What Am I Worth?
In some cultures, bargaining is the norm. A buyer or seller makes an offer, and the other party either accepts or counters the offer. The two negotiate until they strike a deal or one party walks away.
When you're negotiating your salary with an employer, do you know what you're doing? Do you have any idea of what you're truly worth?
How Do I Find Out My Worth?
To be a good salary negotiator, you must know what a good deal looks like. First, research your fair market value. One easy way to do this is by using Online Salary Wizards. You can also look to recruiters, competitors and the Ministry of Labor to get a good idea of what others in similar positions are earning.
Networking is the key to getting fresh information. There's no better way to assess how you're doing than to schmooze with professionals in similar fields. Identify people who have the same position you have or want. Attend professional association meetings or trade shows, and connect with other job seekers online to compare duties and responsibilities, staff size, etc. Investigate the opportunities for job seekers with your skill set in the same company, different companies, different sectors and even different industries.
When networking, don't ask people what they make and expect a civil answer. Instead, ask, "Does this range sound right for this kind of job in this kind of company?" Chances are they'll reply either, "Wow! Where do you work, and how can I join you?" or "Well, that seems low for someone with your experience and level of responsibility." When you combine their comments with the salary information you already have, you'll have a better idea of how you want to approach your salary offer.
How Much to Ask For
Many companies have salary structures for their organizations. Each has a range in mind for any specific job. If you have a target salary within a realistic range, you'll negotiate from a stronger position.
Rules for Negotiating Your Salary
- Don't be greedy. Seek a win-win agreement with a new employer. This cements good relations for you and the interviewer, and could save you from a lost offer if you hold out for the maximum.
- When an employer asks for your salary requirements in an ad or on a job application, indicate that you are negotiable. If you're asked to provide current salary, respond with, "Will discuss during interview.
- Never initiate salary discussions in an interview. Wait for the interviewer to bring the subject up, even if it's postponed to a second interview.
- Avoid explicit comparisons to your current salary. You're negotiating the strengths you'll bring to the new position, not past salary.
- Always assume the offer is negotiable.
- Never accept an offer at the interview. Express your strong interest, but state that you always evaluate important decisions carefully. Negotiate a date when you'll contact the interviewer with your decision.
- Discuss benefits separately from salary. Your list of benefits can include insurance, tuition reimbursement, relocation payments, stock options, bonuses and outplacement upon termination.
Top 10 Tips for Salary Negotiations
Negotiating a better salary package has put more than a few stomachs in knots over the years. Remember, we all go through it sooner or later. Keep these 10 basic tips in mind when it's your turn to ask for a sweeter deal.
1. Be Persuasive
It's hard to force your boss to increase your compensation, and trying to do so can potentially damage your working relationship. Think about the process as trying to convince him that it might benefit the organization to pay you more.
2. Aim High, and Be Realistic
Many researchers have found a strong correlation between people's aspirations and the results they achieve in negotiation. At the same time, you want to suggest ideas to which your boss can realistically say yes.
3. Start Off with the Right Tone
You want to let your boss know you will listen and try to understand his views. At the same time, you expect your boss to do the same for you so you can work together to address this issue. Avoid ultimatums, threats and other coercive behavior.
4. Clarify Your Interests
Your compensation should satisfy a range of needs, not just salary. Make sure you have thought about other points of value to you as well -- like profit sharing, stock options that vest immediately, a bonus, greater work responsibilities, a quicker promotion schedule, increased vacation or flexible hours.
5. Anticipate Your Boss's Interests
Just like you, your boss has needs and concerns. To persuade him to say yes, your ideas will have to address those things that are important to him.
6. Create Several Options
Joint brainstorming is the most effective way to find ideas that satisfy everyone's interests. It works best when you separate it from commitment -- first create possible solutions, and then decide among them.
7. Focus on Objective Criteria
It is far easier to persuade someone to agree with your proposal if he sees how that proposal is firmly grounded on objective criteria, such as what similar firms pay people of like experience or what others in the company make.
8. Think Through Your Alternatives
In case you cannot persuade your boss to say yes, you need to have a backup plan. Part of preparation is creating a specific action plan so you know what you'll do if you have to walk away from the table.
9. Prepare Thoughtfully to Achieve Your Goals
This is the only aspect of your negotiations you can completely control. To take advantage of all of the above advice, you have to invest a significant amount of your time and energy.
10. Review to Learn
The only way you can really improve your ability to negotiate is to explicitly learn from your experiences. After you finish negotiations, reflect on what you did that worked well and what you might want to do differently next time.