Negotiating salary, particularly upon receiving a job offer, is an often-dreaded task. Fear of losing the position before you even start, or simply being uncomfortable discussing a higher salary, can cost employees between $1 million and $2 million over the course of their career, according to a study conducted by Southern Methodist University Professor Robin Pinckley.
With so much potential income at stake, why not discuss higher pay? Not only will negotiating your salary possibly result in more income but when done correctly, your new employer will actually gain more confidence in your abilities. After all, if you weren't certain you were the right person for the job, you wouldn't ask to get paid what you're worth.
Think you're ready to step up to the challenge? First, read the tips below to make sure your salary negotiation results in you making every last penny you're worth.
1. Do your homework
While the internet is great for staying in touch with friends on social media, it is also a treasure trove of data you can use to research what an average salary (both starting and for those with more experience) should be for a particular role in a given geographic location.
Also, it's a small world, and there's a chance you, or someone you know, has ties with either an existing employee or a person who's worked for the same company in the past. Reach out to them: Someone who's already been there, done that can provide insights even the internet can't offer.
2. Keep it professional
When talking salary, begin by setting the tone of the discussion. Remember, you're interested in having a legitimate back-and-forth, not a "pay me this or out I'm of here" type of atmosphere. Not only will setting the wrong mood negate the chance of a successful meeting, it will also leave your employer -- new or existing -- with a bad taste in her mouth.
3. Have a plan "B"
The perfect salary may not always come to pass on that particular day. Could be the company simply isn't in the financial position to pay more, or perhaps there's a hard, fast policy that doesn't allow for any wiggle room. Your boss isn't going to give? In this case, your fallback position is to negotiate a timetable. Here's one real world example from my distant past.
I'd just accepted a new role within an organization I'd been with for a few years. The starting pay was decent, particularly relative to what I'd been making, but not satisfactory to me considering the responsibilities involved, the time required, and what I felt I brought to the table. But my new boss wouldn't budge.
"Okay," I said, "How about this? Let's get together in 90 days and review my performance. I'm confident you'll be as happy with my results as I will be. Assuming that's the case, we'll increase my salary to the level we're discussing today. Fair enough?"
Yes, I was forced to wait three months, but when the 90 days were up, the first knock on her door that morning was from me asking when would be a good time to meet for the performance review and subsequent pay increase we discussed.
4. Practice makes perfect
Have you ever role played a salary discussion with a friend or family member? If not, you should. And while the practice itself will help you become more comfortable with the process, make certain to ask your role play partner to make note of the tone, or feeling, of the meeting. Did you come off professional? It's not just what you say, it's how you say it that can sway a negotiation in your favor.
5. It's not only about the money
When a compensation discussion revolves around the premise of, "how much can I get," you've found yourself off topic. A discussion regarding a better salary should be centered on why it's deserved, not how much you can get.
What do you bring to the table? Why are you the perfect fit for the role? What can you add, even beyond the existing responsibilities the position entails, that makes you worth more than the initial offer? When the discussion revolves around your strengths, the chances of success are infinitely higher.
6. The ultimate no-no
If you garner nothing else from this list of tips to getting paid what you're worth, please heed this: As a supervisor, I really don't care how much you need to make to pay your bills. When the negotiation turns in that direction, we're not talking about WHY you're worth more than I've offered, only how much you need.
I've been on the receiving end of that type of reasoning and I can assure you it never resulted in meeting an employee's "demands." It did, however, change my perception of that person, and not for the better.