In a perfect world, negotiating a new job offer would be like taking a final exam in college. While it’s going to be a challenge, at least you know the date of the test, the subject matter you’ll be asked to discuss, and have ample time to prepare.
In reality, for most people a salary negotiation is more like walking into class on the last day of the semester and being asked to lead a debate. There’s not much time to prepare, you’ve never done this before, and you’re not quite sure what to say. Oh, and the person you’re up against this has done this a hundred times, and you’re so nervous you might pass out.
- If you’re a model student and you’re researching negotiation techniques for a future job offer well in advance, welcome.
- If you’re here because you’re frantically looking for answers because you’re getting an offer tomorrow, I can help you as well.
Either way, in order to succeed, you’re going to need a game plan.
While there are many specific tips and techniques that I can show you to make sure you get the maximum salary possible, this article will serve as a quick overview of the steps needed to negotiate a new job offer.
Step 1) Get in the Salary Negotiation Mindset
If you’ve never negotiated before or the thought of doing so makes you anxious, the first thing you need to do is to get in the right mindset.
Most people have never been taught how to negotiate, so it’s natural to be nervous about the unknown. Many job seekers are afraid that if they ask for more money the company will withdraw their offer and go with someone else. Others feel they’ll be seen as greedy for asking for more money.
You need to shift your thinking from being anxious about negotiation, to being excited. This is an opportunity to not only land a new position, but to do so at the salary you deserve.
Action: The Salary Negotiation Mindset (free course).
Step 2) Research what you’re worth
Negotiating the highest salary doesn’t begin when you receive a job offer, it begins with doing your homework before you even get the interview.
The key here is to focus on the current market rate for someone with your skills, not how much you’re making now or what you think you “deserve.”
For example, a client of mine worked at a startup and had a salary of $80,000. At each annual review, she met with her boss, showed the revenue she was bringing into the company, and asked for a raise. For three years, he made excuses.
Eventually she was contacted by a recruiter and interviewed for a new position. By focusing on her current worth on the market (more than six figures), and not her current salary from 3 years ago, she was able to negotiate a whopping $63,000 increase.
Action: Use the Salary Tutor guide to research your worth, then present the data in a compelling format.
Step 3) Avoid discussing salary early
In the early stages of a job search, it’s easy to let your guard down and reveal your current salary. This might happen when filling out online applications, working with a recruiter, or in your first interaction with human resources. However…
Exposing your specific salary early in the process can severely affect your ability to negotiate down the line.
You might be eliminated for giving a number that is too high or too low, or set yourself up to receive a lowball offer. At minimum, your goal is to keep the discussion focused on a wide range, and at best, keep your information private until you have an offer.
Action: Practice delaying salary talk until later in the interview, and never be the one to bring up salary first.
Step 4) Role play and practice
As Ben Franklin famously said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
I’ve seen countless people think that they were prepared for a negotiation, only to melt under the pressure when the Evil HR Lady leaned in and asked,
“Sooo… what were you thinking in terms of salary?”
While the conversation can certainly feel difficult, the best way to overcome fear and increase your chances for success is through practice. By repeatedly rehearsing your salary discussion with someone, not only do you gain confidence in what you’re asking for, but you can be prepare yourself for any number of outcomes.
Action: Role play your scenario with friends, family, or hire a coach.
Step 5) Negotiate like an FBI agent
Once you know your worth, are armed with data, and have practiced your approach, you’re ready to negotiate.
Some candidates will receive an offer via email, while others discuss salary live on the spot. Job-seekers with skills in high demand might be thrilled with a generous salary offer, while many others are underwhelmed with the first number HR tells you.
Now’s the time to keep your cool and tactically ask for what you want. I teach clients how to use some of the same skills employed by FBI hostage negotiators.
Action: Present your case in a business-like manner and negotiate toward the high end of the range.
Step 6) Look at the whole package
Before signing on the dotted line at your new salary, look at the big picture.
Perks such as health care, vacation time, bonuses, job title, review periods, commissions, stock options, and relocation round out your total compensation package, and can have a huge impact on your bottom line and your overall happiness on the job.
Action: Decide what’s most important to you, find out where a company has wiggle room, and don’t be afraid to ask.
While a single article can’t cover a semester’s worth of negotiation advice, this overview serves as a game plan on your way toward a your negotiation diploma.