When you get a new job, one of the most awkward, yet one of the most important conversations you have is the one about salary. The job is right there for the taking, but if the salary offer is a far cry from what you need, then the job might not be meant to be. That can be hard for a lot of people to understand. It can also cause people to go below their bottom dollar so they don’t let the job get away.
In this article, I will go over some of the best practices for when it comes time to negotiate salary at your job. Follow the practices accordingly, and you should find yourself in a more comfortable spot.
Know Your Value
Take some inventory in yourself. What do you think your time is worth? Although you will be representing the company, the company will also be representing you and your own personal brand. If you’re a college graduate, factor in what you think you’re worth now that you have a degree. Remember that you have experience. If you don’t have experience, that’s another article entirely.
Think about what you have made in the past for the work you’ve done. The typical rule is that you don’t ever want to a job where you are making less than you were before. There might be times when you need to take a job at a lower salary than the one you were at before, but we will get to that further down the list.
Think about what you know how to do, and how valuable that knowledge is. Are there any computer programs that you know how to use already that can take years to learn? That adds to your value! Will it take less time to train you than the typical hire? That adds to your value as well! Any licenses, certifications, and even some awards you have won all add to your value, and make you deserving of a higher salary.
Do Your Research
Before you go into salary negotiations, you can find out what the job pays with a little bit of research. Hop on Google and type in “salary for (position) in (where you live).” For example, if you are applying to be a nurse in Chicago, you can Google “nurse’s salary in Chicago.” You will immediately get results that will show you a salary range to shoot for in negotiations. Sites like Glassdoor can even tell you what the job pays from the specific company in many cases.
Don’t Start With Your Bare Minimum
When you go into a salary negotiations, tell yourself what the minimum amount you need to make has to be, and commit to it. Also, do open by telling your potential employer what that number might be. For example, if you need to be making at least $45,000, open up by saying you need to be making around $50,000 to be comfortable. The job that you are applying for already has an approved salary range, but the company is going to try and get you for as cheap as possible. If you tell them $50,000, they will either say yes, make a counteroffer, or say they cannot come anywhere close to that. If they cannot come close to $50,000, they probably can’t come close to $45,000 either in which case this job is probably not for you. If they say yes, you are going to make more than you needed, and you’ll be in a great spot. Most importantly, if they counter offer, they will counter with a salary closer to $50,000 rather than closer to $45,000. They might come back with $45,000 or $46,000 rather than $40,000 or $41,000.
Personally, I had a lesson in learning my value after college. I was working a job where my hours were 4 p.m. until midnight. I was making about $35,000 a year. I started the job before I graduated from college. After graduating, I asked for a raise. I said that now that I have a college degree, my time is worth more money. The company did not agree and refused to increase my salary. After that, I started looking for work elsewhere. After about a month of searching, I found another job in my field. The only problem was it was four hours from my home, so I would have to move. I nailed the interview and got the job. The company offered me $38,000. True, this was more than I was making before, but a lot more had to be considered. First off, I was moving four hours from my home where all of my friends and family lived. Secondly, I was moving out of my parents place where rent and food were both free. A whole host of bills would be coming my way if I took this job. I told myself that I would not take below $40,000. I came back to them and asked for $45,000. Zero part of me thought I would get that, and I was right. The company said they couldn’t go up from $38,000, so we ended negotiations.
The following week, they called me again. This time, the offer was for $39,000. I came back to them with $42,000. Once again, the answer was a resounding “no.” When it comes to salary, $1,000 might not seem like much. However, for a lot of people that could very well be a month’s worth of rent and groceries. I was not willing to lose out on that.
Finally, a few days later I got a call saying that they could go up to $40,000. I accepted the job, and started the moving process. My new job had better hours, better benefits, and I made considerably more money. It’s true that I could have ended up never being offered the amount I desired, and I wouldn’t have gotten the job. However, it doesn’t make sense to leave one job where the pay isn’t what you need for a job where the pay isn’t what you need either.
You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For
More often than naught, the company hiring you wants to get you for as cheap as possible, and get you working as soon as possible. They are probably not going to proactively seek out your needs. Because of this, you need to advocate for yourself and let the company know what you need in order to start working for them.
Don’t assume that there will immediately be more negotiating once you start your job. If there is something else that you require, talk about it during negotiations. For example, if the job requires you to move, you are well within your right to ask for a stipend to cover moving expenses. If there is a day coming up that you need off such as for a wedding or vacation, tell them beforehand that you need that time off.
If you need money immediately once you start, you can ask for a sign-on bonus. It could be a few weeks until you get your first paycheck, so an extra $500-$1,000 out the gate can really come in handy.
A very common annoyance when starting a new job is transportation. Sure, you might be able to drive to the company yourself, but if you work in a city, parking can be expensive. If you are spending $30 per day to park (that number is low in a lot of areas), that means that you are spending $150 a week just to get to work (not counting gas). That’s money that could be going to paying rent, groceries, or student loans. Asking for a parking pass, access to the company parking lot, or more salary to cover the parking expense are all things to consider.
Factor in the Perks
Sure, there are circumstances where you might need to take a job where you are making less than you were at a previous job. However, there are some things you should take into consideration before taking that job. If you are doing more difficult work than you were before at your higher paying job, this new job probably is not worth it. Find out if there are any other benefits associated with the job that make the pay decrease worth while!
As we said, parking can get expensive. If your last job didn’t have free parking, but you made more money, factor in what that difference would be. If the job is close to home, think about what you’re saving on gas or on ride-share services. Here’s a list of general perks offered by many jobs that you should factor into your consideration:
- Access to a company car
- Discounts at local businesses
- Better insurance
- Knowledge you will gain and skills you will learn at the job
- Connections you will make for networking
Sometimes even the building itself you will be working at has perks. A few years ago, I worked for a company that had a free employee gym. The gym had everything you would want, and was kept very clean. I no longer had to pay for my gym membership, and I was also saving time by not having to drive out of my way to go to my local gym.
Sure, if the salary is well out of reach, then you probably should pass on the job. However, if the salary is relatively close, you might want to take into account some of these perks.
How to Re-negotiate Salary
Although you might be comfortable with the salary now, that can change in an instant. If you have a child on the way, you are getting married, or if you have a new medical expense, you are going to need to make more money.
When you start a new job, find out when the company conducts performance reviews. Also, find out how regularly employees are promoted. If people typically are not promoted and stay with the same salary for years, then you might want to reconsider taking the job. If performance reviews occur once or twice per year, make sure you know when they will occur, so you can prepare yourself to re-negotiate.
Asking for a pay increase is a relatively simple formula. You need to prove one of two things. You need to prove you’re doing more work than what your job description entails, and should be compensated for it, or you need to prove that the job you are currently doing is deserving of more pay. If you believe the current job is deserving of more pay, you need to prove why. find out what the average salary is for your position. Cite actual companies and the salaries they offer if at all possible. If you are going beyond your job description, but the company declines your request for a raise, it might be time to look into a new job.
Talking Salary can be hard
We get it. This can be a hard conversation to have. However, it is vital to your professional growth that you know how to negotiate salary so that you are paid what you deserve!
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