A huge number of employees are looking to make a professional transition this year. As thousands of employees enter the job hunt, many of them have questions about navigating our new labor landscape, including the critical step of negotiating salary.
The workplace has undoubtedly been altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and employees have reassessed their main motivators when considering employment. While flexibility and remote work options reign supreme, compensation still ranks high for workers when they consider new job opportunities. If you’re ready to make a professional change and have received a new job offer, these tips on negotiating salary can help make the process smoother, easier and more successful.
1. Get prepared by doing research
Discussing your salary with a potential employer is more than a conversation—it’s a negotiation that will have a pivotal outcome. To make the process as easy as possible, it’s important to prepare, do research, ask for advice, and practice your talking points.
Research industry trends for the role you’re considering and familiarize yourself with salary ranges for similar job descriptions. Most importantly, be truthful about your skills and experience so you don’t overshoot with your salary requirements.
2. Practice open communication
It is crucial to practice open and honest communication with any prospective employer during the interview process.
If you’re interviewing for other jobs, make the prospective employer aware. Be honest about where you are in the interview process with other companies; this can show a hiring company that you’re a highly desirable candidate and may not be on the market for much longer. In such a candidate-driven environment, having multiple job opportunities on the table can be a huge benefit to job seekers during salary negotiations.
When a company senses they could lose a star candidate to a competitor, they may be more flexible in salary talks.
3. Navigate the salary negotiation meeting
If you’ve received an offer letter from a company, it may be necessary to schedule a meeting to negotiate your salary with your potential employer or hiring manager. Try to set the meeting towards the end of the week, preferably on a Friday, so everyone has time to consider the negotiations for a few days before moving forward.
During the negotiation meeting, keep things short and sweet.
You don’t need a huge list of reasons why you deserve the salary you’ve requested. Simply come to the meeting with two to three key pieces of market research and back up what you’re saying with examples. Speak confidently and let the discourse happen naturally, which will lead to the negotiations feeling more conversational. This can help ease the tension of the discussion and allow you and the prospective employer to determine a middle ground that works for both of you.
With that being said, it’s also important to stand your ground and support your position with hard data. Use facts and statistics to illustrate your points, and be firm in the discussion, but try to keep your emotions at bay. Avoid tying your salary expectation to personal needs. Instead, focus on a business reason that can mutually benefit both you and the potential employer.
If you’re searching for an exact number to give a prospective employer, it’s smart to provide a figure that is slightly (but not too much) higher than your actual expectation. This leaves you with some wiggle room during negotiations.
4. Examine the company’s holistic benefits package
When you get a job offer, it’s important to examine each element of the benefits package, not just starting salary.
Consider these questions:
- Do I have 401k or stock options?
- What is the company’s policy for paid time off and vacation time?
- What are the healthcare benefits?
- Is there room for professional development?
- Do I have flexible work options, e.g. work from home or hybrid work?
Consider any opportunities for career advancement that this new position would provide. Can the role help you develop skills and accelerate your path towards your ultimate professional goal? That’s a benefit that is worth considering.
When it comes to salary negotiations for a new job, the most important thing is to know your worth. When you do, you can enter salary talks with confidence and grace. Don’t let fear or uncertainty stand in the way of negotiating the salary and benefits your skills deserve.
Now, go practice in the mirror—you’re going to crush it!
Jordan Wood is an Associate Director in Vaco’s Nashville office.