Salary Negotiation Strategies

The ability to negotiate is a skill that will serve you well throughout your personal and professional life, and this is especially true when negotiating a salary offer. But before you start the salary negotiations, it is important to know how much the job is worth. You have to invest the time to research salaries for the position, so that you are able to negotiate what you are worth and secure a job offer that is reasonable and realistic. Salary negotiations are difficult under any circumstance so a little bit of preparation will go a long way.

An important negotiation strategy is to seek first to understand. This means that you understand the business climate that the organization is operating in, their market value, the company’s culture and the authority of the person you are negotiating with. You want a win/win outcome, so you have to bridge the company’s goals with yours and you can only do that with intentional preparation.

When the company makes a job offer, do not accept the first offer on the spot. You can acknowledge and express genuine appreciation for the job offer without accepting. During the conversation, set a positive tone even if the offer is not what you are expecting, and express that you have confidence that a win/win outcome is possible. Request some time to review the offer, and ask for a written copy of the offer to review.

Preparing to Negotiate

Create a simple table with Offer, Proposal, Rationale, Options and Walk-away Point as column headings, and Salary and the name of each benefit, such as Vacation, Sign-on Bonus, that you want to discuss as the row headings. For your counteroffer, make sure that you have supporting information to back-up your proposal, and have options that you can present should your proposal not be accepted. After you have completed the simple table, create an agenda for the meeting to discuss the job offer.

  Offer Proposal Rationale Options Walk-away Point
Salary $77,000 $81,000 Median salary for this position on is $79,000, but some pay up to $85,000; I have 5 years of experience Accelerated merit review Sign on bonus ­grossed up 30% to accommodate for taxes $80,000
Vacation 2 weeks 3 weeks Professional credit for my 5 years with my last employer Flex time/unpaid leave/comp time Offer as is

When responding to the job offer, state your agenda, and find out if it is okay to move ahead. Present your proposal, and once again, do so in a positive tone, showing enthusiasm, and letting the other person know that you are looking forward to working for the firm. So for instance, if the salary offer is $77,000, and your research suggests that it should be $81,000 based on the role and your experience, say, “According to my research, and talking to three of my peers, I was anticipating a salary offer of $81,000.” Based on what the company representative says, you can let her know where you got the salary information. Listen actively to what the other party is saying because she may present another option that is workable for you. Always keep a win/win attitude and ask questions for clarification.

If the person cannot offer a higher salary than you are proposing, or hasn’t offered any options, move on to the options that you created. Most people are reasonable and will be willing to work with you since the job is being offered to you. When you have come to a win/win outcome, one that is reasonable and realistic for you, request the revised job offer details in writing, and remember to confirm the start date, and close showing enthusiasm.

If you cannot come to a win/win outcome, you know what your walk-away point is, so respond accordingly. For the best salary negotiation, take the time for intentional planning.

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Negotiation Essentials