You’ve almost reached the finish line. You’ve landed an offer for the job you really wanted — all you need to do now is negotiate your salary. If you feel hesitant about asking for more than what you were offered, you’re not the first. According to a recent Fidelity survey, only 42% of young professionals negotiated their last job offer, yet nearly 9 in 10 (87%) had success.
The time to go for what you want is now. However, be careful. Job search site Indeed recommends that you counter the initial offer no more than twice. Additionally, you should avoid trying to renegotiate a salary offer that you’ve previously agreed to because it will show you have little regard for the employer.
To start, do not enter negotiations blindly. After all, your preparation could make the difference between an offer that’s thousands more than the initial offer. To help you get ready for what may be a financial turning point, here are 10 ways to negotiate a job offer successfully.
Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back
Negotiating a job offer can be scary because the outcome is unknown, but employers are likely expecting you to do so.
“Many people are afraid that negotiating their salary will cause them to lose their job offer,” said SoFi career expert Ashley Stahl. “This is simply not true. Employers expect a counteroffer, so negotiation is low-risk. Remember that you deserve the optimum salary, so don’t underestimate yourself and be afraid to ask for a number that matches your value.”
Don’t Make It Personal
Stahl said to remember that negotiating your salary is strictly business.
“I try to handle matters of money as if I’m placing my order at a sandwich shop — neutral, factual and most importantly, impersonal,” Stahl said. “By accepting a job offer, you’re making an exchange of your time and energy for a monetary value based on the job market. No matter what challenges you’re facing, your salary should only correlate with the responsibility of your job, not your personal life.”
Here’s what Stahl recommends doing as an alternative:
“Instead, leverage your resume to garner higher pay — if the market compensation rates affirm it’s a valid request — and be honest with yourself: If you have a personal challenge for which you need to make more money and you have the skill set to back it, remember the freedom you have to do better and find a job that is paying more.”
Know Your Value
Sharlene Mohlman, a financial empowerment coach, negotiated her salary for her previous job with Sun Life Financial. “It’s really important that you research the going rate for your role in the industry. If not, you are not likely to get the higher salary that you are looking for. I researched the going rate for my role and negotiated it for $5,000 more than they initially offered. This is because I knew what the going rate was and I was able to expand on what I brought to the table, including the past experience and connections I had.”
Prepare Your Talking Points in Advance
Lisa Anne, owner of The Financial Cookbook, a site that focuses on financial, career and life coaching for women, recommends that you mention your value, worth and what you will bring to the organization and role. So take some time to work out what you will say before you start negotiating.
She also notes, “When you go to negotiate, make sure they understand the opportunity cost of you leaving your current job. For you to leave your current job, there are other things you will be navigating — starting a new company, learning a new job role, building relationships with new people. Basically, there are things unrelated to the job that you will have to undergo. Therefore, to make the change worth it to you, you will need enough in salary to compensate for that change.”
Anne also advises that you put together a 30-60-90 day plan to show the employer you are serious about the job. Then, you’ll need to let the hiring manager know that to implement those strategies, you’ll need proper compensation, she said.
In order to nail all this, once you’ve decided on your bottom line and prepared your talking points, Claudia T. Miller, a career coach, recommends setting aside at least two to three hours to practice. Doing so can help you deliver a smooth and convincing case for a higher salary.
Don’t Use a Range
Sometimes, in an effort to seem humble, a potential employee will give a salary range, but that’s a mistake.
When you state a range, you’re likely implying that you would like the top figure. However, the potential employer will look at this as an opportunity to pay you the number at the bottom of the range.
Be Firm When It Comes to Your Bottom Line
Come to the table knowing your worth, and don’t accept less than your bottom line. Be firm and confident enough in your ability to find another job if the employer isn’t giving you what you want. If a potential employer isn’t paying what you need, there’s no sense in going forward with that opportunity.
Plan the Right Timing
“Timing matters — give some space between the offer, the counter-offer, final acceptance and so on,” said Donna Shannon, president of Personal Touch Career Services. “There is a reason why car dealerships make you wait between each round of the negotiations.”
Hiring managers will give you at least a day — and sometimes up to one week — to consider salary offers, according to Indeed. If you are considering more than one job offer, having additional time will allow you to consider each offer and make the right decision.
Factor In the Benefits
If the salary offered is close but not quite what you wanted, you may want to consider the worth of the benefits offered. Consider perks like health insurance and extra vacation days.
On the other hand, keep in mind that a high salary may come with expectations of working overtime or not having as much flexibility. It’s important to look at the whole picture before making any decisions.
Be Ready To Walk Away
You should be prepared to walk away if the prospective employer doesn’t budge during negotiations. Stick to what you want, even if it means turning down the opportunity. In a best-case scenario, the employer will reconsider your ask if they see you are serious about turning the offer down.
Ask For a Written Offer Letter
Once you get a salary offer that meets your request, Stahl recommends that you ask for the offer in writing before saying yes. “And if they didn’t give you one yet, and you’re on the phone receiving the offer, the vibe is this: Be grateful, excited and comfortable to ask when you’ll be seeing it as a written offer letter,” Stahl said.
“While the offer may be a clear YES for you, don’t say yes on the phone because the truth of the matter is that you don’t know what the full offer is — benefits and more — until you’ve taken the time to read it. This sort of diligence speaks volumes about the self-love and respect you build with yourself — and it also points to being the sort of detail-oriented employee that every company needs.”
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.