Tips for Negotiating Salary

Negotiating is one of the most-dreaded parts of the job search. Even though it signifies that you have been made an offer, people often choke when it comes time to talk specifically about salary. Watch this amazing video by Ramit Sethi on how to negotiate salary well:

I’m going to discuss the third tip in the video first: “You need to be remarkable.” If you have not gone above and beyond in your work, are you in any position to negotiate? No, you’re not, so do something that will put you in a better position to do so. If you are currently working, Sethi’s suggestion of talking with your boss to find out what you need to do to kick your performance up a few notches is great.

But if you are in transition, you are going to have to find other ways to demonstrate how you can be a stand-out employee. The best way to do this is to volunteer. Find a volunteer position that has some connection to what you do professionally, and then deliver a performance that knocks it out of the park. You probably will not be able to negotiate as high a salary as if you had put forth that same effort in your job, but being able to have some specific accomplishments to call on and to use your supervisor at your volunteer post as a reference will certainly provide some substantiation that you can excel in your work.

A big takeaway from this video is to prepare for negotiations. It makes total sense. You need to know your speaking points forward and backward to be able to effectively negotiate. If you hem and haw, you’re not going to come off as confident in your rationale for why you deserve a raise or why you should earn a higher starting salary.

Because saying to prepare is not enough, I love that Sethi went into detail for what you should prepare:

  1. See what other people with your experience, skills, and job duties are making. Like Sethi says, go to salary.com and payscale.com and plug in the information about your background and current job to get a basic idea of what the going rate is. Even if there is not an exact match for who you are, find job descriptions that embody some of the activities that comprise your specific position and base a salary range off of that.
  2. Justify why you deserve to get compensated at the top of the pay scale. This is exactly the same kind of hard data that you should be using on your résumé. If you give accomplishments that are vague, hiring managers won’t understand the true value that you will bring to the organization. By talking about the percentage of growth you led your team to achieve or the specific dollar amount you saved the company through your initiatives, it’s very clear how you have contributed/are able to contribute to the bottom line of a department/company. Sethi is spot-on when he says, “If I have to do the work as a hiring manager [to determine your value], you’re going to lose.”
  3. Get comments from colleagues and bosses about your contributions. Nothing sings your praises more than another person giving a testimonial about your attributes. One source of this is recommendations from your contacts on LinkedIn. Another source is your annual reviews. If your supervisor writes that you excel at developing a rapport with customers, include that in your cover letter, in your résumé, and during the interview (the “What would your boss say about you?” question is a perfect time to bring this up!)

Another point made in the video relates to the anxiety that many people feel about negotiating. Especially with the job climate being what’s it’s been over the past few years, job seekers may feel like they should just take what is presented to them. But if you know the market and know the added value you can bring to a prospective employer, use that to confidently talk about your salary. There’s nothing wrong with a little negotiation.

And the part about how to respond if the answer you get is “no?” I love it! Don’t let the conversation end at “no;” open the door to have it continued at a later time. And then WOW your boss with your performance.

What other hints do you have for winning at the negotiation game?

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