Pursuing a job can be challenging and exciting at the same time. When and how to negotiate salary is a common concern for many candidates.
The popular book Women Lead notes that while 85 percent of women interviewed thought that women excelled at negotiation many were not comfortable negotiating for themselves especially for salary. Some of the reasons noted are fear of asking for too much, fear of being denied, lack of confidence, low self-worth, the perception that salary negotiations are unfeminine or aggressive. Most women have had limited to no experience negotiating salary and terms.
The topic of salary may sometimes be explored in the first interview. You might be asked what you are making and what your expectations are. Use tools like payscale.com, glassdoor.com, salary.com and jobstar.org to better understand what your market value is and what salary range to ask for.
“Candidates can create an environment where salary discussions are smooth and non-confrontational,” says Gary Daugenti of Gent & Associates.
For example an individual can set the stage during early interviews by having a solid well researched salary figure in their head of what they feel the position and they are worth so if asked they can provide information with ease. If asked for a range, you should be prepared to accept the low number in your range, for example 80K-100K.
If salary is not initiated by the employer, then it is best not to bring up the topic. You might be in a series of early stage vetting interviews and you may or may not be considered for employment. There may be numerous other candidates also interviewing for the job and you may have a number of interviews (four to 10 interviews) depending on the firm. “I advise candidates not to assume that they have the job because they are called in for an interview,” says Anne Angelopoulos, senior manager at Just Staff. “Rather know your worth, and be prepared if asked but let the process take its course.”
If an employer is serious about hiring a candidate, s/he will explore salary expectations and make a verbal offer. The offer may not be what the candidate expected. If the candidate really wants the position but the salary offered does not align with expectations, it may be worth exploring other ways to reach the expected number. For example, the candidate can ask the employer how s/he plans to reach the number and let them bring up solutions. If you need more time to think about other items that might have a value, such as career allowance, telecommuting, etc., then ask for how long the offer is valid so that you can think about it. Most employers will not expect individuals to respond immediately but will give candidates time to reflect and review the offer. Women, negotiate your way to $1 million, one salary at a time.
If you are working with a recruiter, you have an additional resource to help you with salary negotiations. Recruiters will know the market, the firms and what the current salary offering will probably be. Recruiters may also have the advantage of working with the firm on other placements and they know what is and is not negotiable. “For example,” says Daugenti, “a smaller firm might be more flexible than large firms who have to follow corporate protocols and treat each incoming candidate equally.”
Work with your recruiter. “I discuss salary and the firm as part of my process with candidates.”, says Leslie Lazarus, senior recruiter at Gent & Associates. “My area specialty is finance and tax, and I know these firms very well. I can help bring the two entities together with ease.” Angelopoulos says, “Don’t go around the recruiter. Candidates should not be stating one salary number to the recruiter and a different number to the employer. Consistency is important.”
Salary negotiation can be a comfortable conversation if you prepare in advance.