Deal or No Deal: Negotiating Salary
Talking about money during the hiring process should feel nothing like being a contestant on a nerve-wracking game show. Job candidates who prepare before the interview and adhere to some specific principles during the negotiation will eliminate much of the guesswork in the equation.
Before the Interview
Know what you want and prioritize what's most important to you in your next role --money, more responsibility, work/life balance, a shorter commute, corporate culture --before you begin interviewing.
Use the salary calculator locate an industry association contact that can provide you with relevant compensation information. This will also help you know that jobs you apply for pay well enough for you. Remember, however, that variables such as company size, economic conditions, and availability of qualified candidates in the market need to be factored into your information-gathering process.
When and How to Talk About Money
Keep in mind that companies typically have salary ranges budgeted for specific roles within the organization. Exceptions aren't all that common. The only flexible items in a job offer may come down to things other than salary -- a signing bonus, moving up your review date, additional vacation time -- and could be an alternative to a higher salary.
Be prepared. You should be ready to convince the recruiter that you are worth the dollar amount at the higher end of the salary range. The easiest way to do this is to provide very specific examples of how you can add value to this organization -- just like you've done throughout your entire career.
Be upfront. When asked about your compensation requirements during the initial telephone interview, let the recruiter know where you stand. "I'm looking at opportunities in the $60-70,000 range, but can be flexible for the right opportunity." It's acceptable to ask if you're in the correct range for the position, and important to know so that both parties can make an informed decision about moving forward without wasting time. Remember, the role of the recruiter differs at each organization, so don't underestimate the influence this person has on the decision-making process.
Be respectful. If an offer is presented that is lower than what you hoped, thank the presenter. Ask if there is any flexibility in one or two of the areas that you've identified as being a priority for you. Regardless of the answer, always say you need time to consider the offer. Don't start negotiating new terms immediately.
Be firm. If there is no flexibility in the offer, you can accept it as is, or politely refuse and walk away. If the company is flexible on your terms, agree on all the new details in one conversation so that you can move forward with the next step in the process -- signing and returning the written offer letter.
Above all, be professional. Your actions during the negotiation process will be remembered by everyone involved long after you're hired, and may be helpful when it comes time to ask for a raise. As before, early preparation is the key to success in getting the salary you want and in taking away the feeling that you could be playing "Deal or No Deal."