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Salary Negotiation: How To Earn More Money and Respect From Your Employer
Despite the importance of fair pay for most of us, effective salary negotiation is an often misunderstood and avoided topic. Current research indicates that the average length of a position today is 3.8 years. Over the course of your career, how well you negotiate a raise or salary increase will have a huge cumulative effect on the quality of your life.
So why does this skill remain elusive for many career professionals?
Most of us do extensive research and prepare extensively for a job interview. We create the perfect resume, slave over cover letter drafts, and rehearse answers to anticipated interview questions. We make sure we are well dressed, have references, and are on time. But too often, only superficial attention is given to thinking about how, when, and why we will be happy with the terms of our pay.
One problem is that cultural taboos in our society make talking about money a no-no. Many of us consider negotiating money as inherently indecent, or we feel guilty for not accepting what has been offered so handsomely. Aren’t the goods supposed to be made if you buy handmade carpets somewhere in Turkey?
We want to believe that the first offer we hear should be the highest possible dollar figure; after all, we don’t want to “rock the boat” and potentially ruin our chances of landing that great job. This voice inside us whispers “Everything in this interview went well! Don’t spoil it now!”.
Like it or not, however, you are a negotiator. You can’t quit this race. Negotiation usually takes place in dozens of ways in our daily lives. Given the fact that you will make or lose several thousand dollars in a few minutes, learning how to respectably negotiate your pay is vital! Notice that I say that respectfully.
Unfortunately, I see countless candidates who either come off too aggressively, or too meekly, for their own good. This is often due to a lack of self-preparation and practice. Many candidates also fail to realize their position in the market and the position of the employer. Not good!
The good news is that salary negotiation skills can be learned or improved. Here are seven key tips to get paid what you’re worth while maintaining a healthy respect that others have for you:
o Don’t believe that effectively negotiating your salary means you have to have the mindset of a used car salesman! You are not slippery, out of line or ungrateful for not accepting the first figure that comes up. Most employers value candidates who clearly possess self-respect and self-confidence; these qualities are revealed through the skill and balance in how you negotiate your pay – they are also revealed if you do nothing.
Think about it: Doesn’t it make sense that if you demonstrate effective negotiation skills for yourself, that in turn you will negotiate intelligently for your employer as well? Hiring managers pick up on this.
o Remember that your value is much more important than a number somewhere on a spreadsheet. Yes, this is true despite the common cries that “wage budgets are fixed, this is the best we can do” or “in this economy, it must be realistic”. Employers are generally not looking for “good deals” but they want value in their employees.
A common misconception is “I’ll have a better chance of getting the job if I don’t ask for a lot of money – I won’t cost as much as other candidates.” Don’t go there! Focus on the value you bring, not how cheap it is. By the way, if you do this right, the question of “previous salary history” should be much less relevant. This means you have a better chance of jumping to higher ranges faster in your career.
o Do not (and I mean never) accept any form of benefits before negotiating your salary. For what? Once a form of compensation other than salary is accepted by you, the employer has leverage to justify why your salary should be lower. Remember to always get an agreement on the starting salary first. Then negotiate non-salary benefits and special considerations later.
o Delay in talking about compensation; try to discuss your value, and the specific benefits you can bring to the table, for as long as possible. The employer should perceive you as a valuable, unique resource – not an off-the-shelf good with a price.
Think of those high-end infomercials that delay revealing what the offer price is until the very end (if at all). The whole point of the infomercial is to draw your attention to the value of the good or service and its many uses and applications.
Certainly something that clearly validates a gain or cost savings of $25,000.00 would be attractively priced at $2,499.99. But did you really pay attention to an ad that immediately said that its cost was $2,499.99? Probably not! The same psychology applies to salary negotiation. The longer the interview process continues, the more likely you will be considered a valuable resource obviously worthy of high-end pay.
o Do not accept any offer, no matter how lucrative, on the spot. Instead, express your continued interest in the position and how you clearly see yourself making contributions (specify once more). So always ask for 24 hours to consider the offer. Of course, one day will give the hiring manager time to find any necessary “wiggle room” if needed.
Be passionate and excited, but don’t lose your objectivity – any position that will be the center of your daily professional life for years to come will not dissolve in 24 hours. Right?
o Remember the old axiom “he (or she) who speaks first loses”. Wait until an offer has been made – but don’t respond immediately. Remember that, in many cases, what is initially offered to you may be the lowest figure that the hiring manager dares to put forward.
This is mission-critical territory: Often, even casual remarks made by you constitute implicit acceptance of the offer… That can quickly become explicit acceptance as the conversation progresses. Don’t let that happen! Instead, intentionally guide the conversation back to the responsibilities of the position. Who do you have to supervise? What are some tangible and specific contributions you see yourself making? Where do you see yourself in the organization in the future?
The bigger the long-term picture you create, the greater the chance of negotiating more effectively. You can really start negotiating after you have clearly brought to life realistic current and future scenarios.
o Don’t over-negotiate. How do you know when to recognize what is too little or too much? Researching your market in advance. Don’t just go to http://www.salary.com and think you “should” be earning a certain dollar figure without taking into consideration the unique opportunities each employer possesses. This is not really a real quest.
A salary is compensation paid for services performed. Your salary should be commensurate with your skills and experience built yesterday, but negotiated for the work you do today and tomorrow. Remember, you don’t get what you deserve in life… You get what you bargain for!
Want more help? Check out this month’s HireWorks Tips for some great resources.
Special Offer! This month we will review 10 Free Curriculums. Find out what improvements you can make to get the attention of hiring managers and land that important first interview! Click here to submit to be among the first 10 people to respond!
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