When I was getting my very first job, the thought of negotiating a salary filled me with absolute terror. What sort of price tag was I going to attach to myself? How was I going to justify asking for more? And why was my prospective employer slapping her knee and baying like a hyena, calling everyone over to have a look at my CV?
As you might gather, that first interview wasn’t exactly comfortable. When it got to the part where I mumbled my expected salary, she laughed so hard she blew coffee out her left nostril. But she was kind enough to explain that $50,000 a month was not the expected amount for mid-level management.
Rationalize the Reasons First:
If you’re uncomfortable asking for money, you’re among the majority. It’s the most nerve-wracking part of a sales pitch, and that’s close to what a job interview is.
To overcome your hesitation, take some time to rationalize your decision. Think about how your experiences and skills contribute to your dollar worth. Write it down, and make sure it’s something you truly believe.
If you can’t believe you’re worth that price, then neither will they. Also, you’ll have a ready answer, just in case the interviewer asks. They rarely do, but just having it ready will make you feel more secure.
Do Some Research:
Do the research, even if you’re a veteran. It’s easy to lose touch of how much your profession earns, especially when you haven’t changed jobs for a while. Economies aren’t stagnant, and have a huge effect on your earnings.
If you have significant work experience (more than a decade), or have worked with well-recognized names, it’s safe to add 10 – 15 percent over the average. If you are new to the industry, stick to the average. But mention you’re willing to negotiate for entry-level pay.
Don’t Be Too Timid:
If a prospective employer offers something below your expectations, don’t feel a need to just accept it.
Mention that it was “lower than I expected”. There is often a range allocated by the budget, and your employer will be starting at the base. You don’t want to just grab the lowest possible offer.
Keep it Quiet:
Until you are being asked outright, don’t talk about your expected salary. If an application form has an “expected salary” line, write something like “mid-level” or “entry-level”. This is to ensure you get beyond the screening process.
It’s preferable to let the company propose your salary first. If you absolutely must come up with the figure, be honest. But also be clear that you’re willing to negotiate.
Explain Why You Deserve It:
I mentioned earlier you need to rationalize your decision. If the opportunity comes up, mention those reasons. Talk about how your skills will contribute to the organisation. If you have any skills on the side, make suggestions on how you can use them to help.
In her last interview, an associate of mine secured a higher pay by pointing out her musical talent. She took the initiative to describe how it could be of use to her employer, rather than just quietly hoping they’d figure it out.
Don’t just look at the dollar value. Consider dental or medical benefits, or housing allowances. Also ask about your Route of Advancement (RoA). Some jobs may offer a higher initial salary, but with slow or minimal chance of advancement.
Be aware that some jobs include a training period. The job itself may pay $3k a month, but are you ready for a one year training period at $1.5k a month?
Don’t Get Pushy:
True story for you: in the previous company I worked for, an interviewee frowned about the pay. When asked what he expected, the answer was “I can do it for this amount, but if you don’t pay me more I will be less motivated to work.”
Which, on the scale of bad things to say in a job interview, is right up there with “I don’t really want the job”.
In short, keep in mind the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. And never, ever, bring a “you pay peanuts you get monkeys” attitude.
When your employer gives you a satisfactory figure, or more than you expected, the numa-numa victory dance is not the appropriate response.
Keep a straight face and look like you are considering it, despite that sudden urge to weep and throw yourself at their feet. In that interim moment, when you’re keeping your poker face up, the amount may just creep upward.
Any negotiation tactics or experiences? Share it in the comments below.