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Salary Negotiation Strategies: How to Ask for, and Get More Money

10 August 2010 Written by: Mary Elizabeth Bradford 9 Comments
Salary Negotiation Strategies: How to Ask for, and Get More Money

I am always surprised when I am talking to an executive in the midst of an interview…and they share with me how they approached the money topic.

Here are two very common things I hear:

“They asked me how much I needed and I said at least $250k.”
“I asked them what they had in mind for their salary package.”

What most people don’t realize is that these two statements put ALL the power in the hands of the employer! So, to alleviate these negative events from happening and successfully negotiate the maximum salary package possible, here are several powerful tips:

Tip #1: Never give financial ultimatums before the actual offer is made
The first statement automatically puts the primary focus on the money.

While the value that the executive brings to the company (you know all those things the company should be getting more and more excited about?) takes a back seat!

So save your ultimatums for after the formal offer (more on this later).

Tip #2 Never be the first to bring up money

The second statement simply shows that the executive is willfully putting the money ahead of his or her value to the company – not exactly a motivator for the company, is it?

Tip #3 Focus on the value you bring to the table

The more they want you…the more they will pay to get you. Simple as that.

Remember the last big thing you really, really wanted? It’s funny how we can come up with the money for things we really want because we place its value at the top of our list. And even though people are not things, the emotions that get evoked in a job interview when a company really, really wants someone are essentially the same.

So the object of your focus should be – what can I focus on that is going to make this company get really, really excited about hiring me? I guarantee you the answer to that is not going to be how much they are going to pay you…unless you have offered to work for free.

Tip #4 Give money ranges

When asked how much salary you need or how much you made in your previous position, you can give a range. This does two things: it doesn’t allow the company to fix a salary point on you (i.e. 50k or 100k or 350k) and a range is less likely to disqualify your candidacy because of being too high or too low.

Ultimately you need that potential employer to be focused on how they can get you on board (because of all the great skills and abilities you bring to them – that is going to help them drive revenue, increase productivity, or launch a new product, service, etc…)

So, you can say something like:

“For the last couple of years, my total compensation package has ranged between ___ and ___.” (tip: the wider your range the better!)
Then you can add:

“Since we are on the subject, do you have a range in mind budgeted for the position?”

Tip #5 Don’t negotiate at the time the offer is made

When you are receiving your offer, no matter what the offer entails, keep a straight face! You can ask to have a day or two to go over the offer and get back to them, which will give you time to formulate your thoughts. You really need this time to come down from the “WOO HOO I got an offer!” high.

If the offer is your dream offer, you can accept it. If the offer is too low, you can put a counter on the table.

Anyone can negotiate the best offer possible using these techniques that honor you and the value you can bring to your next career opportunity!

Tip #6 How to counter a job offer

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty details of how to counter a job offer.

Most professionals, when asked why they don’t counter their job offers, share that they are simply afraid they will lose the opportunity.

After helping hundreds of professionals negotiate job offers, I am happy to share with you that I have never seen an offer pulled as a result of a counter offer.

That’s not to say it could never happen… but then my question would be –all things being equal if a potential employer did that, would you really want to work for them?

But, back to point. The first thing to do when you receive a job offer is make sure to get all of the details of the offer.

Then enthusiastically thank them! You might not be thrilled with the details of the offer but now is NOT the time to negotiate! Thank them and ask for a day or two to go over the details of the offer.

Now compare the terms of the offer with your professional goals. How many points does the offer satisfy…starting with the salary?

Make notes on each point of the offer compared to your professional goals. You must determine how important each point is to you. Title them A, B and C. Put the As at the top of your list. For example:

A list

  • Salary offered: $125k
  • Salary goals: $145k
  • Vacation offered: 2 weeks
  • Vacation goals: 4 weeks
  • Relocation package offered: 15k
  • Relocation goals: 20k plus temporary housing

When you are ready, connect with your potential employer and let them know you are excited to discuss the offer with them. A key point here is you will do well to smile and be as positive and enthusiastic as possible! If you act somber, concerned or pessimistic you will bring down the energy of the deal and in turn dampen the excitement of your contact person!

So, begin where you left off by thanking them for the offer and sharing with them how excited you are about the opportunity.

Then indicate that you would like to go over a few points of the offer.

If you are negotiating the salary range, always begin there. State to your contact that although everything about the offer is great, you were hoping that the salary range at the level and responsibility of the position would be more along the lines of $¬¬¬¬____.

If the salary is in a competitive range for your position, you might do well to stay within a 20% negotiation range (you can check salary ranges by title and location using salary.com).

Wait for them to respond to your statement before you say anything else.

If they indicate that is a doable figure, then congratulations! Now you can discuss whatever other points are important to you… be it stock options, vacation time, relocation, bonuses or insurance.

If, however, your contact states they cannot offer you more, you can do one of two things:

You can state that you are still excited about the position and ask to move forward to discuss a few other components of the offer.

OR

You can state that you are still excited about the position and that you know they can work something out that is a WIN for everyone. Then ask if you can make another suggestion. That suggestion can include a signing bonus and/or a six month job review/raise based on your performance.

Using these negotiation techniques, here are just a few successes I have seen my clients have over the years:

  • 5% to 20% average increase in original salary offer
  • 2k to 25k signing bonuses
  • 25% increases in bonuses
  • 4 months relocation housing covered
  • 10% increase in relocation package

…and more!


Mary Elizabeth Bradford is a frequent contributor and author of the Career Jockey recommended "Secrets of the Unadvertised Job Market...Revealed." Would you like to learn how to quickly and easily get more interviews, shorten your job search and increase your salary? Check out my website www.maryelizabethbradford.com for free articles, free resources and to sign up for my free audio mini-seminar “5 Simple Steps To Find, Focus On and WIN Your Dream Job – Starting Today!” Job-Search Coach, Internationally Certified Master Career Director and Internationally Certified Advanced Resume Writer Mary Elizabeth Bradford is “The Career Artisan.”

You can learn so much about this author by clicking here.

9 Comments »

  • How much do flat water kayak guides make | Best Kayak said:

    [...] Salary Negotiation Strategies: How to Ask for, and Get More Money | Career Jockey [...]

  • Career Outlook said:

    I liked the two points that you mentioned 1st that don’t be the 1st person to talk about salary and tell your salary in ranges. All other points are also good and yes these tips could really help anyone to get higher salary.

  • fern said:

    Some good advice here.

    However, while I know it’s customary for an employer to ask or even require you to state how much you made at previous jobs, why even provide this information?

    Talk about giving your power away!

    Job negotiations are by definition an adversarial interaction: you’re trying to get as much money as your expertise can command, and the employer is trying to get you for as little as possible.

    So if, for example, you’re trying to boost your salary a bit, you have a choice of either lying about your previous salary or telling the truth and shooting yourself in the foot if you made less than what you’re asking for now.

    When prospective employers call previous employers to verify info you’ve provided, former employers will only provide the dates of employment; for liability reasons, they will not confirm or deny salary of previous employees, so the prospective new employer has no way to confirm whether what you state was your previous salary is correct or not. So why do they bother asking?

    I think it’s really inappropriate for an employer to ask what you made previously. Either they’ve assessed your skills and expertise and want you, and can identify how much value you represent to them in terms of compensation, or not. Personally, i think it’s none of their business. I politely decline to answer; if required, I cite figures that work in my favor.

  • Jorge Lazaro Diaz said:

    You make a really good case here. I always recommend keeping past salary requirements to yourself. The HR contact at any organization will tend to press hard for this. If they have the power, they may even eliminate you as a candidate if you refuse to disclose. Things are different with the hiring manager. They have a job to fill and salary will likely be a secondary concern as long as they think they can justify it given their budget.

    Here’s my recommended response when asked, “I’m sure if you give me the best offer you can make me, we can come to an agreement that will work well for both of us.” Repeat it a few times before going to your next interview.

  • Mary Elizabeth Bradford (author) said:

    Dear Fern,

    Excellent point and one that I have definately had to confront throughout the years with my clients during job offer negotiations. I have found that giving a wide range – as I state in my article – is the best way to give the potential employer what he wants without divulging exact numbers.

    Though negotiations may prevent a tension as you point out, I have found that going into those conversations positively, graciously and with discernment and diplomacy is by far the best way to ensure the best outcome. Remember too, the potential employer is watching you during this process as well – as it’s demonstrative of how you handle pressure.

    Thank you for responding and for your thoughts!

  • Terry said:

    With regard to the salary paid by a previous employer, in the UK, the employee must provide the new employer with details of salary etc in order that the appropriate tax is deducted from that salary. So it is relatively easy to see whether someone has been “guilding the lilly”.

  • Jorge Lazaro Diaz said:

    Terry,

    This is very unlike the way it works here in the States. Can you explain how it works in the UK? How does the new employer pay different taxes based upon your salary at your previous employer?

  • Terry said:

    On termination of employment the employer is required to give the employee a form P45 which shows the gross pay and the tax deducted.The employee then gives the new employer the P45 to calculate the appropriate tax to deduct, so it is easy for the new employer to what salary has historically been paid.

    Tax is deducted at source by employers who then pay it to the IRS on the employees behalf.

  • Helping You Hire said:

    As a staffing solutions and services professional, I definitely agree with these tips! I have interviewed candidates who bring up salary too early in the conversation and it makes for a bad impression. I like when candidates give me a range of what they are looking for and who focus on what they can bring to the table/how their abilities and experiences correlate with the specific position

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