Congratulations! You made it through the interview process and got the job offer! Now, how prepared are you to negotiate the salary? And be honest: Were you even planning to?
We women struggle with salary negotiation and demanding our worth. Unfortunately, this means we leave a lot of money on the table that should be in our bank accounts. Even if the initial salary offer appears to be competitive, we should still negotiate. In fact, companies expect you to negotiate!
So if you haven't gone through a salary negotiation process before or you're confused about where to start, here are four quick tips on how to set yourself up for success and get the coins you deserve:
1. Get Your Market Numbers Together.
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Before entering any negotiations, you need to know your numbers. What is the average salary for the position? How does this amount compare to your current salary? Start putting some concrete figures down on paper.
If you are unsure of how to begin this process, start with conducting research on the market rates for this specific type of position. Online platforms such as Glassdoor.com, Payscale.com, and Salary.com offer excellent (and free) tools to assist you in determining the appropriate market rate for the position.
And don't just look at job titles. Be sure to factor in geographic location, associated cost of living, years of experience, and required credentials in the given field.
Furthermore, compare salaries beyond your current sector and across various industries. For example, the salary for a project manager in healthcare may differ from that of one in IT, and you don't want to potentially undervalue yourself because you didn't expand the scope of your analysis. Doing this essential market research allows you to assess how competitive the initial salary offer was and how much ground you may need to cover in your counteroffer.
2. Pull Your Receipts.
Now that you've analyzed the base market rates, it's time to value your differentiators. What makes you the unicorn this organization has been looking for? In order to make sure that your salary ask is what you truly deserve, it's important to account for the unique value and results that only you can deliver.
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This starts with pulling what I call your receipts i.e. the credentials and qualifications you possess that are above and beyond the market requirements. Consider any additional training, certifications, and courses that have helped to deepen your knowledge base and add to your credibility as an expert. Evaluate any notable achievements or awards you have received that highlight your outstanding performance in the industry.
Take into account any clients, portfolios, or contacts that you may be able to bring over to the new company once you're hired.
Incorporate any additional useful skills that may further set you apart as a candidate, i.e. speaking a different language, or even specialized software or technical expertise. Once you have a holistic view of what you have to offer beyond the base, start applying some numbers to it! But you don't have to do it all on your own. Besides continuing your online research, if you have friends or contacts who are already in the industry or in similar roles, you can also ask their opinion on how valuable your additional qualifications may be.
3. Set Your Bottom Dollar.
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What is your "walk-away" number? This is the minimum salary that you are willing to accept for the role, anything lower is your deal breaker. It is critical to set this floor salary as it establishes the rules of engagement and will keep you grounded throughout the negotiation process. You want to have a baseline to ensure you don't go below where you feel most comfortable. In setting your walk-away number, consider your current salary as well as any financial needs or goals. Remember that companies will always offer a number that will give them the best deal, so ensure that the lowest number you'll take is still worth it for you!
4. Create Your Range.
At this point, you should have a few numbers written down:
- The average market rate(s) for your position (based on key variables, i.e. education, experience, certifications, etc), as well as the top of the market range
- The additional value that your differentiators provide
- Your walk-away number
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Putting these all together will help you create the range that you are willing to negotiate within. Back to our Project Manager example: Let's say the average salary is $105,000, and top of market is $125,000. You've calculated that your additional credentials are worth another $12,000, so your desired salary figure is $105,000 + $12,000 = $117,000. Your walk-away, rock bottom number is $100,000. The salary range I would start with is $105,000 to $125,000. Always keep your walk-away number in your hip pocket, but don't volunteer it prematurely.
With this range, you have plenty of room to negotiate and still get to a number that is comfortable for you.
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