How To Negotiate Your Salary

negotiate your salary

Career Kuel Thought Leader: Gayle Petrillo

Even in midlife we find ourselves in this predicament – negotiating our salary.

When coaching my clients during their interview process, I always tell them not to bring up salary until the hiring manager or recruiter starts that discussion. 

“Ask what the salary range for the position is.”

Salary Range:

During initial interviews, it is not uncommon for the employer’s representative to ask what salary the candidate is seeking. This is a trap of sorts. Rather than responding with $40,000 or $80,000 or whatever, turn the tables. Ask what the salary range for the position is. 

This accomplishes two things:

  1. You won’t waste your time or theirs if the range is not comfortable for you; and
  2. You won’t be selling yourself short

There are times when the employer backs the candidate into a corner by saying I’m not able to provide that information at this time, or provides another excuse to avoid responding.

Negotiate Your Salary:

When you must respond, consider something along this line,

“I’d rather not disclose that at this point in the process because I prefer to have a more comprehensive salary conversation based on my skills, what I can offer to the team, and company benefits.”

“Some companies will review your salary in 90 days but that’s rare and may be a negotiation point for you.”

Or:

“I’d like to know more about the role and expectations after I’ve had a chance to speak with the team and determine whether I’m a good fit before discussing compensation.”

If pushed harder and now you have to give them something more concrete, my suggestion is to provide your latest or your previously high salary. For instance, “in my last role as _(operations manager for __)____, my salary was $47,000. This position is (similar or different) and with my background and experience, my expectation would be $50,000; however, my salary is negotiable depending on the benefit package, scope of responsibility, (travel), review process, etc.”

Initial Salary Request:

It’s important to remember that the salary you begin with will likely be what you earn for the first year. Some companies will review your salary in 90 days. But, that’s rare and may be a negotiation point for you. Other organizations will review in six months. 

Another key negotiating factor currently in a candidate’s favor is requesting a sign-on bonus, especially if the company isn’t going to match your initial salary request.

Avoid negotiating through email. In-person or over the phone is the preferable way to approach this process.

“By tracking it, you have some negotiating power at raise and/or bonus time.” 

I also coach my clients to negotiate once they are offered a position. In rare cases, as a recent client of mine knew, the company was very clear in the job posting and throughout the interview process, that the hourly rate was the starting hourly rate.

Importance Of Making A Great Impression:

We knew there was no point to negotiate, especially since this was for an entry-level position and my client had no experience from which to draw upon nor highlight. We did, however, discuss the importance of making a great impression throughout her first six months so she might be considered for an increase prior to her annual review. 

Another suggestion I make to my clients is to keep an up-to-date spreadsheet of their accomplishments. Adding these to your resume to keep it current is helpful; and additionally, it is a useful tool when the time comes for your review. Your manager may not be fully aware of what positive impact you are having within your department, division or corporately. By tracking it, you have some negotiating power at raise and/or bonus time.

Take Into Account Benefits:

And should you leave your current position simply because you want a higher salary? Not by a long shot in my opinion. You might want to consider your compensation as a whole, including benefits (health, time off [vacation, personal, sick, etc.], 401k [match?], etc. And think about your organization’s culture. Is it a good fit? Do you have the flexibility [child care, remote work, etc.]?

The best advice I can offer any candidate is to seek input from people you trust and/or from a career coach – a person who can look at the situation from an objective position.

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About the Author:

Gayle Petrillo is President of First Impressions, Image Consulting. Gayle is an image consultant working with both businesses and individuals. Her services include: customer service training; team building skills; secret shopper services; gossip avoidance techniques; closet analysis; wardrobe transformations, personal shopping; employment coaching; and presentation skills.