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How To Negotiate Your Salary

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Radha Jhatakia
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Published on November 4, 2013

Ever take a look at a salary for a job description and wish it were higher? Are you torn between your desire to take a job that gives you great work experience and needing to make enough money to pay rent and eat? Have no fear, this a common issue and there is actually a solution. And no, it’s not to get another part time job making minimum wage just to make ends meet. Something we all must learn to do when entering the working world is to learn how to negotiate a salary.

What is Negotiating and Why Should I Do it?

Negotiating salary is essentially countering the offer the company you are applying to has suggested. A company will generally offer the lowest amount of pay possible, known as low balling. One of many reasons being that if the person applying wants to negotiate, they aren’t upping an already high salary. Employers often expect you to negotiate salaries for a few reasons. It shows that you have done your research about the position, that you know what you want, you know what you’re worth, and your level of determination to get a job done. 84% of employers have more respect for employees who have negotiated their salary.

How Do I Negotiate?

1. Do Your Research

You need to know what your position entails and what you can offer the company. Look up salaries via glassdoor.com to see what that position makes at other companies and in your industry. You should also know the limitations of your company. You won’t be making the same at a startup as you would a Fortune 100 for the same position, and if there is a salary cap they won’t be able to exceed it.

2. Compile a List of Your Best Qualities

Employers want quality over quantity. They will be more willing to pay you a higher salary if you can provide them with quality work. Show them your abilities by creating a portfolio with the work that you are most proud of. If you are a designer, bring in projects; if you’re an engineer, show them programs you’ve coded; if you’re a writer, show them your content. This is also where you want to highlight the skills section from the bottom of your resume. If you’re good with Excel, tell them what you can do; Know how to create a pivot table? Awesome. Go into detail about what you can do and what software/programs you can use. Employers want to see that that they’re making a wise investment in you.


3. Have a Number in Mind

Do not make a demand, but rather when they bring up salary, ask if they are willing to negotiate. State that with your level of experience you feel like “X” salary would be more appropriate. Finding out what the average pay is for candidates at the same experience level in the industry, will help you come up with a number that is acceptable to you. Hold your ground, but don’t be pushy.

4. Be Confident

You are asking the company to increase their investment in you, and thus you must sell them on why they should. It’s best to avoid salary negotiations until the employer makes a formal job offer. After they offer you the job, the negotiation talks begin. Since they already want to hire you, you can give them reasons as to why they should pay you more, but if you’re nervous it will show. You have a lot to negotiate for: bills, student loans, a new car, etc. The cost of living of whatever city your job is in should be kept in mind with salary negotiations. It would defeat the purpose of the position if you weren’t able to afford where you are living, because of the job salary. Whatever the reason of negotiating may be, it is important to you, so show the employer you know your value and negotiate a salary.


5. Alternative Solutions

If for whatever reason an employer is unable to increase your salary (i.e. a salary cap), there are other options. Besides the salary there are stock options, vacation days, benefits, signing bonuses, and future promotions – these are all negotiable factors in a salary negotiation. If you can’t be paid more, maybe you can have an extra week off, receive additional shares, or a raise guaranteed with your next promotion. It will not hurt you to ask, but if you don’t ask then you will miss out.

6. It’s Time to Negotiate

It is best to do a salary negotiation in person or via email. Negotiations over the phone can be tricky, and awkward silences can reach an uncomfortable extent. In person, you have the ability to read the person you are negotiating with and make direct eye content. This can be essential to showing your confidence and knowing if the employer is going to play ball. Negotiating over an email is direct communication and there is no option to beat around the bush. When you make a counteroffer they can either accept or negotiate. Also, with emails you can always get help from a professional negotiator.

Need an example?

If you’re a student with minimal experience… Sell your potential employer on the things you learned in classes, projects you had, and any leadership experience you had with on-campus clubs. Tell them how you will bring a different outlook to the team and that this is why they should increase your salary. Cost of living can be a factor when initiating a discussion to negotiate a salary. Talk to the person you are negotiating with about salaries of the same position in different cities. Find a city that has a similar cost of living and see what the position makes there. If it is higher than what you are being offered, you can ask your employer to consider offering you a similar salary.


If you have multiple offers
 You have the option of playing hardball with the employer for salary negotiations. Often when students are asked if they have other offers they’re considering, they respond with a vague answer, afraid that having multiple offers will hinder their chances of getting the position. It is actually the opposite – the more offers you have, the more an employer will see that you are a very capable candidate. Something along the lines of “I like this company and think I would excel in this position. Another company I’ve been interested in has offered me the same position but with a different salary. Would you be open to negotiating the salary?” However, if the offers are from competing companies, you will be more likely to negotiate a higher salary. For instance, Facebook and Google are more likely to negotiate salaries and other options (such as vacation/signing bonuses) if they want the same candidate, compared to a small business or corporate giant.

Who Can Negotiate? Anyone and Everyone!

Often in the working world when we see salary negotiations, it is men that do the negotiating. According to multiple publications, 67% of women tend to avoid salary negotiations compared to 33% of men due to sheer nervousness. Women have reported that they often fear asking to negotiate a salary because of the glass ceiling effect, which is when women receive lower salaries than men for the same position. Employers tend to negotiate much harder with women for higher salaries than with men, causing women to concede with their counter offers. 36% of men compared to 26% of women negotiate their salaries. It is time to change this, and women need to negotiate for what they deserve. Negotiatingsalary.com offers insightful advice to everyone (especially women) that is new to the negotiating game.


But What If I’m An Intern?

While it’s not unheard of, it’s rare to negotiate a salary for an internship. Internships tend to be established programs which allot for “X” amount of interns to be paid “X” per hour. However, if it is an internship that’s not part of a standardized program, there is an option to negotiate. There is a different approach than with a job salary negotiation, since as an intern you may not have a lot of experience. So when asking for a higher salary, you have to show the company what you can offer them. If a higher salary is out of the question, then there’s always the option of asking for a stipend for things such as commuting.

Negotiating is Common

Negotiating a salary is never easy, but as you gain more experience in the workforce, you will realize that it is a common practice. And the process of negotiating (proposing an offer, making adjustments) is something you will become increasingly confident in doing. While negotiating is a good skill, there are times when you shouldn’t. Some companies explicitly state that a salary is non-negotiable and in this case if you try to negotiate, it will backfire. Just make sure you remember three things: be confident about what you can offer the company, don’t be greedy, and know the limitations of the company you’re applying to, and you’ll be fine!

Radha Jhatakia

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