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How To Negotiate Salary: 5 Techniques To Live By!

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Are you wondering how to negotiate your salary? Here’s an interesting fact I ran across. Will Smith is raking in a whopping $17 million for his role in Bad Boys for Life. The third installment of the comedic-action franchise, Bad Boys, set for release in January 2020 by Sony Pictures. Smith’s bounty amounts to an $11 million difference between him and co-star Martin Lawrence’s $6 million, according to Variety.

“In business as in life – you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”

Chester L. Karrass
Martin Lawrence & Will Smith on the set of Bad Boys 3: Bad Boys for Life

We don’t know all the details that went into negotiations, but I think we all know what it feels like to sit down on one side of a negotiation to advocate for competitive compensation. And odds are that you will if you haven’t already. The last thing you need is to be is unprepared. Unless you have the help of an agent to get you the best bottom line possible, you are most likely going to be your strongest advocate. Get ready to take some notes because class is in session! We’re going to get you ready to nail your next negotiation. This is how to negotiate your salary!

How To Negotiate Salary

#1: Remember, everything is negotiable!

Business mogul Bryan Tracy blames passivity for the apprehension to negotiate salary. I can recall instances in my own life when I opted not to speak up for myself because I feared rejection or looking as if I felt entitled to a more favorable outcome. What broke the cycle for me was simply mustering the courage to just begin the conversation. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was given more responsibility at work after the departure of a superior a few years ago. My boss and I sat down over a meal to discuss next steps.

He went down the list of expectations and assured me of his confidence for me to step into the role. “Do you need anything from me?” he asked to conclude our conversation. My only request was that my salary be commensurate with my workload. I should have followed up with a clear expectation of what I thought the salary would amount to, so that the raise wouldn’t be a surprise; however, the bump in pay I received was a fit for me at the time, so I didn’t raise a fuss. This leads me to my next point.

#2: What’s your salary endgame?

You have to know what’s important to you. Before you settle on a number, I recommend taking inventory of your current landscape. What’s most important to you right now? What do you believe will be priority for your life and career in the next five to ten years?

I ask this because your vision has to be at 40,000 feet if you’re going to get the best deal out of the situation for both you and the party coughing up the dough. Are you willing to suffer a pay cut because of a potential relationship or opportunity with the company? It won’t be suffering at all if you know what’s in it for you.

Actress and Comedian Monique is a perfect example of this. Her supporting actress role in Precious garnered her an Academy-Award win despite only getting paid  $50,000.

#3: Draw the “Y” line for salary negotiation?

What will make you say yes? You have to know what’s acceptable and unacceptable for you before you enter the negotiation. It’s also important to know once you’ve crossed into the territory of a yes, so you don’t get distracted arguing for details that are not priority in the grand scheme of things.

#4: When and how to negotiate salary

How to renegotiate your salary…

Your best best is during an evaluation period (assuming you’re killing it). Don’t ask for a dime if your performance isn’t on point. This could backfire in a big way. If performance evaluations are not common in your workplace, opt for a time when your boss is in a great mood and you’re producing stellar results

How to negotiate salary before the offer…

First things first. I have a rule. It doesn’t exist if it’s not in writing. Period. End of sentence! Apparently, people suffer from selective amnesia. It’s an epidemic. Don’t fall prey to it my friend.

Liz Ryan, CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap, wrote in Forbes about when to bring up the money conversation during the interview process. She advises it take place during a follow-up or second interview. I completely agree because the first interview is like a first date. You should walk away with a feel for the fit without finances clouding your judgement. I’m thinking long term here. There’s always an argument for taking a high paying job for a short period of time to pay a bill — no judgement here.

Ryan proposes asking, “Is this a good time for us to sync up on salary?” That first step is easy enough, right? The conversation will probably progress to the age old question (which is none of their business) about how much your last job paid you. Here comes the pivot. Are you ready? “You’ll say, ‘In this job search I’m focusing on roles in the $55K range.’” See, that wasy easy. Ryan recommends giving a target salary rather than disclosing your previous salary. There will either be alignment with your salary expectation, or they’ll let you know the expectations aren’t a fit. The key here is to not lose control as you negotiate salary.

How to negotiate salary via email…

This can be tricky, but don’t fret. You’ve got this! Lewis C. Lin, CEO of Impact Interview spoke to FastCompany advising job seekers to craft negotiation correspondence three ways: “polite, professional, and direct.”

Lin believes you should lead with gratitude and express willingness to accept the offer up front, and I wholeheartedly agree. Transition by countering their offer with specifics. He offers effective phrases like “is there any wiggle room” and “how willing are you to . . .” rather than “I will not accept anything less than X.”

#5: How to negotiate salary with your numbers

You’ve got to have some serious ammo if you’re going to justify why someone should consider compensating you more. This is where numbers are your best friend. Numbers are specific. They don’t lie! They speak to specific results and can be verified.

Your numbers answer one critical question: Why you?

Come out the gate with irrefutable facts detailing your wins relevant to the company’s objectives moving forward. You’re not bragging to just go over your record. You’re making the case for why you are uniquely qualified and tuned into what’s needed for the role. This speaks to performance, interpersonal chemistry, a track record of integrity, etc.

Deepak Malhotra wrote a piece in Harvard Business Review detailing rules for negotiating a job offer. He writes, “It’s not enough for them to like you. They also have to believe you’re worth the offer you want.” You can’t simply make a salary proposal and leave it up to everyone’s imagination to make sense.

Let your numbers tell a story

Numbers are only good if they have people attached to them. Think of it this way. You saved over 25% in your departments budget because you combed through expenses line by line. That was more than just a percentage. Where was that moaney able to be allocated within the company? Who did it impact? Your story must include a problem, your solution, and the significance.

What number is the market willing to pay?

You’ve got to do your homework now. Your first line of defense is averaging what you find online. Outlets like Glassdoor and Salary.com are a great starting point, but beware. This should only assist you in determining a very general range. You might strike at gold, but drill down for specifics. Your best bet is to talk to local recruiter with knowledge of jobs in your industry.

Where is your ceiling and floor?

Now that you have some information, combine your market data with a personal inventory of your financial outlook. Your floor is the threshold compensation package details must meet in order for you to even consider the offer. Your ceiling is a specific number that you believe might be above market value but within the reach of what you are worth to the company. Ideally, you want your floor and market research to land around the same number. This puts you in a prime negotiating position. You can leverage your experience, credentials, and whatever else makes you valuable to ask for more.

Start the negotiation with your ceiling and make your flexibility known because of your willingness to accept the position. Low-balling only hurts you. Remember, you’ve done your research.

(BONUS) #6: Pause during negotiation

Nervous energy will have you talking too much and sabotage your ability to effectively negotiate. Be patient enough to wait after you state your case and expectation. Rebutting your own argument out of uncertainty to fill empty space can only be a detriment to you. Just breathe and wait for the reply.


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