Photo: Flickr / bpsusf
For the past three years, American workers have felt like they were caught between a rock and a hard place.
Good jobs seemed scarce, and asking for a raise amidst layoffs, cutbacks and pay freezes felt too intimidating.
Yet a recent report by PayScale points to a shift in employers’ mindsets: 60 per cent of employers said they adjusted their pay structure in some way in the past year, while 44 per cent increased their pay ranges by 1 to 5 per cent.
Given these findings, it seems likely an employer would be willing to cough up the cash for the right candidate.
To set the record straight, I tapped career experts Samantha Zupan of Glassdoor.com and Penelope Trunk, along with Alexa von Tobel, CEO and founder of LearnVest for their take on the issue. The verdict: Always negotiate for a salary raise before accepting a new job. Here’s why:
It’s the best time to do it
“Absolutely the best time to boost your income is when you’re starting your next job,” says von Tobel. It’s a transition phase, so the discussion is fair game.
Also, it’ll be far less stressful to have the talk now than in a performance review.
You’ll regret it if you don’t
“It can’t hurt to ask, and it’s damaging over the course of a 40 year career not to,” says Trunk. All your future salary raises hinge on that number, and since you’ll be stuck with this number for a while, you might as well make it a good one.
You’ll flex your business acumen
Negotiating a salary isn’t just a matter of asking for more cash, it shows your prospective employer that you take yourself and the job very seriously.
“It’s a way of saying, here’s what I’m great at doing and here’s why this salary makes sense,” says von Tobel.
Do your homework
Zupan recommends taking a four-step approach: Start researching job sites like Glassdoor to see how your current salary stacks up against the prospective employer’s, and use informational interviews (ideally with inside connections) to learn about the company’s compensation practices.
Next, develop a budget to see what you need to maintain (or slightly elevate) your lifestyle.
When you’ve done your due diligence, you’ll be prepared to ask your prospective employer in a smart, professional way what they’re willing to offer. They’ll likely give a range to negotiate, so make sure to set a low and a high bar for what you expect.
The worst case is that they’ll say no
“(Employers) aren’t going to rescind the offer if the salary you ask for is too high,” says von Tobel. “But they will respect you more for negotiating on your behalf.”
Remember, salary isn’t everything
Plenty of factors should go into your decision to accept a job, and just because the salary isn’t up to snuff doesn’t mean you can’t ask for more vacation, flex-time, etc. The employer may be more than willing to meet you halfway.
It’s also key to find something you’re passionate about. If the thought of coming in each morning makes you die a little inside, you owe it yourself to seek greener pastures.