Negotiation is not only reserved for business owners, real estate agents, or lawyers. It’s a skill that can come in handy in anyone’s everyday life—especially in the workplace.

There are plenty of tips on negotiating a salary when starting a new position. However, knowing how much to ask for, as well as how, can be puzzling for those who aren’t sure how to value their contributions or know the average salary for a person in their position.

With a combination of research and confidence, here are some tips on how to determine and negotiate a salary when you start a new job.

Research your industry standards (Be prepared!)

If you are walking into an interview with a business (or you are up for a promotion at your current job), always be prepared to talk about salary. It won’t necessarily mean you will be asked to negotiate just yet, but planning in advance will give you an edge just in case the topic comes up.

Your salary can depend on several factors, such as:

  • Your location, including cost of living, supply/demand, and taxes
  • Your experience (work and volunteer history, past responsibilities)
  • Your education (post-secondary education, certificates, awards, or courses)
  • Your industry/career standards
  • Size of company (large or unionized companies may be able to offer more comprehensive benefit packages, whereas small businesses might be more flexible with schedules or personal needs)

Doing your homework online will help you find out the average salary of those who are in a similar position. College, government, or salary websites, and even trade magazines, often give an average salary for a career or degree in a certain field. Niche job postings, as well as hiring agencies, can also be a good resource for salary ranges.

If you are comfortable, approach others in your industry for advice on what a person in your position is worth or what would be a reasonable salary to request based on your background.

From your research, determine two numbers: the one you want, and the lowest you are willing to accept. That way, you have room to negotiate within that range if the employer says no to your original offer.

The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be when entering into negotiations because you have not only researched the market, but you have a clear idea of your worth and can use your findings to back up your case.

Make yourself valuable (Sell yourself!)

Before talk of salary even comes up, you need to sell yourself in an interview. In your resume, list your employment history, experience, education, awards, skills, and past responsibilities. As a testament to your skills, try to quantify your contributions to a past employer’s bottom line.

Conversely, if you have little experience, sell the person on your eagerness to learn, education, or volunteer work—anything that can make you appear valuable to the business.

You should have reasons to back up why you deserve a salary and be prepared to cite these reasons in a compelling way. If you offer concrete ideas of how you can contribute to the business, the employer will appreciate that you took the time to address their needs and will take your initiative into consideration.

Factor in benefits

In addition to your salary, factor in the benefits you will receive in terms of health plans, 401K, and other perks, such as paid vacation or sick days, commission, educational training, or share plans.

When you look at the whole picture, you may find that the benefits package is going to save you a lot in health care costs over the year, which can impact how much you ask for as a starting wage.

Additionally, find out when these benefits start to kick in. Some health plans, or vacation days, become active with time. Consider this when budgeting your living costs.

Be flexible

Anytime during negotiations, it’s important to remain flexible yet persistent. You may know what you want, but there may be a few different ways to achieve your goal.

Aim high, and don’t be discouraged if they come back with a less-than-appealing figure. Explain your value, and be open to counteroffers with other alternatives, such as extra holiday time, travel allowances, or working from home.

Reaching a compromise doesn’t mean you have to lose out altogether.

Take your time

Try not to feel pressured when negotiating a salary, because often (even at the application stage), you will be asked to list your salary expectations.

Many people suggest waiting for the company to provide a number first, and then taking your time to counter with your expectations as per your research. Others say you should propose a figure first.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how comfortable you are discussing salary during an interview. Perhaps you would rather wait until you know you have the position first before negotiating.

If you are being pressed for a number, take your time to articulate a proper response or ask to have a day to review your options.

Get an offer in writing

Before accepting any new position, ask the employer to provide an offer letter with details about your employment, including your start date, wage, hours, and list of benefits.

A formal offer letter provides a written record of your salary if you ever need to refer back, as well as an overview of what you will receive in case there are any discrepancies between the negotiations and what appears on the offer letter. After signing, you can rest assured that both you and the employer are on the same page.

Effective negotiation takes practice

Negotiation is an important skill that can not only increase your confidence, but also help you to get the job and wage you deserve. It can also be useful during other events in your life, such as asking for a raise, negotiating a personal sale, or running your own business.

However, mastering the art of negotiation takes practice. You need to believe in yourself and your abilities in order to convince your employer of them as well. The same is true for salary. If you are credible, firm, and professional in your methods, you are one step closer to getting what you want, which is not missing out on compensation you deserve.

Do you have any negotiation tips to add? Share with us in the comments below!

Posted by Kristy DeSmit

Kristy is a blogger, Twitter enthusiast, and company legalese interpreter.

One Comment

  1. Salary negotiation can be a little stressful. The worst thing is finding out when your new employer was willing to pay a lot more if only you had done your homework or you failed to ask. For your next negotiation take a look at this Negotiation Strategies for Success infographic found here:

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