Congratulations! After countless interviews, background checks and skills assessments, you received that job offer! If the salary offer was not as much as you expected, you’re not alone. Salary can be an uncomfortable topic, but where you begin at a new job can make a big difference in where you end up.
But salary negotiations aren’t just for new hires. Whether you feel your initial offer could be better or you deserve a raise, you don’t have to walk away from a company just to get it, nor should you feel obligated to accept the company’s initial offer. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, but be diplomatic. Before you make a counteroffer, follow these steps:
Do your research.
There are several resources available online that provide a salary range for nearly every job title and level of expertise. Websites like Glassdoor or salary.com offer estimates based on your location or even your specific company. Understand what’s fair for your background and expertise in your job market for an edge when negotiating.
Know your worth.
Now that you know the range of what people earn in your position and in your market, reflect on what you deserve. Be honest. Your experience level and education impact your earnings, and your desired salary may not necessarily match it.
Your accomplishments and contributions at your previous or current job(s) also affect your salary. If you’re negotiating for a new job, consider projects you’ve completed that would be beneficial to your new job. If you’re requesting a raise, did you significantly boost sales in your company? Did you implement a new technology program that improved operational efficiency? Quantify your past accomplishments to prove your worth. It reflects how you can apply your skills and knowledge to your new position. Be ready to give examples of how you can contribute to the company’s bottom line so the employer has valuable information to consider.
Prepare for questions.
If the employer responds to your counteroffer by asking your current salary, practice your response. You can decline to provide a number and instead say, “The compensation I receive is fair to my position and responsibilities.” What you shouldn’t do is lie and say you earn double what you’re actually making. Employers are knowledgeable of the salary expectations for the position they’re filling.
Some employers may counter by touting their superior employee benefits package. Figure out how much your current employer contributes to your benefits, including health insurance, retirement savings and paid time off, and see how that balances with your offer. Salary should not be the only negotiation tool.
Maintain your enthusiasm.
No matter what the offer is, always show gratitude and express your excitement at the opportunity to be part of a new team. Maintain a positive and enthusiastic attitude throughout the negotiation process to prove that you’re a team player and that you can handle yourself professionally. You never want to create the impression that you’re ungrateful or entitled. If you do decline the final offer, break the news graciously and thank them for their time and consideration. Walking away in a professional manner will leave a positive impression on the employer, and who knows, you may make a trustworthy professional connection who may be helpful in the future.
Salary negotiation is a normal component of any job application process. Salary offers usually come with the expectation that candidates will counter, so be prepared to negotiate instead of accepting or declining it right off the bat. Accepting a salary lower than you deserve may affect how much you’ll earn in raises, including yearly increases and promotions, as well as how much a potential employer may offer 10 years down the road. Don’t be afraid to approach the negotiation table before you sign on the line.
Amber Barron is an associate recruiter at Vaco Memphis, a talent & solutions firm.