Whether you are interviewing for a new job or being evaluated by your boss at your current job; it’s an opportunity to negotiate a higher salary. With a little preparation, you can make a significant impact on your paycheck. Many professionals wonder if it’s even possible to navigate the potential landmines that can pop-up around negotiating with your current, or potential employer.
Banish Imposter Syndrome (aka, self-doubt)
Even if you’re an experienced professional, there’s something about the idea of negotiating and trotting out all of your accomplishments, that can trigger feelings of anxiety and self-doubt. Before you ask for a meeting with your boss or a call with the recruiter, take a moment to calm the swirling negative thoughts going through your mind like:
Do I even deserve a raise/ this salary?
What if my boss or recruiter gets upset that I asked and fires me or gives the job to another candidate?
What happens if they say no? Will I have ruined my reputation within the company or my chances of getting hired?
It’s a rabbit-hole of crazy our minds can go down when faced with a stressful situation like negotiating—but keep yourself in check by reminding yourself of all the reasons you deserve the raise. Make lists of all the times you over-delivered on a project or crushed goals—for either your current employer or past employers.
Do Your Homework
Research competitive market rates for your current role or the job you’re interviewing for. There are fantastic sites such as Glassdoor, Salary.com, or PayScale you can use to understand the average salary for the role. Then use this information to come up with a target salary to use when negotiating with your boss or recruiter.
Don’t Speak First
It’s critical to maintaining leverage with recruiters and HR managers that you never disclose your current salary. Be prepared for them to press you to give them an answer when they ask, “So where are you right now in terms of salary, and what are your salary expectations if you make this move?”
Don’t fall for it. Answer by saying something along the lines of:
“I’m not really comfortable sharing that information. I would prefer to focus on the value I can add to this company and not what I’m paid at my current job.”
“I don’t have a specific number in mind for the desired salary, and you know better than I do what value my skill set and experience could bring to your company. I want this move to be a big step forward for me in terms of both responsibility and compensation.”
If they pressure you by saying something like:
“I just need to be sure the salary range works for your requirements, so we don’t waste each other’s time.”
You can answer:
“It sounds like you’re trying to qualify me for a salary range. If you want to tell me what that range is, I’m happy to tell you if it’s in the ballpark.”
If you’re negotiating your current salary with your boss, it’s also best to refrain from giving them a specific number. Why? Because you never know how much they’ve been approved to distribute in terms of merit increases, increased PTO, or bonus allocations. Your job is to show up to the negotiation armed with examples of how you’ve added value to the organization, it’s their job to make the initial offer on your new salary. You never want to talk yourself out of a potential larger raise, and since you don’t know how much they are prepared to pay—it’s always best to let them talk first.
Create Your Brag Book
Compile a list of examples (aka receipts) of times you’ve received accolades, delivered on company goals, went above and beyond, or drove revenue for your current or past employers—depending on if you’re negotiating with your boss or a recruiter. Have your ‘brag book’ professionally laid out in a physical folder, or in slides saved as a PDF.
Distribute to your boss or recruiter prior to your salary negotiation meeting or call.
Keep Your Emotions Out of It
It can be very easy to burn bridges with your boss or a recruiter if you enter into negotiations with an arrogant or entitled attitude.
You never want to slip and say something you can’t take back—something that may leave a negative lasting impression. Strive to avoid letting your emotions get the best of you—salary negotiations aren’t personal. You risk burning financially valuable bridges by threatening to quit, saying you have another offer on the table if you don’t, or that your heart is no longer in the job.
Take these tips into consideration anytime you’re negotiating, and you’ll position yourself to get the raise or job you deserve.
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