Once a job offer is made, there is plenty of room for salary negotiation. Since one of the primary reasons for changing jobs is the desire for a larger income, the easiest way to ensure that you actually meet this goal is to do your research. Just remember that research isn't limited to knowing what others in your field are earning, or arbitrarily deciding upon the magic amount that you would like to earn. (Here are four quick and easy ways to up your spending money. See Increase Your Disposable Income.)
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1. The Waiting Game
Though it may be difficult, try to wait until your potential employer brings up money. Avoid giving exact salary ranges in your cover letter, and only discuss salary in the interview if the interviewer initiates the discussion. If possible, avoid giving any numbers until an actual job offer has been made, though if an interviewer pushes you to name a price, be sure to let them know that your salary range is open to negotiation.
2. Research Pay Scales
Though your current position and pay may provide a good starting point, you can learn a lot about fair market value by branching out and looking at what other professionals are earning in your field. There are many websites that offer salary ranges that break down jobs based on job title, region, and responsibilities associated with the position. You can also contact recruitment firms or look at job postings for similar positions in your field. Be sure to give yourself credit for any related schooling you've completed, and the years of experience you've gained through prior positions. Review any pay scales that exist within the company itself, and their direct competitors. It's a good idea to have a salary range in mind before you have the discussion about compensation. Know what it's going to take to get you to leave your current employer, and what similar professionals are earning in the current job market.
3. Know Your Value
If you have an unusual skill set or if jobs in your field are in big demand right now, you've definitely got the upper hand in bargaining. Don't be afraid to use your leverage in salary negotiations, but it's best not to be too demanding or arrogant in asking for a larger salary. Let the employer know that there is big demand in this field right now, and be sure to back this with empirical evidence from pay scales you've found online or advertisements from competing employers. (The growing interest in and complexity of these securities means opportunities for job seekers. Check out Careers In The Derivatives Market.)
4. Understand the Responsibilities
Review the job advertisement along with any information you've been given in the interview. If you've been given a formal job description for the position, this can be especially helpful in determining the level of the responsibility associated with the position. If you'll be supervising others, be sure to look at what individuals with supervisory roles earn in the field. If you will be expected to work long hours, shift work, or perform any dangerous tasks, these also factor in and should be included in your negotiations.
5. Maintain Calm
When an employer gives you a salary offer, try not to look surprised by a low offer, or excited by a high offer. The employer may read your response and use it as a guide as to how much negotiation will be required to secure you as an employee. If the offer is low, you can let the employer know that the salary does not seem competitive for a position with this level of responsibility. Even if you are pleased with the salary offer, requesting a day or two to consider could result in a higher offer. Never be afraid to ask for time to consider. It shows that you are confident and won't jump on an offer without taking time to examine the pros and cons of the position.
6. Rational Negotiating
Negotiating rationally can definitely increase your salary in a new position. If there are increased costs associated with taking the position, for example, a longer commute, a less-competitive benefits package, or no health insurance, you should include these factors in your negotiation. Explain these additional costs to the employer and suggest that if you can't find some way to cover the gap, that you won't be able to accept the position. If you can explain your situation to an employer logically and rationally, there's a good chance they'll be willing to meet you in the middle somewhere. If the employer is still unwilling to budge, you could request a salary review in six months so that if you are performing at or above expectation that you'll have an opportunity to improve your compensation package. If none of these negotiations work, don't be afraid to walk away from the job offer. (Learn the strategies that will help you to come out on top in any negotiation. Refer to Master The Art Of Negotiation.)
7. More Than Just Money
If the employer is absolutely unwilling to move when it comes to monetary remuneration, perhaps they will consider alternate forms of compensation. Job perks can include just about anything, including gym memberships, workplace incentives, pension plans or flexible work schedules to accommodate your family situation. Research what competitors are offering their employees and ask for similar perks. Be reasonable in your requests and there's a good chance that your new employer will be willing to bargain if they're serious about bringing you on board.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to money, everyone's looking for a good deal. The same can be said for the workplace. Employees are motivated by money, and employers want to secure the best employees at salaries that won't take from their profits. When an employer is motivated to secure a specific employee, there is a good chance they'll be ready to negotiate a competitive salary package. However, for an employee, the most important part of these negotiations is having a clear concept of what you're worth, and having the confidence to deliver your requests to the employer. A little bit of research can take you a long way, and having the courage to ask for what you want can take you even further.