The Art of Negotiation

Most of us cringe at the thought of negotiating salary. It’s ingrained in us, from an early age, to never speak of money. However, the hiring process is a perfectly acceptable time to discuss fair compensation and, in fact, you should! Some of the easiest money you will ever make will simply come from asking for it.

A few things to keep in mind when negotiating salary:

Go Second. Generally speaking, it’s wiser to allow a company to “speak first” and share a salary range or number. Consider this scenario: In an interview, you are asked what your salary expectations are. Then, you provide a number that is at the low end of their pay range. What reason do they have to pay you mid-range if you would take the offer at the low end? Avoid answering this question with a number, and instead opt for a phrase such as this:

“I’m flexible on compensation, as I’m more concerned with finding the right fit. Can you give me an idea of the range for this role?”

Be Comfortable with Silence. Let’s assume they made you an offer that is below what you will take. It can feel very uncomfortable to make the initial ask for a higher salary. We have a tendency to over-explain ourselves, our reasoning behind why we’re asking, and to give too much market data. Focus on a succinct request and then simply wait, without words. Begin with a phrase such as, “Unfortunately I’m unable to accept at 40K. I’m looking for a role that is in the low 50’s range. Could this be feasible for this position?” No need to tell them why you won’t be accepting the role at 40K — they don’t need to know your personal detail. Make your request, and then wait for their response.

Three Numbers. Have 3 numbers in your head ready to go, when you walk into an interview. These 3 numbers are: Goal number, Dream number, and Reserve number. Your Goal number is where you would like to end up. It is a realistic expectation and one that you would feel content accepting an offer at. Think of this as your “middle number”. Above your Goal number, you will have your Dream number. This is the salary that would be awesome to have but may be a bit out of reach. You can often lead with this number, to settle on your Goal number. Lastly, make sure that you have a Reserve number. This is the number that is the actual minimum amount you would need to accept the offer. It’s below your goal, but you know you could feasibly make it work for the right opportunity.

As you go through this process, feel confident that it’s normal and expected to negotiate salary. While it may seem weird as a candidate, know that Recruiters hear it everyday & don’t consider this to be a rude ask. It may take an employee years of minor salary increases to end up at the number that you spent 5 minutes negotiating for, at the time of offer. So go forward confidently and respectfully. You may be surprised at where you end up!