The negotiation process begins in the interview where you tell the company about yourself, your accomplishments, and what you can do for them. All of these points increase your value during the process of salary negotiation. Salary negotiation is only as effective as your preparation and style. The art of negotiation is based upon mutual agreement of issues, not confrontation, and effective negotiation requires knowledge, flexibility, determination, and diplomacy.
To prepare properly for salary negotiations, begin your research long before the interview.
- Research salary ranges for the job function that either the employer and/or the industry have established.
- Educate to Career Salary Calculator Center
- Professional associations often provide salary information for their occupations.
- Research the cost of living in the region in which you would be working.
- Establish your criteria before you meet to discuss/negotiate the terms of the job offer so you know how best to respond.
Establish your criteria
Negotiation is not merely saying "I want more money." It is getting a better understanding of what the company has to offer and comparing this to your needs and what you have to offer the employer. Some criteria to evaluate ahead of time include:
- What is the lowest salary you would consider?
- What do you need to do your job?
- What benefits does the employer offer?
- What makes you worth a higher salary? Create a list of the benefits you would bring to the organization.
Possible negotiation points
There are many different aspects of a job offer than can be considered in the negotiation process. Be sure you evaluate what your needs are, so you are better prepared to react to an offer. Things you may possibly negotiate are:
- Retirement benefits/pensions/profit sharing
- Bonuses/pay increases
- Travel/auto/cell phone
- Child/dependent care
- Education and training
- Work schedule/vacations
- Work location
- Life and health insurance
- Relocation assistance/housing
- Termination programs
Receiving the offer
When you receive an offer, be certain to express a strong interest and enthusiasm for the job. Ask for a period of time to evaluate the offer. An appropriate evaluation time is approximately 48 hours. Asking for time gives you the opportunity to:
- Fully understand the whole package.
- Decide how to deal with the situation if the salary offer is lower than you expected.
- Discuss the offer with family, network contacts, professors, etc.
- Prepare and execute a successful negotiation.
- Be more level-headed at negotiation time.
- See if you get another offer, so you don't limit your options.
Analyzing and evaluating the offer
There are a couple aspects of an offer which you need to consider:
- Work content: do you know all the responsibilities involved in the position?
- Total compensation package: this includes salary, benefits, and other perks.
As you go into negotiation, begin with the mindset that everything is negotiable. Think about the offer you have received:
- Are there issues that need to be clarified?
- Does this job match your ideal work preferences?
- Would you take the offer if they are not able to negotiate on any item?
Remember, the art of negotiation is not based on confrontation, but rather discussion and mutual agreement. It is all about proving your value to the employer.
- Read PayScale's Negotiation Guide.
- Discuss packages as a whole, not individual items.
- Determine the aspects of the offer in which you agree, then move to areas of discussion.
- Know with whom you are dealing:
- HR Representative—aggressive and risky negotiations are okay.
- Future supervisor—use caution and tact.
- Enable the employer to make a "small" decision. For example, an increase of $400 per month equals out to $5000 a year.
Keep in mind that offers are rarely withdrawn because of overzealous negotiations. Be prepared to have your offer accepted. If it is, take the offer and stop your job search.
In the end
Negotiation is expected from most employers. Don't be intimidated or pressured by early decision dates. Those, too, are negotiable. Do your negotiation in good faith, and never play one offer against another. Always be truthful, detailed, and able to provide proof of your statements. Make sure you do your homework. Know whether the employer is able to satisfy your needs and demands. Be humble. If you win, someone loses.