In my 6 years of recruiting experience with thousands of interviews and hundreds of offers, I haven’t seen many people negotiate their salary during an interview. I actually advise against doing it for a lot of reasons, but my main one is that negotiations for a salary need to come after the interview when everyone has had time to process everything. Throwing out an offer and accepting right on the spot is probably the dumbest thing I could think of any company doing or any candidate accepting. I titled this article with the word “during” because I believe that even after the actual interview, you’re still in the interview phase until an offer has been made or not made. Here are my top tips for negotiating your salary at all stages of the process.
Know the Market
Would you walk into a huge test having never studied the material and hope you’ll pass based on your experience, good looks, and charm? So how is walking into an interview any different? You should have already studied the company and the people hiring you, but most importantly, you need to understand the job you’re applying for as a whole. Not only the roles and responsibilities that come with it but the salary based on the market. I talked to an Executive Assistant candidate (we’ll call her Candidate 1) for a client of mine who was making $45,000 doing the exact same work another EA candidate (Candidate 2) was doing – only that person was making $70,000. Had Candidate 1 done more research or spoke to other EA’s in her network, she would’ve come to the realization long before that she was making a lot less than her peers for the same amount of work, if not more. Don’t walk into an interview without knowing the salary for your position in the market. It gives you negotiating room and you’ll end up with a lot more money in your pocket.
If it’s a game, be the mouse – not the cat
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to say the cat represents Corporate America and the mouse represents the candidate. Even though the cat is bigger than the mouse, the cat can never quite capture the mouse. I’m not exactly known for my great analogies but what I mean is an interviewer is going to try and trap you into a specific number by asking what you’re currently making now. It’s a question I personally love to ask, even though some people like to inform me you can’t ask that – *eye roll* – (whatever). I have to know to ensure qualification for the position as to not waste anyone’s time. Should you get asked this question (and it can be disguised in several ways), be the mouse and don’t get captured – just ballpark it. Also include bonuses, benefits, car allowance, etc. That all counts for your compensation package and you can tack that on to your salary.
Use offers against each other
If you find yourself in the lucky position of having multiple offers, weigh your options first. You’re always going to like one job more than the other(s) but when it comes to your career, you have to look at the overall picture, comp package, benefits, etc. If the job you like the most is offering the least, let the company know that you have multiple offers on the table and while you’re extremely flattered by theirs, you’d like to take a couple of days to weigh your options. After that – wait. If the company is smart and you’re the absolute rock star they can’t live without, they’ll negotiate. Sometimes they’ll even negotiate with themselves without you ever saying a word. Others may need a little nudge and you can let them know you’d really love to take their position and if they could come up in salary in their offer, you’ll accept right away. Don’t say this if you’re not willing to accept, but if you are, it’s a great way to negotiate without sounding overly demanding but rather more educated and logical.
Know your worth and ask – but don’t take the first offer
Ask. Plain and simple. Ask for what you want. Ask for what you know you deserve. When you know you’re worth and you truly understand what you bring to the table, you’re more apt to impress them in your interview because you’ll exude more confidence which is always great to see in any candidate. Remember, it’s all about timing so make sure you bring it up at the appropriate time.
Work through a recruiter
My best advice to you is work with a recruiter if you can. Let the recruiter be the “bad” girl or guy on your behalf. Good, experienced recruiters know how to negotiate more effectively and take all of the stress of you having to do it off of your plate. Negotiating on your own can be a scary ordeal and there are a lot of times I’ve actually had to coach my candidate on the offer because they didn’t see the bigger picture and they ended up thanking me for it later on. There are just as many times I’ve had to ask the client to rethink their offer and then present them with the reasons why. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. Make sure you trust your recruiter and discuss with people you trust as not every recruiter may have your best interest at heart. I always make sure to lay it all out there for my candidates as my reputation is on the line, and I don’t want to place people with my clients if they don’t want to be there. Just stay focused and be smart on whom you have to represent you on your behalf.