Win/Win Salary Negotiation
Simple Negotiation Tactics to Get Paid What You’re Worth

A lack of negotiation skills and discomfort with negotiating in general are key factors that hold people back in both their careers and personal lives.

Consider this key fact from WageIndicator.org:  By not negotiating a first salary, working professionals stand to lose more than one half a million dollars by age 60.

One half a million dollars!  Yes, it’s true.  How can this be?  This disturbing fact is the result of a several factors.

For starters, all future salary increases you receive are incremental.  Salary raises are usually based on a percentage of the salary you are hired in at.  For example, after your first year at a new job you may receive a three percent raise.  This is three percent of the salary you were originally brought in at.  Therefore, the higher salary you start out with, the larger your future raises will be.

Furthermore, a lot of times, the salary you are offered for a new job depends on what you presently earn.  As you know, many employers ask for your salary history and base their offer on what you currently make.

As you can see, when it comes to negotiating salary, there absolutely is a lot at stake – and not just in the short-term.  Each salary you negotiate has the potential to affect your earnings for the entire rest of your career.

The best way to get what you want is to ask for what you want.  Don’t be afraid to ask and please don’t do what most people do and accept the first offer.  Many job seekers avoid salary negotiations because they perceive them to be contentious.  Actually, if you apply yourself to creating a positive outcome, these discussions can create a win/win result for both parties.  I can’t promise it won’t feel a bit uncomfortable.  However, the more negotiation conversations you have, the easier it gets.

The goal of this article is to provide you with the information you need to carefully craft a customized salary negotiation strategy that fits your communication style and feels comfortable for you.  This module will show you how.

Strive for Win/Win

One of the first rules of negotiation is to strive for a result both parties will feel good about.  I strongly encourage you to let go of the attitude that negotiation is negative or that it has to be confrontational.  Negotiation does not have to be about one side winning and other side losing.  Rather, view it as helping both sides get what they want.  When done well, negotiation is a collaborative effort that produces a positive outcome for everyone involved.

Also, think about it this way:  If you take a lower salary than you’re happy with, after a few weeks you will probably feel frustrated and resentful and won’t be a good employee for your employer.  So it is certainly in the employer’s best interest for you to compensated at the level you deserve.

You need to make a steadfast commitment to the negotiation process.  Make the commitment to yourself that you will put your best foot forward and do everything you can to negotiate the best package.  If you don’t make a firm commitment, you may find yourself backing down and not even attempting to make a counter offer.

Remember, there is nothing to lose by asking, if you do so in a tactful, respectful manner.  As long as you are fair and reasonable, there is no reason for anyone to be offended.

This guide is designed to help you build both your comfort level with negotiating and your negotiating skill set.  Specifically, I outline step-by-step instructions for developing your personalized salary negotiation approach.  The specific steps include:

  • Know What You Want
  • Conduct Research
  • The Negotiation Mindset
  • Think About It, If You Need To
  • Commit to the Process

Step One:  Know What You Want

The first step in planning your salary negotiation strategy is getting clear on what you want.  Set your salary target so you know what you’re negotiating for.

I recommend you set a range.  Your range should have a target as well as a minimum.  The target is your goal salary.  Think big and create a stretch goal for yourself!  Also, determine your floor – the minimum salary you’re willing to accept.  That way, you won’t end up accepting something below what you can live with and then end up regretting what you agreed to.  Be sure that the figure you designate as your minimum is enough to meet your financial needs and goals.

In order to set your target salary and your floor salary, know what your monthly expenses and other financial needs are.  You may decide to go into a field that doesn’t pay a lot of money because it gives you immense career satisfaction and feeds your soul, but you must have a clear idea of the salary you need to earn to pay your bills, meet your savings goals and live the way you want to live.

In order to figure this out, create a monthly budget for yourself. This allow you to gain a firm grasp on your spending habits, saving goals and income needs.  Once you have insight into your current financial state of affairs you can set your specific salary goals.

Once you’ve set your specific salary goals, you can plan your negotiation strategy.  Also, having a clear picture of what you want to earn will help you determine which opportunities to apply for.  If you come across a job opening that sounds interesting, but does not meet your minimum salary requirement, you will be able to quickly make the decision to pass it by.

Step Two:  Conduct Research

Your next step is do some research.  Information is power and you will be able to negotiate from a position of strength if you’ve armed yourself with the facts.  The more data you have, the stronger position you’ll be in.  Specifically, you want to know the average salary range for the type of position you want.  That way, you can base salary discussions on the current market value rather than on what you currently earn.

If the salary is not listed on job announcement, you can try to find out more information through word of mouth.  The best way to conduct word of mouth research is to ask someone who works at the company.  You may feel a bit shy about approaching people to discuss salary.  It doesn’t have to be a sticky situation.  All you need to say is:  “I’m interested in applying for the XYZ position in the ABC department.  Do you happen know what the salary range is?”

Asking for a range rather than a specific figure makes it easier for the person to answer.  If they don’t know offhand, they may be able to ask around or look it up on the company’s intranet.  Many employers list pay scale data on the organization’s internal website or in the human resources manual.  You can also ask these inside contacts, or members of your general network for input on what else to negotiate for in addition to salary.

Furthermore, there are many, many websites you can visit to research average salary ranges within specific professions and industries.  Rather than listing some of those websites here (since websites tend to come and go), I recommend you perform some internet research to identify the current websites most relevant to your profession and industry.  Search with key words as:

  • Salary Surveys + “Your Profession and Industry”
  • Salary Calculators + “Your Profession and Industry”
  • Salary Ranges + “Your Profession and Industry”

Other sources you can consult to find salary information include:

  • Professional Associations in your field
  • Job announcements in your field for similar positions
  • Informational interviews with professionals in your field
  • Salary surveys in your field – many of these are available online

Also, when you are approached by an employer for a job interview, I highly encourage you to inquire about the salary range.  If you don’t already know what the position pays, ask when they call you to schedule the interview.  That way if you are eventually offered the job, you will know what range to negotiate within.

Some organizations have specific pay grades and pay bands and a lot of times these are listed on their website.  Know what band the position you’re being considered for is in.

If you don’t see this information on the employer’s website, check with an internal human resources person.  Also, identify what the low, mid & high end is and what the ranges are for the band above it.  All this information will give you clues you can use to your advantage.

When an employer makes an offer, a lot of times they will offer a salary in the middle of the range.  When you have a clear idea of the low, mid & high end of the pay scale for that position, you will know how much leeway they have to pay you more.  This way you’re not working blindly in the dark and can confidently ask for the high end of the range.

Also, inquiring about the salary allows you to know upfront if this particular opportunity meets your requirements.  If the high end of the range is below your minimum salary target, than you may want to think about skipping the interview.  There’s no point in investing your energies in an opportunity that doesn’t meet your needs.  Or, you may decide to attend the interview with the goal of developing a relationship with the organization, thus setting yourself up for future opportunities.  Either way, you want to approach the interview with the facts well in hand.

Step Three:  The Negotiation Mindset

Preparing to win the mental game is one of the most crucial steps in this entire process.

Just as in sports, having the right mindset empowers you to achieve your goals.  Gearing yourself up for the conversation will allow you to perform at your best in the moment.  Otherwise, the gremlins can take over and cause you to back out at the last minute.

Being well prepared on what to say and how to say it is paramount.  When you fully commit to the process and feel good about your pre-planned approach, you’ll have the confidence to deliver your message in exactly the right way.

Approach the negotiations with a positive attitude and a win/win mindset.  Envision creating an outcome both sides will feel good about.  By exploring areas of mutual benefit, you can achieve success for everyone involved.  People skills and attitude are just as important as preparing the technical side of your pitch.  Friendliness will get you farther than defensiveness.

Remember the overall goal – a job that is satisfying, fulfilling and rewards you at the level you deserve to be compensated at.  Accept that you may not get everything you want but do proactively advocate for the specifics that are most important to you.

Also, to win the mental game, think about what will make you feel comfortable during the negotiation discussions.  Consider the following:

  • Do you prefer to have the conversation in person?
  • Do you prefer the conversation take place via telephone?
  • Will it help to send the hiring manager an email first to share some of your preliminary thoughts?
  • What else will make you feel more comfortable in the moment?

Identify which communication methods will be the most well-received by the hiring manager and tailor your approach to their communication style.  If she is the type that prefers to meet face-to-face, then plan to go to her office for negotiations.  On the other hand, if she seems very comfortable over the phone and prefers the expediency of this method, consider presenting your case that way.

Furthermore, try to have the conversation during the hiring manager’s best time of day – the time when she is most likely to be in a good mood.  For example, if she is a morning person, have the conversation then.  But if you notice she tends to be much more relaxed at the end of the day, shoot to have the meeting during that time frame.  Gauging it to her best time of day will make it easier for her to say yes and grant you what you want.

Another way to prepare your negotiation mindset is to build yourself up with positive self-talk.  Write down inspirational phrases that nurture your self-confidence.  Rely on this encouragement to spur you on when the moment of truth arrives.  Trust me, when the time comes to have the negotiation conversation, your gremlins will attempt to shout you down.  Prepare for this by programming in an automatic circuit breaker to disengage the inner critic.  This positive self-talk will overrule the gremlin’s negative chatter and inspire you with the self-assurance to follow through on your negotiation strategy.

When your gremlins are aggressively trying to get you to abort your mission, here is a surefire tactic to counter them.  Count the costs of not asking for what you want.  The costs of not negotiating for salary are manifold, including:

  • Less take home pay and thus less buying power for you
  • Fewer resources to invest into your financial stability
  • Smaller incremental raises moving forward
  • Reduced earning potential in future positions

When your insecurities attempt to talk you out of it, I encourage you to have the courage to invest in yourself.  Honor yourself enough to be responsible toward your own goals.

Step Four:  Think About It, If You Need To

Upon receiving a job offer, you do not have to accept or decline it immediately.  It is perfectly acceptable to give yourself a day or two to think about it.  Simply explain that you’d like some time to think it over and you’ll get back to them within a specific time frame.  Usually 24 to 48 hours is an appropriate length of time for you to take to think about it.  Ask the hiring manager if this is acceptable to them.  Take the time you need to make a sound decision, while also being mindful of the timeline the offering party is on.

Step Five:  Commit to the Process

Finally, the best way to conduct a successful salary negotiation is to fully commit to the process.  Love yourself enough to ask for what you deserve!

Having a forthright discussion about your salary needs will allow you to feel good about advocating for yourself.  Making an honest request in good faith will allow you to avoid resentments in the future.  Once you’re settled in to your new position and putting in those long hours at the office, you’ll be glad you did!

In closing, I encourage you to be willing to stand up for yourself.  You will be respected for asking for what you are worth.  It will give you confidence and allow you to grow both professionally and personally.

If you find you need assistance with your salary negotiation strategy, feel free to schedule a one-on-one coaching session with me.  

To schedule a private coaching session, click here.

Now, let’s move on to your career success guide to Determining Your Salary Requirements

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