So you applied for a job, landed the interview (which you aced), and now the employer’s offering you the position. Here comes the next tricky part: negotiating over salary.
Whether getting a new job or looking to take the next step up after working at the same company for several years, a successful salary negotiation demands some research and prep work on your part. It’s also all about avoiding critical mistakes. With that in mind, here are some pointers:
Do a Self-Assessment
Before your big talk, sit down and make a two-column list. In the first column, itemize your professional assets: achievements, skills, and experience. In the second, do the same with your professional liabilities: failed projects, any gaps in your experience or performance, etc.
During the actual negotiation, you can leverage everything from the first column to give you a boost; and you come prepared with some good explanations in case anything from the second column comes up. Either way, creating a self-assessment will help ensure you’re not tongue-tied at the crucial moment.
What has your company paid in the past for similar positions and experience? What does the industry tend to pay? What did the previous person who had your job earn? By researching and answering all these questions, you can develop an appropriate range for a potential salary (or salary bump).
It’s About More Than Money
Some tech pros become myopically focused on money, to the detriment of their overall compensation package. Think about the perks you might want other than money, such as expanded opportunities to work from home; take special note of the ones you consider a priority. Even if an employer isn’t willing to offer you as much cash as you want, you can still “win” by negotiating for things such as an idealized work-life balance.
Dodge Early Questions About Salary Expectations
Sometimes a job interviewer will ask how much you expect to be paid. This is a trap. If you name too high a number, you might deep-six your chances of landing the job; if the number’s too low, you might end up leaving money on the proverbial table if you’re hired. (And yes, even if you’re a superstar, there are definitely numbers that qualify as “too high.”)
What’s the solution? If asked, suggest that you and the company can “arrive at a number that’s agreeable,” or that you expect to be paid at a level appropriate for your experience and skills.
Once the company makes you a job offer with a hard number attached to it, you can begin to negotiate in earnest; but don’t start any talks over salary until the proper time. (A modified version of this also applies for workers who’re looking for a pay bump at their current company; in that situation, it’s all a matter of timing: Don’t bring up numbers until your employer seems amenable to talking.)
Don’t Play Around
Don’t make a request without justifying it; take a good deal if one’s offered; and be prepared to concede on some points. If an employer offers the salary number you want, but doesn’t want you working from home more than one day a week, it might be worth taking the deal rather than dragging things on (unless, of course, working from home a certain amount of days per week is your most important requirement).
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