Negotiating salary, bonuses, benefits and other job perks can be an enormously stressful experience when you’re already looking for new job opportunities. Unfortunately, people who are unemployed or unhappy in their current jobs tend to under-sell themselves in hopes of getting a better opportunity elsewhere as quickly as possible. In fact, a 2018 study found just 39% of people tried negotiating higher salaries for their last new job offers – and women generally tend to negotiate less than men, according to the survey. But, are you getting the highest possible salary?
But you shouldn’t accept a lower salary or make a lateral job move if putting in a little extra effort could mean a much higher salary bump is in your future. Instead of immediately accepting what you’re offered from a new job, here are some proven strategies for getting the highest possible salary from your next job.
Do Your Research Beforehand
So many people focus almost exclusively on the job descriptions and application processes that they completely ignore the usefulness of researching income expectations and general salary ranges before the interviews begin. Unless they’re hourly positions, few job descriptions include salary ranges anymore – it’s usually dismissed as “dependent on experience” or something similar – which means it’s up to you to figure out what the going rates are for that position, industry and geographic location.
Ignore national averages in your research; they won’t be too helpful in determining how much someone with comparable experience in a similar job position is making in your city and/or state. Instead, check Glassdoor and other localized websites for specific information on what the company pays employees in comparable roles and what people in your new position make in that area.
Quantify Your Achievements and Worth
Did you produce significant, measurable results at your current and/or previous job? This can include increasing sales figures, growing the company’s revenue, successfully implementing cost-saving measures and practices, and so on. If you have proven achievements directly associated with your work and/or team, then you could use these figures as negotiating tools for a higher salary.
It’s vitally important to not just understand your worth from a market perspective but also your worth as an employee in the context of what you’ve accomplished in previous roles. Just because the average local salary for your job is $XX,000 per year doesn’t mean you should feel relegated to this amount, especially if you have exceptional achievements on your resume to highlight to your potential employers.
Don’t Mention Money First
A commonsense piece of advice for new job applicants is “never be the first one to bring up dollar figures.” In other words, the moment you give a ballpark range for how much you’re expecting is the moment when the potential employer learns how low they can offer and still have you [likely] accept.
For example, the company may be budgeting $80,000 for your position, but if you reveal your salary expectations of $55-65,000 first, then they could save thousands of dollars by hiring you at $55,000 annually instead of the $80,000 figure they anticipated. If asked about salary expectations, try to remain confidently vague. This means you aren’t offering any specific figures but you’re also not wishy-washy; instead, you’re confidently stating you want to be paid the market rate with your extra achievements, skills, and other attributes kept in mind during the negotiation process.
Propose the Higher-End Figure
If your market research reveals local average salaries range from $60,000 to $100,000 then pitch the higher-end range instead of settling for something in the middle. Even if that figure is too high, it’s not as though you’ll get rejected from a job right away just because you pitched a higher salary than they anticipated.
Don’t Accept the First Offer
One of the biggest mistakes job applicants make is accepting the first salary offer if it’s close or within their salary expectations. Even if it’s a huge step up from what you’re currently making or what you expected from a new job, always try to ask for at least a little bit more. Some companies may refuse multiple times, but some companies may be open to adding an extra $5-10,000 per year without hesitation (you just have to ask!).
Walk Away If Necessary
Unless you’re unemployed and desperately need a job as soon as possible, be willing to walk away from a job offer if the salary isn’t what you’d like it to be. All too often, people mistakenly accept an offer simply to escape their current job situations, only to stumble upon a better offer/job later on and feel uncomfortable switching to a newer job since they haven’t been with their newest company for more than a few weeks or months.
If you have time to wait, then be patient. Keep applying and interviewing, but don’t cave in to the urge to accept the first job offer that seems reasonable because doing so might prevent you from taking an even better opportunity later.
Negotiating salaries can be a difficult task, especially when you feel like you’re not in a position to ask for more as a job applicant. However, being proactive and researching your market value beforehand can work wonders in getting you a higher salary offer than you might expect, so be sure to put in the effort in advance if you want to get the highest possible salary at your next new job.