Updated: Aug 12
Simple tips to prepare to discuss your salary.
In this week's post, I want to cover salary negotiating. Disclaimer, I can't give a tutorial on negotiating; however, I can elaborate on some considerations based on things I've learned over the years. So as it is custom with my blog posts, here are my 3 bullets on negotiating.
Get comfortable with the idea of having the conversation - The first time you attempt to ask for more money might be one of the hardest and most intimidating things you'll do. The reason is that most of us, especially women, are often taught to be grateful and gracious. Asking for more money after something has already been offered isn't traditionally in our DNA. To manage the anxiety that will accompany this, practice, practice, practice. A simple trick I use is having a conversation with myself in the mirror. I'd cover (with myself), reviewing the offer. Something like "how soon do I need to respond? I want to take a couple of days to review. Notice I said "I'd like to" vs. "Can I take." Positioning the request this way makes it clear that I'm not ready to respond immediately, and I want to go over the offer and make sure I'm comfortable. I'd also practice my follow-up questions. "I had a couple of questions about this offer, specifically XXX. Can you explain XXX?". The last thing I practice is my rebuttal or counter. What works for me is something like "thank you for extending this offer. After reviewing the details, there are a few things I would like to discuss." If your counter is via email, you can provide a list of things you would like to change. If this is in person or on the phone, you can say, "I notice that part of this offer includes certain benefits. I don't need those options; instead, I'm asking for an additional 10K on my annual salary or a guaranteed bonus at the end of the year of 10K, or 10% of my annual pay." Allowing yourself to hear what this sounds like and to know what it feels like will make the conversation go smoother. The goal is to make sure you get something that you are going to be comfortable with. Sometimes what stalls that process is being too afraid to ask. Never feel like you need to respond immediately. Always take time. I highly recommend no less than 2 days to sit with the offer. If you can take a week, do it. Socialize it with those you trust to get their feedback before you make a final decision.
Do your research - Part of being comfortable with asking is knowing what a reasonable request is. It's important to know what the range is for the role, and then based on your experience and other factors, model your request within those boundaries. It is also helpful to understand what is included in Total Compensation. This is the total dollar amount a company offers. This number includes base salary and additional items like paid time off (PTO), training dollars, benefits, memberships, etc. For some companies, total compensation plays a key factor in the offer and negotiation process. Your counter may be rejected as a result of total compensation. So doing your research is essential to having an informed and smooth conversation.
What are your numbers? - After doing your research, do the math. Get real about what a livable salary looks like for you. For some people, livable means you can afford daycare, commuting, savings, living expenses, and a little leisure from time to time. What is that number for you? I have two numbers, my lead, and my hold. Success for me is closer to my lead, but I'm delighted if I fall somewhere in the middle. The lead is the highest. I always expect things to go well the first time around; however, I am prepared for a no, preferably with some concessions. This means I could get a partial no. They can respond with a no to the base salary but agree to add a guaranteed bonus payout each year or some equivalent like company stock or something of value. The hold is the number I am unwilling to budge on. Anything below this, I am prepared to walk away from the deal. This is my absolute lowest accepted offer. Just because this is my holding number, it doesn't mean it's bad. It still has personal value to me. This number gives me a raise from my last salary. I also identify a number that I can be happy with for the next 2 or 3 years. So you see, my hold isn't a lowball number. 2 to 3 years gives me a safety net. Raises and bonuses are not guaranteed, so I treat it like a signing bonus when working towards a salary. Just in case there isn't another incentive opportunity, I'm grabbing it upfront. This won't always be an option, but I will always try to secure it when possible. This number also allows me to save more than my previous salary did.
Companies have their numbers in mind as well. Most companies expect you to negotiate your salary. If they are not open to negotiations and the offer is firm, they will tell you upfront. When this happens, you need to consider all of your options and decide your next steps. Sometimes that means you will accept the offer and adjust your life around this change of income. In other instances, you won't be able to make the conditions work, and you will have to decide if you can or want to walk away. I've negotiated my salary a few times. The first time I did not negotiate, the hiring manager later told me I should have. Over the years, I have learned that no two conversations are the same. What has always worked for me is listening, researching, and reconciling. Listening to the offer and information shared during the interview. Researching the pay range for the role and the companies total compensation. I can also ask these follow-up questions. Finally, I have to reconcile the information that I have and make the best decision for me. When it's all said and done, you are the only person who will know what the best decision is for you, so being clear on all of the details is to your advantage. If you have questions or want support preparing for your interview and reviewing an offer, set up a Discovery Call with me and let's figure some things out.
I look forward to supporting you.