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How to Negotiate Your Next Salary

How to negotiate your next salary

Negotiating a salary for a new job makes most people uneasy, but it’s crucial to step outside your comfort zone and do it anyway. People who negotiate are estimated to make up to an additional $1 million over the course of their careers.1 Yet a 2016 survey found that only 37 percent of people always negotiated, 44 percent occasionally negotiated, and 18 percent never negotiated their salaries. The reasons people didn’t negotiate ranged from fear of losing the job offer to a lack of confidence in their negotiating skills to simple avoidance of a potentially awkward situation.2 Read on to learn how to push past your hesitation and negotiate for the salary you are worth.

Negotiating is Normal

The company that offered you a job is prepared to negotiate and has managed salary negotiations before. Companies rarely respond negatively to reasonable requests for a larger starting salary or rescind job offers in response to a counteroffer. That doesn’t guarantee your salary request will be met, but people’s fears that they will appear greedy, confrontational or unappreciative of the standing job offer are unfounded. You should feel confident that offers and counteroffers are expected and the company shares your goal of reaching a salary that is agreeable for everyone.

Negotiating Shows Smarts

The salary they offered you was unlikely the highest they would consider. Negotiating for a higher figure shows that you are savvy about your industry and understand your value. It’s also beneficial to you and the company—employees who feel they are being fairly compensated for the work they do stay with organizations longer than those who feel they are underpaid.

Never Say “Yes” Immediately

Even if you’re thrilled with the compensation a company offers you, it’s wise to tell them you’ll get back to them within a specified amount of time so you can think things over after the initial excitement about getting the job has passed. Practice saying, out loud to a loved one or friend: “I really appreciate this offer and am excited about working with your organization. May I have (the weekend or two days, depending on the timing) to get back to you about this opportunity?” Then be sure to respond to the offer within that timeframe.

Do The Research

Before you make a counteroffer, it’s important to know the realistic compensation for the position, factoring in your experience, expertise, and the company’s size and geographic location. Are you entry-level or do you bring years of experience and proven results to the table? Is the company a small organization off the beaten path, or is it a large organization in a big city with a high cost of living? These factors will inform reasonable salary requests. Also check out websites such as, Vault and PayScale so you have accurate, timely information about salaries in your industry. Talk to trusted mentors, career advisors and recruiters in your network to pinpoint a fitting salary.

Go High, But Not Too High

When you find the salary range that fits your experience and location, you’ll likely feel most comfortable picking something smack dab in the middle. Nudge your salary request a bit above this number. Chances are good you are low-balling yourself and you want to stay satisfied when the company inevitably comes back with a lower figure. Don’t, however, ask for a salary that is dramatically higher than the original offer or above the upper range for your position. This will make it appear you don’t understand the company’s pay structure or your own industry.

Think Beyond Salary

Compensation includes your benefits package, which may include sufficient perks to make a salary offer on the low end of your range acceptable. If time off or flexibility are more important to you than your salary, consider asking for another week of paid vacation or the option to work remotely instead of a higher salary.

Above All, Keep It Positive

It’s great that you are in a position to negotiate a salary. Everyone you interact with at the company should have a sense throughout the negotiations that you are excited by the possibility of working with them. Whether the company’s counteroffer is lower or higher than you expected, you have a decision to make. Accept or decline with grace and appreciation. If you pass on the position, the organization will be more likely to consider you for future positions. If you take the job, you’ll be starting out on the right foot, having clearly demonstrated your professionalism, flexibility, and sharp communication skills.

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Sources cited:

1 Conlan, Catherine. “What You Lose When You Don’t Negotiate a Salary Offer.” Web, accessed 21 Nov 2016. 2 “Most People Don’t Negotiate Due to Fear and Lack of Skills.” Web, accessed 21 Nov 2016.

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