How to negotiate your salary in 9 steps

Charu Jain
Jun 12 · 5 min read

Get the salary bump you want and deserve!

We all love a good pay check and many of us know how critical it is to negotiate well during the job offer stage. However when that offer comes, we find ourself in doubt — “Will they hire me if I ask for more salary?”, “Can I loose this job offer?” , “Will I appear greedy?”. It is due to doubts like these and many more that we often shy away from a good salary negotiation… and it doesn’t feel so bad until we hear about our friends and colleagues who get more money for the same amount of work or realise that its difficult to maintain our living standard with the current salary. According to a recruiting software company, Jobvite, 71% of people do not negotiate their salaries leaving money on the table. I have been there and learnt my lessons. So here are my working tips for negotiating that job offer -

1) Identify your “Walk Away Point” — Before you go for negotiation or even while you are thinking about the job offer, its critical to know what is the minimum that you are willing to take. Here it is critical that you not only consider you current salary but also the salary that will make you happy. If you are switching companies, its important to understand the risks that the switch involves — you might not know as many colleagues, seniors and processes in the new company which can impact your speed of getting things done as well as you emotional well being. Evaluate the risks and think about how much do you need to be rewarded to take that risk.

2) Estimate the Zone of possible agreement (ZOPA) — ZOPA is the minimum salary that you are willing to take and the maximum salary that the company is willing to offer you. If you demand more than the maximum salary, the negotiation can fall apart. Although its hard to identify the actual numbers, Glassdoor is a great place to get some ball point figures on current salary trend. So are the recruiters if you know one or have engaged one. Besides it always helps to have a network of close friends who are open to sharing their experiences and offer. They might not be in the same company, but it would help to identify industry and market trends. However since salary can sometimes be such a personal topic, its best to check on the comfort level of the person before getting into details. The more open and straight forward you are, the more likely you are going to receive open feedback.

3) Avoid setting the salary bar — Try to avoid sharing your past salary details or your current salary expectations and get a number from the HR based on the company standards. Often we tend to underestimate the companies willingness to pay for the right candidate. Once you set the expected salary, you are definitely not going to get more than that — so try to check how much the company is willing to offer with you experience and education. In case you really have to set the number try to put it at the top of the range (identified ZOPA).

4) Silence is Gold — Say you got an amazing offer (or so you think!), do not accept it right away and check if there is more room for negotiation. The best way to do this is to be silent after the offer is made and get in the “thinking mode”. Most likely the HR will try to fill in the silence by improving the offer or adding a few perks. If not, ask for sometime to evaluate the offer. Then do your research and see if you can get a better offer.

5) Identify your leverage — Companies spend a lot of time in interviews and in identifying the right person. If you discuss the salary after clearing the interviews, the HR is more likely to listen to your story versus having a discussion right in the beginning of the interview process. While there maybe many people that can do the job, if you cleared the interview, the hiring manager sees value in you and now you have slight leverage. Be polite and aware of this leverage in your negotiations. Another form of leverage can come when you are one of the few people who have used a new technology or have experience in working with a particular domain or industry. Identifying your leverage would help you be calm and confident during negotiations.

6) Find your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) — In case the offer comes below your walkaway point and you are not able to negotiate further, thing about your BATNA. BATNA could also be helpful when you have to reject one of the multiple offers. I remember conducting trainings for a start up company when I was not able to join them full time. Other alternatives could be joining the team as an advisor or on a short term basis. Keep the doors open and the bridge connected for the next time.

7) Power Up — Do not skip your coffee and get in the power pose before the negotiation meeting (in a toilet ofcourse). Research has shown that power poses help to boost confidence and collect thoughts. Once you say yes, you can not backtrack and so being in your best form definitely has some advantages.

8) Practice the art — Practice is important for any success and its even more important when you are doing something out of the regular — for we do not change jobs everyday! Prepare your numbers and pitch and have a few rounds of salary negotiations with a close friend. You would be surprised that it might actually start to look natural after a couple of tries.

9) Negotiate … and then negotiation some more — If you are leaving your current company stocks for the next company, ask for compensation on those. Check on the joining bonus and annual performance ranges. Review the leave, travel and insurance policy and last but not the least review the joining date. If you have been craving a long trip to Europe, this is your time to take that break!

PS- If you are looking for more tips on how to negotiate, checkout this Youtube video which I found quite useful — https://youtu.be/oy0MD2nsZVs

Charu Jain

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