How to Confidently Negotiate a Better Salary in Your New Job

Now that most college graduating classes are moving on into the next phase of their lives, there’s one skill they probably didn’t get in school that can make a huge difference in their careers. To know how to confidently negotiate a better salary in your new job can start you off in the best possible position.

Negotiating salary and compensation can be an uncomfortable process. As much as you’re excited about the prospects of landing a new job, you’re equally concerned about your living expenses, proper market value and benefits. Ask for too much, and the hiring manager might send you and your resume packing. Ask for too little, and you’ll likely end up dissatisfied and unproductive. If you ask for far too little, it’s a sign you don’t know the job market well enough, which reflects badly on your preparation.

Whether you’re a fresh-faced college grad, or a veteran worker who wants to get paid what you’re worth, try these suggestions when you’re ready to sign the dotted-line:

Never show your cards

Just like poker, it’s best to avoid giving away your salary expectations before the job has been offered. Leave salary requirements on questionnaires blank. If you’re asked upfront what you expect to make, respond that you’re flexible and that salary is negotiable. Giving a number too early may lock you in to accepting an offer far below the standard asking price for your position.

Do your research

Go to the negotiating table (or telephone, as the case may be) with research on the local and national benchmarks for income in your area of expertise. There are many websites, such as glassdoor.com or salary.com, which provide salary information for free. Try to find as much as possible about the company under consideration. What are the standard benefits, severance packages, etc. which, for many companies, are on their corporate web sites.

The negotiation

You’ve done the prep work and set the meeting; now it’s time to actually have the discussion. When you finally sit down to talk dollars and cents, make sure you’re coming across as assertive and confident. Never be apologetic when negotiating salary. If you act unsure when making your case for a higher wage, your superior will sense it and likely lowball you.

Know your value 

If you receive a low offer, don’t panic. Map out, in clear and objective terms, how your talents and skills benefit the company. Using past milestones as your guide, name specific ways you plan to increase productivity and reduce costs. Speaking of benefits, salary should not be the be-all-end-all of your negotiation. If your new employer can only go so high on salary, confidently negotiate for flexible schedules, more vacation time, or several other perks.

Don’t take it personally

This isn’t a cold-war standoff, so don’t try to strong-arm your future employer. Keep in mind that both you and your employer are seeking a cost-benefit compromise that pays dividends for both parties. Remember … THEY JUST OFFERED YOU A SALARY … so take it as a good sign and be enthusiastic. After all, there were probably dozens of applicants that didn’t get as far as you did.

Don’t rush to judgment

Once you’ve fielded a satisfactory offer, tell them you need a day or two to mull it over. If they’re in dire need of your services, the extra time may convince them they need to ramp up the benefits.

It’s a conversation that many people dread. But, if you’re just starting out, you need to guarantee you start at a good place. For experienced workers, your aspirations and goals may extend beyond the confines of your current salary. Either way, use these tips to confidently negotiate salary, extra benefits, and other perks with the company.

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