My name is Alicia Carter.
If you are looking for some gems on how to negotiate salary for an interview, existing job etc. then read on!
Salary negotiation can indeed be a treacherous minefield for those who lack experience. You may have done enough homework about the organisation, have got a huge list of experience, exceptional past achievements etc. but somehow you feel awkward when the issue of salary comes up. Do you know that those few minutes of smart negotiation can make a difference of thousands of dollars in your entire work period?
First of all, you should know that many applicants even better than you have no clue on how to negotiate salary competently. Negotiating your salary with the interviewer is indeed a skill set which a smart job applicant cannot afford to ignore! However, you would not even be in a position to negotiate salary if your interview does not go well. Click here to find out whether you are prepared well for your interview.
Let us quickly go through 5 core strategies on how to negotiate salary:
Step 1: Research well in advance about market, yourself and the company:
You need to be prepared well in advance about whether there is any economic crisis/ boom which is affecting the sector, the average package offered to someone in that position, market statistics etc. Such preparation would help you to set a reasonable estimate/ range of the package which you might be offered. Also conduct in-depth research on the various additional benefits offered to people hired for that position.
Step 2: DO NOT make a quote when they ask dreaded questions such as ‘What is your expectation’, ‘What was your salary at your last job’ etc.:
Voicing out your salary expectation will most likely give the interviewer an edge. It may also give the interviewer an idea that you do not know how to negotiate salary. If you quote a low amount, the interviewer would only be too glad to accept it. If you quote a high amount, then the interviewer might refuse politely.
Use the responses such as the ones mentioned below:
1 Interviewer: “What is your expected range?”
You: “I am sure that the salary paid is similar to that of current market scenario. I am more interested in finding whether I would be a good fit for this job” OR “I would appreciate if you share the range set by your organisation for this position”
2 Interviewer: “How much were you getting paid in your last job?”
You: “The expectations and responsibilities in my previous job do not seem to match exactly with this one. I would be glad to discuss the responsibilities of this job before anticipating an impartial salary”
3 Interviewer: “Why don’t you share your salary requirements so that I can make an offer?:
You: “I am sure that the position as mentioned is already budgeted beforehand. I would appreciate if we could start the discussion from there” It is imperative on your part to make the interviewer take the first shot and quote a range/ expected salary.
Do not feel that it is rude not to quote a range/ slay expectation from your end. If the interviewer seems determined to get that quote out of your mouth, you have to be unwavering and stand your ground.
Step 3: When the interviewer make the offer – remain silent after repeating the top value:
The interviewer would likely give you a range- for e.g. “We usually pay $40,000 – $50,000 annually for this position”. Repeat the higher value, be silent and appear to think. It is important to not show any emotion on your face. The interviewer would be slightly pressurized and fill in the silence by offering reasons. Then he/ she would ask your opinion on the range offered.
Step 4: Make a smart counter response – start bargaining from the highest offer:
Now you have a clear idea on what is the organisation expecting to pay for this position. You stand to win if you can get the $50,000 annual package. You need to reply that you were expecting somewhere between the range $50,000 – $60,000. (The key point is to note that the interviewer’s highest offer is your lowest expectation).
If that sounds too bold, then make sure that you quote a range with the middle value being your desired number. In other words, you can say, “I was expecting somewhere between $45,000 – $55,000”. Thus, it would be easier to bargain and settle to a figure closer to $50,000 mark.
However, you are not saying it deliberately!
Here, you need to reiterate about the value which you would bring by being a part of the company, your key strengths and market standards. Make sure you have already done your homework in this regard.
Step 5: Bargain more after clinching the deal: negotiate the additional benefits:
You should restrain from congratulating yourself once you have succeeded in agreeing the interviewer on your desired salary. Nowadays, employees are offered a host of additional benefits such as paid sick leaves, paid vacation time, life insurance, dental insurance, paid holidays and much more. Use words like ‘appreciate’, ‘fair’, ‘reasonable’ etc. appropriately to show empathy and bargain using the steps mentioned above.
Using the power of silence deliberately along with proper body language can not only turn the tables in your favour but also earn respect from the interviewer. Keeping silent in pressure situations indeed tests the nerves of the party in question.
Let’s say that two men are sitting together and fishing. They can go on without speaking for hours. They might be best friends. It is difficult to imagine the same scenario if it had been women instead of men. Women are more compelled to fill in awkward silences as compared to men who are usually more comfortable in such cases.
How to Gain Mastery on the Power of Silence?
First of all, you must learn to practice this skill set without coming across as being pushy or creepy. Let’s say you are walking towards an elevator. A low risk target can be the elevator guy. Suppose he tells you that it would not be working for the next couple of hours. You simply repeat what he said and turn it into a question. “So, you are saying that the elevator would not be working for the next couple of hours?” Maintain a smile as well as a strong eye contact. You will find that after a few seconds of silence, he would say a yes and provide a reason.
The same tactic can be used in salary negotiation purpose while negotiating a job offer.
Interviewer: “We are expecting to provide a salary within a range of $100,000 – $115, 000 for this position.”
You: “So (pause for 3 seconds) what you are saying is (pause for 2 seconds) you are providing a compensation package within a range of $100,000 – $115, 000?”
Then be silent…..
You will feel the urge to say something but don’t. This is a powerful psychological tactic on how to negotiate salary on your terms.
Keep on looking in the eyes of the interviewer as if everything is normal. After some time, he/ she would usually avert eye contact and offer an explanation. Remember that that party which offers an explanation first loses some ground.
How can You Overcome this Fear?
Do you know that ‘Sedatephobia’ is the fear of silence?
Exposure therapy is the cure of almost any phobia which has been used by therapists for decades. Expose yourself to such sort of fear by practicing on low risk environments such as coffee shops, restaurants etc. and gradually built up to practicing the same in board discussions’, office colleagues and finally during interviews. With gradual practice, it is just a matter of time that you will get very good at this technique. Practicing this skill will indeed stretch your comfort zone and allow you to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
Do you feel that you could be in a situation where you can get the job but at a lesser salary? Or has it happened in the past interviews? I know how it feels as I have been in such a situation several times before.
First thing to keep in mind is to keep a very calm expression and never to over-react when they tell you the salary offered. Despite your research about the position and the company, it might be the case that the salary offered is pretty competitive. However, if you still feel that you deserve more then you may need to create a written proposal while maintaining a thoughtful and open communication with the interviewer. The request of yours should be appropriately detailed in the plan of how you would go about adding value to the organisation.
Most of the newbies do not have any sort of justification as to why they deserve a higher package. However, it is okay to also mention that you have received interview calls from other organisations but don’t harp about it. Always stay away from offering ultimatums. Before asking for a rise in the salary, show that you are enthusiastic about the job offer. In almost every interview of mine, the interviewer would go silent and play dumb when I hinted for a higher compensation package. I very well knew that the one who talks first would lose. Therefore, I also used to keep silent and let the awkward silence hang there. Remember that the organisation has invested manpower and time in this hiring process. Do not get panicked and sell yourself less!
Always negotiate your salary while looking for common points without giving in. When a great negotiator faces resistance or hears a ‘no’, he/she would never shut down. They would elongate the conversation, ask clarifying questions and insist on objective criteria rather than jumping into the bandwagon and capitalising it too early. It is important not to let your uncertainty, fear or pride control your responses. Remember that the interviewer is more concerned about the value which you have to offer than your needs and wants.
If you have no fear of losing an offer, throw out a high demand instead of playing soft ball with the interviewer. Let the latter do the conversational jujitsu and bring the value down while you are playing for the maximum. Prepare well ahead of time and keep your arrogance in check if you are seeking to win by taking such a risky move.
It also might be the case that the interviewer might not have the final authority to budget for a higher salary. There would be thus, little to do in such cases. Experts point out that it is indeed a waste of time to negotiate salary when there is a huge gap in what you want and what is being offered by the organisation. Exercise your options carefully and get your terms of salary in writing before finally agreeing to an offer.
Here is a pretty compelling video I recently found regarding how to negotiate a job offer by Mr. Deepak Malhotra – A Harvard Business School Professor.
Keep in mind that it is beneficial to have a clear idea on how to negotiate salary much before the interview commences.
Do you feel you are even lucky to get a job in this age of economic crisis?
Do you need more experience before asking for a raise?
Let’s do the maths. An increase of even $3000 over a course of 30 years is more than a million. Are you willing to lose that?
The sad thing is that we are used to living in a ‘YES’ society. As a child, we have always been told be humble and be the nice kid. Saying a no or disagreeing just seems to be harder as it displeases people.
There is not much of a difference between an experienced professional going for an interview and a stand-up comedian. The latter has said the same joke hundreds of time and understands the importance of vocal tonality, silence, timing and mood of the audience. The pro knows how to play the interview game and make sure that the evaluator understands his/ her value.
How to negotiate salary like a Pro?
Practice the 5 core strategies of negotiating in front of the mirror and then with a friend. If possible, try to record and videotape yourself. Observe your body language and see whether it could be improved. If you find this is strange, it is much stranger to lose over a million dollars over a career just because you had not done your homework well enough.
Refrain from using phrases such as “I am not sure, but…”, “I think…”, “I feel…” during the negotiation process. This clearly shows that you are unsure of what you are saying and indeed self-sabotages your position.
Simply apply for a few related jobs you are not interested in and simply focus the art of saying a ‘no’. Get used to refusing offers. This plays a role in you having an abundant mindset and not approaching a job which you want from a point of scarcity.
A Weird Negotiation Tactic:
Making a proposal: This would consist of the major weaknesses/ issues which the organisation is currently facing and how you would go about solving it. Document this in the form of a report and take a printout. The problems along with the solutions should be clearly highlighted. It should include both facts and along with qualitative observations. Developing such a proposal would take a lot of time and intensive research but would be a lot of worth in impressing the heck out of the interviewer.
Time to be dramatic: Once the interviewer asks you the salary question, you should say, “We would surely come back to that later. First, let me show you something which you would find interesting”. Then, pull out the paper/ document, present it to them and briefly explain how you would go about solving the problems identified. Keep in mind that the problems identified by you should be similar to those which the organisation is facing.
Remember that an organisation usually spends quite a good amount of time and money while training an employee before he could be considered at par with others in terms of expectations. Discussing such a proposal shows that you have made a tremendous preparation beforehand which gives you a giant edge over your competitors.
Busy organisations are more interested in tweaking the existing state of affairs to get better results rather than creating something new altogether. Such a preparation followed by a presentation would show that they do not need to spend much time developing you as you have already done your homework quite well. Moreover, you would be leading the discussion by discussion these points.
Thereafter, it would look pretty awkward for the interviewer/ interview panel to haggle and dispute over your salary expectations. This is especially because now they know only you can solve the problems as you have identified, documented and explained it so well.
Some of the biggest fears of those who would be facing this daunting task are; “I don’t know how to negotiate salary as I have no previous experience”, “I am not a natural talker…”, “I don’t want to lose this offer…”, “There is may be an issue of the interviewer being gender biased…”, “I don’t have a strong resume/ exceptional past experience or achievements…”
Do you know that more than 50% of the men and 70% of women do not seem inclined to discuss salary expectations once they have been offered the job? As per research studies, women are more scared as compared to men in this aspect. The good news is that recruiters almost always expect that you would be negotiating the salary sooner or later. DO NOT expect that they would start from the best offer!
Salary negotiation becomes much easier if you have taken care of the following points:
- A strong first impression: Strong eye contact, a relaxed but firm handshake and smiling are the three key rules which many job applicants would forget during the heat of the interview. Do not speak at a quick nervous pace. Speak slowly and calmly. Use appropriate pauses, take your time to think and structure your responses carefully. Make a note that if the interviewer does not like you, getting your deal when it comes to salary is out of the question even if you are a smooth talker
- Be realistic about your expectations: There is less of the chance of negotiating salary in entry level positions. Salary scales might be non-negotiable and rigid at most federal and state government jobs. You would get the best opportunities of negotiation generally at executive and higher management positions.
- Be prepared to hear ‘No’: DO NOT dispute the interviewer or show any disappointment on your face. Be aware of the fact that there are far fewer real-life cases where the salary expectation of the interviewer matches exactly with that of the applicant.
Recruiters may even resort to lying by telling you that the organisation does not give out this kind of a salary or it would make other employees at similar positions discontent. Understand that this is just a pressure tactic. Other employees would never get to know how much you are getting paid unless you decide to open your mouth. Do not feel guilty about the fact that you are asking for a higher compensation package.
Come up with responses as ones mentioned below:
- Is there a possibility of a performance review after 3-6 months and revisit the compensation plan?
- Is there a possibility of a more flexible work schedule after the completion of the training periods?
- Can an extra week of annual vacation be provided considering the fact that the salary is non-negotiable?
You may seek the assistance of professional salary negotiators who could improve your negotiating skills manifold while educating you on how to negotiate salary.
Always remember that it is important to stay cool, friendly and confident and be on your best behavior. Make every effort and use common sense to keep the negotiations cordial. Finally, one should keep in mind that salary is not the only important aspect in your career. It is important not to make obvious mistakes while negotiating salary. Preparing well for your interview would greatly enhance your power to negotiate salary on your terms.