No matter how exciting the career opportunity that you are exploring, salary is a major factor in deciding whether to accept or decline a job offer from an employer. Being compensated fairly for your skills and professional experience has a direct impact on your overall job satisfaction. Due to this understanding the nuances of when and how to negotiate your new salary is imperative.Should you do it during an interview or should you go after getting the official job offer in hand.
There is a very fine line between success and failure: If you try to negotiate your salary too early, for example, it can signal to an employer that you’re more interested in the compensation package rather than the job at hand. It is also a possibility that if you mention a desired salary figure without doing the proper research, you might leave money on the table or alternatively price yourself out of consideration for the role.
What is the best way to talk about money with a potential employer? If you were to ask any recruiter or hiring professional about how to openly discuss salary during an interview, they would tell you this. When the topic of compensation comes up during an interview, you need to be diplomatic and more importantly be prepared. Here are some general do’s and don’ts:
- Do your research. You need to have a good understanding of what’s a fair starting salary for the job and the company that you’re interviewing with.
- Don’t rush the money talk. Good timing is critical when negotiating your salary package.
- Make sure that you think beyond the paycheck. More paid time off or other non-cash benefits, for example, might be on offer if a higher salary isn’t.
- Don’t volunteer a salary figure or range. You don’t want to be evasive to an interviewer if asked, but it’s generally advised to best try to get the employer to give a number first.
- Honesty is key. A deceptive job applicant is always a rejected job applicant.
- Don’t assume you have to accept the first offer. Even in a challenging job market, negotiating with good intention is always acceptable. Ask the employer for what you want but make sure it is fair.
Here are some more detailed tips on when and how to negotiate your salary during an interview with a prospective employer.
1. You need timing and tact
Mentioning your current salary or expectations in your cover letter or during the initial phone screening is something that should never occur. Be sure to not bring the topic up during your first interview, either. Use these opportunities instead to show your suitability for the role and let the employer get to know you both on a personal and professional level.
The second interview is a more acceptable time to ask about compensation,but tact is key. Express your interest in the job and highlight the strengths you would bring to it before asking for the salary range. Make your prospective employer feel confident that you’re there for the opportunity and not just the pay cheque. If they bring up money first, be sure to provide a range that leaves room for negotiation. Showing that you’re flexible is the key toward negotiating a compensation package that’s acceptable to both you and the employer. Just be sure you fully understand the job requirements before answering questions about your desired salary.
2. Hold your cards close to your chest.
As a general rule, it’s best to get the employer to put forward a figure first. Knowing their starting point can give you some leverage during your salary negotiations, however sometimes you can’t avoid having to show your cards first. Some companies’ online job application forms will ask for your desired salary, generally to ensure that candidates expectations line up with the organization’s budget. If you face this scenario, offer a range (not an exact figure) that would be acceptable to you. Follow the same rule if it comes up during your first interview: Either give a salary range, or smile, defer and turn the question around: “I’d rather not talk in detail about money this early in the process. I’d like to first learn more about the opportunity, the team and the company. But may I ask what the budget for this role is?
3. Make sure your expectations are right.
At the beginning of the process, even before your initial phone screening, do your homework and find out the current market rate for your city, industry, and the particular job title you’re applying for.
4. Be prepared to negotiate.
You’ve been offered the job, but the salary package offered doesn’t meet your expectations? What do you do! It’s perfectly acceptable, even in an uncertain economy, to request additional compensation.
5. Present a strong case
In any negotiation process, you need to give solid reasons for your position. Talk specifically about your skill set, professional experience and prior career successes, especially those that have had a measurable effect on a company’s bottom line.
6. Never embellish
Never mislead a prospective employer about your current compensation or invent other job offers in an effort to get more money. The truth will almost certainly eventually come out. Instead, emphasize the value you can bring to the business when discussing salary during an interview, and be honest about your current situation.
7. Think beyond the $$$$$
Be sure to evaluate the entire compensation package. A challenging job with a lower starting salary could have a generous benefits package or could provide opportunities to learn and grow within the company. You need to fully understand the entirety of what’s on offer, including health insurance, retirement plans and holiday allowance.
8. Get it in writing
Congratulations, you got the job offer and have managed to negotiate the salary you wanted! Now you need to ask for it in writing. Under no circumstances should you resign from your current position without having the compensation, job title and responsibilities of the role, and other details documented.
Knowing how to discuss salary during an interview is like knowing how to dance. You don’t want to start too early, and you don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. Being prepared with salary research and a strong ability to communicate your most relevant strengths will help you put your best foot forward.