Salary Negotiation Tips… the Do’s and Don’ts.

Updated: Nov 13, 2019


Salary negotiation can be a tricky thing.

We learn that we shouldn’t discuss money from society standards, from our upbringing, and even from the workplace. However, money can definitely be a critical factor in accepting or declining a job offer. Therefore, as part of the interview process a salary negotiation might need to be discussed. I said “might” because you might get offered the salary you are hoping for, and if you’re lucky you could even be offered more than what you expected! If so congrats to you! If that’s the case salary negation discussions are something you don’t have to worry about. On the other hand, you might not be as lucky to get offered the salary you want, which will lead you to have to partake in the salary negotiation discussion.

Salary negotiation discussions are conversations most people are unsure of or scared about. As an experienced Recruiter, leader, and HR professional,I find that people don’t understand when and how salary negotiations should be done. That’s whyI would like to equip you with the do’s and don’ts of salary negotiations so you can have the information and confidence needed to get through that part of the interview process successfully!

Here are some tips and things to consider to help you be prepared and successful during the salary discussion process.

When should the salary negotiation discussion take place?​

I would strongly suggest trying your best to wait on having

any discussions regarding salary until after a job offer is made. As a candidate you should be focused on showing the

company you are interviewing for that you are the best candidate for the job, as well as researching and finding out more about the company to see if they are a good fit for you. The last thing you want to do is discuss salary too early on in the process before the company has decided you are the right person for them. Early discussions about salary can make you appear as if you are only interested in the pay and not the actual role.

You may be asked early on in the process what salary you desire. Typically, this can happen when you are completing your application. If you have to answer this question, try to provide a salary range. This will allow you room for negotiation if you have to participate in a salary negation discussion.

If you are asked for an exact amount, indicate a salary that is on the mid to higher end of the range, so you can give yourself room to negotiate if needed.

Prepare for the salary negation discussion in advance.

Most of the candidates I have dealt with throughout my recruitment career, and even most of my coaching clients ask questions about the salary negation process. I find what they want to know the most is what to say because they are nervous about having the conversation. That’s why you should prepare for this discussion in advance. Preparing will help you to feel confident and prepared for the discussion because you will have a good idea of what to say.

Practice the points you will say and the reasons why you deserve a higher salary. When you are stating your reasons the most important thing you can do is articulate the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) are you bringing to the table. During this discussion relate these KSAs to how they will benefit the organization. This will provide a direct correlation as to how hiring you will positively affect the bottom line, while providing incentive to your potential future employer why you are worth the salary you desire.

Also, consider if any of those KSAs that you have are above and beyond your competition, or are they standard in your industry? If they are above and beyond what’s typical in your industry, maybe that’s an edge you have over other candidates. This can be another valid point in your discussion. Basically, help them understand what makes you special.​

Know your worth.​

Do you know how much a person in your desired role makes according to the job market in your area? If not I highly encourage you to research this information. You can access this information on sites that provide compensation research and pay scale trends for various positions.

Market research is done every year so employers can ensure they are paying their employees fairly and equitably. You can even look up data by state to see how much the average pay is in your field or position. Using this data can help you be strategic by giving you a foundation as to how much you should anticipate for a job offer. This is also where you can determine an equitable salary range to ask for during your salary negotiation discussion.

Some of these websites are onetonline.org, salary.com, payscale.com, glassdoor.com, indeed.com, to name a few. There are many other sites you can use do to this research.

Determine who you should have the salary discussion with.

Who has the authority to negotiate salary and make a final decision on the salary offered? Candidates often think the Recruiter or Human Resources representative has the authority to make a final decision on the salary offered to the desired candidate but most of the time that is not the case. Every organization is different. Some organizations grant the final decision making authority which is the person who approves or denies a salary, to the leader that manages the budget for the department. Some organizations give this authority to a particular leadership level. Like I said, every organization is different so it just depends. The best thing to do is to ask your Recruiter who that person is.

Why is this so important? It’s important so you can tailor your reason and justification to the right person for requesting a higher salary than what was originally offered. This is a very strategic way to get your point across by articulating how you can meet the wants and needs of the person that is the decision maker.

If it is in fact the hiring manager during the interview process you can ask the right questions to see what their wants and needs beyond what was listed on the job posting. You can use this information to reassure them that you can meet their needs if you obtain the role, and because you will meet their needs you desire to be compensated appropriately. It can be a win win situation for everyone involved! Your job is to articulate this so they can understand why you deserve the pay you are negotiating for.

Don’t discuss salary by email. Have discussions about salary negotiations over the phone or in person if at all possible.

Negotiating salary is a discussion where both parties can articulate their wants, needs, and expectations. A salary should fairly compensate an employee for their work. A negotiation discussion only needs to take place when the prospective employee believes they should be compensated more than what they are offered. Therefore, it’s good to have that conversation the good old-fashioned way, in an actual conversation. In an actual conversation there’s less of a chance of words being misinterpreted. Instead sincerity can be heard, and there can be an even exchange between both parties, so a resolution can be made where the ultimate outcome is that both parties feel a fair compensation was determined. The last thing you want is for the employer to feel you just want more money and don’t deserve it, or that your past experience doesn’t reflect being compensated at your desired level of compensation.

Sometimes, having a discussion about salary can only be done over email. If that is the case you have no choice but to articulate clearly your desired salary, why you deserve this amount, and how it will benefit the organization. I strongly advise you to be careful with your words so you will not be misinterpreted, and to make sure you do not portray yourself as someone who is just interested in the money and not the actual job. Also, try your best to make sure you are showing sincerity behind your words by articulating how passionate you are about the job as well as why you would be a good fit for the role.

What can you discuss in your salary negotiation?

  • Sign-on bonuses and bonus structure

  • Relocation

  • Start date

  • Paid time off

  • Flex schedule

  • Work from home (working remote)

  • Contractual agreement terms

  • Reporting structure

  • Out of pocket expenses to consider:

  • Travel (gas, plane, food, hotel, etc.)

  • Supplies (cell phone, laptop, software licenses, postage, etc.)

  • Networking

  • Conferences

  • Certifications

  • Professional memberships

At the end of the day salary can be a make or break factor in accepting or rejecting a job offer. If you are offered the job and do not believe that offer would fairly compensate you for the role you are considering, don’t let your fear of having a salary negotiation discussion deter you from going for the role you desire, or from accomplishing your career goals. I encourage to practice and implement these tips if you need to have the salary negotiation discussion. You can definitely help set yourself up for a successful conversation to obtain the salary and role you desire!

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