You found a job you want. You got the right people’s attention. You nailed the interview. Now you’re facing a new hurdle: how to negotiate your starting salary. It can be a scary prospect, but our tips will help you get through the process as painlessly as possible.
#1: Be Your Own #1 Fan
The last thing you want to do is go into salary negotiations feeling unsure of your own worth. None of the tips that follow will help much if you don’t believe in yourself and the value you can provide. Before you make your case to a potential employer, make sure you’ve taken stock for yourself and know, without a doubt, what you bring to the table.
#2: Know What You’re Worth
You’ve taken courses, done internships, and honed your skills. You know the value you’ll bring to the company. As a salary starting point, figure out your own market value. If you have no idea what skill sets like yours are worth, do some research before you start negotiating. Doing so will help you avoid lowballing yourself on the one hand or coming across as unreasonable because you shot too high on the other.
#3: Understand the Strength of Your Hand
Factors like how in-demand your skill set is can impact your negotiating leverage. If there’s a shortage of qualified professionals, for instance, you’ll be able to ask for more because demand is high. Talk with colleagues, read industry articles, and peruse job boards to find out what the landscape in your field looks like.
#4: Nail Down Your Numbers
Based on your research, you’ll probably already have a number in mind. It’s better to enter negotiations with two salaries, though. The lower one should be the minimum amount you’ll accept. The higher one should be your ideal salary. Don’t get attached to this higher salary, but if negotiations are going well, it’s something to aim for.
#5: Avoid Giving Numbers Until You Have To
Even if you have specific numbers in mind, avoid citing them for as long as you can. Let your potential employer make the first move. Then go from there, using your two numbers as reference points. If pressed, give a broad salary range instead of specifics.
#6: Ooze Confidence
Since you’re going into negotiations well prepared, you should feel fairly confident. However, there are a few small tricks you can use to make sure you look confident, too. Make and maintain eye contact as you negotiate. Smile a lot. Sit up straight. Keep your chin level and your eyes off the floor. Speak clearly and concisely, highlighting your skills as appropriate.
#7: Get It in Writing
Once you’ve reached a number both sides agree on, make it official by asking for the offer in writing. Don’t rely on the hiring manager’s word. Getting a letter signed by you, the recruiter or manager, and a witness is a good idea. That way everything is documented and everyone is on the same page.
Negotiating a starting salary can seem scary, but with the right preparation, you’ll be more likely to reach a successful outcome.