After several rounds of interviews and a few weeks of sweating it out, you finally got that job offer. Congratulations!
Your next task? Negotiating that salary.
For many of us, negotiating puts us out of our comfort zone. It requires summoning skills that we may not use often in everyday life, like self-promotion, confidence and conviction. And for those of us who are conflict-averse, a poker-faced conversation where all the cards are drawn can feel downright hostile.
The truth is, a healthy negotiation is anything but. It’s how you let a new employer know that you value your talents and are secure in what you’ll bring to the company. And depending on your new firm’s review calendar, it may be your last chance for a year or more to ensure you get the salary you want and deserve.
So be bold before you accept the final offer, knowing you’re leaving nothing on the table. Here’s how to negotiate your salary.
You’ve gotten this far in the process, which means you can bet they want you — and may be willing to pay up to get you.
RESEARCH WHAT YOUR POSITION PAYS
Get a sense of what your role is and what the job is worth; that will help you keep your ask within the right range. Use career sites like Glassdoor or Indeed to look up salaries for comparable positions in your field, or even at the same company. If you feel you’re being undervalued, back up your claim with the research you’ve done. (A recruiter may be able to help here, or your network of friends).
FIND YOUR LEVERAGE
Your prior compensation is always a great starting point, but if this is your first or second job, you won’t have the benefit of a salary history to use as a negotiating chip.
You do have one big thing on your side, though: You’ve gotten this far in the process, which means you can bet they want you — and may be willing to pay up to get you. If the company is looking for the new position to start immediately, it’s possible they’re time-strapped and may make concessions to get the ball rolling. If you’ve got other offers brewing, don’t be shy about letting them know that while you’re excited to receive their offer, you’re also in talks with other potential employers.
KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS IN CHECK
If you’re early in your career, you may very well get rebuffed when you counter with a higher figure. After all, you may not have the wealth of experience to back up your demand for more money, and entry-level salaries are the most likely to be non-negotiable, as companies tend to allocate the least to these positions within their budgets.
Plus, the earlier you are in your career, the more you’ll need to weigh your desire for more money with the experience you’ll get — an intangible but incredibly valuable asset. Consider this first negotiation good practice for the future.
SEE IF THEY’LL PUT OTHER PERKS ON THE TABLE
So they said “no,” and you’re sure the answer is firm. Maybe you’re negotiating with a non-profit that truly is cash-strapped, or a startup that has to keep the lights on before it kicks you a bigger paycheck. If you get a hard pass on a higher salary, see if you can negotiate other parts of the job: more vacation time, a more frequent review period, or work from home days, for example.
But if this is a job you really want — and you sense the hiring manager won’t budge — know when to fold ‘em and preserve your offer.
REMEMBER, IT’S JUST BUSINESS
No matter the outcome, it’s important to make your needs heard. If you got the higher figure you wanted, or close to it, congrats on successfully negotiating. But if you didn’t, this is no time to lose your cool — or hold a grudge. The person with whom you were negotiating may very well be someone you’ll see every day for the next few years. Or they could end up working at another job you apply to down the line, so you don’t want to burn any bridges.
The fact of the matter is, getting an offer is a great thing — and starting a job on a positive note is even better. Even if things don’t go your way, smile, say thanks, and get ready to enjoy your new gig.