Salary negotiations can take many paths. When I represent candidates, my goal is to help them get the best salary possible within reason. And while the tactics below are common, my experience shows that avoiding them could be your best bet in getting the salary you want while starting the relationship with your new employer out right.
Two Tactics to Avoid:
When asked about your salary expectations, don’t clam up. You can’t always expect the hiring manager to make their best offer for your consideration. While negotiating 101 suggests letting the other party speak first, I think it’s best to throw out a carefully considered number. If you say nothing and the client makes a blind offer, it’s probably not going to be their best. Answering the question of what you feel you’re worth is your opportunity to advocate for yourself and start the negotiations out in your favor.
And don’t forget, the process of finding a job is not like buying a car. You’re not trying to get the best possible price, going back and forth endlessly like a Nadal/Federer Wimbledon rally. This is the first step in a relationship with a new employer that will hopefully last for years. If you repeatedly use the “offer/counter-offer” approach, you may jeopardize the offer and the relationship. This is a red flag for the people you’ll be working with and could cause an offer to be rescinded.
Starting Exorbitantly High
Some candidates feel that if they start with a very high number, it will help them meet in the middle of where they really want to be. For example, if they’re making $100K and state that they’re looking for $120K, then maybe they’ll settle at $110K. I haven’t found this approach to work for a few reasons. If the company has hired recently or has a number of employees with similar backgrounds to you, they will know your number is off base. Additionally, it’s possible that you could scare them off with an unrealistic number, or they may assume that you are kicking tires and that money is motivating the search.
Others use a high number because they want that amount or feel they need it so that they can buy a new car, take a trip, or are having a child. While these are valid reasons for wanting a higher salary, they don’t resonate with the employer. An argument based on facts will be more likely to resonate. As a recruiter, I have aggregated current data on salaries that is invaluable during salary negotiations. If you happen to be doing the salary negotiation yourself, the next best thing is to read articles and blogs to back up your argument with real-world data.
When it’s time for salary negotiations, come ready to answer the question of how much you’re looking for, and be prepared to back that number with experience and accomplishments. You’ll have a great chance of getting the money you want, and your new employer will respect your negotiating skills and professionalism.
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