How to Negotiate a Higher Salary Before You're Hired
Whether you’ve been working for a while or just starting out in the industry, you should be ready to negotiate your offer during the hiring process. Employers expect it and there is no reason to fear the process. NOT doing it, should be even scarier.
According to one survey, only 37% of people always negotiate their salary, while 18% never do. Women tend to forgo negotiations much more often than men, but those who did negotiate were able to increase their offers by 7%.
Believe it or not, that’s significant. Over time, that initial difference in your starting salary adds up to a lot of money. So, here are some tips you can follow to learn how to negotiate successfully and get prepared for your next opportunity.
Tips for a Successful Negotiation
- Find out the going rate for your position in your geographic area. Do an online search on sites such as PaysScale, or by asking people you know in the industry. Be sure to check typical pay for both men and women (there can be a gender pay gap, especially in hospitality).
- Ask for the high end of the scale. The employer will likely negotiate down, so you need to have a cushion to end up with the income you want.
- Have a one-page summary of your accomplishments and skills and what you can bring to the job. In addition to your resume, this document should list your awards or certificates and any brief testimonials that you’ve receive to demonstrate your value. It’ll come in handy when you’re reasoning with the hiring manager about what you’re truly worth.
- Be confident. How you present yourself when you walk into the room sets the tone of the interview. Remember your body language conveys a lot: don’t look down, don’t fiddle with your hair, and don’t slump in the chair. Start off with a very positive attitude and smile.
- Ask questions so you understand where the company’s priorities and needs are. If you know what they’re looking for, you’ll be better able to address how you’ll be the perfect candidate.
- Be prepared to talk about your past. When you’re asked what your previous salary was, you can re-direct the conversation to what the market is currently paying for this new position. Your past position’s compensation isn’t really relevant.
- Be succinct in your request. Once the offer is made, if you have some additional needs for more time off, a different shift schedule or benefit questions, be sure to ask about them all at once. Don’t keep coming back and asking “for one more thing.” You’ll also have better success if you prioritize which of those things are most important to you.
- It pays to take your time when you receive an offer. There’s no need to jump at the first mention of salary. Ask if you can take a day or two to think it over. Give yourself some time, and if the offer is too low, do a little more digging for information to support asking for more.
- Don’t be afraid to make a counter-offer. If the employer says "no," that’s not the end of the conversation. It’s the beginning of further negotiations. If there is simply no way the budget can be adjusted, perhaps there’s something else than can be offered in terms of hours, flex time, vacation, or benefits.
- Be ready to walk away. If you’re not “over the moon” about this job, you don’t need to accept the offer. Keep looking, and when you find the position you really want, pull out all the stops to get it.
What NOT to do or Say in the Negotiation
- Whatever you do, don’t make it personal. Telling the interviewer that you “need more money” is not the way to go. This makes you sound like you can’t manage your personal finances and it makes you look weak. Talking about how expensive everything is and revealing that you can’t afford your rent is too personal and tells the interviewer you may not have a good sense of what’s appropriate in a business setting.
- Keep some things private. Offering to tell him/her what your salary was in your last job is a bad move. It’s irrelevant: the compensation should be based on the responsibilities and skills needed to do this job. And… if you’re a female, it’s possible you might’ve been underpaid in your last job and you may get a lower offer based on that.
- Don't be rude/entitled. Don’t underestimate the value of being likeable, which is not just about being polite. The interviewer is more likely to go to bat for someone they like and want to work with. Playing “hardball” and acting entitled or greedy never works.
- Don't play be coy. While you may have another couple of interviews lined up, be sure to make it clear that if they want you, they can get you. Acting as though everyone wants to hire you may backfire. The interviewer may just decide it’s not worth the effort if you have so many irons in the fire.
- Don’t ever lie in the interview. If you’re asked some uncomfortable questions (such as “Do you have any other offers?” or “Is this job your first choice?”), answer honestly without giving up too much information. Continue to express interest and make sure you’ve prepared for this situation ahead of time. Practice what you’ll say.
Ultimately, you and the interviewers are on the same side. They have a need to fill and you have the skills and desire to work there. A successful negotiation ends when both parties get some of what they want. Remember, you’ll be working with these people day-to-day and you want to start off on a positive note where everyone feels like they’ve won.