Mastering Salary Negotiation

Hiring managers often expect candidates to negotiate their initial offer.  In the 18+ years that I have worked in talent acquisition and human resources I often had hiring managers tell me they want their initial offer to be lower to allow room for negotiation.  We usually had the candidate’s salary history and desired pay range ahead of time so the manager would select something towards the low end of the desired pay.  At times, I have seen managers offer less than the candidate’s current salary just to see what will happen.  I would begrudgingly call the candidate and extend the very low offer.  Imagine my surprise when some candidates would accept the first offer.  Think of how much more money they could have had if they had only asked.

The Fear Factor

Research has revealed that women are less likely than men to negotiate their job offer.  Most people list fear as the reason they did not negotiate.  However, those who did negotiate often received at least a small bump in their initial compensation package.  Even as small bump is noticeable throughout your tenure with the company because all future pay raises will be based on your initial salary.

Salary is Not the Only Negotiation Tool

What about vacation time?  Although it is not likely, I have even seen people convince hiring managers to make their medical benefits kick in sooner than other employees.  If the manager can’t commit to adding dollars to your year-after-year salary perhaps she would be willing to give you a one-time $1,500 as a sign-on bonus.  It can’t hurt to ask, right?

Build a case for why you are asking for more money.  Consider all of your new costs, including the increased benefits cost, parking costs and the longer commute.

Growth Potential

If you see a lot of growth potential in the company you may be willing to accept a lower salary in the beginning but ask your manager for the opportunity to revisit your pay after a year.  This will allow you to prove yourself as a great hire but also leaves the door open for more conversation.

Research competition (other qualified candidates) in your field of work.  There are plenty of sites that can give you information on salary ranges for your field of work in your geographic location.  Compare your experience and skills to the information you find and present it during your negotiation.

If you are not in a financial bind, don’t feel obligated to accept your first offer.  I must caution you to only use this tactic if you feel that the offer is way off your target, and after you have evaluated whether your target is realistic.  Until you come to an agreement continue your job search.  The idea of other potential offers will alleviate some of the pressure and allow you to make sound decisions.

Don’t Be Too Pushy

Like Kenny Rogers says, “know when to hold them and know when to fold them”.  As a Career Coach I always advise my clients to ask for more money or perks only one time and explain your reasoning.  Going back and forth for too long will inevitably frustrate the hiring manager and sour her outlook of you.

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