According to a 2017 survey by Jobvite, 84% of people that negotiated their salary got higher pay. One fifth of that group got a 11-20% increase. However, only about 29% of job seekers having negotiated their current or most recent job. Negotiating salary can make many people nervous, prospects worry they may lose the job offer, they don’t want to appear greedy or they just don’t want to have that tough conversation. While it can be an uncomfortable moment, it’s important to realize that you’re the only one in that interview that’s going to stand up for you and what you deserve. Most companies will happily pay you below what you’re worth if you’re not bold enough to ask for what you want. If you fail to do this you are leaving money on the table. That being said, going about the negotiation process the wrong way lowers your chance of success, it’s important to have a plan of action. Here, I present some tips to help you prepare to negotiate your salary:
Firstly, you want to thoroughly research prior to your interview and find salary ranges for your position, industry and area. This will give you an idea of what you can expect from a company in any given area based on position. Here is a sample taken from the randstad 2020 salary guide for Canada:
Here it gives you a salary range for what different tech positions can expect depending on whether it’s an entry level, mid level or senior level position. You can download the full guide here. This is just one salary guide option, but if you do a google search for “salary guides” you can find many options for getting this information.
Next up is doing research on the specific company. Depending on the size of the company you can expect a higher or lower salary. You shouldn’t expect a startup company to have the same salary budget as a larger company, therefore based on company size increase or lower your salary expectations while still remaining close to the salary ranges you identify in the first step.
Lastly, do internal company research. Use online forums like reddit to find out what employees have experienced and get an inside scoop into what the company pays. Also, search your network to see if someone you know works at that company and can give you insider information. This can be unreliable because you are going off word of mouth, however if many people are saying the same thing it’s worth attaching some credibility to it and it may lead you to do more focused research based on what is discovered.
Have three salaries in mind: Your worst case, your expected and your best case. Your worst case salary is the lowest number you would accept, this must be enough to cover your living expenses. Your expected salary should be what you expect to be making based on your skillset, experience and what you are confident you deserve. Your best case salary is the salary you propose if you are very confident with how the interview is going, if you’re answering all the technical questions perfectly, you and the hiring manager are getting along great and they seem very eager to bring you on, that’s when you use this number.
Avoid bringing up the money: Many career advisors suggest avoiding talking about the money until you know that they want you. Once someone has committed to choosing you, you are in a much stronger negotiating position as opposed to when you are just another prospective candidate. If asked about it during the first interview, common ways to defer it are to respond with statements like “I’ll entertain any reasonable offer” or “we can discuss that at a later time”. If they are really pressing you for an answer and you think it can’t be avoided, you can pick one of your three numbers depending on how the interview has been going up to this point. I would recommend sticking with your expected salary in the event that you can’t decide firmly on any of them.
DO NOT give salary ranges: If you give a salary range such as 60,000-80,000, most likely they will pick the lower end, 60k. It also makes you seem indecisive and unsure, you don’t want to come off that way. So make a decision and give a specific number.
Post-Offer Negotiation: Once you receive an initial offer do not feel like you’re stuck, most employers expect you to negotiate. So if the offer isn’t to your liking, give a counter offer. Now most likely they won’t move too far away from their initial offer. As a general offer expect them to be flexible on a 5-15% pay increase but I wouldn’t push for much more beyond that. This isn’t an unreasonable amount of money to ask for, especially if you’re dealing with a large company and it’s within the expected salary range for your position.
Account for Benefits
It’s also important to factor in your benefits when deciding how to negotiate. Things like vacation days, training budgets, flexible hours and work from home schedules can make a big difference in job satisfaction.
It’s critically important for your career to be comfortable with the act of negotiation. Again, 84% of the people that attempted to negotiate their salary were able to secure a pay increase, what keeps people back isn’t that they fail at doing it, it’s that they never even try. If you take the proper steps, do good research and use the tips presented here I’m confident you can increase your salary going into the next job. 49% of workers making over 200k regularly negotiate their salary, so if you want to be in that bracket, this is a skill you need to develop.