How to Make Salary Negotiation Easy

by Chris Dardis

It’s been my experience that most people hate negotiating. It doesn’t matter if it’s over the price of a car, your child’s bedtime, or a starting salary. So, why does this make most people uncomfortable? At the end of the day, both parties want the same thing, don’t they? I believe there is a fear of feeling like you’ve been taken advantage of or ‘left something on the table.’ In this blog, I will point out three things you can do to make the process of negotiating a new role’s salary a bit easier, by opening up some honest lines of conversation between you and the person on the other side of the table.

1. Have Realistic Expectations
In today’s market, employers have to fight for the best candidates. This gives candidates an advantage, but it’s important to respect the hiring manager’s point of view. Companies often consider a number of factors when presenting an offer to a potential candidate. They are typically thinking about internal equity within their department, the amount of your last role’s salary, their budgets, and if you are worth the investment.

During the interview process, it’s the candidate’s job to display what kind of return on investment the client can expect. In today’s market, most employers are comfortable with offering a potential employee a 10%-15% increase over their previous salary. It’s always important to advocate for yourself, but you must also be realistic with your expectations.

2. Understand Your Boundaries
After you’ve spent time identifying whether or not the role meets all of your career keys, you need to think through how you will react based on the offer you receive.  I’ve always asked myself three different questions before getting the actual offer.

  • What is a number that I would accept on the spot?
  • What is a number that will cause me to think about the decision for a couple of days?
  • What is a number that will make me walk away?

The client also wants to know this information. As I mentioned earlier, they want the same thing you do. They want to the offer to be good enough in your eyes for you to accept the position. So, the next time a hiring manager asks you, “What are your salary expectations,” be honest and realistic. It’s appropriate to respond with, “I’ve really been impressed with what I’ve seen and heard so far. Based on that, I feel that $X is a number that I would accept on the spot, $X is a number I would have to think about for a number of days, $X is a number what would cause me to move on to other opportunities.”

3. Give to Get
So, let’s say you received the offer and it’s not what you expected. How do you ask for more without offending the hiring manager? This is why step two is so important. If you are able to draw back on a previous conversation and remind the hiring manager that you discussed how you would react based on the offer, this sets you up for the counteroffer.

If you are asking for more money, it’s important that you let the hiring manager know what’s in it for them. If they make accommodations, what will you give them? Better results, strategic insight, etc.? Another way to address a low offer is to use the following phrase, “I appreciate the offer you made. I’m hoping you can make this difficult decision a bit easier for me…if you can get the offer to $X, I will accept and put in my two weeks notice this week.”

If you use these simple suggestions, you’ll be far more prepared and far less intimidated by salary negotiation conversations. Do you have any success stories of how to navigate a challenging situation like this?

Photo credit: fastcompany.com

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