What to say in 4 different salary negotiation situations
Negotiating a salary for a new job is stressful. The chance to do so only happens once in a while, and when the time comes it feels both very important and extremely personal.
People are generally more concerned about feeling unprepared or worried about an unpredictable outcome, says Andres Lares, managing partner of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute.
Those nerves are normal and healthy, but it might help to think less about what you might lose in a negotiation and more about what you can do to prepare, Lares told CNBC Make It: “Even if you can’t getting everything you want is about doing everything you can to walk away knowing you did your best.”
He recommends thinking through all the possible scenarios that could arise in the negotiation process and having a script ready for how you will react in each case. Here are a few ways to do it.
Discuss salary throughout the hiring process
First of all, when and how you should raise your salary during job interviews will depend on your situation. If the job description already lists the range, or if you’re sure of your numbers and lots of interviews are scheduled, you can bring it up in the first or second round, says Octavia Goredema, author and career coach.
You can ask the hiring manager to share their budget for the job, or you can be strategic in naming the lineup you want. Tap online resources and your professional network to get an idea of your absolute minimum wage, your desired goal, and an extended number you want to negotiate up to.
The moment you have this offer in hand, you have a lot of leverage to negotiate. “You wouldn’t be in this room or on this call if you couldn’t play that role. Recruiters wouldn’t have time to waste if they didn’t think you could fill them,” Goredema says. “Now we are discussing not only what is expected of you, but also what you are looking for.”
If the bid is way below your minimum
If HR makes you an offer significantly lower than what you want, like tens of thousands of dollars, Lares says it’s worth pointing out.
Leading with gratitude can make a difficult conversation more enjoyable: “Thank you for considering me for this role and for splitting the salary. Unfortunately, it’s significantly less than I expected for this.”
Next, assess if they can be flexible on the offer. Remind yourself and the other party that a negotiation is about working together to reach a compromise. You can phrase it like this: “I want to be respectful and not waste your time, but I’m also interested and want it to work. What’s the pay flexibility?”
Or, the hiring manager may not understand your qualifications or years of experience. Remind them of your application and ask, “Is there a different title or level you’re hiring for that better matches my expected salary?”
If the offer is at the lower end of your range
If the offer is a few thousand dollars less than the actual number you want, it’s time to make your counter offer. At this point, you should have a firm number in mind based on market data and what you personally expect from the role.
Again, Lares says, thank them for the offer first. Express your interest in the position and the expertise you will bring to it. It can help to focus on any other reasons you’re excited to take the job, like the opportunity to grow a team or launch a new product, says Columbia Business professor Mabel Abraham. School. You can mention that salary is just one part of your decision-making process, then state (or restate) your desired salary and why it fits the market as well as your qualifications.
Finally, emphasize that you want to work with the other person to find a mutually agreeable number, Lares says. You can keep it open: “What can we do to bring the offer closer to my expectations?”
If the salary meets or exceeds what you want
Good news: HR makes you an offer, and it matches what you want. Congratulation! But don’t accept it right away. Thank them for the offer and say you need time to think about it, Lares says.
Ask yourself if everything in the compensation package is what you want. Is there room to negotiate beyond salary like a signing bonus, vacation, work-from-home flexibility, health coverage, childcare assistance, or something else?
This tends to be a big part of the bargaining process where women lose out, says Abraham, who studies gender inequality in the workplace. While there is a racial and gender pay gap for base pay, it widens even more when you factor in non-wage benefits, she says. For example, a recent analysis commissioned by The Wall Street Journal found that women are less likely than men to own company stock, and when they do, they own fewer shares. The difference could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in “lost” revenue over time.
If you choose to continue negotiating additional non-salary benefits, focus only on the benefits that are most important to you and understand how flexible you are willing to be.