Tips on How to Successfully Negotiate Salary with HR
Maybe you’ve been at your employer for a long time and feel like you’re underpaid. Perhaps you’ve even talked to others in your field, and you find out you’re making less than them. Or, you’ve got a job offer, but it feels like they’re lowballing you.
Whatever your circumstances, you’ve decided to negotiate your salary. Only you aren’t sure where to begin. You’ve got a dollar figure in mind, but is it fair? How can you prove you’re worth what you say you’re worth? And, what’s going to happen if they say no?
Here’s how to negotiate salary, and what to expect.
Prepping for Salary Negotiation
Gather your salary data.
Whether you’re weighing a job offer or negotiating for a raise with a current employer, preparation is key. Research salary levels so you have an idea of what a fair salary should be. Use sites like Salary.com, PayScale, or Glassdoor to see what people in your field who live in your metro area make based on similar years of experience and education level. Check multiple sites to get a more accurate picture of what’s possible.
Don’t rely on what you made in previous jobs because you may have been woefully underpaid. And, don’t walk into a salary negotiation without a concrete figure. Without a number (and data to back that number up), you’ll have to rely on the company to come up with a “fair” number. And you and the company may have very different definitions of “fair.” Also, don’t suggest a salary range. A range may signal that you’re willing to negotiate and you could end up at the bottom of that range.
Create a document that outlines the various reasons you’re worth the amount you’re asking for. Use specific numbers, values, and quantifiable data when possible. For example, you might estimate how much money or time you’ve saved because of new processes you’ve implemented. Or you could demonstrate the impact you make on revenue based on your support of key business initiatives.
Also, talk about what your salary request encompasses: the scope of the role, the impact you’ve made and plan to make in the future, the managerial or strategic aspects of the role, and other “big picture” specifics.
Stay calm during salary negotiation.
Be positive and clear that you’re excited about your role (or potential role) at the company. You want to maintain a solid, professional working relationship with your superiors. Or, you want to make sure that you’re not starting your new job on a sour note.
More importantly, don’t make empty threats. You never know who you’ll meet somewhere down the road, so don’t blow things up now. Stay calm and positive when negotiating. Never make condescending remarks. And, don’t tell your current employer you’ll leave.
When the Numbers Don’t Match
Even though both sides negotiated in good faith, you and the company may be far apart on numbers. Before you give up, look at all the facts as objectively as possible.
Examine your salary expectations.
Is the figure or range you have in mind realistic? You’ve done your research, but are you sure you’re being honest about your expectations?
For example, maybe you’ve been in the position for a while and feel you “deserve” the increase. But, are you really going above and beyond? Can you demonstrate that? Have you advanced your skills and education by attending seminars or workshops? Did you complete a certification? If you really have gone above and beyond, make sure you’re pointing that out to the company and explain how your growth benefits them and not just you.
Even if you are an experienced employee with multiple degrees, are you new to the field? If you’re interviewing for a role that you haven’t worked in before or you’re switching careers, there’s a good chance that the employer is factoring in a learning curve. If that’s the case, you may need to accept a smaller salary for a while until you prove that you’ve mastered the job.
Ask for their reasoning.
Before getting steamed over an unexpected offer, keep an open mind when negotiating salary.
Ask the company how and why they came to that salary offer. Some companies offer a lower base salary but the opportunity to earn unlimited commissions. Other companies offer things like overtime, large year-end bonuses, flexible schedules, remote work, or other perks to make up for the salary.
It’s important to look at everything the company offers before assuming they’re lowballing you. They may have learned that providing perks instead of large salaries is better for them and their staff. Ask for details on all the available benefits before you accept any offer.
And sometimes, it may be that the company isn’t in a strong financial position. Ask about the company’s revenue outlook and the possibility of revisiting your salary in three or six months.
Another possibility for a lower number is that the employer expects you to negotiate. Ask if there is wiggle room, and then demonstrate why you deserve more money. As you showcase your experience and promote what you can do for the company, that number might rise to where it should be.
Move beyond salary.
Sometimes, a higher salary just isn’t an option. If that’s the case, there are other things you might negotiate for. This includes monetary options like a one-time signing bonus or a six-month review with the chance for an increase for good performance. You could also ask for additional vacation time, or a higher accrual rate for PTO.
You could also ask for non-monetary benefits like the ability to work remotely occasionally or for flexible hours. Make your request in terms of how these things will benefit the company by helping you be more productive, focused, or efficient with your time.
Maybe next year.
Maybe the company is having an off year and revenue is down. Or, the overall economy isn’t spectacular and the company is playing it safe. Whatever the reason, that doesn’t mean you can’t look to the future and plan for a raise later on.
To make sure that you have salary negotiations in the future, ask what you should focus on to ensure your performance is optimal during the first several months to a year, so you can chart a course for a stellar performance review and salary increase later on.
Walk away from salary negotiation.
Employers know that some candidates are willing to drastically lower their salary demands simply to have a job and end their search. Likewise, some employers feel that if you aren’t happy with what they are “giving you,” then you shouldn’t work there anyway.
While the choice is ultimately yours, resisting the temptation to give in to a salary that’s not up to your standards is likely in your best interest.
Feeling undervalued from the get-go doesn’t start a job off on a good note. Chances are, you’ll end up feeling resentful in the long run and looking for a new job sooner than you planned. Sometimes, turning down a job offer may be your best option.
If it’s your present employer lowballing you, there probably isn’t much you can do. They have their reasons (valid or not) and are not likely to change them any time soon. Only you can decide if it’s better to stay the course or start looking for other options.
Learn a painful lesson.
Finally (and this one will make you really angry), realize that you might be getting scammed. According to a Forbes article, some companies never intend to hire you or anybody else. Rather, the employer wants some free consulting or “trial” work done and uses a made-up position to get it. After unsuspecting candidates deliver, offering them peanuts conveniently sends them running.
If Salary Negotiations End Poorly and It’s Time to Find a New Job
If you’ve done your homework on how to negotiate salary and made a compelling and professional case, hopefully you’ll get that raise. However, if it’s time to leave your role or turn down a job offer, FlexJobs has you covered. Every day we list new flexible jobs in over 50 different career areas. Perhaps a fresh start can lead to the salary that you want—and deserve.
Beth Braccio Hering and Brie Reynolds contributed to this article
Photo Credit: pixabay.com
A version of this article was originally published on December 14, 2017.
Leave a Comment
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please leave a comment below!
All fields are required.