If negotiating your salary makes you uncomfortable, you are not alone. In a survey conducted by Salary.com, only 37 percent always negotiate their salaries—while 18 percent never do. Even worse, 44 percent responded that they never brought up the subject of a raise during their performance reviews.

What’s behind this reason? If you guessed fear and lack of negotiating skills, you’re correct.

how_many_people_negotiate_salaryIn Linda Babcock’s study for her book, Women Don’t Ask, only about 7 percent of women even tried to negotiate their first salary, while 57 percent of men did. The job seekers who negotiated were able to increase their salary by over 7 percent. This may not sound like much. However, if you do the math, people who don’t negotiate a first salary can lose more than $500,000 by age 60.

Keep in mind that employers expect job seekers to negotiate. So, do your homework and learn to negotiate. Here’s a few tactics and tips to get you started.

In the pre-screen or initial interview, the recruiter or hiring agent wants to screen you out quickly. So they may start the interview conversation with a compensation question, asking “How much are you currently making?” or “What is your salary level?” If you answer too low, you may be perceived as not competent or as lacking confidence in your worth or skills to handle responsibilities commensurate with a higher salary. If you answer too high, you knock yourself out of the running and the hiring manager rapidly moves on to candidates more in line with their salary range.

First, do your homework and know the compensation range for the position so you can use this information to your advantage at any point in the interview. 

Second, delay the “money” talk. Answer questions about compensation something similar to:  “I’d like to find out more about this position first and talk about salary should we both agree I’m a good fit.” 

Third, if pressed to give an answer about your salary, give a range that is within the salary requirements for the job. This should keep you in the running and moving to the next interview phase.

Fourth, during the interview process, continue to express interest in the position, but don’t discuss salary before the offer, if at all possible. You want to create a sense of need – that the hiring manager has to hire you because you are the best candidate for the job – before talking money. Know your worth and what salary you want before talking to anyone.

Also have in mind the benefits you want/need to entice you to make this career move. That gives you confidence in what numbers you are willing to negotiate and benefits you are willing to give up if necessary. And, this gives you leverage during the discussions.

Okay, the offer is finally on the table. But it isn’t what you want. Because employers expect you to try to negotiate, you can express your disappointment. Once you have done so, say no more. The silence will be uncomfortable and cause the hiring manager to pierce the silence – hopefully with an attempt to negotiate. At this point, if asked for your target salary, present a figure above what you want, so the negotiations can land close to your anticipated dollar amount. 

Negotiating your salary can be complicated. There are many factors that can come into play depending on position level, such as hiring bonuses, stock options, profit sharing, short-term incentives, flexible work schedule, etc.

So consider everything as you go through the negotiations, balancing salary with benefits and incentives. Whether negotiating a deal for a company, or your salary and benefits. Get what you are worth and more. Don’t leave money on the table.


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