How to Negotiate Higher Pay at Your Next New Job

by Julie Rains on 2 December 2013 0 comments

Nearly everyone wants to make more money. One of the best ways to get paid more is to ask for more when you are interviewing for a new job.

After considering what employment candidates and hiring managers have told me about salary negotiations plus research on this topic, I've put together a list of the negotiating tactics that work at key stages of the new hire process. (See also: How to Win Every Salary Negotiation)

Develop Your Negotiating Position Before You Interview

Figure out what you want in a job, including the pay, before you start talking to potential employers. Consider all aspects of compensation, including salary, commission, bonus structure, and benefits, which may include healthcare insurance, vacation time, and 401(k) matches.

Determine Your Value

Consult the professional associations in your field and websites such as Salary.com and PayScale.com to determine average salaries based on credentials, years of experience, responsibility levels, and geography.

Research Targeted Employers

Find out how compensation is structured using sites like Glassdoor.com; for example, one company may emphasize performance bonuses while another focuses on outstanding benefits. If possible, talk with current and former employees about how they negotiated pay with these companies. (See also: What You Should Learn About the Company Before Your Interview)

Evaluate the Financial Health of Potential Employers

You are more likely to negotiate higher pay with a profitable, growing business with a constant demand for talented people than with a struggling one.

After gathering information, establish your priorities. Decide what is firm and what is negotiable in terms of salary and other forms of compensation.

Be Ready to Talk About Money, but Focus on Non-Money Issues

Avoid discussions of money during your first interview so that you and the employer can focus on company needs and job requirements. (See also: 4 Questions You Should Ask at Your Job Interview)

Emphasize Your Capabilities

During screening and interviewing sessions, show how you are a good fit with the company's culture and how your qualifications exceed requirements.

Be Clear That Salary Requirements Depend on Job Requirements

If a potential employer asks about your expectations for annual salary, say the amount depends on the position, work content, level of responsibility, etc. Have a number in mind if pressed but avoid pay discussions until you have developed a good understanding of the job duties and have proven you are a desirable candidate.

Be Ready to Answer the Current Salary Question

Be prepared to answer questions such as "what is your current salary?" or "do you have another offer?" Show confidence in your abilities, even if you are not currently compensated well for your expertise. For example, explain that your current or most recent salary was average in the industry because you received an equity stake in a startup as alternate compensation, earned high levels of per-diem pay for a job that required extensive travel, or had a generous benefits plan that included a pension.

Above all, make sure you are truly the candidate the hiring manager wants for the job. As the top-rated candidate, you are worth more than others and can command higher-than-average pay.

Negotiate Politely When You Receive an Offer

Wait until you have an offer in hand before you begin negotiations. After receiving an offer via telephone or a face-to-face meeting, ask for a few days to think about your response. Ideally, wait until you receive an official offer letter that details the salary and other forms of compensation before you develop a counteroffer strategy. When you are ready, open pay discussions politely.

Make Your Counteroffer Pleasantly

Show genuine interest in the position and the near guarantee that if the hiring manager upped the offer, you'd most certainly accept. For example, you might say "If you were able to do $X, I'd be thrilled to accept." Stop talking after you make a counteroffer. Let the other party consider your request and respond.

Justify Your Request for More Money

For example, explain that you have ranked as a top-performing sales representative, outshone your peers academically, or improved quality at operations much larger and more complex than the one for which you are being considered.

Assure Higher Management of Your Qualifications and Commitment

She may need to get salary approvals from her boss or a committee, so specific reasons why you are worth more are critical. Again, confirm your desire to join the company. The hiring manager needs to know that you will accept the job if given higher pay as she doesn't want to advocate for someone who won't ultimately accept the position

Be Professional Throughout the Process

If you use questionable tactics, landing the job at the price you want is unlikely. Hiring managers want people who are assertive and articulate about their value, not employees who are rude and demanding. (See also: 5 Phrases to Avoid When Negotiating)

Make All Your Requests at the Same Time

Don't ask for (and receive) a higher salary and then push for a better bonus structure at a later date. Say what you want, once. Hiring managers won't keep advocating for you again and again.

Know that many employers expect negotiations. So, when you receive an offer that is below your desired amount, don't ask "is this offer negotiable?" You don't need permission to negotiate. Just remember to be respectful in your communications.

Don't Quit Negotiating If You've Been Turned Down

If the employer is unable to give you the pay you want at the moment you ask, but you decide to accept the job anyway, don't stop trying to get more money. (See also: How to Boost Your Take-Home Pay)

Ask for a Review After the Employment Trial Period

In this way, you can prove your worth to the hiring manager during the first months on the job. By getting a bump in pay early, you can build on a higher base rate for future merit increases.

Find Out Why You Were Denied

Discover reasons why the company may not be able to extend a higher offer initially. Later, when circumstances change (perhaps the firm receives equity funding or you earn a new professional designation), you can ask for more money based on these updates.

Understand that you may not get what you want in a salary negotiation. You can only make a compelling case for higher pay; you can't force a company to pay the rate you desire. But to earn an amount that is fair to both you and the employer, research market rates, determine and explain why you are an outstanding candidate, make a reasonable counter offer, and keep proving and improving your value after you've been hired.

Have you negotiated for a salary at a new job? What worked for you?

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