8 Things You Didn’t Know About Negotiating Salaries
Everyone likes getting paid. But getting paid more—now we’re talking. There are tricks to upping those numbers during those initial salary negotiations. This is a critical time to work towards getting paid what you’re worth because if you come in on a low pay scale, you’ll be surviving on top ramen and mac and cheese until you finally squeeze out enough raises to get where you should have started.
Lay the foundation now, get the squeeze on them, and we know you’ll be a much more productive worker.
1. Patience, Patience, Patience—Sell Yourself First
The last thing you want to do is send a cover letter detailing salary expectations before you even show up. It’s only going to give the message that all you care about is money. But when you reveal your expectations too soon, just as with any business deal, there’s a good chance you’ll lose on talking numbers.
To an employer you are a potential investment. You are selling yourself to them, but like any good salesman, if you start talking prices before demonstrating value, you’re fighting a losing battle. Steer the questions and get away from dialogue that forces this conversation. Know what you will say in these situations ahead of time to be more prepared.
2. Know Your Going Rate
Before you even walk in that door, you better know what is the standard pay for your position, how your talents add or take value from the general offering, and what can be expected for this type of job. Furthermore, knowing what you’re talking about will give you more credibility in the interviews and they will be more likely to consider.
3. Write up a Contract
Did you really just land your dream job, or did you sell your soul to the devil? Your employer can flap all day about how the pay is only this small for the first few months or how every Saturday employees get free massages in the conference room, but if you don’t scratch that down on paper and they don’t follow through, you’re shit out of luck. Written word is a solid way to ensure you have the same expectations.
4. Know Your Breaking Point
There comes a point where you just have to stand up, walk out the door while flipping them the bird (okay, don’t do that), and find the next dream career. Know ahead of time at what point this will be. This gives you a mental edge. You know you don’t have to take the job, and you’ve already decided on a number that will make or break you. Good. They’ll note your confidence. It will work in your favor.
5. Don’t Burn Your Bridges and Set Your Sails Just Yet
Even if you’ve been offered that job you always wanted, don’t call up everyone you’ve ever spoken to and tell them about your glorious future or post on Facebook bashing every other company you applied to. Calm your ass down.
Announcing success to the world puts you in a psychological state of obligation. When you walk into the salary negotiations and they start playing tough guy routines to talk you out of a paycheck, you will much less likely to turn down an insulting offer because you are now under worried about what everyone else will think.
The last thing you want to do is call everyone and tell them what a goofy bastard you are for jumping the gun, and before you know it you will be mopping floors for next to nothing to tell your mom how successful you are.
Keep your mouth shut until you’ve signed the contract. No one needs to know just yet. And keep in good touch with your other prospects as well in case things don’t get well.
6. Talk Their Language
Don’t discuss your salary and obligations from an employee point of view. You want to get on their level. People associate more with people who think like they do, and you don’t want everyone thinking your salary is your only goal. Sure, make it clear you know what you are worth, but do so by neutrally discussing your strengths as an addition to their team. Sell your strengths as an investment, because to them that is exactly what you are.
7. Get Creative With Fringe Benefits
Get a clear understanding of what comes with the position. If you know all the benefits and you can’t agree on price, cutting something else just might get your boss to budge. Instead of refusing to budge on your salary expectations, consider asking for more vacation time. Cut some of those fringe benefits you don’t need to get them to accept your salary.
8. Seeing is Believing—Be a Constant Presence
Keep in touch with a prospective employer over time, and keep coming back to check. As long as rapport is good, the more often they see and talk with you, the more you interact and the more they have invested time with you the more they will see you as a significant part of their world. As with anything, moderation is key. Don’t be a stalker or a pest, but make your positive presence known.
Salary negotiations are no place to slack. No one benefits from low pay, not even the guy cutting the check. Because an employee who feels properly rewarded cares about their job, cares about results, and cares about making the effort. Don’t sell yourself short, and you’ll have that lasting endurance to be the employee they want and need.
To learn more about landing your dream job at the salaries that make it worthwhile, read my book, The Unspoken Rules of Getting Hired. More than just a job-hunter’s manual, this novel follows you through one man’s struggle to be significant, using an entertaining story to teach you everything you need to acquire success in corporate America.