Top 10 Salary Negotiation Strategies

There are some instances in life where a few minutes of action can make a big difference in your everyday life. One of those is salary negotiations.

A famous study done by Linda Babcock for her book, Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change, provides insights into this. She shares that only 7% of women negotiate their first salary compared to 57% of men. Those who negotiate secure an average increase of 7%.

To illustrate the important of this, Stanford professor Margaret A. Neale says, “if you, and your counterpart who negotiated, are treated identically by the company—you are given the same raises and promotions—35 years later, you will have to work eight more years to be as wealthy as your counterpart at retirement.”

Everyone should always negotiate, and so I want to share key negotiation principles and best practices for asking (and getting) what you want. These tips focus on negotiating for a new job offer that involves going through a competitive search.

 

Here are 10 tips to help you score the best salary offer.

1. Do it

Fear can get in the way of bringing up topics like salary, but don’t say no to yourself. You have the right to ask for a higher salary, and you should always negotiate. Plenty of times the answer may be ‘no’, and that’s part of life, just don’t let the no come from you. Assume that you are entitled to the higher range of pay, and don’t be apprehensive about asking.

“If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it.

If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.”

-Unknown

Once you get an offer, thank them for the opportunity and indicate that you need to think it over. Stalling for a few days creates the space to think through the aspects of their offer and for you to formulate a counter offer. Never say yes right away to an offer.

2. Research living expenses

If you are moving to a new place, research the living expenses there. Figure out what the lowest salary you need is, and the budget that would allow you to live in that area.

3. How to answer tough questions 

Formal salary negotiations shouldn’t start until there is an offer on the table. If possible, have them provide the initial salary numbers.

They may ask you questions during the interview about your desired salary. Deflect back to them by indicating you need to learn more about the responsibilities of the role, and that it is too soon to answer. If they continue to push, then simply state that there is nothing to talk about until a formal offer has been made, and that you will gladly to talk with them about salaries and other aspects of the position at that time.

If they inquire about your current salary, you can say that the positions are different and that you are more interested in finding out about this new role than being defined by what you are currently doing. In some cases, they already know your current salary and you need to be firm about asking for the higher amount that is appropriate for your experience and new position.

4. Let’s talk numbers 

You can learn about salary expectations by talking with recruiters, using online resources, and talking with people in the field.

You may come across conflicting advice about giving a salary range versus a specific number. You can do either. I recommend giving a range because a range allows for you to give a median and higher number to increase the chances of getting a higher final number. I have seen that work successfully for people I have helped with salary negotiations.

Glassdoor.com is a great resource for finding recommended salary ranges of many job titles at many locations. For the number you propose, you can use the median as your low point (50% are making more, 50% are less on average in that position). Generally, a good guideline is to ask for no more than 20% above the median.

5. The ask 

The experience you bring to the company is more of a factor than your personal needs. You are asking to be paid for your value in a role, and not for personal reasons such as family needs or lifestyle.

Take a deep breath and say “research shows people with my experience make this much.”

You can practice talking out loud with someone about your salary request.

Have a few talking points about why you are disappointed with their offer, your excitement to take on the challenges of the position, what you can uniquely bring to the company, and your professional accomplishments.

6. Negotiate for other benefits

After you agree on a salary, then it’s a great time to negotiate for other benefits. Aspects beyond retirement packages and health insurance include:

Work from home

Phone stipend

Vacation benefits

Technology

Conferences

Professional development

Moving expenses

These can add up, and they are great ways to boost your salary without them needing to pay you more directly.

7. Be willing to walk away 

If your minimum salary is not reached, then be willing to walk away from the offer. This inflexible number is important to decide ahead of time because there will be a lot of pressure and a short time frame to decide.

8. Share your enthusiasm for the position

After you are done negotiating, be sure to give thank you cards or emails, and re-share your enthusiasm for the position in order to continue forming relationships with your new supervisor, coworkers, and others.

Also, take time to celebrate your achievement before you transition into the new role. You did something that you were probably nervous and apprehensive about and good to celebrate that.

9. Pay raises going forward

Part of your negotiation should be to ask about future raises. After you do the initially salary negotiation, ask for potential 60/90 day review for salary adjustment. They may say no, but again it’s better to ask.

Also, ask about future raises and follow up before your annual review. Don’t wait until the annual review to ask. “Start talking to your boss about getting a raise three to four months in advance,” says Suzanne Lucas of EvilHRLady.org to LearnVest.

10. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate

You are now ready to negotiate your salary. Be a good role model for other women by always negotiating your salary and encourage other women to do the same.

And remember, don’t say no to yourself.

 

Yuliya Dennis is passionate about supporting others as they navigate career goals and loves to help alumni engage with their alma mater. Her motto is “Engage in what matters and support others in engaging in what matters to them.” She provides career services to over 190,000 Oregon State alumni, mentors hundreds each year to help them achieve professional and developmental goals, oversees an alumni career ambassador program, and manages career programs to help alumni gain career skills, give back, and network. Yuliya is the Director of Alumni Career Services at Oregon State University Alumni Association and can be reached via email at Yuliya.dennis@osualum.com.

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