Photo: Cameron Adams/Flickr
As though creating a blockbuster resume, landing the interview and selling yourself aren’t gruelling enough, salary negotiations are yet another hurdle to overcome during the job search process. Negotiating salary offers from prospective employers often causes additional stress – before the negotiations even begin.
Many people are actually negotiate against themselves, deciding what they value and what they will forgo before even reviewing their offer. Learning a few key tips will stop you from negotiating against yourself and ease that stress.
When it comes to negotiating the salary offer, remember that a competitive offer is more than just base salary. Many of us tend to focus on the salary, when in reality there are multiple – very important – components to the package.
Before speaking with your employer regarding their offer, review your current package (not all mat apply):
- Base salary
- Annual bonus – in addition to salary, usually expressed as a % of base salary
- Long-term incentives (e.g., phantom units, stock options and/or restricted stock)
- Benefits- health and welfare (e.g., company cost, employee cost, prescription costs, prescriptions covered, etc.) coverage, vacation, retirement plans and savings plans (including company matching)
- Considerations regarding what you are leaving on the table by resigning (e.g., anything that is unvested)
- Intangible benefits – Perhaps the new job offers more complex work, greater career development or a shorter commute
By making a list, you become fully aware of what you have and what you are forgoing. When talking to your prospective employer, use the following 7 simple steps to minimize salary negotiation stress:
1. Reiterate your excitement
Make sure the discussion stays positive. Stating up front that you are thrilled to be joining the firm reassures your employer that you are professional, courteous and thoughtful.
2. Be silent
LET THE EMPLOYER RESPOND. We have a tendency to talk and talk (and fill awkward silent gaps) but that is another important way we negotiate against ourselves. During our tendency to talk, we “talk ourselves down” or reveal information the prospective employer can use as bargaining chips. By being silent, we also gain the opportunity to glean important information for the discussion.
3. Discuss your interest in reviewing the entire package
Framing the discussion in terms of the entire package signals that there are numerous items to be reviewed and that you will consider the offer in its totality. It also minimizes the tension around salary alone and indicates that there could be flexibility for negotiation in many areas of the package – if need be.
4. Be silent.
LET THE EMPLOYER RESPOND. Sound familiar?
5. Be honest.
If you are pressed for an answer regarding your salary requirements specifically, I believe in 2 things. (1) Be honest. Do not set a precedent that you are a liar (especially since it is a small world and the employer may already know – roughly – what you make or might find out). And (2) Know what the new job is worth. Then, if you must provide a number, provide a range instead. Once you determine what the job is worth competitively, offering a salary range allows more room for discussion.
Thank the employer – again – for its time and its offer. Express your excitement at joining the firm and being able to contribute to its successes.
7. Be silent.
LET THE EMPLOYER RESPOND.
Once the offer arrives, review the package in its entirety. Compare it to your current offerings and identify the gaps. prioritise which gaps are more important and which are less important. When you respond to your prospective employer, be thankful for the highly competitive and comprehensive offer. Explain that you have a few areas to discuss further, at his/her convenience.
The ensuing discussion should be as positive as possible. You can identify each area for discussion, explain your constraints/concerns and ask the employer to review its offer and see where the company might have some flexibility.
Maintaining a positive working relationship is critical. Never shut the door to any part of this discussion. Do not take it personally. And be prepared to work through the issues collaboratively.
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