Economy & Jobs

Negotiating Salary: Know the Rules to Win the Game

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The process of negotiating salary can be nerve-racking for potential new hires, especially if it’s the first job offer out of college. You might think that asking for more money is greedy and that you should be happy to have a job offer at all. However, this could not be further from the truth. In some highly competitive fields, negotiating salary is expected and can have a profound effect on your financial future. Any salary increases down the line will likely be based on your initial salary, so not trying to get that first offer as high as possible could cost you thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

The Negotiation Game

Think of the employer/employee relationship as a game. The employer wants to retain your services for as low a price as possible, and you want to retain employment for as much compensation as possible. When you think of it in this way, it’s almost foolish not to push to be compensated higher than the original offer. Employers typically don’t go out of their way to inform you that you need to be making more money, after all.

Getting a higher salary is not as simple as barging into the boss’s office and demanding it, however. Knowing the rules of the game is essential to a successful salary negotiation. Here are three important things to remember:

  1. Know Your Worth: A number of resources provide salary ranges to help you determine how much you should be making in your particular field. and Glassdoor are two great places to get started. After you enter your location and job title and answer a few questions, these sites can give you a good estimate of what your salary should be. Compare this information to your current salary or salary offer to help determine how high you should aim when negotiating.
  2. Show What You Can Bring: Once you decide what you want your new salary to be, you need to show the employer what you can do to earn that money. This needs to be more than just saying you’ll do a great job. Do some additional research and networking for this phase of the game by connecting with leaders in your industry—even within the company itself—to learn more about it. This lends credence to the pitch you give your employer. If you plan to gain additional skills or certifications, let the employer know. This will help in any future salary negotiations.
  3. Be Confident, Not Overconfident: Negotiating salary for the first time can be nerve-wracking, but stuttering and sweating through your counteroffer won’t leave a good impression. Practice your pitch in front of a mirror or with a friend, and be ready to answer any questions that may come up. It’s also important not to come off as overconfident or threatening—you don’t want to seem off-putting to your boss or prospective employer.

While it’s important to know how to do these three steps on your own, GetRaised can guide you through the process. Its free service reveals whether you’re underpaid or being offered a low salary, and its paid service uses this information to help you get ready for the salary negotiation process. You’ll receive support from negotiation experts, ensuring that you’ll be ready for the big day. Investing a little upfront to get a higher salary can pay dividends for the rest of your career.

The most important part, though, is to be prepared and emotionally ready for the conversation. You’re a professional, after all. You should get the salary that proves it.

Syed Hussain is a blogger and freelancer specializing in personal finance, millennial issues and healthcare.  He especially makes personal finance simple and easy to understand for college students and young professionals.