Salary Negotiation Tips: How to Determine Your Worth

Salary Negotiation Tips: How to Determine Your Worth

If you’re offered a new job, you’re in a good place to negotiate with your potential future employer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in October 2019, the unemployment rate was at a near-historic low of 3.6%, while total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 128,000. High-quality employees are in high demand, giving new hires power in salary negotiation.

Plus, “Fast Company” reports, employers typically start with a lower offer in case a candidate asks for more money. Knowing most people don’t negotiate, employers have nothing to lose by starting out low.

However, salary negotiation is not common. A 2018 study by Robert Half found only 39% of workers tried to negotiate their salary with their last job offer. Men are more likely to negotiate a salary: 46% of men do, compared to 34% of women.

Some new hires fear losing the job offer by negotiating. Or, they don’t want employers to think they’re greedy or are only accepting the job for the money. Others don’t know their salary worth, so they’re stuck in how to begin negotiations. But not negotiating your salary could indicate to employers that you don’t value your own worth.

Negotiating your salary now means you’re setting yourself up for brighter future. Your current salary can influence what you make at your next job and so on, which could mean a difference of tens of thousands of dollars or more over a career.

Plus, negotiating your salary could impress your employer and show that you’re confident and capable. That could benefit you as you grow your career at the company.

Here are some tips to determine your salary worth. When you’re offered a new job, learn how to negotiate for a salary you deserve.

How to Determine Your Salary Worth

Before you enter salary negotiations, you should have an idea of a number you want to achieve. One way to reach that number is to use the PayScale Salary Survey, which lets you see an average salary for your current job and evaluate a job offer you receive. PayScale uses salary and career data it has collected from more than 54 million people with more than 16,000 unique job titles to match you up with a salary expectation.

You can cross-check those figures with information from Salary.com. You enter a job title you’re considering, and it returns results for similar jobs that contain starting salary ranges.

A similar tool is Monster’s Salary Wizard. The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook also provides median annual wages based on occupations. Use a variety of tools to get a good idea of the average salary range to pursue.

Another way to get an idea of your worth is to consult with peers in your industry. You might not feel comfortable discussing these numbers with friends or former coworkers, but you can use online resources like LinkedIn Groups to start discussions on industry salaries. Industry networking events can also be good to attend to connect with professionals in your industry and trade notes.

Don’t flat-out ask people online or in person what they make. Instead, present a salary range for a position and ask for opinions on if they think that’s reasonable. Or, describe the job duties, and ask what they think an acceptable range would be for that position.

You also have the option to consult with industry recruiters to get an idea of average pay. Remember that the location of the job can have a significant impact on what salary you should expect, as well. Factors like benefits may also impact salary, so include those in your discussions.

Tips for Negotiating a Salary

Don’t be intimidated by salary negotiation. Employers prepare for it even though it’s not common.

Approach your negotiation as a collaborative discussion, rather than a demand. Remember that you may be able to impress your employer by asking for a higher salary. And when you receive one, that’s a win-win. Here are some tips.

  1. Ask questions. Get crystal-clear about role expectations with the employer before asking for a higher salary. When you get the employer to explain all the details pertaining to the position, you are able to convey why the value you’ll bring deserves a certain salary.
  2. Be specific. Start with a specific number. For example, instead of asking for $75,000, ask for $76,250. That can indicate to the employer that you have done extensive research to come to that specific number. Avoid providing a range, unless you will be satisfied with being offered the lower end of the range. It’s better to start at the higher end of your range so you can meet in the middle if the employer comes back to you with a lower number.
  3. Be positive and enthusiastic. Talk about your eagerness to bring value to the employer and to work with them. Do not make the salary negotiation about why you personally need the money, such as because you have kids. Focus the conversation on the tangible results you plan to bring to the company.

Use these tips whether you’re negotiating in person, over the phone or by email.

If you are offered a salary that is too low based on what your market value is, don’t hesitate to walk away from the position. Honestly reflect on whether or not you’re willing to dedicate your time and professional growth to a company that is not valuing your worth now.

If a company simply can’t offer you the amount you want because of reasons like budget constraints, but it’s a place you want to work, enquire about other benefits the company might be able to offer. Maybe you can negotiation something like paid time off for continued learning or work-from-home days.

You also may decide to take the position even when salary negotiations fail. This isn’t necessarily negative, as you’ve demonstrated you know your value. You can continue negotiations in the future, such as at your annual review if you ask for a raise.

Get Help with Salary Negotiation and Other Career Growth Tips

You may never get a higher salary offer unless you ask. Negotiating now is strengthening your professional growth in the future. And when the employer meets your salary expectations, you know they value your worth, as well.

Get more professional development tips on the HiConsulting blog. Looking for a career change, or want coaching to grow in your current position? Contact HiConsulting for a free career consultation.

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Hillary Kuenn is an ambitious, responsible and compassionate leader. I’ve known Hillary for several years and have had the opportunity to work with her, both under her guidance and in a collaborative capacity. She’s not one to settle for mediocrity, is consistent in her attention detail, and extremely intentional in implementing a clear vision and strategy as a business development manager. Hillary is also a great coach, providing encouragement and motivation, but also an objective opinion when you need to hear it. I highly recommend Hillary if have the opportunity to work with her. She is a business changer.

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