Whenever a job offer is received, it could be tempting to accept it without negotiating the salary first. It may be appealing to go with the excitement and say yes right away; however, you the candidate are leaving money behind in your career if you do this. If a candidate fails to negotiate the salary, they are failing to recognize their true value and their unique skills and qualifications and why they deserve the salary increase.

One of the biggest pieces of advice that I give clients is to negotiate the salary before accepting it. By doing so, you are learning a lot about your potential new employer. Through the negotiation process that I have walked my clients through, we have not only learned if the salary is fair but how much an employer values their talent – and how they reward and retain them. Coaching my clients through this negotiation process has helped them earn $15K- $60K+ on their salaries.

A little known and unspoken secret about salary negotiation is that it will teach you as a jobseeker whether your potential new employer values his or her employees. It is always beneficial to learn before accepting a new role if and how a potential new employer values their employees- otherwise it can lead to you looking for another new role in a short period of time.

According to CNBC, most companies expect you to negotiate, so they will offer you a much lower number. If you receive a lowball offer right away and a potential employer is unwilling to pay you according to what is aligned with the data and research, then that this is a red flag. Culturally, the organization may not be aligned with what you had in mind. They could have ongoing systemwide compensation problems that have not been addressed, which will make it difficult to recruit and hire competitive talent. However, economists have warned that those who do not negotiate their salaries from the start of their careers lose between $1M- $1.5M over the course of their careers.

It is never too late to begin. So, how can a candidate begin the process of negotiating of their salary and come on top like my clients?

Ensure the Job Offer is in Writing

One of the fears that my clients verbalize that have kept them from negotiating in the past is losing the job offer. I always emphasize to ensure that it is in writing before beginning the process. Then, examine the entire offer. There are other monetary benefits as well that could make up for part of the salary, such as insurance, PTO, or flex time.

Conduct Research & Prep

Preparation is key here. We may know or feel that the salary is low, but we cannot go by our gut, feelings, or emotions.  Take the time to:

  • Prepare some thoughts and ideas regarding your value proposition. You need to be ready to discuss why you are suited for a salary increase and how it will benefit the organization.
  • In preparing your value proposition, remember your why. Doing so will help keep you focused on the reason you are negotiating, such as what this means to your future or your family and help keep you focused for you a positive and beneficial outcome.
  • Conduct research based on your industry, career level, location, and qualifications. This should produce some data providing an idea if the salary in the job offer is fair or equitable.
  • Consider your long-term goals in this process because it is not just about making ends meet- it is about a long-term strategy that will take you into the future financially and professionally.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Like any new skill, it is important to practice it to ensure that you are applying it properly. Mock sessions are beneficial because salary negotiation is a nerve-wracking and stressful process. Working with a Career Coach can be valuable to practice and receive feedback in a safe space. As I tell my clients, it is better to make an error in a practice session that it is when you are in a negotiation session. It is through the errors and learning, that I have guided my clients towards success.

Negotiation Makes All Parties Whole

When you are negotiating, it is not just about you receiving the salary you are asking for. Negotiation is about making all the parties whole.  This is why it is wise and beneficial to present your offer in such a way that it will benefit your negotiating partner as well. In this way, you do not want to just emphasize your salary and give the impression that it is about you are receiving something. It is important to prep with the ideas mind of what you bring to the organization, your skills, and why that benefits them. I briefly mentioned your value proposition above- therefore it is important to understand that and be ready to discuss it. The salary should align not just with the expectations and duties of the job but with your value proposition- the unique skills, traits, and qualifications that separated you from your competition. It helped you land the role. It should also help you increase your salary accordingly.  

Be Open To “No”

If the offer is bad, do not be afraid to reject it. You are your own best advocate and began this process to receive the best offer. Part of what you need to do is convey to your negotiating partner why you deserve the best offer and why it is in their best interest to provide it. However, if the first offer happens to be a bad one, do not need to accept it. Eventually, this will come back when you decide that you are still unhappy with your salary, lack of benefits, or what have you and it affects how you feel about your work- and negatively impacts your work.

Alternatively, do not be afraid of rejection either. Rejections is not a sign of failure. Rejection can either move a discussion forward or be used a learning tool for the future. It is beneficial to remember that each rejection can get us closer to the yes and offer we are seeking and have been longing for in our careers.

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