In this video, JoyPowered® author/podcast host Susan White shares her suggestions for negotiating salary offers.
Hello, I’m Susan White, co-host of The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast. We hear from a number of our coaching clients about the difficulty that they have in negotiating salary offers. And that might be the salary, it might be total compensation, maybe there’s some incentive or benefits they want to negotiate, maybe additional vacation days, they just don’t know where to start. I’m going to share with you today five tactics that I think are helpful as you think about negotiating the job offers that you receive.
The first one is recognize that you never have as much power in negotiating for anything until you say yes. And so if you get a job offer, and there’s something that you know you’re going to want, think about it ahead of time so when the offer comes in, you can follow our simple approach, which is thank them profusely for the job offer. Obviously, it’s very validating they want you. Let them know that it was a good decision, that you feel like you really connected with the leadership team, you really enjoyed the people you met on… in the workplace, you feel like you’ll do a good job working with them, and whatever it is, the job fit is really strong, maybe that you feel like your skills will really be used in this particular role. Then what I want you to do is change the tone of that conversation to become a little bit more somber, and say, as delighted as I am to hear about this offer, I am going to need a few days to go home to put pen to paper and see if I can make it work, because I am struggling with one element of this offer. I wouldn’t do more than one, because it will be overwhelming to them. I would say there’s one. So figure out which is the most important: salary, benefit, the incentive, vacation, whatever. I think it’s important to do that, because by letting them know that you reaffirm their decision to hire you, but that you’re struggling with something, that’s going to give them an opportunity to do one of three things. One is, the person who just made the offer is going to be, oh my gosh, this person really wants to work here but they are struggling with the offer that I made, maybe I should go back to management and see if we can do better. And you might… the interviewer or the recruiter, whoever made the offer, might say to you, I hear you, let me see what I can do and I’ll get back to you in the next three days while you’re thinking about the offer. And point number two, they actually might do… might get back to you, and they may not give you exactly what you wanted, maybe you’re $5,000, $6,000 off, they may come back and split the difference, give you $3,000 and say, we don’t want to lose you, we’ve invested a lot of time, we know you want to work here, we’re going to be able to do XYZ. Now the third thing may happen, which is they may not do anything, you may go back and have spent those two or three days putting pen to paper talking to your partner, and you may come back and say I still want this job. The way you have done it is so positive and respectful of the offer, you can come back and say, listen, I know it wasn’t the salary level that I wanted or the vacation time I wanted or whatever, but I want to be part of your team. I delight… delightfully accept this job offer. You’ve done it in a way that I think will not burn any bridges for you. All right? So, know that you need to do it before you say yes, because if you say yes to the job offer and then go back and say, could I get a little more on the salary? Could I get a few more vacation days? Whatever it is, there’s no incentive for them to say yes, and then they will fall back into, I’m sorry, we don’t do that for people. And the fact is they might have if they wanted to snag you.
Alright, tactic number two is know your worth. You really need to know, especially if you’re going to negotiate salary, you need to know, how much should I be expecting, or what can I expect that offer will be? There’s ways to do that. You can certainly go out to glassdoor.com. They had… keep salary information that people are self-reporting about what they’re earning in a particular job in almost every geography you could possibly hope to work in. You could also calibrate that with salary.com or payscale.com. And then I would take an extra step after I’d done some data gathering. If I happen to know anybody who works in the same industry that I’m looking to get into, if they have a similar type of role or they’re knowledgeable of the type of role I’m looking for, I would ask if I could network with them and just bounce off them what I’m thinking salary-wise. You don’t ask them what they’re earning, of course, but what… I… here’s the range that I have ascertained might be appropriate for this job, I’d love to bounce it off you and get your perspective. That’s going to give you, I think, a pretty good framework so that when you eventually do get that offer, you’re going to know if you’re within three… the range of reasonableness.
Alright, tip number three, which is don’t get waylaid early in the process of talking to a company. If the initial screener or the first person you talk to asks you what is your desired salary range, I want to suggest you try to avoid it, because the first person who gives a number is generally at a disadvantage in any negotiation. And so if it is asked of you, what’s your desired salary, where do you need to be? I’m going to suggest you say, hey, this isn’t about salary. And it probably isn’t. It’s about I really want to be able to use my skills at a company like yours, or I’ve been looking for a long time to get into the area of XYZ, this role matches me to a T. But since you brought it up, the topic of salary, what is this position paying? Or what is the range for this position? They raised the topic, it is not rude in any way for you to ask if it wasn’t already on the job posting, which many companies don’t put it out there. So it doesn’t hurt to ask. And they will generally tell you what the range is, and then you can decide, is it going to be a waste of their time and your time, if… if you’re hoping to get between $80,000 and $100,000 a year, let’s say, on a salary, and this is paying $40,000 to $60,000, I’m going to say to you, no amount of negotiation’s going to get you to $80,000 to $100,000 if the salary range really is $40,000 to $60,000. It might be a good time to beg off. But if it’s within the realm of reasonableness, and they give you the range, say okay, and then as you get further along, as you meet those hiring managers, they may see skills inside of you that you bring to the table that might cause them to move out of the hiring range and deeper into the salary range. Or I’ve seen it happen where they were looking for a financial analyst one and they decide to bring in a financial analyst two when they realize the skills that you bring and experience that you have. So I’m going to say to you, try to avoid locking down a number or offering up your number early in the process, which might cause the initial screener to move on to other candidates who they think are more affordable. All right? It is against the law in most states in the United States now to ask what you earned in your last job, so most companies have adopted that and they’re not asking you what was your most recent salary, so don’t feel like you have to answer it. But I would tell you, almost every company at some point is going to ask you what are you looking for salary-wise? All right? And don’t let that be an Achilles heel you can’t get past.
All right, so tip number… number three. Oh, sorry. It’s really tip number four, is of words to use when you are actually negotiating. I shared with you in tip number one words that I like, which is reaffirming everything that the person has said about why they want you, and then changing the tone and moving to one element you’re struggling with. You’ll notice the words I’m using, they’re not combative, they are not threatening in any way, shape, or form. It’s a very soft approach, and it’s a very thoughtful approach that, I’m telling you, by using these types of words and the tone that you use with… with your words will help the person who’s made the job offer root for you. It’ll… it might make the difference of them going back and talking to the hiring manager to say, hey, we almost have her, but she is struggling with the number of vacation days or she’s struggling with the incentive comp not starting until six months down the road, whatever it is, and you want them to want you to get the job and to say yes. So think about the words that you use and the tone. I say, going away for a couple of days, that you’re going to put pen to paper, talk to your partner, are words that almost every person who makes an offer can relate to. They recognize that you have people who care about you that you’re probably supporting or you’re co-supporting, and they are going to be able to relate to it. And if they recognize just one element that’s keeping them from getting you, believe me, they’re going to try to get… to keep you. And if they can’t, because they just can’t, they’ll tell you, and you can accept still, or turn it,,, turn it down, your choice, in a way that you haven’t ruined that relationship. In fact, you may have strengthened that relationship with them.
All right. And so then, my fifth and final tactic is, don’t think you always have to negotiate. I have talked to career coaching clients who feel like, you know what, whatever number they give me, that’s just the starting point. I have to demonstrate that I am assertive and I’ve got to ask for more. I’m going to say that’s not true. If you’ve done a good job of finding intel, you understand the approximate range for this particular role in this particular city doing this type of work, if they dazzle you, and sometimes companies will do that. They want you so bad, it’s been a great employment interviewing process, they think that they’ve made the right selection, they put forth a really good offer, and then you try negotiating it. That is where it can go sour. So please, if you get an offer that dazzles you, and you know that it’s within the range of what you want, it’s a job that you want, accept joyfully. I think it starts things off on a really good tone. Don’t feel like you have to negotiate.
All right. If you’d like more suggestions or hear more about negotiating job offers, we have two podcasts devoted to this on The JoyPowered® Workspace, and one the first one’s called “Successful Salary Negotiation.” The second one is called how to find out… how to… “How to Launch a Job Search and Negotiate Salary.” You can find our podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts, or you go directly to our homepage at getjoypowered.com/podcast. Thanks so much for listening today. I wish you a very happy and joyful negotiation.