d like to learn how to negotiate salary like an expert, check out this webinar I did with negotiation guru Jack Chapman, author of Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute. You’ll find tons of tips and tactics to make your negotiations easier and more successful.
Best of luck!