For most people, talking about money is, well, just plain awkward. Whether it’s among friends, family, or coworkers, most of us would rather the topic be avoided completely.
There is one time when talking about salary can (and should) be discussed. When you’re in the process of accepting a new job, this conversation cannot be brushed under the carpet, as difficult as it may be.
Here are some tips we’ve learned along the way, as well as expert advice from Career Advisor Bob McIntosh, CPRW, on how (and when) to negotiate salary.
When to Negotiate Salary
Timing is everything. Part of the challenge of negotiating salary is knowing when the appropriate time is to do so.
Let’s start with when it’s not appropriate to talk salary during the hiring process:
- On your resume
- During the initial interview/phone interview (unless asked)
- After you’ve accepted the job
That’s a lot of times when not to negotiate salary, huh? So, when should you negotiate salary?
“Only when the salary question is asked, most likely during a telephone interview, should a candidate talk salary,” McIntosh tells us. “Never be the first one to bring it up. Talking about benefits can also be construed as inappropriate.”
You want the employer to see that you’re interested in the job, not just the pay.
Knowing Your Worth
How do you really know how much you should be asking for? McIntosh suggests candidates do their research using sites like Salary.com, PayScale, and Glassdoor, but warns that different companies put a different value on positions.
“The best way to determine what an employer can afford is by talking with someone within the company. This person can provide more insight than a salary calculator,” McIntosh says.
If you don’t personally know someone at the company, check your LinkedIn connections or try making a new connection. You can send a friendly message asking if the range you have in mind is appropriate.
While it may be tempting, don’t sell yourself short just to get an edge on the competition. Similarly, don’t accept the first offer you’re given just to avoid looking greedy. In fact, failing to negotiate can actually make you look bad as a candidate.
McIntosh says, “Employers expect job candidates to negotiate salary, so candidates shouldn’t worry about appearing greedy. In some cases, employers may be disappointed if candidates don’t negotiate, especially if the job calls for negotiating skills.”
That doesn’t mean you should ask for two times the original offer or tens of thousands more than your counterparts, McIntosh explains. You still need to be realistic and respectful of the hiring manager.
How to Negotiate Salary
Salary negotiation occurs in a number of ways. It might happen face-to-face with a hiring manager in the interview, or it can happen via phone or email. While each scenario has its pros and cons, your ability to negotiate confidently shouldn’t vary.
When the question of salary finally does come up, McIntosh suggests first asking the employer what range they have in mind. Most often, they will tell you. If they don’t give a range, that’s when you can tell them the range you came up with based on the research you did prior.
It’s unusual for an employer to offer more than your suggested range, or to even meet you at the top of your range, so be sure you’re comfortable with the numbers you give.
And remember, if you’re uncomfortable with the way the negotiation is going, or if they are offering much less than you believe is appropriate, it’s always acceptable to ask for some time to think about the offer.
More expert insights on this topic: