Career Networking

The Art of Negotiating Salary: Five Pro Tips

Not everyone is a born negotiator. Like how bargaining is an acquired skill, salary negotiation requires a very different mindset. Instead of settling for the first salary amount put on the table, try some of the tips in this story to increase the offer.

“In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate”

Chester L. Karrass

The ugly truth of life today is that most people are working jobs they despise simply because they do not want to disappoint their parents; they must feed their families or both. So, when you receive a job offer, you will immediately accept it because having a paycheck is better than having none. However, it is crucial to note that the salary you accept for your first job upon graduation will lay the foundation for your lifetime earnings. For this reason, negotiating your salary is vital. Still, many twentysomethings are too frightened to try, simply because they believe they have no leveraging power to request for a higher salary.

Whether you are out hunting for your first corporate job or attempting to switch to another job, read on to uncover the pro tips for negotiating the highest possible salary.

1. Do Your Homework

Universities and colleges continuously organise dozens of career workshops that help you to hit the ground running. Those workshops teach you how to write a resume, ace a job interview, and many other skills that relevant and highly sought in the working environment. I am sure you only attended those you deemed important and skipped the rest you believe are irrelevant. You may have skipped that workshop which highlights that one of the most effective ways to prepare for a salary negotiation is to do a thorough research.  

“Research is to see what everyone else has seen, and to think what no one else has thought.”

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

If you missed that one, here’s what you need to be aware of before you step foot in the interview room:

  1. What’s the average salary offered by similar firms in your field?
  2. How much should someone with your level of education and experience expect to earn?
  3. Besides the base pay, what other benefits are negotiable?

One good starting point would be to do your research on Glassdoor. Over there, not only would you be able to read employee reviews of the firms for which they are working, but also, it has a feature that allows you to gauge just how much you can expect to earn with the position you are applying for.

Once you have covered enough ground, you want to present yourself as a well-informed individual during the interview. A fine way to accomplish this is to use precise figures when you put the salary you want on the table. Along the way, it gives an impression to the interviewer that you are a detail-oriented individual. Trust me when I say that it is hard to search for a candidate who is obsessed with the tiniest of details. When hiring managers know that you have done your homework, their room to counteroffer is small, and they would not attempt to lowball your proposed salary.

2. It Is A Wrong Move To Disclose Your Salary Requirements Early

There is this “desired salary” field in every job application form that you have to fill. One will typically fill this field either by stating his/her desired salary amount or provide a salary range. The fact that there are two ways to go around it reflects the challenge that is embedded in the field. Many people say that you should accept whatever challenge that comes your way. I say this is one challenge you should skip.

“What if it is a must to provide an answer?” If I were you, I would just put lots of zeros in it. No, seriously.

Salary negotiation is a common practice in the hiring domain. Managers anticipate it, and by allowing the hiring manager to lay down the cards first, you have gained the advantage. If you have disclosed your salary requirements ahead, you are essentially showing your cards too soon, and the hiring manager can exploit this opportunity to counteroffer you.

3. Silence Speaks Volume

“Sometimes you don’t have to say anything. Silence speaks it all.”

Disha Patani

In Chinese culture, it is believed that when one is silent while listening to the speaker, he/she is considered to be patient and wise. That philosophy can be applied here too. That means that you should never rush to respond as soon as the hiring manager puts forward the first offer. Remain silent for a moment as if you are considering the offer that was just given to you. I understand that being silent can be perceived as rude. I am also aware that it is difficult to remain silent, given that we seem to have this built-in tendency to respond immediately. It is part of our survival instinct, passed to us by our ancestors.

Keeping quiet may portray you as weak and inexperienced, but there is power by being the silent one in the conversation. Who knows? Perhaps the hiring manager may even put forward a second, higher figure before you have opened your mouth.

4. Do Not Forget About The Non-Financial Benefits Too

Most firms provide a compensation and benefits package that consists of health insurance, annual leave and other non-monetary perks. Although they are non-monetary by nature, they go hand in hand with your salary, which means you can also negotiate the terms and conditions of your compensation package.

Before you walk into the interview, consider your priorities. If your proposed salary has been knocked down, would increasing the number of annual leaves by ten days be enough of a compensation? Perhaps you are willing to accept a lower-than-proposed salary because they are willing to give you the option to work from home. The key message here is that you should treat fringe benefits as pawns in your salary negotiation or as primary players themselves.

5. Practice Until It Becomes Permanent

When we are dealing with an uncertainty or about to venture into the unknown, we will have sweaty palms and cold feet. Negotiating is one situation where the parties involved have no idea what the outcome would look like. However, because you are relatively new to the job, your anxiety level is much greater than the interviewer’s.

“If you don’t practice you don’t deserve to win.”

Andre Agassi

I am here to inform you that it is normal to be nervous about negotiating. You are bound to make a couple of mistakes on your first attempt. Just like anything else, the best way to make yourself gradually more confident and hone your skills is to practice. If you have yet to graduate, go and apply for student jobs. Whether the student job is a part-time or full-time employment, you are bound to learn something you can never find in the classroom.

If the idea of applying for student jobs terrifies you, ask an experienced relative or mentor for assistance. You could also outline some of the things you would like to convey and practice with someone you trust. Heck, you can practice it in the mirror. Practice means nothing if you are unable to obtain valuable feedback. Hence, be sure to get feedback on your eye contact, tone of your voice, body language, and any nervous ticks you exhibit, such as playing with your jewellery.

Past experiences can also serve as viable lessons. Reflecting on those experiences enables you to identify areas that you need to work on and things you need to be mindful of when an identical situation present itself in the future. For example, have you ever purchased a car from a dealership? Dealers are known for their marketing efforts designed to persuade you to spend on additional auto expenses such as warranties and in-house car accessories. If you can understand their motives and beat them at their own game, you are the better negotiator.

Final 2¢: Negotiations Do Not Provide Guarantees

At the end of the day, there are no guarantees in salary negotiations. Beyond the value you can potentially contribute to the company, there are many other elements that the employer has to keep in mind, such as budgeting, the current employee headcount, and even the level of competition prevalent in the industry. That said, if you do not even try to take a shot at salary negotiation, then you are doing yourself a great disservice in the long run. So, do your homework, kickstart the negotiation and take the conversation from there.

No matter how the negotiation progress, be mindful of your emotions. Do not let them prevail over logic. Remain calm and speak politely and professionally. You do not want to ruin every opportunity that knocks on your door.

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