Negotiation can be intimidating, especially when the person you are negotiating with is your potential future employer. But, we've got you covered. If you are thinking "No way!? I can negotiate my salary and my benefits?", then you should probably read our article on 1 Thing Every Potential Employer Expects From You first. Otherwise, here are 5 tips to help you make the best out of your negotiation.
1. Don’t be afraid. It is expected of you to negotiate. 80% of hiring managers will tell you they expect candidates to negotiate the terms of their employment prior to accepting the offer. Hiring someone is a big decision for companies, and they would only give an offer to those they have deemed the best fit for the role. When a company sends you a job offer it's with the expectation that you will negotiate for better terms - this means they've planned for it. In the rarest of cases will a company rescind an offer simply because you countered with your own terms. Quite frankly, they may be disappointed if you don't show the drive and determination to ask for what you and they know you deserve.
2. Know your market value. You should go into a negotiation with a general idea of what the average salary and benefits a candidate like yourself should be receiving. You should prepare and enter the negotiation by presenting a rationale for why you believe you deserve the amount you are asking for. For more information on knowing your market value, read our article on Understand Your Market Value.
3. Know your levers. You shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate, but you should also be flexible about the whole negotiation process. Note that your salary is not the only compensation that the company can offer you. Imagine that you have several levers you can pull in the negotiation. Each lever represents a benefit. If the company really can’t offer you more salary, you can always try pulling the other levers. Ask for additional benefits such as vacation days, transit passes, a more flexible work schedule, etc. Some companies now even try to give employees a choice of what kind of health/medical benefits packages suit their needs, age, and lifestyles best.
4. Work the anchoring bias. A lot of times, employers will ask you how much salary you are expecting in order to gauge and estimate what you want versus what they are able to offer. You are not obligated to give a solid number if you don’t want to. But if you do provide a figure, make sure you don’t provide the minimum you are seeking. Why? Because whatever number you provide will become the employer's reference point from which to negotiate (eh-hem, downward), this is known as the anchoring bias.
For example, let's say you're looking for an hourly wage of around $25, but you responded $30 when asked about your expected salary per hour. The employer would look at that number, and if they can, persuade you to take $27 instead of $30. See how ultimately it's a win-win since you got more than you wanted and they paid less that they expected...all because of the reference point you set.
Now imagine the company was planning to offer you $35 an hour but you responded $30? You may end up with a salary of $27, when you really could've gotten $35. A classic example of leaving money on the table. So you see, it's not a simple process to navigate. Take caution as not to suggest anything too low or too high either as you could take yourself out of consideration entirely.
If possible, let the company make the first move by providing you with an offer without letting them know what you are looking for. If the company really wants you to give a number, a useful trick is for you to tell them about how much you were getting at your previous position and the ways that you have improved/developed since. This strategy will improve your chances of being offered something better than what you were being paid previously.
5. Don't be rude or demanding. Negotiation is a delicate process and it takes practice to improve. Try not to stress out and overthink the whole situation. Remember that in a negotiation, the best outcome is one where both sides walk away satisfied. You're not necessarily trying to "win" or gain the upper hand. Remember, at the end of the day you need to continue working at this organization and with your employer. Being rude of demanding will not help you build rapport with your new colleague if you should get the job.