Salary Negotiation Tips
Nimish Thakkar, MS, MBA,
CCMC, CPRW, SaiCareers.com,
comes to compensation, for many, more is always better. Yet, a vast
majority of job seekers -- under the mistaken assumption that they
don’t have a say on the salary negotiation table -- sheepishly accept
the first offer that comes their way. It is true that a few
industries, companies, and job roles are not suitable candidates for the
negotiation process, but universalizing such an assumption would be
incorrect. Traditionally, employers have been very open to negotiations
with the right candidate (and of course the adept
Knowledge of compensation trends is pivotal to the success of any
negotiation strategy. A shrewd negotiator would, with practice, have
developed the uncanny ability to manipulate the negotiation, knowing
just when to call “attack” (asking for more) or “ceasefire” (accepting
what is being offered). Don’t worry even if you are not a born negotiator
the following tips will help you prepare:
Establish your value
The seeds of negotiation, in my opinion,
are sown well ahead of the actual interview -- by establishing your
value. If you have done your homework and positioned yourself as a
star performer, you have already gained an upper hand.
Think about the brands you would willingly pay more money for. Why
would you do so? One reason, of course, would be the quality of the
product or service. The most important reason, however, is the
perceived value or benefit of the brand. You are conditioned to
thinking about certain brands as being “top class.” A BMW, for
example, immediately brings to your mind the impression of a luxury
car. The company has worked very hard to position itself as a luxury
car, a car for which you would empty your bank.
In a similar manner, you must convince employers about the potential
benefits of hiring you.
Resumes, cover letters,
thank you letters,
interview responses are very effective tools that you
could use to establish yourself as a “must have.” The higher your
perceived value, the more leverage you will have at the bargaining
Know the baseline
Carefully determine the absolute minimum
amount required to meet your financial obligations. This number is
essentially your baseline. You would obviously try to negotiate a
salary well above your baseline, but knowing the threshold helps.
Carefully research your
profession (through networking,
researching salary information and surveys ...) to understand compensation trends,
existing norms or “market rate” (for your background and skills),
employer policies, historic payouts, special bonuses, tips (from
colleagues, existing employees), established budget for the position
or department, etc. Don’t forget to factor geographic location (the
cost of living varies from region to region) when you are conducting
During instances when an employer may be reluctant
to negotiate the base, be creative. Think about what else can
be added to sweeten the offer. Example, the employer might consider
offering you a percentage commission beyond a certain performance
level. If you have researched the company well, you would know exactly
what to do.
Practice, practice, practice
Write down negotiation scripts
and counter-offers (or not) for a wide range of situations. Example,
what would you say if the employer offers a salary below your
expectations or the existing market rate? What would you say if you
were asked to spell salary expectations very early in the interview?
(During early interviews, provide a range if absolutely necessary.)
Prepare and practice for a wide range of situations. Role-play the negotiation with a qualified friend or professional.
Right timing is everything
Some coaches are of the opinion
that salary talks should be postponed until the final interview stage
and also that the first party to offer, loses . Whether or not you
agree with them, focus on improving your timing. Negotiation is all
about the right timing.
Don’t be shortsighted
Companies offer several benefits,
from excellent health plans to tuition reimbursement to free cars to
flexible work hours. Don't get blinded by just the base; look at the
big picture. Benefits such as these certainly increase the overall
value of any package. At times, it may make more sense to accept the
offer considering long term growth benefits, learning opportunities,
or personal demands. Know which of these benefits is most
important to you and proceed accordingly.
Negotiations may not always go as planned. From budget constraints to
company policies, almost anything could foil your negotiation
attempts. Don’t get disappointed. Always try to be polite … maintain
enthusiasm till the very end. Employment, after all, is all about
forging a long term relationship.
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