Congrats, you’ve gotten a job offer! According to CNBC, only 39% of employees negotiated their last job offer. Negotiating is important for many reasons – most raises are a calculated percentage of your salary, so not negotiating early on can impact your long-term earning potential. Additionally, knowing your value demonstrates that you take your career seriously and have the skills to create a big impact though your work.
Like many real world experiences, salary negotiation is sometimes easier said than done. There are so many things to keep in mind during the negotiation process, but here are Team Real World Playbook’s top 5 considerations when negotiating your salary (in no particular order):
Take your time – Don’t feel you have to reply right away. Walk through the offer, what it means to you and what you think might need to change to make the job the right fit for you. There are some high level considerations to think through when you have a job offer in hand. What are your priorities at this point in your career? What are you willing to live without? What else is going on in your life that this offer will impact?
Talk through your priorities with a parent, mentor, or friend before you respond to the recruiter to ensure your bases are covered and you are prepared to have a conversation. Think about things like your budget, lifestyle, upcoming travel plans, healthcare needs, and retirement savings. Which of these things do you personally value most?
Sometimes a hiring manager or HR representative will ask that you provide an answer by a certain time, and deadlines are to be respected (plus the recruiter may start calling you if you don’t get back to them!). When Real World Playbook’s Brand and Content Strategy Associate, Gillian Katz, was on the fence for a previous job opportunity, she took the time to think through what the role meant for her professional development before returning the persistent recruiter’s call. It was her intentionally taking the time to think through the opportunity that ultimately led her to realize it was not the right fit.
If your recruiter gives you a deadline or schedules time to talk through the offer, take your time to think through your questions and any points of negotiation beforehand. Be prepared for the deadline to change depending on how many questions you have and how much back and forth is required in the negotiation process.
Know your value – Recruiters expect you to negotiate – it tells them you are taking their offer seriously! However, they expect you to be reasonable too. Make sure to do your research using tools like Glassdoor, Payscale, and Salary.com to get benchmarks on the typical range of compensation for a similar position at a company like yours in your geographic area. Additionally, minimum wage and salary laws vary by city, so make sure you understand those requirements and the overtime policy of your company.
You can also calculate how the salary, benefits, and any additional perks will influence your current budget. Doing the math and being prepared with the figures allows the recruiter to see that you’ve really done your homework! You need to feel confident when discussing your compensation and why you feel it reflects your value – know which skills will be most important to your new role and think about the time and cost of acquiring them.
These negotiation conversations are a balancing act. You don’t want to push too hard, but you want to assert your own needs. Always be polite, thank the recruiter for their time, and acknowledge that this is work on their end too.
Salary negotiation is about more than salary – Fast Company states that salary should only be about 70% of your overall compensation. While your salary makes up a significant part of your compensation package, there are many other components that have monetary (and other) value. Does your employer provide meals, fitness discounts, or company equity options? How many vacation days do you have, and must you accrue them? What are the benefits packages available? Is your manager going to be a great mentor for you?
There may not be a ton of room for negotiation when it comes to your salary, but there may be other valuable company benefits that make one offer more lucrative than another. To note, some jobs say their salaries are non-negotiable (not uncommon for entry-level positions). That said, it never hurts to double check that there’s no wiggle room in what they’re offering. In the case of entry-level employees, companies often spend major resources on entry-level training (a value-add for the employee), so they may not be able to allocate additional resources to salary increases or bonuses. Moral of the story: you won’t know unless you ask!
The answer may be “no” – While you should not be afraid to ask for what you feel you deserve, be prepared for the answer to be “no”. Your company may not allow you to bring your dog to the office, there may not be an equity option for non-leadership positions, and they may not offer 401(k) matching. That said, finding out the answer is “no” shouldn’t deter you from making your case and asking for what’s important to you! It could be a yes, or an opportunity to ask for something else on your list.
Know your deal breakers – If the answer is no, and you just can’t make it work, know when to walk away. You spend the majority of your day at work and you should enjoy being there! If compromising on something important to you will make your job feel inadequate or incomplete, know when to walk away and politely decline an offer.
Remember that negotiation is a two way street – both you and your new employer should feel good about the final outcome. Every position, employer, and negotiation process is different, so never be afraid to ask questions! 42% of Millennials change jobs every one-to-three years, so the next move is never far away (and practice makes perfect). Make a plan, get comfortable advocating for yourself, and secure the offer of your dreams!