One of the most difficult problems facing professionals, especially those relatively new to the working world, is pay negotiation. However, while the situation might seem intimidating, there’s no reason that it has to be. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when navigating the issue of compensation:
- Be Realistic
The people who have the most success negotiating a great salary are those who have put thought and research into their request before making it. Look carefully into the company’s statistics, and then come up with a reasonable bottom line. For example, if your company usually offers a 10 percent salary increase with promotions, asking for a 20 percent increase on their initial offer is essentially asking for two promotions. And that’s fine, as long as you’re sure that your qualifications merit it. Which brings us to point number two…
- Know Your Worth
Make a realistic evaluation of yourself, taking into account things like education and experience, so that you can better determine what you can honestly expect from an employer. Tools like a salary calculator can be very helpful in determining what your salary parameters should be.
- Think It Over
Most new hires are understandably eager to secure their position right away, taking the attitude that compensation can be discussed later, but don’t feel pressured to accept immediately. Ninety-nine percent of the time, waiting to accept an offer will not cause your company to recant, and in fact, a simple “I need to think it over” can even result in an increased offer.
- Ask the Right Questions
Appearing thoughtful and confident are essential in securing a position with a comfortable salary, and much of that perception comes down to asking the right questions. They will prove that you’re thinking wisely and taking your position seriously. Helpful lists, like this one from Monster.com, can be good to consult.
- Don’t Limit It to Cash
It’s an often overlooked fact that there is so much more to the issue of compensation than mere monetary considerations. Anyone about to enter into a negotiation with her new employer should think carefully about a whole range of issues beyond the dollar value, such as vacation time, paid sick leave, benefits, 401(k), etc. There are so many that Forbes even suggests drawing up a list, and even if you’re not able to come to your ideal dollar amount, your employer may be more flexible when it comes to negotiating other non-monetary things, like really awesome benefits.
In the end, most employers are willing—and even expecting—to negotiate a salary higher than their initial offer. All that you really have to do is know how to ask.