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Negotiating Your Salary Is Scary But Do-Able

The idea is so simple: you apply for a job, interview, and they make an offer.

Hooray, it’s cause for celebration!

But what if their salary isn’t what you need or expected?

Negotiating salary isn’t the same as turning down a position. For some of us, the idea of asking for more money is scary but the reality is it’s just part of the employment process.

Harvard Law School experts agree that “the question of how to negotiate salary seems to preoccupy negotiators more than any other negotiation topic—and with good reason, considering how dramatically even a small salary increase can impact our lifetime earnings.”

So how should we go about it?

Let me give you some tips!

Established Employees

The Harvard team suggest entering negotiations after researching salary ranges for someone with your position, geography, and background. “Try to figure out what pay category someone with your education level and experience would receive, then build a case for a salary at the high end of that range.”

“Suppose your research suggests that you would most likely fall into the $70,000 to $80,000 pay range,” they continue, “but the next-highest category seems within reach. Rather than saying, ‘I think I deserve $80,000,’ consider saying, ‘...I’ve heard that people [with my experience] typically earn $80,000 to $90,000.’

Notice that this statement is not a demand. Yet due to the powerful impact of the $80,000-to-$90,000 ‘anchor’—a reference point that may or may not be relevant to the discussion—it could very well steer the numbers toward your upper goal.”

And what if your employer is unable to accommodate your request?

Don't fret! Instead, ask your manager what someone in that new salary range would be doing in your role that you are not currently doing. Their answer can provide you with clear and actionable items you can work on to grow into that new salary band.

New (Or Potential) Hires

For those deciding whether or not to accept an offer and financial package, pause and remind yourself that this is a 50/50 interaction.

“Remember: by the time an employer has gone through the hiring process and decided to make you an offer, they are invested in you…It’s important to frame the salary negotiation as a conversation instead of a confrontation.”Plan to frame your negotiation in light of ways you’ll help tackle company challenges and meet goals.

Also, I recommend doing your research ahead of time so you are prepared to accept an offer that aligns with your experience level, cost of living needs, and growth trajectory. Your new job should not only fulfill your financial obligations, but should also allow for room for growth.

Don’t Forget The Perks

Careers are a blend of work, pay, and perks so don't forget to include those in negotiations or counter offers. If they can’t pay more, what about extra vacation time or the ability to work from home a few days each week? Be creative! Look for options that don’t cost more cash but allow you the extras you’ll need for a healthy work/life balance.

Salary negotiations are—or certainly FEEL—stressful.

But remember, salary negotiations are a 50/50 discussion.

If you are struggling with how to prepare for an upcoming salary negotiation get a career coach involved. We would be happy to help!


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