How to Successfully Negotiate Salary
By Kylee McIntyre22-Sep-2017Views 3562

Negotiate Salary

Congratulations! You have a job offer. Now, it's time to negotiate the salary and the other benefits, and that's something that's caused many a candidate - and, if you'll believe it, a company - to stress out. For you, it's a delicate balancing act - if you ask for too much, you'll be out of a job, but if you ask for too little, you'll have put your time and resources into securing a position that won't fulfill you mentally and financially. (Maybe your last job didn't fulfill you either - all the more reason to find one that does!) On the flip side, remember that company HR has also put time and resources into finding you, reviewing your documents, speaking to you, and putting your skills to the test. While you may be thinking you're replaceable, the company has also deemed you a good fit at this point and has been willing to invest resources in you. You hold power in the decision-making process, and you have the power to say yes or no here. With that in mind, here's some tips to get the most out of your negotiation process.

1. Who are you working with?

The negotiation process may come late in the game, but a successful candidate lays the groundwork for a successful negotiation from the very beginning of the job application process, while keeping an open mind and leaving room for things to change along the way. The most successful negotiations have 90 percent of the work finished before the actual offer comes into play.

Your process will differ slightly, depending on if you're working with an agency recruiter or a company's internal HR. If you're working with a recruiting consultant you trust, feel free to tell them all of your concerns and reservations throughout the process. The more a talent consultant knows about you, the more help you'll get as you search for opportunities together.

If you're working with a company's internal HR, you can still be upfront with them about what you're looking for, but you can play some things a little closer to your chest.

Clarify your expectations to yourself early on. Job applications are time-consuming and exhausting (how many different ways can you answer the same questions about yourself and your qualifications, really?) - so save time for you and everyone involved.

2. The first call

Once you've geared up for your job searching process - whether you're a passive candidate just trying to look out for your next great opportunity or are under pressure to find a job quickly, the honest question you need to ask yourself is if you really want the position, once you're in the interview process with the company.

Here's the beginning of your negotiation process - way before there's an offer on the table, you have your first call with the company. If this was set up with your trusted recruiting consultant beforehand, answer as many of the recruiting consultant questions as you can so he or she can put you in the best position for success before your call.

In your initial phone call with the company, it's common professional practice to be asked your existing salary. Answer this question truthfully, as it can help the company determine if you're in the range of their budget, and keep an open mind, as you'll be constantly reevaluating the company throughout your interview process.

3. The interview process

Negotiate Salary

This isn't just a space for you to be evaluated by the company. You're also conducting your own evaluation here, working toward your end of goal of seeing if you want the job or not. Be sure to clarify the role in a way that shows your interest in the position and where you can help out the company (and where it can help you) - for example, questions about growth opportunities within your role and company culture.

Also, do your own research during the interview process. Look up the company and how it's doing. If it's a startup, check out news on its cash flow, and tap your network for other people who have worked there, if possible.

Knowledge is power. Check sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Salary, as well as your network to know the respective salary range for people with your amount of experience with your typical amount of job responsibilities, especially if you're applying for a job in an unfamiliar location. This will help you a lot during the salary negotiation process.

4. Decision time

Congratulations! If you've made it this far, this means that you've probably made it through countless interviews and one or two tests of your abilities as a software engineer. Keep your eyes on the prize - what matters at the end of the day is what you want and need.

At this point, you have to make a decision on if you want to proceed. Can you see yourself working here?

If the answer is no, then you can choose not to proceed. Putting together an offer for a candidate involves a lot of work and a lot of calls, sometimes with upper management. You can part ways in the middle of the recruitment process amicably. Not everyone is a perfect fit for every company, and honesty is a trait that will always look good on you as a job candidate.

If the answer is yes or maybe, then feel free to continue. The company will likely ask you if you want to continue and if you have anything else you want to discuss. This is where you're going to clear up other concerns you have if you haven't been asked about them yet. Does the job sound good, but you're a little worried because you live on the opposite side of town? Does the timing make it so that the start date the company has planned for you falls square in the middle of your honeymoon? It might be scary to bring things like that up, especially if you are willing to say yes to the job, but it's better to bring up something that might be a deal-breaker now than later, when it might reflect badly on you. It also gives the company the opportunity to work it out beforehand for your offer package.

If your trusted consultant helped you get in touch with the company, you also have the opportunity to bring your concerns to him or her. Then, that can be negotiated with the company on your behalf, by someone who has more experience with negotiation and advocating.

5. The money

The very last part of the pre-offer discussion involves salary, if you haven't been asked about numbers until now. You've probably named your existing salary before now. Here's where your research can come in handy - were you getting overpaid or underpaid in your previous job? Based on that and your previous salary, you know what to be asking for in your next position. Generally, it's considered reasonable to ask for a 10 to 20 percent increase in salary from your last position.

Generally, it's considered reasonable to ask for a 10 to 20 percent increase in salary from your last position.

Because you've discussed other things with the company and with your consultant (if you have one), this is ideally a figure informed by all of the information that you have shared with the company up until this point. This takes into account experience, location (if the commute is longer or shorter than your last job), moving costs, etc.

When you're evaluating what your next job plans to offer you, keep the big picture in mind.

You'll want to not just look at your base salary but also other incentives included at your last job - insurance, equity, bonuses, vacation time - anything along those lines of value. Maybe your base salary will end up being lower than that 10 or 20 percent you asked for - and maybe it's even lower than what you made at your last position. But what else is included? Look at the overall value of your benefits and other factors (thirteenth month pay, for example) to see how it looks. Evaluation of the package is a place where your trusted consultant can come in real handy, as he or she will already know what's included and how to lay out the value for you.

This is a time to clarify parts of the offer package. You should have a good idea of what's coming after this conversation.

6. The offer (and your one more shot)

So, here we are, back where we were at the beginning - the offer stage. But, you've done 90 percent of the work already, so the offer shouldn't come as too much of a surprise for you.

However, nothing's perfect. So, if something in the offer is unsatisfactory for you, you have one shot at changing things. You can go back through the company's HR, or have your consultant have the conversation on your behalf. Explain your reasoning and hear out the company's case.

If you are undecided because you are between multiple offers, that's alright. You can be upfront about considering other offers, if you're truly undecided. As much as possible, though, avoid playing a company's offer that you're set on not taking against another offer that you want to take. Trying to hustle more benefits for yourself may not pay off if either company finds out. You may be blacklisted, making your job search even harder. In other words, gamble only if you're ready to lose.

Something you can also try, if you're very sure about what you want and how you feel about the position, is giving a bottom line, telling the company that if they make a concession (a reasonable one), you'll sign immediately. This helps the company be more decisive - get what they want (you!) or understand that they won't be able to have you.

Happy negotiating! Jobs found through 100offer's free platform for tech software engineers includes free and personal consultation with our specialized talent consultant, who will help you through the entire search process, including negotiation. Job searching is a difficult process - get us on your side. Sign up today and access positions with companies like Garena and Go-Jek.

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Kylee McIntyre
American tech, science, health, and environmental writer. Lover of scifi, fantasy, travel, and coffee. Find her on Twitter @ejkyleem.
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