Being offered a job is only part of the challenge for job hunters—negotiating a good starting salary is almost as important. What to do…
Don’t indicate the salary you want until you’re asked. The deeper you get into the hiring process, the lower the odds that the employer will rule you out because your salary request is a bit high—by this point, the employer should understand the value you could bring to the organization.
When you are asked what salary you would require, respond with the typical salary range for the position…and then turn the salary question back on the employer. You might say, “Based on my research, I see that these kinds of positions tend to pay $90,000 to $100,000. Is that what you’re offering?” The websites Salary.com and Payscale.com can help you figure out this typical salary range. The difference between the figures generally should be $5,000 to $10,000, but potentially up to $25,000 for well-paid positions.
Another option is to respond to questions about the salary you would need by asking the employer how much it is paying, but in most cases the employer will not give a figure until you do. Exception: If you were initially contacted by a recruiter, this recruiter likely can tell you how much the employer is offering.
If the employer indicates that it can work with the salary range, try to steer the conversation toward the monetary value you can bring to the company. Mention specific things you did to save or make money for other employers. The more you can establish your bottom-line value in these ways, the better the odds that the employer will be willing to stretch its budget a bit.
Alternative: If the employer indicates it cannot pay a salary in the range you cited, ask about nonsalary compensation. Is there a generous benefits package? Can the employer provide a company car? Might it be willing to pay a sizable annual bonus if certain goals are met?
When the employer makes you an offer, counter with the figure you really want—perhaps the figure from the high end of the salary range you mentioned earlier. When an offer is made, that means the employer has concluded that you are the candidate it wants. Now you have a bit of leverage, and the employer may be willing to pay a few thousand above its initial offer—or even more than that for a high-paying position.
You are very likely to have leverage if finalizing your hire was put into the hands of a human resources employee. He/she probably was told to get you on board, and failing to do so could make him look bad.
If the employer won’t budge on its salary offer, raise the topic of nonsalary compensation, as discussed earlier.
Don’t let the employer base its salary offer on your current salary. This is a common mistake among job hunters. If the employer knows that your current compensation is much less than the amount you want, make it clear that the former amount does not affect how much you would be worth in the new position. Explain that you accepted less from your past employer because that position provided something beyond financial compensation—for example, opportunity for on-the-job learning—but that your goal now is to receive appropriate financial compensation.