How to Negotiate Starting Salary

Do you have unique skills? Are you a subject matter expert in your area of expertise? If yes, you could be the type of candidate employers are desperately seeking and are willing to increase their compensation package to hire you. Negotiating a starting salary can be intimidating. You don’t want to overstep and you don’t want to undersell yourself. You need to find the balance.

Here’s how to negotiate a starting salary that matches your value:

Discover your value.

Research job positions that require your skills and experience. Read relevant trade press articles and talk to recruiters who specialize in your sector. If it turns out that you are a desirable commodity, there is  good chance you can negotiate for more than the salary range quoted.

Apply for jobs and go on interviews.

But don’t discuss salary during the interviews. Asking about salary before an offer is presented is a huge mistake. It gives the impression you are only interested in the money.

Measure your value.

Work out the amount of extra salary you want and have solid evidence that shows you are worth it. Research current pay rates for the position. Make a list of the extra value you will bring based on your special skills, experience, network of contacts, visibility within your sector and greatest successes. Express your added value in numerical terms that benefit the new employer. Base your reasons on the benefits you will bring to the new employer, not the benefits for you.

Prepare to compromise.

Have a figure in mind that you will settle for as a compromise. Look at the whole package, including benefits, location, perks, etc. If they can’t pay the total salary you are looking for, they may be able to offer increased benefits or perks to make the whole package acceptable.

Wait for the offer.

Simon Horton, author of Negotiation Mastery, says, “You are strongest when they have offered you the job but not named a figure. Then get in first with a high figure, otherwise they will start low and it will be hard to negotiate upwards.” State your ideal figure. They may simply accept.

If the employer is firm in their original offer, ask why and listen carefully to their reasons. Be prepared to explain why you are asking for more compensation. Express how your value benefits the employer. Realize that you both have a mutual goal – they want you as an employee and you want the job. Negotiation is simply the process of working out how to achieve your mutual goal.