Salary negotiation is a tricky thing. Pushing to see what you can get is human nature, but an inexpert maneuver on your end could potentially sour your employment relationship before it’s even begun.
1. Keep it professional, not personal
Whether it’s right or wrong, for a lot of people, money is knitted to self-worth. If that’s the case for you, the first bullseye to aim for is learning to be professional and unemotional during negotiations. This is often easier said than done.
Without being brusque or cold, assess the offer from the company’s point of view as well as your own. Each conversation should end with you saying (or writing, if negotiating by email) thank you. Ask yourself: Have I kept things positive but also quickly gotten to the point?
For instance, to negotiate a salary of $42,000, a good response to hiring manager X at company ABC Corp. might look like this:
First let me say that joining ABC Corp. is an extremely exciting prospect for me. I believe I can produce for ABC and exceed expectations for this role. After reviewing the offer, most points reflect what I had hoped to see.
One point I would like to discuss further is the offered base salary. Currently, I earn $38,000 and am ideally looking to progress to $45,000. If there is a time today when we can discuss this over the phone, I would be happy to work around your schedule.
2. To decide how high to go, weigh risk and reward
A key thing to remember about compensation negotiation is that it’s still very much part of the interview process, even though you have an offer before you begin. If you’re attempting to negotiate above 15 percent of your current salary, be careful not to come across as high-maintenance or entitled.
Even with the offer on the table, at the end of the day, the hiring company still has the final say. If you decide what you’re asking for is commensurate with the market rate and reflects your skills and history, proceed professionally and know going into the negotiations whether you’re willing to compromise.
3. Be brutally honest with yourself
Evaluate your own qualifications. Are you more than 50 percent sure you deserve more money? If you are less than 50 percent sure, err on the side of not pushing for a higher salary and instead prove yourself on the job.
But if you do meet that 50 percent threshold, go for it. The fewer strong candidates a company has, the more likely they are to give the hiring manager leeway.
4. Depend on research, not guesswork
Research what similar jobs at similar companies pay.
What doesn’t count as research? Asking your friends what they think someone in your job should be making. Some intense Googling and researching on Glassdoor.com is much more effective.
Salary negotiation might make you feel nervous, excited, indignant, entitled, unsure or ultra-focused. But a savvy professional — that’s you — is able to take a step back from any emotional response, assess the facts gathered from reliable sources and proceed in the same professional manner that you would on the first day you walk through your new office doors.
Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement a recruiting firm based out of New York City.