How to Negotiate Your Salary

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Saturday 16th October 2010
In this article
  • How to find out what you're worth.
  • How to get more than just a higher salary and better benefits.
  • How to remain cool during the negotiation process.
How to Negotiate Your Salary

Let's face it: most SharpMen cringe when it comes to negotiating their salary. Once a job is offered and a compensation package is on the table, many of us nervously accept the first offer that's thrown our way. But it doesn't have to be that way. By following a few steps, you can negotiate your way to a better salary–and get what you're worth and deserve. Here's a look at how to negotiate that Sharp salary:

Step One: Determine what you're worth.

The amount of money you can ask for usually depends on your value to the company. Ask yourself "How important am I to this organization?"

If you are the company's website guru, you know your value is at a premium. If you're continuously exceeding sales goals, then you know you have some power. If you're new to a company, an entry-level employee just out of college, or a part of a large group of employees hired to do a similar job, your negotiating power is limited–but that doesn't mean you don't have some bargaining leverage.

To find out what you're worth, check the employment classifieds and talk with colleagues in other firms and in similar positions to find out the salary range for a person with your education, background and years of experience. Search the Internet for salary data regarding your positions, and find salary surveys with hard facts and figures.

Step Two: What's the range?

No matter how much you're offered, you're going to want more; it's only natural. However, be realistic in your demands. Knowing your salary range and how much more to ask for will help in your negotiations. Your salary offer depends a lot on your current salary or salary history and how that relates to the going rate in the marketplace. Many salary experts recommend starting with a five to ten percent increase above what is offered, but it all goes back to Step One: assessing what you're worth and knowing what your leverage is.

Determine what you will or won't accept before you start negotiating. Know the maximum and minimum amounts you'll settle for, and have a happy medium: a range that you can accept and feel comfortable with. Have all your facts and figures at your fingertips, and be prepared to back up your requests with concrete examples of why these demands should be met. Any documentation (e.g. reports, sales figures, salary statistics) will give you a stronger case.

Your worth will also depend on how well you can identify and communicate industry salary information. This puts the responsibility on you to do some serious research, planning and careful thinking before making a presentation to the employer, but it's worth it in the end.

Step Three: Get more than just a better salary.

These days, it seems as if most employees are demanding–and receiving–more than just a higher salary. Signing bonuses (see Understanding Your Signing Bonus), year-end bonuses and a complete health package are all a part of compensation.

If you're at a standstill and it appears your demands are going nowhere, throw in a request for a few extra perks and see what the employer does. Ask for a company car, an extra week's vacation or a free bus pass. Even home computers, better office equipment or a better job description title are being used as leverage these days.

Do not, under any circumstances, tell the employer you need a higher salary to pay off your student loans, purchase a home, or pay off credit card debt. Keep all personal responsibilities out of the negotiations!

Finally, remember to factor the cost of everyday living into your salary demands. If you live in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, it's going to be more expensive than living in St. James, Minnesota or Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Step Four: Keep your cool.

No matter what happens, keep your cool. Remember, this is business, and a Sharp businessman never shows frustration while negotiating a deal. If you do become upset or frustrated with progress, remain polite and professional. If you've made it this far, the employer obviously has an interest in hiring you, so do the things that got you to this point. It's important to take your time and not jump to conclusions.

Most SharpMen want this process over as soon as possible, but by taking your time to make a decision or a demand, you will think more rationally, and act without regrets. Having said this, even once you and the employer have come to terms you both agree upon, tell the employer that, while you’re enthusiastic, you still need time to consider the offer. A day or two should be sufficient. Then get back to him or her promptly, as the employer will want to keep the ball rolling.

Best of luck!

This article last updated on Saturday 16th October 2010
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