Interviews are full of questions that make you nervous, hopeful and everything in between, but nothing is quite as anxiety-producing as when salary is brought into the equation. You want the job, but at the same time, you want to make sure you sign on to an amount that will be worth your time and effort.
Negotiating your income is never the easiest conversation to have, especially when it’s with the person you’re trying to seek employment from, but it’s important to push for what you feel you deserve. Here are a few tips to help confidently and professionally reach a salary you feel is fair and worthwhile:
1. Understand the Average Pay for Your Industry
To build a persuasive case to show your employer, you’ll need to do some research into the field you’re employed in. Facts and statistics help give credit to your proposition, so prepare yourself with recent data and numbers that show what the average income is for someone in the same position and geographical area. This helps add some backbone to your stance, and presenting hard evidence to an employer will reduce the counterarguments that come your way.
2. Let the Employer Bring Up the Subject First
Acting too pushy, eager or entitled will turn most employers off and cause them to block out your proposition, even if you’re making valid points. Be patient; salary is something that has to be addressed before you sign on, so rest assured knowing the subject will come up.
If the employer pitches an amount, take a minute to think about it before you respond. You don’t want to appear as though you came to the interview with the intent to shut down whatever offer was made to you. Instead, think about how it compares to your ballpark range and present your expectations, along with the facts you have to illustrate how you arrived at your conclusion.
3. Start High
When it comes to negotiating, it’s important to start high (yet realistic). Bartering always involves both sides trimming the other’s expectations down just a little, so you want to start with the maximum amount you think you can negotiate for to avoid going below your minimum.
4. Highlight Your Value with Confidence
It can feel awkward trying to sell your skill set for a price, but that’s essentially what a job is. Don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer why your skills are worthwhile and how much value you can contribute.
Highlight some of your past achievements and experiences that are relevant to the job you’re pursuing. Sometimes the way to win an employer over is to be confident and assertive while saying, “I can contribute x, y and z and apply it to these specific areas of the position.” Avoid being arrogant in your approach, but say it with enough strength that it’s clear you believe in your own capabilities.
5. Consider the Other Incentives
If your potential employer is willing to go just below your ideal amount, consider what else comes along with the job. If health insurance, life insurance, paid sick leave and paid vacation time are part of the deal, you might want to consider taking the offer. The amount you’d pay on your own for those incentives would probably cancel out the excess income you’d make if you were to get your desired amount.
6. Consider the Big Picture
It’s important to flexible when negotiating your salary. You want to be compensated fairly, but it’s also important to step back and look at the bigger picture. If it’s a job that offers adequate benefits, frequent pay raises and flexible a schedule—or if it’s a job with many opportunities for advancement in a direction you want your career to go—it might be worth it to lower your salary expectations just a bit. You and your future employer will probably both need to take some time to think things over, so use that opportunity to really weigh your options.
Negotiating your salary is an uncomfortable experience. When you’re trying to land a job, it can be nerve-wracking trying to argue for fair pay out of fear the employer will give the position to someone who will settle for less. But being assertive about what you deserve will show the interviewer you have initiative and leadership skills, as well as self-respect. As long as you’re being realistic and flexible with your demands, you shouldn’t have any issues ensuring you get paid what your skills and qualifications are worth.
Arlene Chandler is a freelance writer who enjoys helping career seekers make the best choices. She currently writes about business, careers and insurance tips for Suncorp.