6 Steps to Negotiating the Salary You Deserve

Talking about money is uncomfortable, but necessary. 

Yes, you can earn what you're worth.
By Courtney C.W. Guerra, WorkingMother

Talking about money is uncomfortable at best, but what if you combine it with the inherent stress of job-searching? Oh, right, then it only gets more unpleasant. And if you’re a mom rejoining the workforce after raising children, you may feel like you need to take what you can get. But if you don’t want to get stuck with a lousy salary, you’re going to have to suck it up and negotiate. Here’s how.

Talk the Talk

[post_ads]I know no one makes phone calls anymore, but I’m a fan of conducting salary negotiations voice-to-voice if possible. It allows the hiring manager to informally assess your enthusiasm, and it’s also a more efficient way to quickly address simple questions. Just make sure you’re in a reasonably quiet spot for the call, and that you’ve done your homework before you begin the conversation—more on that below.

Take Your Time

Be wary of jobs that try to strong-arm you into immediate acceptance: If they’re pressuring you, it’s likely because they’re worried you’ll decline if you give it more thought. (Red flag!)

If you get a job offer while you’re still in the running elsewhere, it’s worth checking in with those other places before proceeding. You don’t want to miss out on a position you really want because you took the first offer that came along.

You may even be lucky enough to get two offers simultaneously, which means you can leverage one against the other—especially if you’d be happy with either. Just be careful about maintaining a positive tone. Your attitude should be “Oh, I would love to accept a position with you—it’s just that the terms of this other offer are so, so tempting!” and not “Why should I take your dumb job when this other company truly appreciates me?”
More Money, Less Problems

Now, let’s talk salary. Unless it’s been explained to you that there’s absolutely NO flexibility on that front—attached to a believable rationale—you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t ask for more. We’re talking about your family’s livelihood here! If you think that negotiating an initial offer sounds difficult, trust me when I say that asking for a raise is so much harder, and way less likely to be successful. This is your one opportunity to increase your base income, and since future increases will be predicated on that initial amount, you should make the most of it.

Let’s Be Reasonable

I’m resolutely pro-negotiation, but I’m also pro-not-being-foolish-about-it. If you ask for a salary that’s wildly out of sync with the standards for your region, field and skill level, then employers will understandably find it off-putting.

[post_ads]So how do you figure out what’s reasonable? You do your research. Ask acquaintances in similar positions, review the salary ranges in ads for similar jobs and look up pay data online on sites like Glassdoor or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (although take what you find with a grain of salt). It’s fine to request a significant pay bump as long as you can make a case for it.

If the offer is perfectly fair and you’re mainly negotiating for practice, don’t overdo it: Ask for a smaller increase, say around 5 percent (or whatever amount feels right to you). And if you get an unusually generous offer—more than what you’ve indicated as your ideal number—quit while you’re ahead.

You Can’t Buy Happiness

Your job satisfaction depends on a lot of factors beyond your paycheck. Some of them can’t be changed no matter how persuasive you are, but others are more malleable. You won’t know what options are available to you until you ask—so, ask.
Wish you had a different title? Suggest it and see what they say. Dreading one small aspect of an otherwise great job? Try to get those duties off your plate. Hoping to arrange your schedule so that you don’t have to pay for extra daycare? See if they offer that kind of flexibility.

Of course, “I’d like an extra $6k and please give me a better title and how ’bout I work from home two days a week and I don’t wanna do mail merges” isn’t likely to go over well. Once you’re armed with your list of needs, wants and nice-to-haves, prioritize and use common sense.

Let’s Make This Work

In any negotiation, your position is basically “I want more,” whereas even the most accommodating organizations will want to give you less. So there’s an inherent conflict—but that doesn’t mean inherent hostility.

You want to keep your tone cordial, professional and warm throughout these discussions, conveying “I’m so excited about this position ... if only we could make these few small tweaks.”

[post_ads]You’re probably going to have to compromise, so think about what’s most important to you—and what’s least important (but still desirable), because that’s stuff you can give up in the interest of finding common ground: “Okay, I will magnanimously relinquish my desk by the window [which I don’t actually care about] in exchange for the option of regularly working from home [which oh my god will make my life so much easier].” Just don’t say the bracketed stuff out loud, and boom, you’ve done some strategic negotiating.

Ideally, your final offer will be the perfect alchemy of salary, responsibilities, title, schedule and benefits. In practice, you might not get everything you want—but by considering the factors above, you should be able to reach an agreement that feels like a win/win.

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6 Steps to Negotiating the Salary You Deserve
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