As search consultants, we’re involved with a high number of salary negotiations. While the job candidate and hiring company are always changing, there are several rules (maybe guidelines is a better term) that must remain steadfast if both parties are to get what they want.
These are thirteen salary negotiation rules that, if followed, can lead to a bigger paycheck and a better relationship with your new company.
Do your homework. Understand the goals of the hiring company. What are the results that drive profitability for them? Why are they hiring for this position to begin with? What do they hope to accomplish? Understand the role of the hiring manager. What’s his or her motivation? He or she needs to fill the position, but on what metrics or outcomes is he or she judged? Realize that you’re negotiating with another person, not a faceless corporation. The other party has bosses, goals, and incentives just like you. The better you understand the position and needs of the other party involved in the negotiation the better you’ll be able to predict their responses.
Be likable. Hiring managers are only going to fight for you if they like you. The more they like you the more likely it is that the other side will work to get you a better offer.
Know your worth. What’s the average salary for employees in similar positions? What does this average look like nationally and locally? What do you bring to the table that can save/make the company money? Know the results you can deliver and how to quantify them.
Based on your homework and presentation, state your price. Start high and be prepared to support your stance.
Make your case. Beyond simply liking you, employers have to believe that you’re worth the compensation you’re after. You can’t just demand that they increase their offer by 15%. You don’t get anything for free in a negotiation. You have to justify your demand. This is best done in the form of a story. Tell them about the exceptional results you delivered in your last position or your plans to boost sales in your region within the first 90 days on the job. Give them something that both sticks with the hiring manager and justifies your increased requirements.
Let them know they can get you. The greatest fear of every hiring manager is that they are going to put their neck on the line to get an improved offer for a candidate and the candidate will look at the offer and turn it down. If you intend to negotiate for a better package, make it clear that you’re serious about working for this employer.
“What is your salary history?” This question and other difficult ones are coming. You need to be prepared. Your goal with these questions is, to be honest, while still looking like an attractive candidate and, since you are negotiating, giving up as little bargaining power as possible. Plan your responses to these questions in advance. Winging it won’t do you any favors.
Outline your skills and experience. Every professional has a unique blend of skills and experience; you need to identify what makes you different. Even more than that, you have to sell the hiring manager on how you will have a direct, positive impact on the key metrics that drive profitability for the company. Keep it succinct and logical.
Understand the firm’s limitations. Some companies have salary caps or other controls in place that just cannot be changed through negotiation. Find out where there is flexibility and negotiating room. When you understand the limitations of the company, you’ll be much more effective at presenting options that create a win-win scenario.
Don’t negotiate just because you feel you have to. If something is critical to your happiness and security, negotiate for it. Don’t be petty about the small stuff.
Consider the whole deal. Salary is a big part of any job offer. It’s probably the biggest part. However, there are other things to consider. Don’t get so focused on money that you miss the opportunity for improved benefits, travel schedule, flexibility, work from home, and insurance. These are often overlooked, but make up a significant part of your job satisfaction.
Prepare yourself ahead of time to politely thank the interviewer and walk away, to request time to consider the offer, and if you get what you want, by all means, say “Yes!”.
Keep things in perspective. You might negotiate wonderfully and get everything you want, but still, end up in a bad situation. In the end, the negotiation is just the beginning of your tenure with a new company. Landing a job that you love is more important than any negotiation. These rules can help you get the offer that you deserve, but should only come into play when you find that opportunity that will lead to the long and fruitful career you desire.
For more information on negotiations read our article on the “10 Tips To Help You Win Every Negotiation“.