Negotiating for what you’re worth can be a challenge even for seasoned professionals. Typically, people don’t like this part of the interview conversation or talking to their boss about a raise, yet they still fixate on it. Negotiating is an art, not a trick. At the UC San Diego Rady School of Management, graduate students learn these helpful tips from their Careers Team:
- Forget about the money. Too much time is spent “researching” salaries and anticipating a low offer. Focus on getting the interview, then winning the interview. Without this, you won’t have an offer to negotiate. It is when the hiring manager determines that you’re the right person for the job that you now have leverage. Focus on what’s important.
- Understand your worth. That’s right, it is about your history, what you’ve learned in grad school, and how that all matches with what the employer is seeking. Also, all candidates are not made equal. Specific skills and experience are worth more to certain employers — it’s not only about the degree or years of experience. It’s best is to talk to someone close to the industry or the hiring market to get real time input on realistic salary expectations.
- Be careful when doing the research – size of the company, the industry, where the job is located all factor into the numbers. A small public company in the southwest will pay differently than a public company in the northeast. Use validated compensation data tool, such as Payscale.com, which includes the complex factors, or again talk to someone close to the industry to help set your expectations.
- Be a good judge of your counter negotiation. It’s not about the dollar difference, but the percent difference. If someone offers you $80,000, I’d strongly advise that you don’t counter with $100,000. You may be thinking “it’s only $20,000 more” but it’s really a 25% increase. I doubt anyone is going to try and lowball their offer to you by that much. It’s not logical. So take emotion out of it and think about what a reasonable response is (I suggest starting with a “thank you for the offer…can we discuss” approach). And remember, if you like the offer, it is ok to accept without negotiating. Some companies start with their best offer, knowing the market is tight and the best talent is important for the company’s success.
- Last, set yourself up for a non-emotional conversation when it comes to compensation. Build a spreadsheet of either your last or current compensation package in one column (line item specific – base salary, bonus, 401K, vacation, benefits, stock, etc.) and then the offer in the adjoining column. This side-by-side comparison opens the conversation up to a simple business discussion and allows both sides to come to an offer that is fair.
Yes, it can be that simple! Remember, both sides want the offer to work out and to start you out as a happy employee. Keeping this in mind should decrease some of the stress you’re already feeling. Good people want to hire good people – the rest is simply a professional conversation. Happy negotiating!