8 Essential Tips for Your Next Salary Negotiation

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Summary: Be prepared for the next time you negotiate your salary with these essential tips.

One thing that most Americans are incredibly uncomfortable talking about is money. Sure, we use money every day and most of us would like more of it, but do we actually enjoy asking for it? Probably not.

When you go into a salary negotiation, or decide to initiate one, you’re probably thinking that you’d rather be doing, well, anything else. It’s difficult at times to walk up to someone else and say that you’re worth more money than what they’re paying you or plan to pay you in the case of a new position. This topic is even more difficult for women than men because women tend to value their skills and abilities less than men do, no matter what their actual abilities are in their job.
There are several different tactics depending on the situation you find yourself in when you need to negotiate your salary. First and foremost, do a little research beforehand about the market rate for jobs similar to yours and in similar areas. Then, take a look at the various tips below and find the ones that best apply to you and your situation. Consider finding a friend to practice with as well so you know how you’ll handle different situations.
When negotiating at your current position:
  1. Set up the meeting yourself. Unless you’re already walking into a yearly review meeting where you know raises are discussed, you’ll need to take the initiative and set up the meeting yourself. Rather than saying it’s about salary or a raise, say that you’d like to talk about your performance. 
  2. Confirm that you’re on the same page. Before you discuss getting a raise, make sure that you’re on the same page about your performance. Ask them questions and engage them to make sure that they agree with what you’ve been doing and the value you’ve brought. 
  3. Be positive. Depending on who you’re speaking with, they will probably have to take your request to another higher up and go through this again on your behalf. Be empathetic to the fact that this is not an easy task but use terms like “finding a solution that will work for all of us.” Also use the word “we” frequently and talk about shared goals to create a team emphasis. 
  4. If they deny your request. Reiterate your reasons, your hard work and any research you’ve done about what others are being paid in the same market. If that doesn’t work, get specifics on when you can next discuss your salary and what exactly they need to see from you for a raise. Consider also negotiating things like more paid time off or a more flexible schedule at this point if money is not something they can offer. 
When negotiating for a new position:
  1. They ask for an amount. Do your market research, have some evidence to back yourself up and then go for it first. If you start the conversation be reasonable but at the higher end of the range and tell them why your experience makes you worth that higher amount. If you don’t want to go first, ask if they would share their budget for the role or start with the idea that you’d like to find a figure that works well for both of you. 
  2. They ask your previous salary. First and foremost, know that you are in no way obligated to share your previous salary and some states don’t allow the question at all. If you do choose to share your previous salary, make sure they understand why you were offered that salary in the first place or if being underpaid was a reason you left that position. 
  3. They offer too little. If they give you an offer that’s far lower than what you had anticipated, take a moment and then come back to them with a number that’s somewhere in between (that you’re also comfortable with). Make sure, before going in, that you have a bottom line that you need to make ends meet and never go below that amount. Also bring in any market research that you’ve done and explain why that amount is low. 
  4. They give a considerate offer. When they make an offer that you’d like to consider (or even would like to jump at) ask for time to think it over. Tell them you’d like to discuss the decision with your family and can you get back to them in ___ amount of time. By making them wait just a little bit, it shows that you highly value your skills and time and could even result in them offering more.

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