Negotiating a starting salary can be a fraught issue for job seekers, particularly given the current state of the economy. Many of us feel hesitant about asking for more money when we’d be grateful just to be able to pay the bills. A tough job market can also exacerbate common concerns such as being perceived as “greedy”, or unlikable. However, it’s critical not to let fear dictate your salary negotiations. That’s because your starting salary will serve as a base for all future negotiations. If you underestimate your worth now, it may have a negative – and permanent – impact on your future earnings.
So where to begin?
- Do your research. When returning to a prospective employer with a request for more money, you must be prepared to back up the number with actual data. Obviously, the internet is a great place to do some initial market research. Salary and Glassdoor are two online resources that provide insight into the average pay of a wide variety of jobs and professions. However, we strongly recommend that you go the extra mile by reaching out to your network of professional contacts. They may be able to provide a much more detailed and reliable picture of potential compensation packages.
- Show them the money! Let the company know exactly how you plan to contribute to the bottom line. If you have a proven history of driving revenue, then cite those past examples. No company wants to shell out more money without knowing that they’re going to see it back and then some.
- Assess how much leverage you have. Negotiating a starting salary is nothing at all like playing a poker game. Forget bluffing, skip the poker face, and get real about your prospects. If you’re sitting pretty in a well paying job (or on a counter offer), that gives you significant leverage because you can walk if you don’t like their number. If you’ve been sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring for months, then the reality is that there’s just less wiggle room.
- Silence is golden. Ask for what you want, and then zip your lips. Mustering up the courage to negotiate can be a difficult, nerve racking task. You might be tempted to soften your ask so the company “likes” you more. This isn’t a popularity contest. They like you plenty. The company probably interviewed several other people besides you for this position, but they picked YOU. So give them time to formulate a response, and have a little faith.
- Feeling perky? It’s possible the company can’t fork out more cash for your salary. However, there may be other benefits available that significantly sweeten the deal for you. Maybe that’s summer Fridays, or an extra week of vacation time. You’ll never know unless you ask!
Remember to keep in mind that money isn’t necessarily everything. Your decision to accept an offer might be impacted by the type of work you’re doing, and where you’re doing it. Maybe the length of your commute , or the ability to work from home are critical factors. Or…maybe you do just want the money. And if that’s what you want, best of luck to you. We hope that you go get it!