You have the offer, and you’re almost at the finish line to a new job when the dreaded salary negotiation letter appears. It’s uncomfortable to talk about money in most circumstances, let alone with an almost boss in a company you might not know very well. Most of us feel pressure to accept an offer and move on. However uncomfortable the situation is, know that having a proper salary negotiation - and feeling happy with the number the two of you reach together - will set you up for satisfaction in the workplace. Here are 3 salary negotiation tips you can use to get the starting salary you want and deserve.

Keep Your Cool (and Your Number)

The salary negotiation process is understandably stressful, but you’ll want to do your best to keep your cool throughout the process. Even before the process of discussing salary is underway, you should have a number for yourself in mind. What’s your dream offer? What would be the lowest you could realistically take this position for? Having this scale off the bat relieves some of the pressure to accept a salary that doesn’t compliment your financial needs or skill level.

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The first step in a salary negotiation is to let your potential employer throw out the first offer. Don’t fall into the trap of potentially selling yourself short by giving the initial offer. Allowing the employer to speak first will give you an idea of salary ballpark. Whether it be in person, by phone, or email, resist the urge to throw out a number and instead suggest that you’d like to hear what the employer is considering.

It’s possible at this step that an employer might ask for your salary history. Understand that you are under no legal obligation to disclose that information; in fact, it’s illegal to ask in some states.

The beginning of negotiations can be exciting, but stay patient and calm. In moments of excitement and anticipation, we’re more likely to undersell ourselves.

Aim High

So now that the initial offer is on the table, what’s next? It’s your turn to go to work and throw out a counter offer.

But first, a gut check. Is the first offer in the same neighborhood as the scale you established earlier? Is there a massive disparity? Is it more than you expected?

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You might end up being flattered or flattened by the starting number, but understand there’s always room to negotiate. Unfortunately, 68% of women accept an initial offer and don’t negotiate at all. But, that’s selling yourself short in the end, setting you up for disappointment in the position. If you take an initial offer that’s less than you expected, you might end up feeling resentment at your workplace. While the negotiation process can be awkward, keep in mind you’ve been offered the job. The company wants to have you as part of their team, just make sure it’s on your terms.

When you present a counter to the employer, make it a stretch counter offer, or on the higher end of your scale. It’s possible this number could be negotiated down, so leave yourself a cushion. Aim high and remember that you are worth it.

Know When to Accept, or Walk Away

If you’re lucky, the employer will accept your counter offer and the process will be complete. But typically, the employer will come back with a counter to your counter salary. Hopefully, this number is somewhere in the middle that aligns with the range you came up with before the initial salary offer.

If you are being countered with a number you feel is too low, do not be afraid to be patient and push back. If you’re not starting out getting paid what you deserve then you’ll just breed unhappiness in the workplace.

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In some rare cases, you might not be able to reach an agreement, even after several back and forth offers. Keep an ear and eye out for manipulating tactics, such as asking if you really want the job, or a potential employer expressing feelings of disappointment at your counter offers. It’s a harsh reality, but if a company can’t meet your needs right off the bat, then you need to consider moving on. The moment you take a deep cut in salary for the sake of a job you haven’t even started, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t take a number below your range if you don’t think it’ll make you happy.

Though it gets easier over time, the salary negotiation process is far from fun. But, by understanding what you want from the beginning, staying calm, and knowing when to accept (or in the worst cases, walk away) you will have set yourself up for success.


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