6 Tips for Effective Salary Negotiation

By Courtney Clemmons on November 21, 2016 salary negotiation

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There is truth in the old adage: if you want something in life, you have to ask for it, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the same applies to salary negotiations.

According to a recent survey from PayScale, 57 percent of their respondents said they have never negotiated for a higher salary. While there will always be a portion of the working population who has never felt the need to negotiate their salary (about eight percent of respondents) - in general, the most common reasons for why people haven’t negotiated their salary is because they feel uncomfortable, (28 percent), they don’t want to come off as pushy (19 percent), or they are worried they will lose their job or new offer (8 percent).

Although there are a variety of reasons for accepting an initial offer, feeling too nervous or uncomfortable asking for more money shouldn’t be one of them. Here are six tips to help you navigate through the negotiation process the right way.

  1. Negotiate at the right time.

When looking for a new job, it’s important to remember that salary negotiations should only happen after a company has extended a formal offer - never beforehand. Focusing on salary negotiations during the interview process detracts from the sole purpose of the interview. Also, if you are negotiating an offer that you haven’t actually received, it can leave a bad impression on the managers in charge of making the final hiring decision. Waiting until after you know that the employer wants to hire you gives you the leverage you’re looking for, and you can use it to your advantage.

  1. Understand your worth.

In order to counter with an offer that is more likely to get accepted, you need to do your market research. Understanding where you are in comparison to the rest of your field, and being able to effectively present that research to the employer will play a significant role in making your offer hard to turn down. The most impactful areas to research are:

-Average pay for employees at other companies in the same industry
-Average pay for professionals with similar education and experience levels as you
-Average pay for professionals in your field in the same geographic or metropolitan area in which you live.

  1. Aim high, while being realistic.

Once you’ve done your market research, you will be more informed and better equipped to set a realistic goal of where you’d like your actual salary to be. However, when proposing your counteroffer to the employer, make sure to choose a number that’s even higher. Starting out with a higher number gives you the flexibility to still get the amount you want, even if your employer presents a counter to your counteroffer. And if you’re lucky, they might even accept your higher number which is obviously beneficial for you.  

  1. Consider other payment options.

Total compensation for a position includes more than just your base salary, so if the employer doesn’t have the flexibility you are looking for in terms of salary, you can negotiate in other areas that might help make the offer more sustainable for your future. For example, there are hiring bonuses, performance based payment plans, PTO or flexible working arrangements that can all increase your overall compensation package. However, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you will be satisfied with accepting other forms of compensation over salary.

  1. Think through your alternatives.

Even if you propose a realistic, well-deserved counteroffer, there is no guarantee that the employer will be able to match it. So what then? In case you aren’t able to get the compensation package that you want, you need to ask yourself if you will be happy in the role with the offered salary and benefits. If not, then you should be prepared to either turn down the offer, or potentially look for a new position – depending on how unhappy you are with your current employment situation.

  1. Get it in writing.

If you’re counter offer does get accepted, then it’s crucial for you to get everything in writing from your employer before moving forward. This will ensure that the employer follows through with the agreement, and gives you clarity on how your compensation plan is going to be laid out moving forward. Most companies will provide a written document once an agreement has been reached, but if they don’t, make sure to ask for one – especially if you’re asking for a raise at your current position. And in the case where you might be on the fence between taking a new job offer and seeking a raise in your current position, an offer in writing can help demonstrate your worth to the employer you’re most interested in working for.

Regardless of where you are in your career, salary negotiation can still be awkward, uncomfortable and nerve-wracking. However, don’t let those temporary feelings stop you from asking for what you want and deserve.

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Courtney Clemmons

Courtney Clemmons

Courtney Clemmons is the Content Developer for both Messina Group Staffing and Messina Group Consulting. Before moving into her role on the Marketing team, Courtney began her career as a Recruiter working on contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire positions for Messina’s Engineering, Manufacturing, Laboratory, Marketing and Financial staffing divisions. Courtney is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a BA in Journalism.

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